Connecticut’s master rosemaler

Photo courtesy of Linda Miller Miller with a few of her creations.

Photo courtesy of Linda Miller
Miller with a few of her creations.

Roy Jorgensen
Hopewell Junction, N.Y.

Linda Miller is a very successful rosemaler from Middlebury, Conn. She started rosemaling before 1974. Encouraged by Mabel Synnove Olsen (Miller’s mother-in-law), who was born in Oslo, Norway, when it was still known as Christiania, she acquired Sigmunds Aarseth’s book Norwegian Rosemaling by Miller and Aarseth. After studying the book with its illustrations and practicing the exercises in the elemental strokes, she was finally able to move on to adding to her skill with other embellishments that culminate into the grand floral design.

Later, Miller became a member of the New England Rosemalers Society and was active for many years, making many friends including Eldrid Arntzen, before the society dissolved. The pair would travel together to Decorah, Iowa, during Nordic Fest at the Vesterheim Museum where they would take classes and compete in the yearly exhibition. Miller now has five points towards her Gold Medal and many honorable mentions.

Having studied under some of the “Old Masters” from Norway, Miller mostly paints in the Telemark and Gudbrandsdal style of rosemaling, favoring the natural flow of their design characteristics. Norwegian teachers included Nils Ellinsgard, Sigmund Aarseth, Kari Petersen, Ragnvald Froysadal, Svanhild Langstad, Turid Flatland, Kari Signe Brathen, Sigrid Midas, Torunn Rod Farsund, and Knut Andersen, master painter of the Porsgrund china factory in Norway.

The American teachers, Eldrid Arntzen, Karen Jenson, Judy Ritger, Shirley Evanstad, Irene Lamont, Judith Nelson Kjenstad, Gary Albrecht, Sally DeReus, Sheila Stillin, Jean Geiese, and Barbara Wolters also heavily influenced and fostered her skills.

Miller’s last class with Sigmund Aarseth at Vesterheim was called Interior Designing with Rosemaling. “What a wonderful teacher he was,” she reminisces.

Miller’s first winning piece was purchased by Vesterheim for their 1989 permanent collection and was featured in the 1989 publication “Norway in America.” The 1989 Vesterheim exhibition toured Hamar, Lillehammer, and Gjøvik, Norway. In the 1990s one of her pieces was also purchased and presented to the ambassador from Norway as a going away gift from Vesterheim. She has also entered in the California Rosemalers Society exhibition, winning first place multiple times.

Miller has gone on to teach at craft schools and local lodges on the east coast. These include John Campbell of North Carolina, Fletcher Farms in Vermont, and Maine. She can also be found at many Nordic fests exhibiting and selling her rosemaling in the American northeast. This autumn you can see her work at Troll Lodge Fair, N.Y., and in November at the Van Wyck Museum Fair in Fishkill, N.Y.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 23, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.