Sunday, February 19

Maud Lewis


Maud Lewis was an artist who lived in Nova Scotia. Lewis always kept mainly to herself and because of rheumatoid arthritis and other physical handicaps she could not work. Her husband Everett, who was a fish peddler, sold her paintings and Christmas cards she had hand drawn as he went door to door selling fish. Lewis and Everett lived in poverty for most of their life, getting by on the fish and her art.



Lewis' style of painting was similar to how you would create a paint-by-numbers. She outlined the image on a canvas and then painted with color directly from the tube, never mixing. Simplistic and beautifully child-like, Maud Lewis' paintings are some of my favorite paintings. I love the snowy landscapes complimented by her use of bold primary colors to paint houses and animals. "Three Black Cats" is a personal favorite. And the painting with the giant cow stopping the car! So funny!

 


Lewis lived with her husband Everett in a tiny cottage that she had painted herself. Because of her somewhat compulsive artistic spirit, she ended up painting on almost every surface in the house possible. After Maud and Everett died in the 70's, the cottage began to deteriorate. Townspeople got together to save the house and in 1984 it was sold to the Province of Novia Scotia and it now resides in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The whole house!


I love art, all kinds of art, though I think the contemporary art world is sometimes moving more and more towards synthetic styles or artwork that, to me, evokes a sort of disconnect between the artist and their own work. Reading about Damien Hirst's dot paintings sort of made me hate contemporary art. I don't hate them for the old "oh my god, it's JUST dots that's not art!" perspective (god knows that's tiring) but I mean, his assistants were just mass producing the dot paintings. It's art, there is no doubting those paintings were works of art. But were they meaningful? What does it mean to be a good artist, anyway?

Sometimes I have to return to artists like Daniel Johnston, Henry Darger, and Maud Lewis to remind myself that art isn't always about social acceptance and monetary value. I don't expect everyone to see the beauty that I see in Maud Lewis' art, but I do hope they see the love and dedication. That's kind of what I'm looking for in art these days.

18 comments:

m.corbett said...

in a strange way, a life like that seems kind of satisfying... xxx

VITA said...

I think that real art has to be meaningful in some kind of way. It could be thought-provoking or make you feel angry or change your personal views or whatever. It just has to… do something.

Isabel said...

This is absolutely so wonderful and beautiful! If I make another issue of PLANT magazine. would you mind if I used this?? I love how she's Canadian too :)

juliana said...

do you like/have you heard of howard finster?

bobb said...

Wonderful art - I love Maud Lewis's work.

Mariana said...

These are delightful! And the story behind them make them all the more beautiful.
I love the cat one too :)

emily said...

i like that last one. these days whenever i like something it's because i attribute some aspect of it to renaissance art

Holly said...

I totally agree with you. One of the reasons I love 'outsider' art so much is that there is such a clarity of vision and lack of pretence that speaks to me really strongly. I hate art that doesn't make any effort to communicate with the viewer; that expects them to appreciate it just because it's 'art'. Maud Lewis looks incredible' thanks for introducing me to her.

Mehetabelle is Holly said...

this made my day

leilani.e said...

I just saw Lewis' paintings at the NSGA - Beautiful! Her house is so insanely tiny, about the size of a bathroom (and not a big american ensuite). It's been completely re-constructed and you can poke your head into the interior - they certainly lived within a set space. Everything has a delicate beauty to it though, since absolutely everything is painted. She made some beautiful quilts too, or perhaps got them from a friend. If you're ever in Nova Scotia, come see it! They have her voice on tape explaining everything too, it's just haunting.

Kailey said...

Oh my - what a beautiful post. Not only is the art so lovely (thank you for the introduction!), but I really love what you have written here <3

Anonymous said...

Hi!Hazel!!
You found a good one,
did't you?
I went to the Korean
Contemporatry Art.
(DOUBLE FANTASY)
It was great!!!
Take care!!
(God bless you)

Miss Tallulah Porkchop said...

I want that cat painting!

Katrina said...

These paintings are beautiful and full of life - thank you for introducing me to her art. A very inspirational person! I too feel about art as you do - lately it has been lacking emotion and pureness. It``s all about money or fame these days.

>'.'<

Sarah Deetz said...

I love these paintings and your thoughts on art! I'd love to see what the inside of Maud's cottage looked like too xoxo

Evelina from Sweden said...

Such beautiful paintings she did!

A.M. said...

i love these paintings, the bold colors and shapes with the way she composed them almost reminds me of stop motion animation, very beautiful

ramona said...

I feel the same about Hirst and those Lewis paintings were wonderful and refreshing.