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Maud Lewis

Photo of Maud Lewis

Link: You can view (in person and online) Maud Lewis' famous "painted house" at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Reference: Compendium of Canadian Folk Artists, Kobayashi-Bird. 1985. Folk Art of Nova Scotia, 1976. Primitive Painter. Julie Watson. The Illuminated Live of Maud Lewis, Wollaver-Brooks. 1995

Maud Lewis was born in Ohio, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia in 1903 and she died in Marshaltown Nova Scotia in 1970. She remains one of Canada's best known and most loved folk artists.

Maud suffered from polio as a child, and it left her with crippled arms and deformed hands. Both her parents died while she was still dependent on them, and at that time she moved to Digby to live with an aunt. Notwithstanding her early misfortunes Maud retained a strong character, and a desire to "live and love life".

At the age of eighteen Maud married Everett Lewis. They were quite poor and lived in a small ten by twelve foot shack. Soon after they were married Maud accompanied Everett on his daily rounds of peddling fish, bringing along Christmas cards that she had drawn. She would sell these cards for twenty five cents each. After some success with the cards, Maud started painting on various other surfaces such as plank boards, cookie sheets, and eventually on more or less every available surface in their tiny home. It was Everett who really encouraged Maud to paint and he bought her her first set of oils.

Most of Maud Lewis' paintings are quite small - eight by ten inches. Her technique consisted of first drawing an outline, and then applying paint directly out of the tube. She never mixed colours.

Between 1945-1950 people began to stop at Maud's home and buy her paintings for two or three dollars. As time passed her paintings began to sell from seven to ten dollars. Maud Lewis began to be quite well known around Digby and far beyond. In 1965 she was featured on CBC-TV's "Telescope" program. Unfortunately arthritis deprived her from completing many of the orders that had flown in for her paintings.
In the last year of her life Maud Lewis stayed in one corner of her house, painting as often as she could while traveling back and forth to the hospital.

Lewis #1 Lewis #2