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Rosemaling - Where to Start

I want to learn rosemaling, where do I begin?


This seems like such a simple question, but there can be many layers.  Let’s peel back the onion to see the things to consider.


Beginner Courses – In-classroom and Online

Taking a course specifically focused on the beginning aspects of rosemaling is the most recommended way to begin your rosemaling journey. These classes can range anywhere from 1-3 days in length. The nice thing about beginner classes is they start you at the very beginning.  Providing instruction on everything from the supplies needed, paint brush care, prepping wood pieces, transferring patterns, and basic rosemaling brushstrokes and linework.


Linework & Brushstroke Classes – In-classroom and Online

Classes in basic rosemaling brushstrokes and linework are great for beginners and apply to all rosemaling styles.  While these classes may not cover some of the standard beginner topics (brush care, prepping wood, etc.), it will provide an opportunity to practice the painting skills necessary for all rosemalers. Even experienced rosemalers take linework and brushstroke classes to further refine their skills.


Beginner Instructional Videos

Another way to begin is by watching instructional videos.  These provide a lot of information and tips to get you started. The downside of videos is obviously, you can’t ask the video instructor questions. However, this may be a way to dip your toes into rosemaling on your own schedule.

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Common Beginner Rosemaling Questions


Q:  What type of paint should I use?  Oil or Acrylic

Traditionally, rosemalers painted in oil paint. As acrylics became better, some painters transitioned to acrylics. Classes can be found taught in either acrylics or oils. The type of paint you use is your personal choice.


Oil Paints

Pros – vibrant colors, longer working time, easy to blend, more traditional

Cons – takes longer to dry, clean up can require solvents, such as odorless paint thinners; however, some oil painters clean up with simple Dawn dish soap


Acrylic Paints

Pros – quick to dry, soap and water clean-up

Cons – color blending is a bit harder, shorter working time, as paint dries colors become more dull


If you have a paint preference, I’d suggest taking your first few classes with an instructor that teaches in your preferred type of paint. The instructors will be able to acquaint you with the mediums, typical rosemaling color palettes, and how to do the special blending and linework techniques needed for rosemaling using that type of paint. Once you are comfortable with using the paint, often you can begin taking classes from either oil/acrylic instructors while still painting in your preferred paints. Yet, keep in mind the instructor may have limited knowledge in helping you.


Q:  What style of rosemaling should I learn first?

The basics taught in any beginner rosemaling class are basically the same, no matter what style is taught. However, if you have a style of rosemaling you really want to learn and have a choice, select that one.


Q:  Which rosemaling style is the easiest to learn?

This seems like an easy question. But, if you ask ten rosemalers, you may get ten different answers. Personally, I think the easiest rosemaling style to learn is the one you like and want to learn.


Q:  Online or in-classroom classes?

Some students may find in-person classes work best for them, others do fine with online courses. You know how you learn best.  That said, there are many, many benefits to taking in-classroom rosemaling classes.  If you can, taking an in-classroom class is highly recommended.

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