Get in touch with your inner Grandma

Welcome, everyone. We’re kicking off a new feature at the Factory – “The Artist of The Month.” Each month we’ll feature an artist, give you a brief rundown of their life and career, then follow up with an art project based on said artist. It’s your own personal art history class, without the grades. Have a suggestion for an artist we should feature? Let us know. Want more art projects based on that artist, Let us know that too. Explore and have fun. One of the best things about art is that there are no wrong answers. (Can you tell I did poorly in high school?) What we’re all about: helping you discover and hone your style.

Grandma Moses Stamp 1969
By Bureau of Engraving and Printing [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Grandma Moses

Artist of the Month (September)

A Brief History:

No, her first name was not Grandma (though it would be funny. It would be better than Brooklyn, I know that much.) Anna Mary Robertson Moses was born on September 7, 1860, in Greenwich, New York. She went to work at 12 years old as a maid/cleaner/caretaker for a wealthy family. At 27, She married Thomas Moses, after which they moved to a farm in upstate New York. She had ten children, but sadly only five survived past infancy. When her husband died in 1927, she continued to run the family farm with the help of her son. She loved to do embroidery, but at 76, her arthritis prevented her from continuing. Her sister suggested she take up painting. Thank goodness for that. Her paintings initially sold at the local drugstore for $3, until a New York art dealer discovered her work and promptly set up a showing of Grandma Moses’ work at a prominent gallery. Now her paintings can fetch upwards of a million bucks. Not too shabby.

She painted over 1,000 paintings in the course of her career. She died in 1961 at the age of 101.

Her approach: “I paint from the top down. First the sky, then the mountains, then the hills, then the trees, then the houses, then the cattle, and then the people.”

Grandma Moses - Sugaring off (1945)
Grandma Moses – Sugaring off (1945)

Why I like it:

As a forty (mumble-mumble) year old who still hasn’t figured out what he wants to do with his life, I love anyone who starts a new career at 76 and finds fulfillment and success therein.

To me, Moses’ paintings are Incredibly accessible. I don’t mean to say they’re simple or childlike. They possess an ephemeral quality very similar to Monet. Her work is incredibly evocative of the season in which it occurs, activating all the senses. You can smell the hot cider in the winter scenes, feel the soft flannel against your skin, and hear the fallen leaves crunching under your feet. There is a wonderful grace and sense of movement in her work that, combined with her color palette, creates a feeling of calm in the viewer. Check it out for yourself and see what it evokes within you:

Grandma Moses - Summer Party
Grandma Moses – Summer Party
Grandma Moses - Checkered House
Grandma Moses – Checkered House

Inspired to create your own? Check out the art lesson: Show Us Your Grandma Moses

Need some supplies to get you started? The Doodley Doo Kit is just what you need!

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