ART CHAT #9 – Maud Lewis

December 7, 2022
Maudie
Maudie

Cow in Springtime ~ Maud Lewis

MAUD LEWIS

I recently watched a movie on SBS on Demand called ‘Maudie’. It was recommended by one of the members of my art social club. It’s about Maud Lewis

Maud was born in 1901 on the Yarmouth and Acadian Shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. As a child she spent a lot of time alone because she was self conscious about her differences. She was born with congenital disorders that included acutely sloping shoulders, a curvature of her spine, and a severely recessed chin. She also had juvenile arthritis and was very small in stature. She was happy enough though at home with her parents and her older brother. Her mother got her into painting Christmas cards and thus her obsession with art began.

In 1935 Maud’s father died and in 1937, her mother followed. As was typical at the time, her older brother, Charles, claimed the family inheritance and made no provision for his only sibling. About the same time, Maud bore a child out of wedlock. The baby girl was put up for adoption and never saw her natural mother again. However, Maud was told the baby had been born with multiple deformities and died (neither true). After living with her brother for a short while she moved to Digby to live with her aunt. There she met Everett Lewis, an itinerant fish peddler, when she applied for a position as his ‘housemaid’. She ultimately ended up marrying him shortly after in 1938. Everett was not the easiest of blokes as you will see if you watch the movie. This also extended to him being stingy with money. His stinginess extended to removing the radio batteries so that Maud couldn’t run them down by listening to music, he scrounged up most of her paint supplies, including leftover house and boat paints. He also haggled with customers, most of them passing tourists, over the price of her paintings, which never went for more than $10 during her lifetime. I read that these days, even a small Lewis original can sell for up to $2,000 (Canadian).

Maud spent her remaining days living with Everett in a tiny cottage at Marshalltown. It had no running water or electricity. It looked like it would’ve been freezing in that cottage during winter when they were surrounded in thick snow. During this time she used leftover house paint to brighten the walls and most surfaces of the cottage including the windows, with butterflies, tulips, swans, birds etc. Eventually she began to sell her paintings. Canvas was expensive and hard to come by, so she painted on beaver boards and Masonite and she did it all from her own imagination, from memories, and from what she saw. As time passed Maud’s rheumatoid arthritis worsened and Everett needed to take care of the house, but Maud was bringing in most of the money with her paintings.

Maudie

Three Black Cats ~ Maud Lewis

Through newspaper and magazine articles, as well as television documentaries, Maud became well known and a reputation grew that’s still growing today. Her folk art style  paintings of flowers, cats, scenic views, and her childhood home were light, colourful, and possessed a carefree, childlike view of the world despite all her hardships.

At the age of 67 in 1970, Maud who had suffered lung damage due to constant exposure to paint fumes and wood smoke, contracted pneumonia and died in hospital. Everett died 9 years later in 1979.

The tiny home Maud shared with her husband, Everett, was eventually moved to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia as a permanent display piece. Richard Nixon’s administration commissioned two Maud Lewis paintings for the White House gallery. Due to the popularity of her oil paintings, Maud Lewis prints of scenic Canada, simple pleasures, and wide-eyed animals are still in demand today.  See more of Maud Lewis art HERE.

Here’s a trailer of the movie. Sally Hawkins plays Maud Lewis and Ethan Hawke plays Everett Lewis.

ART THERAPY

Art therapy is a form of expression that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Though she may not have known it – Maud was using art as therapy. Despite the pain and the hardships she faced during her lifetime she found joy and escapism in her art.

This story just reinforces my belief that art therapy is beneficial for all of us. Art Therapy does not require any artistic skill or experience. There’s no right or wrong. You just express yourself in your own way and you may surprise yourself with what you can do. 

If you’re enamoured by the story of Maud Lewis like I am, I highly recommend watching the movie but also – a simple Google search and you’ll find out so much more about her life and story!

THE REAL MAUD AND EVERETT LEWIS AND THEIR HOME

Maudie

Maud and Everett Lewis  [ image sourced from Pinterest ]

MAUDIE – THE MOVIE

I really enjoyed watching ‘Maudie’. She was a strong and inspiring woman with such determination.  

If you’d like to watch the movie you can see it on SBS on Demand here: 

**   MAUDIE   **

If you watch it, I’d love it if you popped back here to let me know your thoughts in the comments. Hope you enjoy!


I’ll be back next week with my final Taking Stock post for 2022, then I’ll be taking a break from the blog until the new year. I’m leaving the date of my return up in the air. What will be will be but I’m never away from the blog for too long. Meanwhile, I’ll still be posting over on Instagram (which feeds through to my FB page and Twitter).

Ciao for now,

Linking up with Denyse Whelan’s ‘Wednesday’s Words and Pics

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18 Comments

  • Reply Sue from Women Living Well After 50 December 7, 2022 at 8:04 am

    I’m loving your Art chat series, MIn. I would love to try some form of art next year and I do believe in the power of art therapy. Maud Lewis was a very intersting person and I do love her artwork. Thanks for sharing #WWanP

    • Reply Min December 7, 2022 at 10:04 am

      Thanks Sue – it’s so nice to get some positive feedback on my Art Chat series. You should definitely do a bit of art next year. It’s amazing what you can find within that you never knew was there and it’s so relaxing and therapeutic. I was really taken with Maud’s story and thoroughly enjoyed the movie ‘Maudie’ so I knew I had to share it in my Art Chat series. Have a great week! xo

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au December 7, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Min – I’m enjoying your art posts too and this was a bit different, but still really interesting. I noticed how simple and childlike her artwork was and yet it seems to have resonated with a wide audience over time. I think art therapy is something we all need – I find that doing my collages takes me to a different headspace – I can’t listen to a podcast or anything while I’m doing them because I’m focused and “in the moment” – it’s a great way to turn off all the noise of life and just “be” for awhile. We don’t have to be great artists to be able to benefit from being a little bit creative.

    • Reply Min December 8, 2022 at 3:32 pm

      Hi Leanne, thank you! And yes this was a bit different! After watching the movie it came to me that it would be a good thing to share via Art Chat. I think I might occasionally share on other artists whose work I like. In this case, it’s not so much her work but her story that inspired me. I’m exactly the same as you when it comes to doing my art – I get completely absorbed and in the moment so yes – it’s great to switch off all the noise and problems of normal life and take a little time out. You also generally produce something nice at the end of it too! I do believe art is great therapy for everyone – regardless of what kind of creativity or skill level. xo

  • Reply Sherry M December 7, 2022 at 6:33 pm

    yes she was an amazing woman! have a great festive season. here’s hoping that 2023 is a better year. cheers merry xmas
    sherry

    • Reply Min December 8, 2022 at 3:34 pm

      She was very determined to carve out a life for herself independent of her family and I admired her commitment to her art when she was obviously in so much pain … and living in very basic conditions! Merry Christmas to you to Sherry. I hope 2023 is a good one for us all! xo

  • Reply Sherry M December 7, 2022 at 6:35 pm

    not sure if my comment went thru. just saying that she was an amazing woman indeed. have a wonderful christmas!

    • Reply Min December 8, 2022 at 3:34 pm

      It came through. For some reason it can take a while for comments to actually appear on the page!

  • Reply Jennifer Jones December 7, 2022 at 7:55 pm

    I haven’t heard of Maud, but I really love her art that you’ve shown here. Sounds like she had an interesting and challenging life, and how wonderful that her art was so beneficial to her. I will try to watch Maud on SBS as I’d like to learn more about her. I’m not at all artistic, but I did take up patchwork quilting just after my son died. I spent hours doing it, often doing all nighters when I wasn’t able to sleep in my grief. I hadn’t thought of it as therapy but it definitely helped me to cope at the time. I’ve loved your art series.

    • Reply Min December 8, 2022 at 3:38 pm

      Hi Jennifer, I hadn’t heard of her either – until one of the ladies in the art social group I’m in mentioned her and the movie ‘Maudie’ in our Private FB page. I watched the movie and decided to share about her here in Art Chat. Her art is very basic and childlike but also very appealing in its innocence and happy vibe that it provides. It’s well worth watching the movie. I enjoyed watching it – so much so I wanted to know more about her and Googled to find out. Patchwork quilting is definitely an art form! My mother was very into quilting. We all have quilts she made for us and she has heaps of them around her home. She doesn’t do it anymore. I think any kind of creativity that you can become absorbed in is therapy and can help people cope with all kinds of adversities that life can throw at us. Thank you so much for your kind comment. xo

  • Reply Debbie Harris December 8, 2022 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Min, Thanks for telling us about Maud, her work is lovely, simple but evocative at the same time. Her story was very interesting and I have tested positive for Covid today, I might just go looking for the movie as we’re confined to home for a few days! Art is definitely therapy and when I worked in the prison system it was often overlooked as a way of engaging students. Thanks again, just lovely!

    • Reply Min December 8, 2022 at 3:39 pm

      Hi Debbie – firstly – OH NO! I’m so sorry to read you’ve got Covid! I hope you don’t get too sick and get over it quickly! You should definitely have a watch of ‘Maudie’ while you’re resting. I’ve put the link to it in the post in a couple of places. It’s on SBS on Demand. Take care of yourself and get well soon! xo

  • Reply Denyse Whelan December 8, 2022 at 5:40 pm

    Art is my go-to every day! I find the lifting of the paint brush to add strokes, dots and favourite shapes in my various creative books is so good for my emotional regulation. When I want to settle myself I find “doing just one thing” helps and it’s my art space which is my fave place to go.

    This was a lovely story to share and what a woman she was. I like her style too. And congratulations to you on self-care and saying you will be back in 2023 but will decide when.

    Thank you for sharing your post for Wednesday’s Words and Pics. It is great to have you be a part of this blogging community & there are two more Wednesdays before a little break until Wed 4 January 2023. See you next week too I hope. Denyse.

    • Reply Min December 11, 2022 at 7:34 am

      Thanks Denyse! I really enjoyed the movie and the story of Maud so felt compelled to share it here as part of Art Chat. I’ll be back posting and linking up to WW&P next Wednesday but not the week after. Time for a bit of a break for me but I’ll be back in the new year when I’m ready. xo

  • Reply Natalie December 10, 2022 at 1:31 am

    Hi Min, I watched and enjoyed Sally Hawkins’ terrific performance in Maudie. In September when I was in Nova Scotia, I visited Maud Lewis’ replica house built and painted by Murray Ross (Maud’s former neighbour). I met and spoke with him, too. I wrote about it in my ‘Bay of Fundy : 6 Fun Attractions” blog. I hope you have a good week and if I don’t ‘see’ you before Christmas, have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones.

    • Reply Min December 11, 2022 at 7:37 am

      Hi Natalie! I thought of you when I wrote this post (of course – because you live in Canada!). I thought Sally Hawkin’s did a terrific job portraying Maud in Maudie. How wonderful for you to have seen the little house at Nova Scotia Art Gallery! I will have to go find the post you mention and have a read. Merry Christmas to you to Natalie – hope you have a wonderful time with your family. xo

  • Reply Leslie Susan Clingan December 24, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    Have never heard of Maud Lewis until now. Her art is so sweet and heartwarming. I have an unusually large pile of ironing to get after this coming week so will pull up the documentary to watch while I iron. Thinking my scrapbooking and crafting is a form of therapy for me. Although, I can get so worked up about it – worried that I am going to mess something up – that it can also bring anxiety and stress. And isn’t that sad?

    • Reply Min January 3, 2023 at 10:10 am

      Hi Leslie, I hope you enjoyed the movie? I certainly did. I really like your description of Maud’s art – sweet and heartwarming – perfect description! I am exactly the same with my art – love it and it’s great therapy for me but I can be hard on myself if it’s not what I hoped it to be and sometimes I let anxiety about stuffing up stop me even starting! Best thing to do is just shush the mind and jump in and do it anyway! xo

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