About Mona

It all comes back to...

WHere do i belong?

Mona Stenseth Erlandsen is a Norwegian painter currently living in Porsgrunn. She was born and raised in the north of Norway, by a Norwegian father and Danish mother. She has been moving around the country, spending years studying/working in Trondheim, Bergen and Oslo – before settling down with her family in Telemark.  

During her many moves within Norway, Mona has experienced that there are certain things that briefly have made her “feel right at home”… However, the sense of belonging is left unmet. She personally feels as though she “doesn’t really belong anywhere” and explores this human urge to belong. Do we need to build and seek a stronger affiliation within ourselves, regardless of geography and physical roots – or are we all just going through life, looking for “home”?

ornamental surrealism

In her paintings, she combines tradition with fantasy. She plays in the intersection between the ornamental and surreal. Birds often land in her paintings – as a symbol of humankind’s urge to explore, travel and to discover what “freedom” means to them. 

Erlandsen has a curiosity for identity, tradition and heritage – but also symbolism, fairytales and aesthetics from interiors and architecture. They all shape her maximalist style where she creates large oil paintings from dreamy neverlands.

folk art inspiration

Mona is deeply influenced by the old folk-art techniques of Norwegian “rosemaling” which to most people of Norway, is a dim memory of “some antique object decorated in the olden days”. She’s studied/learned and practiced these forgotten painting techniques to anchor her Norwegian cultural heritage. 

As a contemporary artist, Mona likes to stretch the boundaries of traditional artistry in a playful way, continuously asking herself “What can I get away with?”, without losing the technique and disrespecting the heritage. 


On the canvas, she ponders her own identity and being, whilst creating visual interpretations of her own life. She is striving to be “queen of her own castle” and not let our culture and society overrule what one can or cannot do – and to regularly ask herself the questions that make shape of our lives. 

Through her paintings and art, she asks her viewers to do the same

take a step back

And remembering to always ask questions

Commercial art

In 2012, Mona founded Emmeselle, a norwegian company that (still) mass produces her water-painted illustrations of well-known objects that honors nordic history and pop culture. The products (art cards, prints and gift items) are being retailed in hundreds of shops around the country. 

She’s also collaborating with The National Museum of Norway to create a separate collection of products with illustrations inspired by the museum’s own collection.

Passion + Meaning = Good life

Why/where am I going?

There is nowhere I’d rather be, than right in front of my canvases, holding on to my pencil brushes, dreams and ideas. 

It takes a few hours to get into that deep flow zone where I get lost in the painting and time and my whereabouts simply disappear. That state of mind to me, is a true quality of life. 

I am striving to create and maintain a lifestyle where I have time and focus to enjoy the company of my own thoughts, my day dreaming and my poetic soul. This is where I’m supposed to be.