Try some Traditional Art – Hallingdal Rosemaling

Hallingdal Rosemaling

Norwegian Rosemaling is the style of traditional painting now very popular in America, where it is a favoured style of interior decorating, especially amongst those folk with Scandinavian heritage. Each region, or ‘fylke’, in Norway, developed its own individual interpretation of traditional Rosemaling style and design, which initially appeared back in  the 18th century and even earlier.

Hallingdal style on a cupboard in Geilo

History of Rosemaling

In the 17th century, itinerant painters brought new ideas and artistic trends, from the cities of Europe, into the mountains and Valleys of rural Norway, painting Renaissance and Baroque motifs on the walls of the wooden Norwegian Stave churches. In the Hallingdal, Telemark and Vest Agder provinces, it was their relative geographic isolation that led to further development and evolution, of a peasant folk art form, into a highly distinctive and unique art.  Reaching its zenith in Norway during the 18th century, Rosemaling was then revived by the Norwegian peoples during a fiercely Nationalistic decorating movement in the 19th and 20th centuries, following the country’s political separation from Sweden. Following this, a similar resurgence in Norwegian traditional painting began amongst Norwegian immigrants, living in the American Midwest, in the mid to late 20th century, and this trend continues to flourish there today.

Read more here

Hallingdal style of Rosemaling

The Halling Valley, itself, is situated in an area of southern central Norway, covering towns such as Gol, Ål and Hol and this is where one finds many examples of Hallingdal Rosemaling, appreciated and loved, even today.

Elements of Halling style can be found in the Embroidery on the Norwegian women’s national costume, (called the Bunad), in Norwegian wood carving, on hanging cupboards, and on wooden objects around the Norwegian home.

Features of this Style:

  • Hallingdal Rosemaling colours: rich, varied, exuberant and strong
  • Background colours: red/orange-red, in later years, blue and green
  • Black appeared as a background colour following influences from Telemark
  • Flowers colours: – Blue, White, or Gold on Red grounds; Red and gold on blue/ green backgrounds
  • Early Hallingdal Rosemaling had more floral elements; scrolls were minor. Over time, scrolls became a frame around which the flowers were placed, in order to achieve a sense of balance, either side of the design’s vertical axis. Scrolls still maintained a simplistic form, with little or no shading, and were heavier than the lyrical scrolls seen in the Telemark area
  • Motifs: symmetrical in round/rectangular design shapes, often depicted in mirror image split along the vertical axis
  • Round floral patterns could also be segmented into 4, 6 or 8 divisions, typically with blossoms of four or more petals
  • Leaves: large, often surrounding a central flower,  or mirror image split vertically
  • Design elements are sometimes filled in with fine, cross – hatched lines.
  • Flower shapes of Hallingdal are classified into 3 groups: circles, triangles or half circles.
Claudine Schatz

Circle Flowers

  • A circular centre is painted first and then concentric bands of colour added
  • Petals are added around the central circle in an even number, four or more, with petal length limited by the sectional diameter of the circle, and defined with liner work.
  • Ball flowers are circular flowers painted as a series of round balls surrounding a centre circle.

Triangular Flowers

  • Simple flowers with three petals, similar to a tulip; usually painted in strokes from the outside tip down to a base at the centre.
  • Blooms with more than three petals can have an oval centre, similar to a daisy.  Are  also combined into more elaborate and complex floral designs.
  • Triangular flower petal strokes can double as leaf forms.

Half circle Flowers

  • Usually are seen as larger elements within the Hallingdal design.
  • Comprise a semi-circular band of colour around a base.
  • Adorned with over strokes and details that illuminate the flower in a new way.
  • Half circles can also become petals of a flower form.


Two types are seen in Hallingdal Designs

  • Stroke – work leaves, similar to the triangle flower petals
  • Shaded leaves, which are large and heavy and used in conjunction with large round central flowers. They do have some liner work stems.


A design by Tore Christiansen


  • Scrolls may represent leaves, but take the form of C and S shapes.
  • They are not shaded or blended in Hallingdal designs.
  • Used as a frame around flowers or as a cartouche border in a band that circles a round floral motif.
  • Painted in one colour; the light source is indicated by over strokes of white/ lighter colour on the top side of the scroll.
  • Scrolls are quite tight. They are not airy and lyrical, as in pieces seen in Telemark regions

Hallingdal Rosemaling even had some features borrowed from Oriental art forms. It was although typical in many ways, also malleable to outside influences. These characteristics overlap and interlace with other Rosemaling styles, and as such, should not be used as limits or boundaries, in one’s own Rosemaling journey, but merely to establish guidelines when one is starting to study this beautiful art form.

Why not get a feel for Hallingdal Rosemaling by painting or colouring in this design:

Free project

Something to Ponder About


[Parts of the description of features of Hallingdal style was taken from Rosemaling in the Round by Pat Virch, 1976] 




Order within Borders- Art for All Ages

Velkommen plaque Rosemaling

Many people feel that they are not at all artistic. Yet there are many things you can do to create artistic flourishes or decorations, on objects in your world, with a few simple household tools and very little artistic technique. If you can hammer in a nail, you could paint a primitive, and delightful, border design.

buren church
Dot Daisy Border

A border can provide structure to a loose, flowing design. It will frame the design which pleases the eyes’ sense of order. Not only that but a line or motif border can direct the viewer’s eyes to the rest of the design, whilst still allowing for “breathing room” – negative space around the design itself. This,  in particular, applies to primitive or folk art/ traditional art.



Beginners can easily create borders by combining a few basic strokes with dots made with the handle end of a brush dipped in paint, or press a series of dots with a Q-tip cotton bud, or a worn pencil eraser to form a four or five-petaled daisy.

Here are a few ideas:

Source: Jackie Shaw


  • Elongate the dots made form dipping the handle of a brush into oval shapes to make flower buds.
  • Place two dots of paint side by side, pulling each to a point, with a fine brush or brush handle, to form a heart. Use the chisel edge of a flat brush to make carefree straight lines. These irregular lines result in a more primitive look, less rigid and more free-flowing than lines carefully painted with a liner brush.
  • Children can begin to develop an appreciation of border art by dabbling decorative edges on photo frames or the cover of study books. Cover the books with plain paper or card stock and arm the kids with a q tip or paintbrush as a “dotting tool.”


  • Rule some lines in pencil as a guide and let them create patterns  in rows across the paper with Q-tips or brushes. You will be surprised as what they come up with. They are limited only by their imagination. And you can even incorporate apply a bit of mathematics at the same time, teaching division skills.


Something to remember when painting strokes and border designs is to aim for a flowing design. Otherwise, the rhythm of the design will appear disjointed and the eye will not flow smoothly from one section of the design to another.

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Decorate an object with one colour and then add a solid, contrasting colour border design

_bjorn pettersenkubbestol

A solid contrast border colour can be further embellished with geometric shapes, dots, stripes or swirls.




As your confidence and ability grows, build up each row upon row, to form an intricate border designs, based on basic shapes and form such as can be seen in this preliminary sketch below.


Source: The Basics of Folk Art by J. Jansen


Norwegian Rosemaling
Os Rosemaling

geometric border


Rosemaling traditional art
Something to Ponder About

A Timeless Norwegian Art

Rosemaling Bjorn Pettersen

History of Norwegian Rosemaling

Rosemaling is a little known traditional art form unique to Norway and is characterized by stylized flowers and ‘c’ and ‘s’ shaped scrolls, inspired by the Renaissance and Acanthus motifs. It is a regional folk art that is timeless and dynamic.

Traditional Telemark Rosemaling

How did Rosemaling evolve?

From rudimentary beginnings in the woodcarving decorations and religious art of the Middle Ages, Rosemaling first appeared in Norway during the Renaissance and Baroque periods of 1550 –1700.  Early examples, such as stylized plant motifs and acanthus scrolls, can still be seen in the traditional Norwegian churches dating from that era. In addition, regular trading of goods, with other countries in the Hanseatic League, provided the opportunity for East Asian influences to reach the shores of Norway and this provided further inspiration and influence for development of Norwegian folk art.

Bykle church
Wood Carving in Lesja

International trends in religious and modern art were relatively slow to reach the rural areas of Norway, and it was only as church furniture and fittings, (manufactured by the fashion-conscious urban craftsmen), were gradually installed in the country parishes, that new designs and ideas were introduced to the country folk.  Well-to-do farmers and Government officials and the fashion conscious, urban Norwegian elite were more heavily influenced by international trends in decorating and thus Rosemaling was confined mainly to the households and churches in the distant, rural Valleys of Norway.

1766 Chest from Simenrud Fåberg
Bridal Trunk with Acanthus leaf Stylization

In this relative isolation, rural Norwegian folk artists adapted the Renaissance inspired religious motifs and changed it to suit their own purposes. Over time, this folk art developed into an original style that evolved into a new art-form, with individual characteristics pertinent to each Valley. Between 1700 -1850, lavishly painted objects were often seen as status symbols. Therefore, itinerant or local folk artists were in high demand painting Rosemaling designs on cupboards, dressers, bridal trunks, saddles, harness parts, sleighs, and even clocks

Acanthus leaf form in Lom church

The symmetrical designs of acanthus vine elements, so popular in the Renaissance era, were heavily influenced by Rococco trends from Europe, and later adapted by folk artists, finally emerging, in the Telemark region of Norway, as the distinctive ‘C’ curves and ‘S’ scroll forms, of Rosemaling, on an asymmetrical central root. This is the very popular style that we now identify as Telemark Rosemaling.

_bjorn pettersenkubbestol
Contemporary Telemark Rosemaling by Bjørn Pettersen


As the twentieth century approached, Rosemaling declined in popularity and it was only the political situation in Norway that saved it from complete obscurity.  Once Norway gained its independence, as a nation, there was, amongst the Norwegian public, a groundswell of interest in all things Norwegian, particularly crafts and painting. The revival continued throughout most of the 20th century and ensured Rosemaling had a promising future, both in Norway and in immigrant communities around the world, especially in the United States.

Stave Church in Lom


An opportunity to see the rich heritage of Norway should not be missed. By studying the Rosemaling in the Stave churches, museums and contemporary exhibitions in Norway, a folk artist can, like those painters in centuries past, become inspired to create individual masterpieces and hopefully, their own original style.


History and Art is Something Beautiful to Ponder About

How to Design your Own Artwork – Space

If we are ever to begin to design our own art, we need an understanding of the various elements and principles of design, and how they combine to create an overall pleasing visual effect. So far, in previous posts, we have looked at Line and  Shape, and how they contribute to art forms. This week, we focus on the element of ‘SPACE’ and find how it can assist to create a better design.


Week 3 – Space 

Space as an element of art that refers to the area around objects: either Positive Space: that is areas occupied by an object or form and, Negative Space: the area in, between, around, or within objects. Every positive shape is surrounded by negative space.

You can further divide Negative spaces into: –

  – Passive negative space – this separates visual elements, and includes things like margins and the spacing between letters, words, or lines.


-Active negative space – this draws the viewer’s eye to something, or help viewers focus on the objects that they should see, instead of making their eyes look all over the place.

Notan negative and positive space


Continue reading “How to Design your Own Artwork – Space”

Rosemaling and Art Coloring in Designs

Rosemaling is an art form that evolved in Norway post Renaissance. It is a stylized form  that is highly parochial due to the relative isolation of the valleys in Norway. Consequently, each valley developed their own particular style adapting what the influences brought to them via itinerant artists roaming the countryside.


Some of us don’t feel very artistic, but I believe we can learn to tap into that side of us. We can start by coloring in Rosemaling designs. This develops muscle memory and our brains learn the forms, shapes and lines used in this style of art. That makes it easier when we come to reproduce our own.

These designs are for your personal use in coloring in, or to paint, in practising Rosemaling design


A simple Rosemaling flower with Telemark Scroll like leave

Rogaland Rosemaling

Hallingdal Rosemaling


You can also find more images to colour on the net, like this one:

Image result for rosemaling coloring in page

This drawing is taken from the following source:-

Click to learn more about  developing LINE and SHAPE as an element in sketching.


Something therapeutic to Ponder About