The Watercolors of a Norwegian Artist

The Watercolors of a Norwegian Artist

Norwegian artist Vanessa Baird is known for her surreal, and sometimes grotesque, tableaus in watercolor and drawing on paper. Learn more about the watercolors of the Norwegian artist.

Born and raised in Oslo to a Scottish mother and Norwegian father, Vanessa Baird still lives in her childhood home and has been drawing almost every day for half a century. Most of her art is largely drawn from her everyday family life, often claustrophobic compositions and slightly exaggerated versions of the truth. But she is using humor to make them palatable.

The Watercolors of a Norwegian Artist
Domestic Nightmares, by Vanessa Baird

Baird depicts a pressure-cooker life, it’s a rackety life. Boiling with intergenerational resentment, annoyance and domestic incident of one sort or another, she is in a way unaccountable.

She says she was pushed reluctantly into art, with coercion from her father and threats from her mother. She is versatile. She has e. g. illustrated Karl Ove Knausgård’s book “Om høsten” (In Autumn).

The Watercolors of a Norwegian Artist
Vanessa Baird painting purchased by Oslo National Museum

To Baird, drawing comes naturally. “It’s a way of writing, really,” she says. She doesn’t have a studio in her house, or a living room. She works in the space which is available, and there are few limits or boundaries in her art, which refers to her everyday experience, her fantasies, her frustrations and the dynamics of artistic and family life. Her brain also seems to be occupied by the ghosts of Edvard Munch and the playwright Henrik Ibsen.

In 2015, she won the Lorck Schive Art Prize for a series of large scale wall drawings, which she titled “I don’t want to be anywhere, but here I am”.

The Watercolors of a Norwegian Artist
Vanessa Baird Oslo Contemporary exhibition

In 2018, Vanessa Baird made the Nobel Peace Prize Diploma before she had a clue about who would get the prize.

The Watercolors of a Norwegian Artist
Vanissa Baird inspired by Edvard Munch

Originally scheduled for June 2020, the exhibition “I Get Along Without You Very Well” is on display at the Glasgow Women’s Library and draws on a wide range of references from her own lived experience as well as Scandinavian and contemporary folklore and literature, as well as her proud Scottish heritage. Her Mother, Maureen, was born in Glasgow and her grandfather was a medical doctor in the city at the turn of the Century. Vanessa spent a lot of time as a child coming to Scotland for the school holidays. The exhibition in Glasgow runs through 25 February 2023.

The Watercolors of a Norwegian Artist, written by Tor Kjolberg

Feature image (on top): Vanessa Baird at Fine Art, Oslo

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.


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