Monday Mystery Photo – Last Week Rjukan, Norway

Each Monday, I post a mystery photo, or occasionally a mystery object. I invite you to leave a comment, if you think you know the location of this week’s photograph. Please note that I will release comments in the latter part of each week, usually Thursday or Friday and in this way, everyone can have a guess without a spoiler being revealed.

If you guess the correct location, I will link back to your blog when the answer is revealed the following Monday.

Guest contributions to MMP are very welcome. Please flick me an email if you have a photo to submit.

This week’s photo is shown below. Can you guess the location?

Last week’s photograph was correctly identified by Tidious Ted from the wonderful WordPress cooking blog, Recipe Reminiscing.  As the MMP was located in Ted’s native country of Norway, I will leave it to him to tell us more about the location:

“As I’ve lived 11 years in Telemark and had customers all over the county this week’s mystery photo is so easy for my that I almost feel ashamed answering at all. The photo is from Rjukan in Telemark, Norway and the huge building in the back is Norway’s national industry museum. It was once Norway’s largest power station and the place where three movies about the the action preventing the Nazis getting hold of the deuteriumoksid (heavy water) produced there during WWII were filmed. Older people may still remember “Heros of Telemark” filmed in 1965 with Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris in lead parts. A Norwegian film about the action “Kampen om tungtvannet” was made in 1848 and a recent movie about the same action was made just a few years ago.” – Tidious Ted

Thanks so much for all that wonderful information, Ted. Here is a youtube clip of a modern day team re-creating the heroic action of the men that stalled the Nazi’s atomic bomb program in WWII.

TheSnowmeltsSomewhere also very cleverly recognized that last week’s location as Norway, even though she didn’t recognize the museum building!! Incredibly astute SnowMS!

!Monday Mystery

Monday Mystery Photo leaves you with Something to Ponder About

History & Traditions, Painting

Weekend project – Rosemaling

A rainy weekend is perfect for catching up on all those unfinished tasks – don’t you think? Well at least putting a dent in the pile of UFO’s.

Telemark Bowl
Telemark Bowl

A project I started years back, as evidenced by the badly formed C scroll, was completed yesterday. Apart from the C scroll it was reasonably pleasing to the eye. What was even more pleasing to the soul,was to remove one more piece from the “To Do” list.

Time to finish this project!
Time to finish this project!
Close up of liner work in Burnt umber and Raw Umber
Close up of liner work in Burnt umber and Raw Umber

I painted this in Acrylics, and the bowl was once part of a Norfolk Island pine tree. Turned at the same place. Perhaps it was a young sapling in the times when colonials graced its shores and the torturous cat o nine tails was a daily scourge metered out on the convicts, who resided there. Poor souls. I picked this shallow bowl up in a thrift shop: unwanted, and unloved, like many of the convicts on Norfolk Island itself. It will now become a fruit bowl in my kitchen.

All decorated in US Telemark Rosemaling along the lines of Shirley Peterich and Pam Rucinski, ( whom I credit for the design), the bowl will always be a reminder for me to ponder the tragic history of Norfolk Island, and how something can be transformed from unwanted beginnings, into a  functional whole again.

Norwegian Rosemaling

Telemark Rosemaling Tutorial

Rosemaling Bjorn Pettersen

Rosemaling is the traditional painting of Norway.  Originating in the mid eighteenth century, Rosemaling reached its zenith in the early 20th Century. Renewed interest in everything considered traditionally ‘Norwegian’, popularized the art form, and created renewed interest, without which, it may have been relegated to history.

What first began as a form of peasant painting, developed into a highly stylized and exquisite form of religious art, based on the acanthus leaf motif, rose and tulip forms. Itinerant artists travelled the countryside painting the not only the walls of the local Stave churches but also the living areas of  farmers, who enjoyed the decoration on their walls and everyday objects.

Bykle church

In the isolation of the Norwegian countryside,  this new art form continued to develop further, resulting in a variety of individual styles that differed according to the valley or regions, from whence they came. Examples include: Telemark, Rogaland, Hallingdal and Os (from Bergen area).

Telemark rosemaling
My Telemark Design
Halling folk Museum
Hallingdal style

To find out more about Hallingdal Rosemaling, try out a free design for yourself, go to the free Hallingdal project design found here.

Norwegian Rosemaling
Os Rosemaling

Telemark style appeared in the Telemark Valley, is characterized by free flowing, dynamic scroll work, and asymmetrical designs.  It is this style this tutorial will focus on here. Some knowledge of folk art comma strokes is necessary to paint this. If you are not familiar with basic stroke technique – there is a video on this post.

blue trivet handle 031

Telemark Rosemaling Tutorial

faux finish tools


Acrylic paint in the following colours – (choose a good quality gouache, not transparent student quality paint, as this will help you with this technique)

Prussian Blue or the main colour

Smoked Pearl

Warm White

Filbert or flat brush, about 1/4- 1/2″

Liner brush, – not too long, a size 1 or a Quill liner

Sandpaper #400 – #600

A wooden piece, canvas or object to paint

Base paint – flat, matte or low sheen paint. Stay away from glossy finishes for base paint, otherwise your paint may not lock, or key, to the base colour.


I make a disposable palette for acrylics, by wetting some ordinary kitchen paper towel and squeezing it so it is just damp, and  not wringing wet, and then wrap this in  grease proof paper as one would a sandwich.


Step 1.

Base paint your  piece or prep your canvas, in a chosen colour scheme. It is more economical to purchase a larger pot of base paint, but you can use tube gouache fro this purpose as well if you water it down a little.  I picked Jo Sonja’s Prussian blue and lightened it down with a creamy colour (Jo Sonja acrylics Smoked Pearl) Two coats. Allow this to completely dry.

Step 2.

With non- powdery chalk or chalk pencil, chalk in some guiding points, like the root of the  Telemark design and outside border. If you don’t want to paint freehand, you could chalk or mark in the main scroll lines, with transfer paper, and use a outline for the flowers. Later, when you get the hang of the shape of the flowers, and what your brush can do, then you can simply mark an x for where the flower will go and its orientation.

Norwegian painting
Telemark Rosemaling


To make your own transfer paper using chalk:

Draw up your design on tracing or grease proof paper, using a lead pencil. Rub a stick of chalk, (held parallel to the paper), over the BACK side of the penciled design. Carefully lay the tracing down on the wooden piece and secure with tape. Now just trace over your design again, and you will have a chalk tracing imprint on your piece. Voila. Easily removable once your painting is finished and dry.


When designing, keep in mind balance of shape, size and element.If you divide the design in quarters, it will appear balanced if there is a major element, or part thereof, positioned, in each quarter. Each quarter should also have an equal measure of positive and negative space.

Tip: Look at the design upside down to distract your left brain from interpreting as you normally would, giving you a fresh eyes to see any design faults.

Telemark Norwegian painting art

Painting Technique

Step 1. Load a filbert ( flat with rounded tip) or flat brush in size appropriate to the width you want the scroll to be in darkest value, on ONE EDGE ONLY. In this case: Prussian blue. On the opposite edge, load Warm white or your lightest value. Flatten the brush on the palette so that the colours mix. Repeat this on your palette a number of times so that the colours gradually blend across the bristles.

Step 2.  Begin painting the scroll from the top down, applying pressure as you go, so the brush widens, and releasing pressure as you near the end of the scroll, as this will narrow the stroke at the design root.

Step 3.  Repeat the stroke if needed for coverage then add more of  the darkest value on the outside of the scroll, to enhance the contrast. Be careful: Acrylics dry quickly and you may need to use a retarder medium to slow the drying time, giving you more time to play with the design. Retarder can be added to your brush or brushed on to your piece. This gives you good practice at stroke-making prior to laying down the paint.

Step 4. Paint remaining scrolls in the same manner.  Try to have them all merging towards the one root point.  This is a very important part of making Rosemaling eye catching. Vary the length of the each scroll to add interest.

Step 5.

Begin to block in the flowers using shape following strokes, comma, or leaf shape (S and C strokes) as appropriate. These can be quite casual and double load your brush again with light value on one side and dark value on the other to give your project a natural blended look. Don’t worry too much about shaggy edges here, as the liner work will tidy that up.

This is also a free style of painting, it is not Fine Art, and the peasants that originally painted these pieces had little or no training in artistic techniques. So don’t stress trying to make it perfect when it is not meant to be so.

Try to achieve a balance of colour as you go. If the brush has blended really well and the light value is lost, add some extra warm white to your dirty brush (ie. don’t rinse it clean in water, just wipe on paper towel to remove excess colour.)

Once you have blocked in the flowers, and are happy with the distribution of colour, you can begin the liner work.

Warning: Liner work is very addictive, and it is easy to get carried away with the embellishments and make the design too busy. Beware! You can always add an extra stroke, later, but rubbing out can ruin a design.

You may also like to try adding something like flow medium to your paint to do some liner work. This will help a beginner. Practice a little on scraps of wood or paper first to get the hang of the brush to save wiping out mistakes.

Step 6. Scroll Details

Begin by adding enough water to your paint puddle to ensure an inky consistency. Load the brush in the paint and pull it through twisting it gently a little before you lift it from your palette. Place tip on project and gradually increase the pressure allowing the brush to widen the stroke, then release the pressure as you direct the brush tip towards you.
N.B. For best results, liner work should vary in thickness. The last thing you want is for all the outlines to be the same thickness. Variation creates interest in the design.

Outline all the scrolls in a casual manner. Try to move your arm as opposed to just your hand. This helps to create a sense of movement. Be confident. You can clean up any errors, carefully with a cotton bud or Q-tip.

Step 7. Flower details

Outline flowers in same technique with your liner brush.

tutorial rosemaling

Be individual and don’t follow the same outline each time.

Step 8. Embellishments

Add some small detail strokes with a quill or liner brush. They are completed similar to a reverse comma. Starting off with very light pressure and pressing fully down on the completion of the stroke. I double loaded this brush in the picture here, first loading in blue and then dipping the tip of the brush in white. This gives a white stroke with a blue tip. This stroke is very typical of what you see in traditional Rosemaling works.

But…. Know when to stop. Overdoing it can make a design look too busy!! I am guilty of this often when I get lost in my liner work and don’t stop to look at the whole piece.

Telemark motif

Step 9. Borders

Now you have it! Almost all Rosemaling works have a border design, which can be as individual as you like. I used ‘S’ strokes around the edges of my box.

Step 10. Finishing

All you need to do is allow time for the paint to dry – which can be anything from 2 days to a week depending on weather conditions, oils can take up to 6 weeks to fully dry.

Rub off any guidelines and 2 coats of water based varnish will seal the deal! If you are wondering what type of varnish to use, that is a difficult question to answer. Experiment with  a few brands and types to see what works. I like to use a matte or a gloss spray varnish for speed. But equally good are the brush on or wipe on varieties. Oil based paints require oil based (non yellowing) varnishes.

Norwegian painting
Telemark Rosemaling

If you have any questions, I am happy to guide you. You can find some of my Rosemaling designs printed on fabric at my online Spoonflower shop here.

Further instruction in painting Telemark Rosemaling using Oils paints visit this post.

Velkommen plaque Rosemaling