Artist Jan Norsetter’s “Home and Away” show at Paoli’s Zazen Gallery depicts her impression of Wisconsin’s natural landscape and rustic scenes from her most recent summer trip to Brittany, France’s northernmost region.
Even though her house is located just miles outside of the 6896 Paoli Road gallery in the city of Verona, Norsetter thinks of all the locations she paints as a piece of her Earthly home, whether it’s “en plein air” – meaning outdoors in French – or in the studio.
Norsetter’s show will be displayed at Zazen Gallery until Saturday, Dec. 21.
She is also known for her rosemaling – the Norwegian art of painting wooden furniture and objects with flower motifs – having received a national award for her work.
Even after 50 years of artistry, Norsetter said she is constantly improving all of her techniques.
As you enter the gallery, you’re greeted with some of Norsetter’s favorite Wisconsin settings on the back wall, from prairie at a farm along the Sugar River, to a flowering crab tree she visits and paints every May at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison.
In the largest painting in the “Home” display is a scene of an oak tree at the end of March, when signs of spring are barely apparent. Snow still blankets the ground, but new chutes of green grass mixed with some longer, browned versions of the plant peek through. Grass overlooks the Sugar River, which has begun thawing in the wake of the new season. Portions of the oak that face the light are a yellow hue, while the parts facing the river are a charcoal green – Norsetter said she uses natural lighting to her advantage in that way.
The flowering crab’s leaves at the arboretum, in contrast, show more vibrant tones of reds and oranges. The tree is in its prime and sticks out among Norsetter’s variations of green depicting background shrubs, bushes and other trees. She said she has painted this tree multiple times – she thought of it as her way of capturing snapshots of its aging process.
Tucked away to the right is Norsetter’s visual diary of her trip to France, “Away.”
She traveled with 11 other artists to Brittany in July 2019. While there, Norsetter painted for hours along the coast and of some of the local architecture.
Time escapes her when she paints Norsetter said. It “evaporates.”
Norsetter said her intention for painting the architecture of the region was to capture the day and its ambience. One scene displays a cityscape with warm mustard yellows with cooler grey and bluish tones. The buildings are likely residences with cars parked in garages. A tower, reminiscent of medieval design, seems to touch the sky in the distance. Green trees line the sidewalk on the painting’s right and the clouds with patches of blue seep through in the atmosphere.
Another painting shows a seaside, with the open sky, a light blue, and the sea a variation of indigos and teals. Sandy beaches give way to rocky structures that stretch their way into the water. The tied looks low and in the distance is a mountainous landscape of dark greys. Norsetter said she always wants to evoke a peaceful feeling when viewers see her pieces – you can almost hear the lullaby of the waves as they wash the sediment away from the shore, or the wind rustling the leaves of the flowering crab in the spring.
“In this little quiet way, I’m trying to point out … don’t destroy the planet,” Norsetter said of her paintings. “A lot of places I painted end up disappearing. I’m recording what I see now and hoping people find value in it.”
For information about the “Home and Away” show, email Norsetter at email@example.com or call the Zazen Gallery at 845-9722.