Artist Story: Jean Honl ~ Rosemaling
Sarah Meisinger, owner of En Liten Svensk Shoppe in Roseau, wrote a blog post about local artist Jean Honl and her Rosemaling. Read the post below:
Many of our customers enter the Shoppe and immediately recognize Jean’s art work. They know it because they already own a piece of Jean’s art or their friends, neighbors or family members do. Jean has been a beloved artist in Northwestern Minnesota for over 40 years and we are so pleased to carry her traditional Scandinavian Rosemaling at the En Liten Svensk Shoppe.
Jean’s work is especially impressive because she is primarily self-taught and she does much of the woodworking herself. She designs, builds and creates the pieces that ultimately become the canvas for her beautiful painting technique.
Recently, we hosted a strolling demonstration at the Shoppe to showcase Jean’s talent and I spent some time chatting with her, admiring her ability to answer my questions and paint at the same time (the kind of focus that only comes from years of practice). I asked Jean about her favorite part of the Rosemaling process and she said, “This… right now, it’s my favorite.” And what Jean was doing was the detail work, the intricate lines and scroll work that is a defining characteristic of the art form.
Jean’s work has been showcased on Public Television as well periodicals and publications across the region. She is a mother and grandmother and lovingly shares stories about her trips to Fargo to see her grandchildren, spoiling them as only grandmas know how.
I asked Jean about how she got her start in Rosemaling and how her skills have progressed over the years.
“Our Roseau School was offering a Rosemaling class through community education and my husband convinced me to go. That night I fell in love with Rosemaling and have been painting since 1974.”
Jean goes on to explain, “When I started Rosemaling there were only a few books about the technique. Now, through the internet, Rosemaling is very accessible and has been introduced throughout the world.”
Jean describes how she’s perfected the art over the last many years and notes that she’s had many opportunities to learn with a variety of teachers and in different settings. Jean offers a couple of examples of the places she’s explored Rosemaling, “I took classes at Vesterheim in Decorah, Iowa and close to home in Grand Forks.”
Jean offered some thoughtful wisdom when I inquired about any advice she might have for a new artist just starting out,
“My advice to Rosemalers is don’t give up. Rosemaling isn’t learned overnight. Try to find a Rosemaling class. Sons of Norway, Vesterheim, and Rosemaling Associations are a good place to start.”
I asked Jean if she actually makes all of the wood pieces for her products and her response made me chuckle. She said, “When I show the finished pieces to people, they think my husband made the furniture. I do set them straight.” Jean has a woodworking shop connected to her garage and she loves the process of building the wood pieces. Currently, Jean has been building and Rosemaling large pieces of furniture for her home. She’s wanted to create the pieces for years and decided that if she was going to build them herself, she wanted to do it now as her children are all grown and she has the extra time.
I asked Jean if there’s a favorite piece she’s created and she shared a photo of the large corner cupboard she has in her guest room. It is absolutely incredible!
We could not have a Scandinavian Shoppe without Jean’s art work – it is a symbol of the beauty of our culture and traditions. Thank you, Jean, for collaborating with us and for sharing your immense talent. To learn more about Jean and her artwork, please visit the En Liten Svensk Shoppe on Main Street in Roseau and visit Jean’s website at:
As Jean aptly says, “Happy Rosemaling!”