Not many people can find the will to lead a normal life when they fall ill. The extreme difficulties in this artist’s life didn’t stop her from creating beautiful paintings in her small one room house. She found the will to carry on with her life, next to her husband, and to cover everything in bright, happy colors. Her story will bring tears to your eyes when you’ll see all the things she went through.
20. Maud Lewis
Maud Lewis was born in Nova Scotia in 1903, South Ohio. She was born with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Her body was contorting in ways that would debilitate her with age. But this didn’t stop her from becoming a famous artist with paintings selling for tremendous amounts!
19. ‘I paint all from memory’
The artist didn’t like to copy her themes, she said that she didn’t even see other paintings, ever. And this is how she created her joyful little landscapes: using memory and the feelings generated from what she saw around her. But her life wasn’t as joyful as her paintings. Her story will break your heart!
18. Childhood Years
When she was only a child, her mother taught her to draw with watercolors, and then she used Crayolas. Although she started from the bottom, her work was later displayed at The White House!
17. Finding a Place of Her Own
After her parents died when Maud was in her thirties, she went to live with her aunt. She became a burden so she decided to find a job. She saw an ad from Everett Lewis, a local fishmonger, that he needed to hire a woman to help around his house. What she did next shocked everyone!
16. Love Life
Maud and Everett got married several weeks later. Maud and her husband were like ‘a pair of mismatched socks’. Everett was a mean man and a social pariah, because he grew up as an orphan. How did Maud cope with all of this?
15. Fever of Painting
After she got married at 34 years old, she started painting on the wooden surfaces of her new home. She then started to create Christmas Cards and sold them for 25 cents a piece in town, as she traveled with Everett. You would say that things were going great, but something was still missing…
14. An Abusive Relationship
Maud was living with a cold-hearted husband that would get angry when she said too many things to people around her. After fighting with Everett, she would run to the small house and paint.
13. Painting – A Coping Mechanism
This is how she managed to get over difficulties, by painting. Her marriage became something that she needed to survive. Unfortunately, Maud didn’t get to understand romance.
12. Happy Colors
Although she was in pain from rheumatoid arthritis, she painted scenes in which everything looks serene and happy. There are no shadows and no rainy clouds, only bright colors, cheeky looking animals and pink blossoms. But how did she become famous?
11. Paintings for Sale
Maud started to paint a lot more when she saw that people would happily buy what she created. So, she put a sign out on the road, in front of their tiny house to inform people that they could stop and buy some paintings. How sweet is that?
10. Famous Folk Artist
She became famous in her community and even a newspaper wrote about her art. People all over the country came to visit her house and buy the paintings. She didn’t charge a lot for her work, though.
9. Selling Paintings for a Living
In 1945, Maud started selling more and more paintings. She used to sell them for two or three dollars. In her last years, she sold them for 7 – 10 dollars. But now, Maud’s paintings are worth a lot more!
8. Appreciating Folk Art
Today, art dealers describe Maud’s paintings as having a “childlike, tremendous feeling” (Claire Stenning). Maud’s life hasn’t been full of joy, like her paintings were. People made fun of her condition that made her hands and body twist in a painful gnarly shape.
7. A positive Outlook
Although she wasn’t appreciated by her husband, who had to do the chores for her since she started to focus more on painting, Maud continued her positive view on life through her paintings until she died in 1970. In her very last days, painting became a very painful activity, due to her arthritis.
6. Nova Scotia Museum – Lewis House
Visitors that want to see Maud’s colorful house can get to the Nova Scotia Museum and see it from the inside. Her cheerful artwork covered a depressing, difficult life. She painted the house and covered the walls, doors, and even the stove with flowers and beautiful birds.
5. One Painting Actioned for $45,000
Maud’s paintings have become extremely expensive works of art, going for $30,000 in auctions. One painting found at a thrift store was actioned for $45,000. She has become one of the greatest Canadian folk artists of all time. Two of her paintings are displayed at the White House! See for yourself at #4!
4. Vice President Nixon Commissioned Two Paintings
Two of Maud’s Lewis paintings was commissioned by Vice President Nixon, when he was at the White House. Maud’s story has been an inspiration to a lot of people, going as far as making a movie of her life. Here we see Sally Hawkins (playing Maudie) and Ethan Hawke (playing Everett) on the cover of the movie.
3. Maudie – A Sony Pictures Biopic
The story of Maud’s Lewis life teaches us to never give up on our dreams, even though we face great challenges. Inspired by her story, Sony Pictures worked on a biopic of Maud’s life, called Maudie.
2. Maud’s Life and Her Perception of the Surrounding World
“Maudie” is a movie focusing on the environment that she manages to create. It aims to show people that the artist freed herself of her condition through her paintings. This is how she coped with the disability, poverty, abuse, and trauma.
1. The Outsider Artist
The movie portrays an ‘outsider’ artist in Canada that painted nature, animals, and landscapes. She faced a cruel life and only had her strong will and devotion to her passion to keep her going. This is what made Maude famous, her struggle, the fact that she was an unlikely artist that unfortunately became a lot more famous post-mortem. This heartbreaking story should enable all of you to feed your passion and creativity, as Maude did.