Monday, November 29, 2010

Paintings could tell stories

"Paintings could tell stories."

When the teacher librarian at Coventry Hills School in Calgary  (grades K-4) asked young students” where stories are found”, this was one of the responses.  In a display of the students’ answers, the librarian attached this response to a picture of the cover of the book  Capturing Joy : the story of Maud Lewis by Jo Ellen Bogart (759.11 BoC 2002).

Narrative can be found in so many places and this lovely book tells us about the life one of Canada's best known folk artists from Nova Scotia.  Many of us will be familiar with Three Black Cats.  We learn that Maud Lewis came from an artistic family but was disabled early on in life. This prevented her from playing the piano but not from painting.  She eventually married Everett Lewis and though living with few comforts and little money, continued to paint with what ever materials were at hand (with paint left over from fishing boats, cardboard and scrounged bits of scrap wood).  Even the teeny house where she and Everett lived was covered  in her brightly coloured images of birds, butterflies and flowers. The house is now preserved at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax.

 As well as portraying her own life, she is also known for the many scenes she painted of rural life in Nova Scotia depicting everyday activities such as children going to school, outings in horse-drawn carriages or Model T automobiles, or seaside life with fishing boats, lighthouses and gulls. Her love of nature and animals is often to be found in her paintings.

Eventually, her paintings became so sought after that she had trouble keeping up with the demand. She died in 1970 due to poor health.

Maud Lewis' paintings do indeed tell stories and Jo Ellen Bogart does a great job telling us her story, too.

Join Nonfiction Monday Roundup at  Playing By the Book to see a list of recent blogs dedicated to highlighting nonfiction resources.

UPDATE:  Just had it brought to my attention that  the National Gallery in London has a webpage that allows viewers to learn more about well-known paintings and add sounds to 'enhance' the story. 


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