Dalmålning, also known as kurbits painting, is a distinctive form of Swedish folk art from mid 1700's to the mid 1800's. This style features imaginative fantasy plant and frequently depict daily life, royalty and religious motifs within local settings. "I think dalmålnings are like an old folk tune. They convey a good story, and the rhythms and colors are uncomplicated and familiar." My painting mentor was Judy Kjenstad of Minneapolis, MN. Here are a few examples of my work.
Ted Gathers No Moss
Sylvia's husband, poet Ted Hughes was a "rolling stone," a notorious philanderer. His wife Sylvia Plath, (represented by the kurbits on the right,) killed herself in 1963. His mistress Assia, (the kurbits on the left,) killed herself, (also via gas oven,) along with their young daughter, Shura, (small sprout on left,) in 1969. The traditional Swedish grave maker flag reads SAS for, Sylva, Assia and Shura.
This painting started my love of järnkor, the "tree-of-life" iron crosses in Sweden from 1700-1800's. (Casein and acrylic on canvas board.)
I Am a Wormy Hermit
"I am a Wormy Hermit in a country of prize pigs so corn-happy they can't see the slaughterhouse at the end of the track." --Sylvia Plath, "Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams."
This painting expresses my frustration while working at a long-term care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. The times were dark, it felt unclean and wormy and I self-isolated like a hermit. (Casein and acrylic on canvas board.)
Her Blacks Crackle and Drag
"The moon has nothing to be sad about, Staring from her hood of bone. She is used to this sort of thing. Her blacks crackle and drag." --- Sylvia Plath, "Edge"
Sylvia's hand rests on the curtain cord as she readies to pull it closed. Her back is turned from the kurbits, which represents God's loving protection. On the table she has laid out bread and milk for her children as they sleep peacefully in the next room.
The last poem Sylvia Plath wrote, (or at least the last one found on her desk,) before she took her life, was “Edge.” It helped me though postpartum depression. I understood the imagery as big black velvet theater curtains slowing drawing to a close as the show is over. This painting hangs above my fireplace to remind me , as Malvina Reynold sang, "There is a bottom below," and things can always be worse. (Casein and acrylic on canvas board.)
Not a dalmålning, but I painted a lovely pear and wanted to share. So there.