Maudie, the true story of Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, featuring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, both Academy Award Nominees, is a movie that moved me profoundly. It was difficult viewing Maud’s mistreatment, her husband referring to her worth being less than his dogs and chickens, and the like, but the strength of art being in one’s soul, blood and very being, its relentless and irrepressible fight for expression was awe-inspiring.
Not that I equate myself to Maud, but I can totally relate. My youngest child was unwell his first few years of life and to try to somewhat satisfy this internal literally clawing feeling of art trying to get out of my body, I used to sign out the maximum amount of library books of artists’ works that I was allowed. I would flip through them while I was comforting and rocking him, trying to quench some of my art appetite through my eyes, and when I worked six days a week and lacked painting time, while lying in bed, I would imagine a blank sheet of paper, draw the picture, paint the wash and proceed to create the painting step by step. I would scold and tell myself to go to sleep because doing this imaginary painting was going to take hours and the sleep deprivation was making it difficult to function.
I have met several people who have done Fine Arts Degrees that have said that they haven’t painted or drawn since. I so wish I could have done an art degree but maybe I would have had the same end result. I can’t fathom this because the art in me feels like an unstoppable force, as I think it felt for Maud. She couldn’t help herself and drew at every opportunity, including drawing with her finger in the condensation on the glass of windows. When she took on a housekeeping job, she had ZERO chance in stopping herself painting when she found a tin of paint. She opened it and dipped her finger into the paint and began painting the internal wall of the house using her finger.
I also related to Maud’s distress when somebody wanted to buy a painting that was unfinished. I had a similar experience and I distinctly remember the feelings of strongly not wanting this to happen. I had to firmly and repeatedly say no. It was a small practice painting of elephants and I hadn’t even painted the eyes yet, but it looked completed to her and she said she liked it as it was, and she wanted to take it.
I found Maudie a wonderful movie and I wonder how many other artists would be struck by some of the universal, undeniable artistic shared characteristics and feelings depicted?
Maud Lewis, I salute you, your art and enduring inspiration.