This blog was written and submitted by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, home of the largest public collection of Maud Lewis’ art and her original house.
In celebration of local favourite Maud Lewis making it to the big screen, we wanted to share 10 interesting facts about her art work progression to becoming one of Canada’s most famous folk-artists.
- In the early years of Maud and Everett’s marriage, Everett collected the dregs of paint from around the community, so Maud used whatever colours were available. Often the colours were very vivid, as one of Everett’s best sources was French Shore Acadian fishermen who painted their boats with bright colours.
- With limited resources for professional paint supplies, Maud used whatever was on hand including a Campbell’s soup tin for turpentine and sardine tins for paints. She also used various materials as her canvas, including boards, scraps of wallpaper and occasionally shells, beach rocks and household objects.
- Maud painted with tiny, quick strokes straight through without stopping until she was done. She used many of the same images in her paintings, but often infused them with her sense of humour and unique style, including three legged oxen, leaves on the trees in the snow.
- Maud was a prolific painter, sometimes painting as many as two to three pictures a day. She sold her paintings to whoever came across the house, including to Premier Robert Stanfield who visited her in 1965.
- Her standard price was $5 or $10 for larger works. Despite the number of pieces she sold, Maud never considered herself a fine artist.
- Well known within the community, Maud started to gain more regional and national attention after a series of articles and documentaries in the late 1960’s including a CBC Telescope broadcast. She was called the Grandma Moses of Canada, and two of her paintings were bought by President Richard Nixon’s administration. Their whereabouts are now unknown. President Nixon sent Everett condolences upon hearing of Maud’s death.
- Sometimes she signed her work, sometimes she did not. Sometimes she used an e on the end of her first name and sometimes she did not. Her signature tends to run uphill, and because she had trouble painting the letter S, it is often bigger as a result.
- Later in life, and as her health continued to decline, she used cut-out figures, which is why many of her oxen and other figures in later paintings are exactly the same size and outlined in pencil.
- In the year before her death, Everett began painting himself and mimicked Maud’s style. He sold his works alongside Maud’s.
- In her lifetime, Maud never earned more than $10 for a single piece of artwork. Now, Maud’s paintings are collected the world over. The current record for a Maud Lewis original is just over $22,000 earned at auction in 2017.
Facts provided by The Painted House of Maud Lewis– by Laurie Hamilton and The Illuminated Maud Lewis– Lance Woolaver and Bob Brooks.
Don’t forget, you can see Maud Lewis’ house and many pieces of art on display in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.