In her Early Life
Maud Lewis suffered from disabilities as a result of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She began her artistic career by hand-drawing Christmas cards. These proved popular with her husband's customers as he sold fish door to door and encouraged her to begin painting. She used bright colours in her paintings and subjects were often of oxen teams, horses, or cats. Many of her paintings are of outdoor scenes. Her house was one-room with a sleeping loft and is now located in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax.
Maud married Everett Lewis, a taciturn fish peddler, on January 16, 1938 at the age of 34. They were poor and lived in a small thirteen foot six inches by twelve foot six inches house. Soon after they were married Maud Lewis accompanied her husband on his daily rounds peddling fish, bringing along Christmas cards that she had drawn. She would sell the cards for twenty five cents each. After some success with this, she started painting on various other surfaces such as pulp boards (beaverboards), cookie sheets, and Masonite. Maud was a compulsive artist and painted on more or less every available surface in their tiny home. It was Everett who encouraged Maud to paint and he bought her, her first set of oils. Lewis lived most of her life in poverty with her husband in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia.
Most of Maud Lewis' paintings are quite small - often no larger than eight by ten inches, although she is known to have done at least five paintings 24 inches by 36 inches. Maud's technique consisted of first drawing an outline and then applying paint directly out of the tube. She never mixed colours.
Early Maud Lewis paintings from the 1940s are quite rare. The AGNS occasionally displays the Chaplin/Wennerstrom shutters(now part of the Clearwater Fine Foods Inc. collection) . The collection comprises twenty-two exterior house shutters that Maud did in the early 1940s. The work was done for some...