Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Maud Lewis, Canada's Grandma Moses, her work, and the new movie

Harbour Scene by Maud Lewis

If you're a painter who lives in the US, you've probably heard of Grandma Moses, whose work was discovered in a drugstore window in upstate New York. Did you know she has an artistic sister in Nova Scotia?

 Maud Lewis painting available on a magnet at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Maud Lewis in front of her house

Maud Lewis (1903 - 1970) was a Canadian folk artist whose mother taught her to paint Christmas cards in watercolor. She met her fisherman husband when he advertised for a house keeper. They soon married and moved into his small one room/loft house, and she sold her painted Christmas cards with him on this door to door rounds. Arthritis restricted her arm movement, so most of her paintings were small, though a few 24"x36" are known to have been painted. Lewis painted with bright colors, with no paint mixing. Her subjects were what she saw around her or remembered from her youth, the people, animals and countryside. She was prolific and painted almost every surface inside their house and a lot of the outside. 

The couple's original house and furnishings are now in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. There is a memorial constructed of steel (quite lovely at night) in Marshalltown, near where the house originally stood, and a replica built by a local fisherman Murray Ross a few miles away. Artist and local resident Poppy Balser took Carol L. Douglas and me to see the both of those in Nova Scotia last week.

 Maud Lewis house replica by Murray Ross

A book, a play, and several documentaries have been about Maud Lewis. The movie Maudie made its debut at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. To be released in the US this June, you can watch the trailer here. I am looking forward to this movie!

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