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.

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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.

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Bykle church
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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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How to Design your own Artwork – Week #1 Design Challenge

Forestwood

I love art but I don’t feel I am artistic; I love to draw, but don’t feel I am adept; I love to design but don’t have any technical training. What to do about it?   Thanks to the World wide web, we can learn a lot more about design techniques and apply them to our art.

Rosemaling

Every artistic piece contains some, or all, elements of design. These elements are then combined with a number of design ‘principles,’ in order to bring together an eye-pleasing, cohesive visual unit. Knowing these elements  and how to use them, can make all the difference between being able to produce an eye pleasing piece of art, or a disjointed, unattractive one.

 

Elements and Principles of Design*

Every visual piece is comprised of certain design elements or parts which may include Line, Direction, Shape, Size, Texture, Value and Colour – in that order. Design Principles, (which I will talk about later), are applied to the elements in order to bring them together into a cohesive unit. How the principles are applied, determines the overall effectiveness of a design.

Week 1 – SHAPE

Firstly, let’s look at the element: ‘shape’ and its role in design.

“A shape is defined as a two or more dimensional area that stands out from the space next to, or around it, due to a defined or implied boundary, or because of differences of value, color, or texture. All objects are composed of shapes and all other ‘Elements of Design’ are shapes in some way.”[Kovalik and King]

  • Mechanical Shapes or Geometric Shapes might be the shapes drawn i,n a design, using a ruler, compass or drawing template or tool. Mechanical shapes, whether simple or complex, produce a feeling of control or order.
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Geometric border using a ruler to space the mechanical shapes
  • Organic Shapes are freehand drawn shapes that are complex and normally found in nature. Organic shapes produce a natural freer feel.
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Rangoli design using a combination of mechanical and free form shapes

Rangoli is a traditional and transient form of art drawn in chalk by Hindu women, in southern India, on the front steps and entrances of buildings as part of a daily devotional practice.  The decorations use ‘shape’ in a variety of styles and motifs which vary according to different tribal groups and festivals. There is more information about Rangoli here.

Rosemaling Styles

The Acanthus leaves is an organic shape used prolifically in Norwegian Rosemaling: particularly Gudbrandsdal style. Os Rosemaling frequently uses mechanical shapes such as circles and diamonds.

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Acanthus leaves in Gudbrandsdalen Style of Rosemaling
Norwegian Rosemaling
Os Rosemaling

Design Challenge

I am currently running a Design Sketching Challenge in a Facebook group I admin, and I’d love to extend this invitation to you, to join a blogging version of this challenge here, on our blogs. The challenge is a great way to encourage those who would like to sketch, but don’t yet have the confidence or motivation, to try.

Seeing others strive for, and share, their artistic journey can increase inspiration and awareness of one’s design skills. You never know what you are capable of, unless you try! You can opt in and out as you wish. See more about joining in below.

Here are my sketches based on the first prompt: Shape

Using organic shapes of leaves and flowers I found,  in my garden, I created this sketch:

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It needs further adjustment and improvement, so I try another.

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Still not satisfied, my final sketch for this first prompt, comprises circles, semi-circular arches, some natural elements in the leaf like scrolls and the heart-shaped flowers. I used a simple border to frame and hold together the design in one cohesive unit.

Week 1 Sketch - Shape

Would you like to join me in the Design Challenge?

What you Need to Do:

  1. Draw a 15-20 minute sketch or sketches using your own idea, or the prompt ‘shape.’
  2. Write a post about titled Design Challenge Week 1, upload your sketch and include a link back here to Something to Ponder About
  3. Next week I will post links to those blogs that participated.
  4. Leave a comment here on this post, so others can find their way to your blog.
  5. Follow me to view each week’s prompt posted on a Sunday.

Something Creative to Ponder About

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* N.B. I am not a tertiary qualified Art teacher and don’t purport to be one. I have based this information on my own research and experience. I am happy to take on board further input and or any corrections, deemed necessary, by way of comments on this post.

Sorbian Inspiration – Traditional Tuesday

In 1734, South-eastern Prussia a guild was founded for the blue and Schönfärber crafts, wherein linen, and in later years cotton fabrics, were printed using a particular indigo blue dye and a resist process.Kornaehren.jpg

History and Development

Although Blaudruck or Blueprint fabric design is highly parochial and a traditional folk art, rather than existing on a commercial level,  the ideas and inspiration for this form of textile design, had its roots in the wider art forms of the eighteenth century. Peasants from Cottbus and Lusatia were influenced by elaborate tapestries, expensive furnishings and blue and white porcelain styles  they saw in around them during the 18th century. Blueprint then developed into a cottage industry of hand-woven linen fabrics, made by the rural population, and then dyed predominantly in indigo blue but occasionally in red or yellow.

For many handcrafts, as well as Blaudruck, industrialization spelled the end of most blue printing workshops and only a handful remained to carry on this craft.

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The Process

The color is transferred directly to the fabric surface and appears first as brown. After drying, the material is placed in a developing bath, in which the brown ink changes to a bright blue by a chemical reaction. The fabric is finally boiled, pressed and then ready for use. Printing must be done very carefully, as errors can not be corrected. This craft process is a further development of the original reserve print and is used when a blue pattern is to be created on a white background.

It is a dyeing process, not a printing process as the color is transferred directly to the fabric surface and initially appears brown. After drying, the material is then placed on racks in a developing bath, and a chemical reaction turns the brown ink to a bright blue. Lastly, the fabric is  boiled and pressed before it is ready for use. The fabric is hung on an iron frame in layers and dipped into a deep ‘Färbebottich,’ or vat.

An alternative process can create a similar blue colored fabric using a form of etching using a corrosive substance (etching), which also leads to a white pattern on a blue background.

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Motifs

The ornamental motifs and patterns that are used, in Blueprint textiles, are some of the oldest known patterns used in textile design. Florals, perpetual borders and Christianity motifs were popular themes and clearly an integral part of folk’s lives.

“Blueprint” have been used to decorate such items as tablecloths, pillowcases, curtains, and wall hangings.Even in clothing fashion, it was used as as an element of  ethnic minority from the Lusatian region. Aprons, in particular are printed with different patterns on the front and back

Read more here.

Rosemaling traditional art
Something to Ponder About

Blueprint textile design is something I will be pondering more about.

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Traditional Art – Boleslawiec Stoneware

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The Polish Pottery Festival in Boleslawiec, Poland celebrates a tradition of ceramic pottery dating back to the 14th century. Largely unknown in some parts of the world, it has become a sought after souvenir by tourists visiting the German-Czech border region. In this month’s Traditional Art Post, I explore Bolesławiec (pronounced Bowl-e-swa-vee-etz) stoneware.

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Polish Pottery Festival in Bolesławiec

 

Using a fine, white kaolin clay found in the river basins of the surrounding area, Boleslawiec pottery is molded or turned, and then fired in ovens, at temperatures in excess of 1350°C with a clear, lead-free glaze, thus making it non-toxic and highly impervious to abrasives. Incredibly, it doesn’t chip or crack easily and can not only be used in the oven or microwave, but is also dishwasher safe!!  The perfect stoneware!!!

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Traditional Boleslawiec patterns were punched using hand-stencils,  originally using vegetables such as the humble potato. [Remember doing this kind of stamping in kindergarten art?]

This was the preferred decorative design standard for hundreds of years until the master potter, Johann Gottlieb Altman, introduced designs of circles, dots, scales and clover leaves in the early 1830’s.  The colorful and durable work of arts on white backgrounds appealed to the European nobility and as a result, Boleslawiec’ popularity grew.

Today, the contemporary ‘Unikat’ series has taken Boleslawiec ceramic design to a whole new level. With ever more complicated motifs, patterns and colours, and complemented by hand-painting techniques, this means a finished piece of Boleslawiec pottery will now easily command a high price in the marketplace.

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The fine grain white clay, Kaolin, is of such high quality, it is used to make fine porcelain dishes as well. Once processed to the right consistency it begins its metamorphosis from earth to heirloom quality stoneware. Either molded or formed on a potter’s wheel, the piece is air-dried, trimmed and cleaned, then pre-burnt in preparation for the application of the final design. Originally stamped or “punched” using vegetables, the artists’ tools have evolved to longer lasting media like sea sponges or rubber stamps. This time-consuming process may require from one to ten different sized or shaped stencils to fill the ceramic’s surface design.  Moreover, the number of punches may reach into the thousands on a particular piece. The paints used are completely non-toxic, free of lead and cadmium. Source: http://neveradulldayinpoland.com/boleslawiec-poland-aka-polish-pottery-heaven/

Boleslawiecpottery

Stamped pottery decorations with the famous “eye of the peacock’s tail” motif have been produced since the beginning of the 19th century and are recognized among the finest examples of European pottery. Village craftsmen and peasants of lower Silesia, inspired by the peacock’s feather motif, have added incredible strength and beauty to these objects, which have long been admired for their quality and decorative appeal. Each piece is hand painted and initialed/signed by skilled artisans. 

 

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In 1897, the Professional School of Ceramics was established in Bolesławiec.  The many technological advances and innovative methods taught helped town of Bolesławiec to earn the reputation, “town of good clay” in the region.

However, World War II took its toll on the Bolesławiec ceramics industry. The ceramic workshops were destroyed. In 1946, efforts began to revive the ceramics industry in Bolesławiec. Over time, new cooperatives were formed and the skilled and talented potters in the region began rebuilding the pottery industry in Bolesławiec to what it is today. Source: (http://www.polishstoneware.com/about_polish_pottery/sec_polish_pottery_history/)

 

Traditional art is always something so inspiring to ponder about.

Rosemaling traditional art
Something to Ponder About

 

Why Make it Yourself? Travel theme – Handmade

When it comes to darning socks, almost no-one does it anymore. Cheap items and time poor couples with high disposable income,  have relegated simple repairs to low priced essentials, to the pages of history books.

Shouldn’t we be overjoyed that we are freed from the yoke of menial tasks?

If so, why do I feel relaxed when making something with my bare hands; why am I so drawn to up-cycle items where possible, or feel desperate to create an individual item that was designed and made by me even though it is not so appreciated in today’s world? I am hopeful that design trends may come full circle and a retro movement will one day re- introduce hand made objects in preference to ready made, shop- purchased, mass- produced items? Or am I just  ‘dreaming?’

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Factory made items lack the durability and quality of hand made and not only do they not last, but are sterile and you can see them duplicated in almost every home. Is this really what we want? No need to travel except to see the difference in natural landscape as no cultural individuality will exist?

Children are not taught practical hands-on skills either at school or by their overstressed, time-poor parents, so we are fast becoming a consumer in all senses, and are no longer creating. Where will this end? Do we realise fantastic one offs such as this wood carving will no longer be obtainable?IMG_20140614_204023

For these reasons, and more, I am drawn to any hand-made items on my travels. For these are items usually developed from crafts, that have evolved, in a small locale and been handed down  over many generations.  They scream workmanship, love, beautiful, naturally-synchronous ‘form’ and function. They inspire me to create  – more and more!

Ailsa’s Hand made travel theme was a no-brainer – I had to participate. How about you?

Something for our hands and brains to ponder about?

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embroidery project

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