Brita Granström: a small fleeting moment, the wide blue sea

“Tea for Two” by Brita Granström

I had to catch my breath the first time I saw Brita Granström’s, “Tea for Two”: the soft light at the window framed by gauzy blue curtains, the expectant posture of the woman looking outside, the gorgeous blue tea set. Love how she captured the ethereal beauty of a fleeting moment in time.

Brita in her studio.

Living and working between the UK and her native Sweden, Brita is a fine arts painter as well as an award winning children’s book illustrator (most notably in collaboration with her husband Mick Manning).

No surprise – I’m totally enamored of her interiors, which depict people engaged in domestic tasks – arranging flowers, cutting rhubarb, rolling out pastry dough, cutting apples, relaxing with a crossword puzzle. Her “soft focus” approach gives her pictures a dreamy, haunting quality that pulls us into her visual narratives. We are witnessing ‘life as it happens.’

Her lovely still life paintings feature blooming bulbs, wildflowers, and pretty cut blossoms in an interesting variety of receptacles (antique vases, jugs, tins). They all tell an interesting story, as her settings – whether dining room, kitchen, window looking out to sea, sitting room, sideboard – establish a context for chosen objects. I love how she sometimes includes figures (working in the background, reflected in mirrors), suggesting a human presence that arouses curiosity without being intrusive.

Brita grew up on a farm in Sweden by a lake. She’s been drawing, painting, and making things since childhood. After studying at the Orebo Art School, she completed a four-year post graduate course in Illustration and Design at Konstfack in Stockholm.

photo of Brita Granström by Diana Papas.

She arrived in Scotland in 1993, unexpectedly fell in love, and has remained in Northumberland (borders region between Northern England and Scotland) ever since. 

I love the light and the wind and the beaches.

During the early 90s she began making children’s books and later was able to begin showing her canvas paintings in area galleries.

We live in an old Georgian house in the borders with lots of character and a wonderful soft light which inspires many of my interior paintings. We have also built our own wooden house in Sweden near a lake. The vibe is different in both places – but I like them both equally.

In addition to her lovely interiors, Brita paints stunning landscapes that are created on location in all weathers. 

Her landscape paintings have been described as “freer, broader and unconstrained,” with an “adventurous freshness.” I love her sweeping vistas, the feeling of wildness, spontaneity, of the natural world in a state of flux. As with her interiors, she includes people enjoying the outdoors, whether swimming, hiking, or beachcombing. She says that quite often someone might walk into her picture, so she paints him/her in.

The landscapes of both Sweden and the British Isles feature strongly in my paintings; environments that are always changing, never still. Painting on location and in all weathers; both indoors and outdoors, produces paintings that, for me, encompass and celebrate themes of hope, humanity, life and mortality.

Brita admires Scandinavian artists Edvard Munch, Helene Schjerfbeck, and Sigrid Hjertén. Favorite contemporary artists/printmakers include Emily Sutton, Alice Pattullo, and Angie Lewin, and she likes Helen Stephens’s and Emily Mackenzie’s children’s books.

Brita and Mick

With Mick Manning, Brita has published many notable nonfiction picture books. Subjects include science, nature, history, and my favorite – biographies. She and Mick have featured the Brontës, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, the Wordsworths, and the Beatles, among others. Theirs is a unique collaborative effort – as they both research, write, and create art for each project – a perfect melding of talents and interests. 

Their books have earned multiple English Association Nonfiction Awards, the Smarties Prize, Oppenheimer Gold and Platinum Awards, as well as shortlist nominations for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

Brita has also earned multiple Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Awards, and has participated in many group as well as solo exhibitions in the UK. Currently, she is represented by Thompson’s Galleries and Godfrey & Watt (England), and the Open Eye Gallery (Scotland). Visit their websites for available works.

♥️ Enjoy these short videos showing Brita at work. The first is her painting on location on an island in Lindisfarne, Northumberland, and the second shows her painting in an empty 18th century house.

♥️ In this longer video, Brita and Mick discuss their latest picture book, Women Who Led the Way. Brita sketches a couple of the women featured in the book, and they go into more detail about how they select book ideas, research, and collaborate on the art.


♥️ For more, visit Brita’s Official Website, her Children’s Book Site with Mick Manning, and her Instagram. In addition to the above mentioned galleries, you can contact Brita directly via her website to purchase available paintings.

*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

11 thoughts on “Brita Granström: a small fleeting moment, the wide blue sea

  1. Jama, thank you for this lovely blog post! It’s still dark out here in NYC, but I am personally filled with light. I don’t know why, but when I look at Brita’s paintings, my mind goes to Fredrik Backman! I must get some of her books, especially the biography of the Beatles, and the Lake poets!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not familiar with Backman, will have to investigate. Her books are packed with info. Interesting that she and Mick both write and illustrate for their books.


    1. After learning more about Brita, I “had” to order the books on the Brontes and Wordsworths. She and Mick present a lot of interesting facts in each. Have also read their Dickens book. I’ve been meaning to review at least one of these but haven’t gotten around to it yet. You will like them. 🙂


  2. I found several of the picture books at my library, Jama, definitely will order that new Women Who Led The Way. What gorgeous work you have shared from Brita! I enjoyed every painting & the videos, too! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have had this tab open all week and just keep returning to this post and these gorgeous paintings. I still haven’t soaked in all the goodness!

    Liked by 1 person

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