Bowl and plate set © 1982 Sheila Stilin Bowl and plate set © 1982 Sheila Stilin

Gold Medal In: Rosemaling, 1989

  • Life Dates Born 1940, Evanston, Illinois
  • Occupation Registered Nurse
  • Residence at Time of Award Rhinelander, Wisconsin


  • 1982 Blue ribbon for a bowl and plate set
  • 1985 White ribbon for a triangular box
  • 1986 White ribbon for a small trunk
  • 1987 Red ribbon for an oval box (tine)
  • 1989 Red ribbon for an oval box (tine)

Artist Statement

My first exposure to Norwegian rosemaling was in the winter of 1970 or 1971 at an arts and crafts fair in a small town in northern Wisconsin. Dorothy Peterson was there demonstrating the folk art. The works that she had on display were so interesting, lyrical, and beautiful that the next thing I knew, I was on the road to taking lessons. It was the beginning of a romance with this wonderful folk art that lasted for almost 30 years. Though I don’t do this particular type of art anymore, as I was looking through the photographs that I have saved, it brought back many wonderful memories.

I spent a good deal of time studying under Dorothy off and on for many years, and she was the most influential when it came for me to choose a style and work with design. Her way of expressing and interpreting the essence of this folk art spoke to me the most. I studied many of the other styles, and always came back to Hallingdal and Valdres. Dorothy willingly shared her talent, knowledge, heritage, and her kindness.

During the years of painting this folk art, I met and studied under many wonderful and talented people—Vi Thode, Ethel Kvalheim, Gary Albrecht, and Nils Ellingsgard, to name a few. I couldn’t name all of the wonderful folk artists I have had the chance to meet and talk to. But one thing I can say is that they were all open, sharing, encouraging, and fun to be around. We even worked into painting with gouache, and what an experience that was! It was especially good for me as I developed an allergy to the oils.

I did end up teaching this folk art for quite a few years, and had one of the best times of my life. My biggest thrill was being able to teach in Decorah at Vesterheim. My other biggest thrill was taking a trip to Norway in 1991 to study Hallingdal rosemaling with Nils Ellingsgard. It was one of the trips sponsored by Vesterheim. I will always cherish the friends I have met through being involved in this folk art, and they still mean a lot to me today. I now paint in watercolor and it is another mind-opening experience, full of surprises, and has given me a great deal of pleasure, and a little bit of recognition.