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Rosemaling, American Style

The Folk Art of Bernetta Pritchard

by Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder

Bernetta Pritchard, is a primarily self-taught rosemaler, who has been painting for well over twenty years. She and her husband Don run Stone Valley, a gallery located in Fall River, a small, south-central Wisconsin community. There Bernetta uses oil-based paints to rosemal one-of-a-kind pieces in three distinct Norwegian styles: Telemark, Rogaland, and Valdres.


When Bernetta gets hold of a good piece of wood, there is nothing that can stop her. In the last 5 years alone, this lady has produced no less than 15,000 items of art. Fortunately for Bernetta, she is married to an excellent wood craftsman who keeps her well supplied with wooden items to decorate.

Here, Bernetta talks about her work...

How and when did you begin creating folk art?
I began rosemaling some 20 years ago when my eldest daughter and I took a class one night a week for 8-10 weeks. After my first class, I was hooked! My training in this folk art form consists of 2 such class series, 3 weekend workshops and many, many hours of practice.

How much of an impact did your surroundings as a child have on the type of artwork you do today?
Although my family is not of Scandinavian descent and I had no awareness of this art form as I was growing up, the minute I was exposed to this art form, I knew it was for me.

Tell me a bit about your work.
The rosemaling I do is "Americanized" and not the traditional, as I use colors that go with present day decor. Since I am primarily self-taught, my style is my own.

Who or what was the greatest influence on your work?
I would have to say that I simply fell in love with the look of the Scandinavian type of painting, like the Rogaland, Telemark and Valdres designs (see below).

What has influenced your choice of media?
Oh that was easy. With my husband being a wood craftsman, the smell of fresh cut wood was all around me. Wood was the ideal base for my art. I paint everything from jewelry, tree ornaments, boxes and plates to cupboards and trunks.

What is the most difficult aspect of what you do?
I would have to say time and patience. It truly demands time and patience. That is why I stay away from the larger items, like walls.

What kind of self-promotion do you do?
I promote my work by selling at Scandinavian Festivals. I also have a small catalog available through my web site.

Any advice you would like to share with fellow rosemalers? While rosemaling requires some artistic flare, many wonderful designs are available and with a lot of practice and patience, success can be achieved.

Visit Bernetta in person, or online, at the Stone Valley Gallery

More Photos:


Rogaland Rosemaling Example Design © Bernetta Pritchard
NOTE: Rosemaling design is the original work of Bernetta Pritchard and may not be reproduced without permission of the artist.
Rogaland rosemaling features stylized tulips and roses, as well as round petal daisies and other flowers.


Telemark Rosemaling Example Design © Bernetta Pritchard
NOTE: Rosemaling design is the original work of Bernetta Pritchard and may not be reproduced without permission of the artist.
Telemark is the most distinctive rosemaling style. Telemark designs are asymmetrical, based on the letter C and S and are filled with scrolls and stylized flowers.


Valdres Rosemaling Example Design © Bernetta Pritchard
NOTE: Rosemaling design is the original work of Bernetta Pritchard and may not be reproduced without permission of the artist.
Valdres rosemaling is a simple style of rosemaling. Often painted with a few colors, it features fewer scrolls, and larger flowers like roses, tulips and mums.

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Text © Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder; Photos reprinted with Permission

More articles by Jantje



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