Rosemaling finds place on palette at the Sons lodge

POULSBO — It can often be a struggle to keep a tradition alive.

But at the Poulsbo Sons of Norway, maintaining a 300-year-old piece of Norwegian heritage is as easy as a brush stroke.

For the last eight years, Marilyn Hansen has been teaching rosemaling in the basement of Grieg Hall. A 27-year veteran of the Scandinavian art form, Hansen teaches in both Poulsbo and Bremerton, as well as selling her original pieces at the Nordic Maid in downtown Poulsbo. She said passing on Nordic heritage is important to her, which is why she comes back year after year.

“It’s fun to expose people to it so they can appreciate rosemaling when they see it and can know what it is,” she commented.

Though rosemaling is a Scandinavian tradition, it takes on dozens of forms depending on the region. And rosemaling newbie Ardi Erickson, who has had three lessons with Hansen so far, said she’s noticed similar styles in artwork from areas like Poland and Mexico. Hansen added rosemaling has also recently become a popular art form among the Japanese.

“So you don’t have to be Norwegian to enjoy rosemaling,” Hansen said.

Hansen teaches rosemaling packaged in six-week sessions. The next session begins Oct. 28 and is open to the public and to any level of painter. Beginners are taught the basics of mixing paint, then practice painting on cardboard and wax paper before moving on to the classic first project of a wooden cutting board. Students who have already completed the preliminary six-week session can move to projects like plates, door crowns, wooden boxes and many others.

“You can do it on just about any wooden surface,” Hansen said of the art form.

The two main ingredients for the homegrown Scandinavian art form are brush strokes and color combinations. Hansen said the traditional scroll and flower patterns seen on rosemaling are a matter of brush control, which takes a bit of practice to master.

“They say with 40 hours of practice, you could paint something you’d be pleased with but I always tell my students that the first project, they should always hang a little higher,” she said with a laugh. “Like anything else, it takes practice.”

Erickson, who drives in from Sequim to attend the Poulsbo rosemaling group, said she agrees that practice is the key to the art form. But she also noted that with just three classes under her belt, she was already feeling pretty confident in her abilities.

“I think anybody could do this,” she said. “I’m not particularly artistic so if I can do it, anybody could do it.”

Student Mary Lynn Sponholz of Poulsbo has been part of the class at the Poulsbo Sons of Norway for about four years. While she still calls herself a novice, she said she enjoys the class and has kept coming back because Hansen is an excellent teacher.

“I’d never attempted it before,” she said. “Painting, just the procedure, it’s something I’m finding I was made to do.”

Though painting was something with which student June Simonson was well acquainted, she said she still finds it a challenge after three years of lessons — although she said the challenge is what she enjoys most about the art form. And like many hobbyists, she’s found rosemaling an excellent way to make homemade presents for friends and family.

“It makes me feel good when I’m finally finished but I usually give most of my stuff away,” she said.


Rosemaling Class

6-9 p.m. Thursdays

Poulsbo Sons of Norway lodge

New class starts Oct. 28

RSVP: (360) 692-5104

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