Artist Møyfrid Hveding paints Norway
The mist envelops you, as the waves gently bob your rowboat. The salty bite of the sea seeps into your nostrils. You are tiny in the midst of this vast craggy-gray coast.
This is not a description of a trip to Norway but rather a description of a painting of the country by the very talented artist Møyfrid Hveding.
So real is her work that it is more than a photograph. Her style is reminiscent of Sámi joik (song poems) in its power. In a joik you are not singing about a place or person but are conjuring the place or person through song. Instead of sound, Hveding uses paint to take you to that place.
Hveding was a professional lawyer who decided to do something completely different: to follow her passion rather than what was practical. You only need to view one of her paintings to know she made the right decision.
After Hveding’s first child was born in 1994, she began to reconnect with her creative side through making cakes and costumes. Yet it wasn’t until 2003 that she took her first art classes, a gift from her husband. Although she never studied painting in a formal school, she has been taking lessons from some of Norway’s best artists. She has also studied art in Provence.
Her work was recently featured in the Norwegian American Weekly’s Christmas Gift Guide. Editor Emily C. Skaftun was introduced to Hveding’s work at this past year’s Norsk Høstfest (Hveding received a Merit Award at the festival). I recently had the opportunity to interview this unique artist.
Victoria Hofmo: Can you tell us a little about where you come from in Norway?
Møyfrid Hveding: I live in a small, idyllic town called Drøbak, close to Oslo. We try to convince the world that Santa Claus lives here. But originally I come from a small place called Ballangen up in the north of Norway, close to Narvik. My hometown is in an area where Norway is at its narrowest, and where nature is totally spectacular and wild. Only about 2,600 people live in Ballangen, but the size of the municipality is 930 square kilometers, or three times the size of Malta, which means it’s a lot of space and a lot of untouched nature. It reaches all the way from the coast to the Swedish border. Nature here has great variety, with lots of fjords and mountains. I love this nature, and many of my paintings are from this area.
VH: How has the geography of your home affected how you paint?
MH: I’m in love with the Norwegian scenery, and love to paint various mountains and fjords from all different angles.
A lot of people paint Norwegian scenery, but I like to paint more “photographic” then most other people. I’m a bit hung up on details, and pride myself in catching all the details. I’m fascinated by the art of real wild nature, and therefore I want to render it as realistically as possible.
VH: According to your bio, you didn’t begin painting until your husband gave you a gift of art classes. What clicked at that time?
MH: I used to draw a lot when I was growing up, but I stopped sometime during my school years. I did however continue being creative, but in other ways: I made costumes for my children and I made cake-sculptures (see my webpage at www.kunstkakeriet.com), but I forgot all about drawing.
One day my oldest daughter came home and told me that she was to take drawing classes at school, and I decided that she couldn’t do that without having proper tools, so I rushed out to buy good pencils, charcoal, and paper. And then I decided to just try it out a bit before giving it to her, and that was when I rediscovered drawing and realized at that very moment that this was an important part of me that I had suppressed for too many years.
When my husband gave me painting tools for Christmas a few months later I just knew that this was something I had to do, something I should have done a long time ago. In a way it doesn’t feel like I chose to paint, it feels like it’s a choice that was already made for me, and I just have to heed the call.
VH: Your website “Painting Norway” offers personalized paintings of specific Norwegian locations for customers. How did you come up with this idea?
MH: I started painting scenery that had a special meaning to me, but as people started to ask if I could paint the places they cared about I realized that it would be a greater challenge to paint on demand, and it would also be a better way to make a living on what I love.
VH: What has been your most interesting “Painting Norway” project?
MH: The most interesting project I’ve had so far must be the woman who wanted me to make a painting of her cottage, but it turned out what she actually wanted painted was the nature around her cottage. To get the proper feeling of being close to her cottage when she was at home she wanted the painting to be quite big; two meters by 60 centimeters, and her cottage would cover not more than about four square centimeters of this.
However, she didn’t have any photos of the panorama to show me how it looked. She had taken five or six smaller photos of the area, so before starting to paint we had to use Photoshop to “glue” the different photos together the right way to get an idea of what the whole panoramic scenery actually looked like. After the preparations I could start painting, and the woman was very satisfied and claims that looking at the painting almost gives her the feeling of being there.
VH: To provide a painting that makes someone feel that way must be incredibly satisfying. Can you speak about what you would still like to explore in your art?
MH: What I want to achieve is that people should get the feeling of almost being there when they look at my paintings… I want to be able to make that sensation even stronger. And I also want to be even better at creating exciting effects by painting the right light into the paintings. And as I love scenery of the north of Norway in particular, and I want my paintings to be realistic, I really want to be able to paint storms and bad weather in a manner that will make you want to put on your rubber boots.
VH: Was your visit to Høstfest this autumn your first trip to the U.S.? How did it go?
MH: The visit at the Høstfest was my first trip to the western part of the U.S., but I have been to the East Coast before.
I had a great time at Høstfest; I found it really fascinating and overwhelming. For a Norwegian it is intriguing how so many people can celebrate their Nordic heritage in such an enormous manner.
The sales, however, didn’t go so well. I guess most people have to think a bit longer before investing in an original oil painting. At Høstfest next year I plan to bring prints for sale at a much lower price.
VH: What is the best way for interested customers to reach you?
MH: The best way for interested customers to reach me is by email from my website www.paintingnorway.com or by sending a message to Painting Norway on Facebook.
Even if you are not in the market to purchase a painting, I would recommend that you go to Hveding’s site to enjoy her uncanny ability to conjure Norway.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 8, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.