Sunday, December 22, 2013

Combining Motifs To Make It Your Own

In passing, I have mentioned that I was very enamored of Rosemaling, a Norwegian painting style, that literally means rose painting. Over the years it developed into a very detailed and free flowing style. Since I wasn't from any of the towns famous for this artwork and my love also of Early American Pennsylvania Dutch designs, I call my work Krugmaling. You can bet roses and I are not on good artistic terms, but the motifs of both crafts amazingly do work well together. In fact, I have no doubt that one didn't begat the other.

Rosemaling & Pennsylvania Dutch designs combined
Searching for a gift for my daughter for Christmas I found a good solid wooden tray in my stache. Not the thinner ones from a craft store, but ones I picked up at a painting convention. Since my daughter loves to entertain I thought this was the perfect tray surface to decorate and practical enough to use. When not in use it could be displayed as home decor.

Looking at several Rosemaling books (I can't read a word, they're in Norwegian) I caught the idea I wanted and on the stained wooden tray sketched out my design. Those white chalk pencils are perfect for that. Once the paint is in place, it can be wiped off with a damp rag. As usual, I then picked out the colors, always an arduous task. Since the wood had been stained a dark black walnut, just about any medium to light color would stand out. So I picked rose, pinks and peaches for the flowers and medium to almost pale greens for the leaves ... lighter on top and darker on the bottom. And because I am weird, I made the central pattern a bit off of perfect symmetry. I wanted there to be a top and a bottom. Why? I just did.

I left the ends bare. I figured that no matter how many coats of Varathane I put on, the paint where the hand holds are would be the first to go. I did decorate each long side borrowing motifs from inside the tray. It stands out even if just seen from the side.

I love the graceful curves of Rosemaling. Nothing is really ever straight. It resembles a vine as it curves its way into the world. In fact, many of their designs are variations of an "S" or a "C" and can either be alone or together. I wanted a central flower on each of the four sides and designed a leafy vine to tie them all together. I have played with this concept on my birdhouses but this is the first time on flatter surfaces. Personally, I think it works quite well. I guess its a matter of taste but I must admit since I started playing with this, it has gotten many views and in fact the last birdhouse using a Rosemaling motif was sold in a matter of days.

Art in many ways is built on what has come before. Anyone studying the progression of art knows this. Is there anything original? Of course but not quite as much as we would like to believe. The re-invention of perspective in the Renaissance changed nearly a thousand years of art. The flat, almost two dimensional art of ancient Egypt was replaced by three dimensional art used in ancient Greece and Rome.

There is nothing wrong in combining styles to create a new one. Modern art is nothing but that exact thing. I urge you to "play" a bit. Do you have a favorite motif that you "always" do? Why not marry that with another style and see what happens.

Be sure to visit See some of the examples I am talking about.

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