Friday, July 12, 2024

The Crown

            12 x 12 inches, acrylic on gessoed mounted aluminium panel               
 painting #296, 2024 - black floater frame


The year 2022 marked a milestone and a memoriam for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She ascended the throne on February 6, 1952 at the age of 25 following the death of her father King George VI. On February 6, 2022, she would celebrate her platinum jubilee, marking 70 years as the longest reigning monarch of England and Head of the Commonwealth. She died later that same year on September 8, 2022 at the age of 96. 

As one of the most famous person in the world, Queen Elizabeth II was known for her unwavering sense of duty, responsibility, steadfastness and grace. She always put the needs of her country and her people first. Although she faced occasional republican sentiment and media criticism, most often directed towards members of her family and during certain tragic events; the support for the monarchy in the United Kingdom remained consistently high throughout her lifetime, as did her popularity. 

During her reign, she visited and toured my province of New Brunswick a total of five times. Click HERE for a highlight of her visits. I got to see here briefly in a passing car while visiting Moncton on September 24, 1984.

I've been to England three times. Although I've never visited the inside of Buckingham Palace, my wife Suzanne and I have visited Kensington Palace while Princess Diana was still alive and with our son Jean-Luc, we visited Windsor Castle, where the Queen and Prince Philip spent many of their weekends. 

  Buckingham Palace, London, May 6, 2010

Windsor Castle, May 3, 2010

One person who has made the monarchy relevant to the masses is none other than screen and playwriter Peter Morgan. He's responsible for writing extensively about Queen Elizabeth II creating no less than three major productions. First, as the screenwriter for the 2006 film, The Queen starring Helen Mirren in the title role. The movie received rave reviews and earned Mirren many accolades including an Academy Award for best actress.

In 2013, Morgan wrote the play, The Audience with Mirren reprising the role of Queen Elizabeth II. The play revolves around weekly meetings between the Queen and her prime ministers. I had a chance to attend a production of that play as it was broadcast live to cinema on June 13, 2013. 
The broadcast broke the record for most people viewing a live production with nearly 80,000 people watching in the UK and 30,000 people in North America. I remember waiting two hours in the movie theatre on Trinity Drive before the broadcast started as there were technical issues in London that cause a major delay. Still, Helen Mirren gave a tour de force performance. The conversations with the prime ministers are not held in chronological order so with a magical quick changes of costume and wigs, she could be switching from Winston Churchill to John Cameron within a few minutes.

Lastly, Peter Morgan is also the principal script writer for all six seasons of the Crown on Netflix. I watched a few episodes of season 1 when it first came out in 2016. But it was only when I started this painting late last fall that I watched all six seasons. The Crown has been praised by critics for its acting, directing, writing, cinematography, and production value. However, its historical inaccuracies have been criticized, particularly in the latter seasons. Netflix has noted that it's "fictional dramatisation" that was "inspired by real events". Nonetheless, I have to say that I absolutely love it and found all six seasons riveting. 

The concept for this painting arose upon seeing two companion books written by Robert Lacey about the Netflix series. Lacey also served as historical consultant for The Crown. It immediately ignited the possibility of incorporating them in a still life painting with a Crown mason jar. Last fall, during the process of doing a few photo studies for the painting, I realized that they lacked color and impact. A quick visit to my local Chapters bookstore remedied that problem as I was lucky enough to find a small coffee table book entitled, The Platinum Queen published in 2022 by Allen & Unwin. This book is a photo essay that chronicles more than 75 speeches given by the Queen during her reign. 

In 2012, during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee (60th anniversary), the Royal Collection would acquire four of Andy Warhol's famous serigraph portraits of Queen Elizabeth II that were exhibited later that fall at Windsor Castle. Click HERE to view the acquired artwork.

During her Platinum Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II would get the royal treatment by gracing the cover of the May 2022 issue of Vanity Fair Magazine, with three variations of Warhol's portraits. 

On November 24, 2022, two months after her passing, a serigraph prints entitled, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, from Reigning Queen, Royal Edition was sold at auction by Heffel Fine Art Auction House in Toronto for $1,141,250 CDN, double the pre-auction estimated price. Click HERE to view.

For this painting, I not only wanted to pay homage to the Queen but to Andy Warhol as well.  Incorporating a Pop Art portrait in the background would create a myriad of colors inside the canning jar. In order to establish a more cohesive palette, I took the artistic liberty of modify several colours. After painting her face a pale shade of blue, I then proceeded to paint several thin glazes of a peach hue to tone down the blue in order to avoid references to the Blue Man Group. I procrastinated for the longest time in painting the Queen's face that appears on the book. That photograph is attributed to Getty Images. Because of the perspective of the book which physically alters her features, her profile in pencil almost looked like Mr. Burns of the Simpsons. All joking aside, I was able to pull it off. In the original photo, the pearl necklace she is wearing has three strands. I opted for two so it would have more presence. 

I did a quick online search and found that the original photograph Warhol used to create his serigraph prints was taken by Peter Grugeon (1918-1980) at Windsor Castle in April 1975. It was later released in 1977 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee. Reproduction of this particular image was used extensively, appearing on commemorative merchandise as well as banknotes across the Commonwealth. In Canada, it was printed on a 25¢ stamp, which I collected at the time when I was 15 years old. On the original photograph, the dress she's wearing is in a pale shade of pink with pearl embellishment, while on the Canadian stamp it appears more to be in a mauvish tone which was the color I settle on for my painting.

Canadian Stamp SC 704 - 1977
photo by Peter Grugeon

She is wearing a collection of Royal Jewels: the Vladimir tiara, Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee necklace, Queen Alexandra's wedding earrings and the Family Orders of King George V and King George VI on the Garter sash. The tiara has a fascinating history since it was smuggled out of Russia by a British antiques dealer after the assassination of the Tsar Nicholas II and members of the Romanov family. It was later bought by Elizabeth II's grandmother Queen Mary. It originally belonged to the Grand Duchess Vladimir (1854-1920), the wife of the Tsar's uncle, Grand Duke Alexandrovich of Russia. She was the last Romanov to escape Revolutionary Russia and the first to die while in exile in France. 

Both sporting killer moustaches,
Emperor (Tsar) Nicholas II of Russia with
his doppelganger first cousin , 
George V (grand-father of Queen Elizabeth II)
photo- Wikipedia

Vladimir Tiara

The Crown mason jar in my painting is dated 1947 on the bottom. It was actually made in Canada, but for the narrative I substituted it's origin to England. The jar is only one third fill with water. I often insert a marble in the composition as a form of symbolism when my intention is to play a mind-game with the looker. More recently, in the early 21st century, increasing dissatisfaction with several members the house of Windsor and the Royal Family, especially after the death of Queen Elizabeth II has led to public support for the monarchy reaching historical lows. 

With a reign spanning seven decade, Queen Elizabeth II was the only sovereign that most of us have known during our lifetime. She was as much of an institution as anyone in modern history. I leave you with one of her speeches that is written on the back cover of the book featured in the painting. 

''For more than seventy years, I have been lucky to meet and to know many of the world's great leaders. And I have perhaps come to understand a little about what made them special.

It has sometimes been observed that what leaders do for their people today is government and politics. But what they do for the people of tomorrow - that is statesmanship.

I, for one, hope that this conference will be one of those rare occasions where everyone will have the chance to rise above the politics of the moment, and achieve true statesmanship''. 

-Her Majesty, the Queen. Address to the COP26, urging world leaders to find solution to the climate challenges facing our planet. Nov. 1, 2021.

This painting is currently on view at the Fog Forest Gallery in a group exhibition entitled, "Summer Views" - July 11 to August 30, 2024. (will be removed from exhibition if sold). Check website for gallery hours. 

To acquire this painting please contact: 

14 Bridge Street, Sackville,
New Brunswick, Canada, E4L 3N5
Phone (506) 536-9000

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Confiture de Fraises

7 x 5", acrylic on gessobord 
Painting #295, 2024

I've just returned from a solo trip to France where I spent 24 days. My main goal was to walk again on the Camino de Santiago Trail network. This time, my trek began in Périgueux in the rain, on the Vézelay Way GR-654. It’s a much less traveled path. My first three days were spent on the Bergerac variant. I left the Vézelay Way after 9 stages, and transitioned onto the Puy-en-Velay Way GR-65 during my 10th stage (so I was off the grid from Villeneuve-de-Marsan to Aire-sur-l'Adour). My last six stages took me to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and the finish line. Having previously completed 10 stages in 2017 and 14 stages in 2018, by walking these last six stages, I've completed the Puy-en-Velay Way (752 km). After five treks on the Camino de Santiago network (2009, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2024), I have now accumulated 78 stages in France, Spain and Portugal totaling over 2000 km. I hope that there will be more in my future.

Saint James Gate and the finish line!

Before departing on my Camino, I had an opportunity to visit some friends, Chantal and Thierry who happen to live 5 km from Périgueux in France. The Dordogne region of France is known for its vineyards and the land of 1001 castles. After I was done hiking on the Puy Way, I spent three days in the Basque country in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Bayonne and Biarritz. As luck would have it, the Olympic Flame of the Paris Summer Olympiads would be making its way to Bordeaux during my last day in France. I had the opportunity to take part in the festivities surrounding the Olympic Torch Relay. Having been a torch bearer twice, it meant the world to me to just bask it all in.

This small painting was gifted to my friends who picked me up at the Bordeaux airport, hosted me in their beautiful home for two days and share with me some the local culture, cuisine and wines.

-Private collection - FRANCE


Sunday, June 2, 2024


"Candy Crush"
24 x 16", acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminium panel
painting #284, 2021
-Private Collection

Title - Perfect Seal Jar
10 x 8", acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminium panel
painting #289, 2021
-Private Collection 

Title- Pinned up 7-Up
14 x 14", acrylic on gessoed aluminium panel
painting #291, 2021
-Available through the Fog Forest Gallery, Sackville, NB 

I'm a bit late in posting this, but better late than never. Earlier this year, I had submitted three images of my paintings for the 2024 OPEN INTERNATIONAL ONLINE JURIED EXHIBITION hosted by the Society of Canadian Artists based in Toronto. From 767 submissions from across Canada and around the globe, a jury of five selected 122 works for the show based on the criteria of technical excellence, artistic expression and creative innovation. I'm among a dozen artists to have three pieces in this collective. Grateful to add this show to my résumé. The on-line exhibition runs from April 1st to June 15th, 2024. You can view the exhibition at this LINK.


Friday, February 23, 2024

Lunar Codex - Artwork archived on the Moon!


On March 1, 2022,  I had received a notification from Dr. Samuel Peralta (physicist, author, entrepreneur, art curator) that imagery of my artwork would be included in a time capsule that would be heading to the Moon. But I was not alone, far from it. Lunar Codex, founded and curated by Dr. Peralta would include creative works digitalized on nano fiche discs from 35,000 contemporary artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers from 233 countries, territories and indigenous nations. Three images of my paintings appeared in The Realism Issue (#67) of Poets and Artists Magazine back in September 2015. It was guest edited by Frank Bernarducci, and published by Didi Menendez. This magazine was digitized on one of the Codex Nova nano fiche discs. 
A first attempt of a lunar lander mission was launched on January 8, 2024. Peregrine Mission One built by Atrobotic Technology experienced problems shortly after the lander separated from the rocket. A propellant leak prevented the lander from completing its mission. The spacecraft would eventually be redirected back to earth, where it burned over the Pacific Ocean, six days later on January 18.
The second attempt was launched on February 15, 2024. The lunar lander, Nova-C named Odysseus was designed by Intuitive Machines. Codex Nova was among the small payload carried by Odysseus that successfully landed on the South Pole of the Moon yesterday evening, February 22. This historical event would mark the first American spacecraft to perform a soft landing on the Moon in over 50 years, since Apollo 17 in 1972.

The Odysseus lunar lander, including all payloads - is now a de facto Artemis Accords Heritage Site - and all the artworks, writings, music, and film on Codex Nova are now part of the designated heritage of humanity, to be preserved for posterity as signed by 36 countries to date.

Lunar landing of Odysseus, February 22, 2024
YouTube video from the NASA Channel 
(skip to 1h41min for landing confirmation)

I am forever grateful to Dr. Peralta and all those involved in this monumental achievement.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Brillo³, an homage to Warhol

 Acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminium panel, 14 x 11"
Painting #294, 2023

Some of the first consumer inspired products that made it's way into Andy Warhol's artwork during the very early 1960's included the Campbell's Soup Cans, Heinz Tomato Ketchup and the iconic Coca-Cola bottles. During the winter/spring of 1964, he started producing more sculptural pieces. Life size replica boxes of Brillo soap pads followed by Campbell's Tomato Juice, Del Monte Peach Halves, Heinz Ketchup, Kellogg's Corn Flakes and Mott's Apple Juice. Warhol hired carpenters who constructed plywood boxes in the exact same size of the depicted products. The Factory (his art studio) assistants Gerard Malanga and Billy Linich then hand-painted each box, before Warhol and Malanga silkscreened the graphic logos onto them. 

Self at the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum
Bratislava, Slovakia - May 5, 2023.

These were first shown in his second exhibition at the Stable Gallery in NYC during the spring of 1964. Eleanor Ward, the art dealer of that gallery at the time remembered that the Brillo Boxes were "very difficult to sell. We had visions of people walking down Madison Avenue with these boxes under their arms". The various boxes were priced between $200 - $400 depending on the size.  It also cause controversy with critics stating, "How can this be art?"

Preview of the HBO documentary
Brillo 3¢ off by Lisanne Skyler

What Andy Warhol and Eleanor Ward had envisioned would take 50 years to materialize. In 2013, artist Charles Lutz (b.1982) was asked by the curator of the Armory Show in New York City to create an art installation. The Art Fair was held from March 7-11. The installation using Brillo cardboard boxes was entitled Babel, based on Pieter Bruegel's famous painting, The Tower of Babel  (c.1563). The boxes were referred to as Stockholm Type since they were an exact replica of the Brillo Boxes that Andy Warhol had shipped from Brooklyn to Stockholm for his show at Moderna Museet in 1968. According to Lutz, the idea was to "disseminate the Brillo Box to the masses". "Each day a new Babel tower was erected out of the Brillo Boxes and visitors were encouraged to take one, fulfilling Warhol's idea of everyone in New York City carrying around a Brillo Box".

Pittsburgh, PA, March 29, 2013.

The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA held an exhibition entitled "Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years" from Feb. 3 - April 28, 2013. The same "Babel" (Brillo Stockholm Type) by Charles Lutz was set-up in the main lobby of the museum. That year, joined by my wife and son, we just happen to spend the long Easter weekend in Pittsburgh. We did a whole lot of walking and sightseeing during this jammed-packed mini-vacation. We were lucky enough to watch Sidney Crosbie play hockey when the Winnipeg Jets were in town to play against the Penguins. We also got to see Green Day rock the Consol Energy Center and attend a performance of the hilarious touring Broadway Musical, The Book of Mormon. We took the funicular, visited the Frick Mansion, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the spectacular Cathedral of Learning. I visited the Andy Warhol Museum on March 29. Upon entering I was told that photography was only allowed on the first floor. Before leaving, I asked the security guard if it was OK to take a picture of the Charles Lutz's Brillo Boxes, to which he replied, "Yes, and you can take one with you when you leave". I had to ask him to repeat cause I couldn't believe my good fortune! I had to cut the tape and carefully detach the side where it was glued to fold smaller in order to bring in with me on the plane ride back home to Canada. It's been keeping me company in my painting studio ever since. 

Self Portrait, 1967 - ANDY WARHOL
Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas
Tate Modern, London - visited May 26, 2018

The background for my painting is from a page of the 2017 Andy Warhol calendar printed by Galison. For the exception of the red and yellow version on the top right, I took the liberty to change a few of the colours.  Warhol created a very large series in a multitude of colours of this self portrait in 1966-1967, all based on the same photography. 

The wooden blocks under the IKEA glass cloche dome are made by a company named Mudpuppy. They come in a box of 8, of which only one is yellow. In reality, Andy Warhol's yellow Brillo Box (3¢ off) are rarer and fetch higher prices at auction. Once hard to sell, they would later found themselves in many of the most prestigious art museum around the globe. The yellow base is actually The Andy Warhol Diaries with the book jacket cover removed. 

In response to the art critics, Andy Warhol once said, "ART IS WHAT YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH".

This painting is currently on view at the Fog Forest Gallery.

To acquire this painting please contact: 

14 Bridge Street, Sackville,
New Brunswick, Canada, E4L 3N5
Phone (506) 536-9000

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Subscribing to posts of new paintings / Follow me on Instagram

Blogger has made the decision to disactivate the subscription option located in the right column of this blog and on its' platform in general. This means that past subscribers will no longer get updates via e-mail of new postings of my artwork. If you wish to follow me, you can do so via Instagram via this link, click HERE. I will however continue to update this blog as long as this platform is available. 

Blogger a pris la décision de désactiver l'option d'abonnement située dans la colonne de droite de ce blog et sur sa plateforme en général. Cela signifie que les anciens abonnés ne recevront plus de mises à jour par e-mail des nouvelles publications de mes œuvres. Si vous souhaitez me suivre, vous pouvez le faire via Instagram via ce lien, cliquez ICI. Je continuerai cependant à mettre à jour ce blog tant que cette plateforme sera disponible.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Paintings for Sale, an homage to Maud Lewis


Acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminium panel, 14 x 11"
Painting #293, 2022

When I first visited the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) located in Halifax back in the late 1980's, I distinctly remember a display of folk art that was part of the museum's permanent collection on one of the upper floors. Among the painters that stood out to me at the time were Joseph Norris (1925-1996) and Maud Lewis (1903-1970). I became aware that this institution held folk art to the same standards as the more academic art movements.  

Maud Lewis in her painted house, photo Bob Brooks
Much has already been written about Maud Dowley Lewis. With the passage of time and sustained public interest, her popularity has only continued to grow. In recent years, she has been elevated to the status of an icon. It's impossible to separate the artist from the life she lead and the artwork she created. While her story is defined by poverty, hardship, physical disabilities and debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, it was also one of triumph over adversity that was sparked by her creativity and her temperament to endure.

Her paintings are a celebration of life and the beauty she observed in her own little world located in Digby and Yarmouth counties Nova Scotia. Unlike her own life, her paintings are happy, whimsical and colorful. Subject matter often remain within the domain of birds, flowers, oxen, cats, deer, modes of transportations (pulled sleigh or wagons, cars, trucks, boats), bucolic winter, pastoral and costal scenes. These themes and imagery were revisited time and again. 


Photo op on the Halifax Waterfront - May 2022

While growing up, Maud Lewis was introduced to art and painting by her mother. She crafted hand made Christmas cards done in pen and ink, watercolors and crayola crayons and sold them door to door. After the death of her father in 1935, then later her mother in 1937 she moved out of the family's South Ohio home. There is a brief transition period where she lived with her brother Charles then with her aunt Ida in Digby. Her acquaintance with Everett Lewis was a result of answering an ad when he was looking to hire a housekeeper. They married in 1938 of what appeared to be a mariage of convenience. Her painting career gradually evolved over the 30 years that followed. Her signature painting style was not restricted to panels and boards but could also be found on rock, scallop shells and household items. With her reputation growing over time, the little painted house in Marshalltown would become a popular roadside attraction for locals, visitors and tourists alike with many becoming patrons and collectors of her paintings. 

Her work began garnering unsolicited attention by the media during the 1960's. During the Richard Nixon administration either as US president or vice president (conflicting reports), he would have commissioned two paintings. NS premier Robert Stanfield also started to collect her work. In 1965, writer Murray Bernard and photographer Bob Brooks of the Star Weekly Magazine published by the Toronto Star were dispatched to Marshalltown to do a story on Maud. This nation wide publicity would increase demands for her paintings and elevate her status as a painter. The photography taken by Brooks remains the quintessential pictures taken of her as an artist. On November 25, 1965, CBC's biography series Telescope aired a 30 minute televised documentary on the Lewis couple. (A portion of this documentary can be viewed on this CBC LINK . )

Much has also been written about the relationship with her husband, Everett Lewis. In his case, not always in the best light. With the thousands of paintings sold, he could have provided a much better life for her. Her paintings sold for about $2 to 3 dollars at first with gradual price increase to 5 dollars and 7 to 10 dollars for larger paintings. With inflation, a 5 dollar painting would be have been worth the equivalent of about $47 in 2022. While their house was very small, they also lived without indoor plumbing, running water or electricity. 

Everett Lewis (b.1893) was raised in the Alms House in Marshalltown, NS. after his father abandoned the family while he was still a child. It was an institution known locally as the "Poor Farm". He had no formal education, he never learned to read or write. He earned a living as a fish peddler and also worked at Alms House as a night watchman then later as caretaker. The parcel of land that Everett bought for his house was an adjacent lot to the Alms House. In the 1965 CBC documentary, we can see Everett leaving the house on his bicycle and passing in front of the Alms House about 200 meters away.  Despite living in poverty, Everett had a reputation of being a miser and had accumulated considerable wealth by the time of his unfortunate and untimely death in 1979. Everett himself dabbled in folk art creating paintings that were very much inspired by Maud. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia would acquire some of his work while he was still living. 

In 1961, Ten-Mile House and Art Gallery in Bedford, NS owned by Bill Ferguson And Claire Stenning started selling her paintings doubling the purchase price to 10 dollars since these were framed. Maud and Everett Lewis didn't want to appear greedy by increasing the price of the paintings in fear of losing customers and alienating an already established market. 

My wife Suzanne with the Painted House, AGNS - May 2022

Interior of the Maud Lewis House, AGNS, Halifax, NS

Part of Maud's legacy is the little painted house they lived in with many surfaces and items used as her canvas. From the window, walls, doors, stairs to dustpan, cooking stove and breadbox. Their house would become her greatest work. After Maud's passing, Everett did little to nothing in upkeeping the house. In 1979, The Painted House Society was formed in Digby following Everett's death. The house, land and copyrights were purchased by the society from Everett's heir the following year. Unable to raise the $50,000 needed to restore the house, the estate was sold to the Province of Nova Scotia in 1984. The house was moved to a secure indoor location outside Halifax in order to prevent further decay. It would take another decade before restoration would be undertaken and to plan for it's permanent home once the restauration completed. The Scotiabank Maud Lewis Gallery which also included the house opened to the public in 1998 part of the expansion of the AGNS.

Since her death, the AGNS has been a major catalyst in preserving her legacy, with the restauration of the house and amassing a collection of her paintings that is on permanent public display. 

Author Lance Woolaver would become Maud Lewis' premier biographer. He's written several books including the popular picture book, The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis with photography by Bob Brooks (1996). A retrospective exhibition of Maud's work sharing the same title was organized by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in 1997 that would later tour Canada. A full length documentary also named, The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis was produced by the National Film Board in 1998 with the script provided by Woolaver. He has also written two plays about Maud, A World Without Shadows (1996) and The Return of her Child. And is the writer of her full biography, The Heart at the Door (2016). 

In 2019, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (MCAC) in Kleinburg, Ontario organized the touring exhibition: MAUD LEWIS. The exhibition in currently on view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia until April 23, 2023. An art book entitled "Paintings for Sale" by Sarah Milroy, chief curator of the MCAC was published in conjunction with the exhibition. The book cover is an image of "PAINTINGS FOR SALE", the road sign that she painted and used outside her home. This book also served as the base and title for my painting.

On November 2, 2020, in time for the Holidays, Canada Post issued three stamps featuring her winter themed paintings from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia collection. All of the Christmas cards we mailed that year were adorned by these stamps.

In 2017, Mongrel Media and Sony Pictures Classic released Maudie. An award winning feature film of the life of Maud and Everett Lewis starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke. The movie was directed by Aisling Walsh. This film introduced Maud Lewis a much wider audience outside Canada. Receiving generally positive reviews with an approval rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 151 reviews. Sally Hawkins gives an arresting performance as Maude. It won awards in all of the seven categories it was nominated for at the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards, including trophies for best actress, supporting actor, director, screenplay and best film. The film stimulated a resurgence and an interest in Lewis' work. It is currently available for streaming on Netflix.  

Maud Lewis was never really allowed to spend the money she made in order to make her life more comfortable. On the other hand, collectors of her work have been raking in the rewards for having a keen eye for art at a bargain. I remember seeing a few of her paintings being resold in commercial galleries in Halifax for about $4000 to $5000 during the 1990's. On November 30, 2009, her painting "A Family Outing" sold for $22,000 CND at a Bonham's Auction in Toronto. A painting found in 2016 at an Ontario thrift store, "Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fishermen" was sold in an online auction for $45,000 CND. Click HERE. In May of this year, a painting entitled "Black Truck" made national headlines as it was traded during the 1970's to restauranteurs in exchange of a grilled cheese sandwich by a Maud Lewis art collector, an Ontario artist named John Kinnear. The story goes that Kinnear and his wife had lunch at the restaurant every day. And every time he ordered the same grilled cheese sandwich. Kinnear also kept in touch with Maud Lewis, sending her proper art supplies and boards. The painting was expecting to fetch as much as $35,000 CND at auction. But when the hammer fell, it went for 10X as much, for $350,000 CND. Full story HERE and follow-up HERE.

I've always been an admirer of Maud Lewis' artwork but doing an homage painting only appeared on my radar as a result of the pandemic. While we were restricted to the Atlantic bubble for travels because of the Covid-19, my wife and I did a few road trips within the maritimes provinces. In mid-September 2020 we visited the western portion of Nova Scotia. Our itinerary took us to various sites that had a direct connection with Maud Lewis. The background painting that appears in my own painting was the featured image for the month of August in the Maud Lewis 2021 calendar. Growing up in Cap-Lumière, NB, I could relate with the image since our house was located one mile from a similar looking lighthouse. In the calendar, it is referred to as "Lighthouse and Steamer", while in the art book Paintings For Sale by Sarah Milroy, as Untitled (Digby Ferry Passing Point Prim Lighthouse), 1950's. This lighthouse was located 14 km from the Lewis' house. 

The current Point Prim Lighthouse built in 1964 

The original Point Prim Lighthouse dates back to 1817. It was destroyed
by fire in 1873. The lighthouse that appears in the Maud Lewis painting
replaced the original. It was equipped with an attached lighthouse keeper's
residence. It remained in operation until 1964 when it was demolished and
replaced by the current lighthouse. 

When the province of Nova Scotia acquired the Painted House in 
1984, it also purchased its' land in Marshalltown. In 1997, a 
stainless steel framed structure was erected where the house once stood
and a memorial park was established on the remaining grounds.

This Painted House Replica was built by Ross Murray in 1999 on his 
property. Located on Route 217, seven km from where the original house once stood.
Amazing to see so much attention to details. The property also
included a shed and a mailbox. Being there and able to enter the house
and walk around the grounds was like entering a movie set. Completely surreal! 
Click HERE for backstory. 

Photo op in Yarmouth, NS - Birthplace of Maud Lewis - September 2020

My decision to use a Campbell's Soup can as the centerpiece was inspired by the Bob Brooks photo. She used the can to wash her brushes with turpentine. The one shown in the picture taken in 1965 would have been of the same period as when Andy Warhol did his 32 Campbell's Soup Cans in 1962. 

During the summer of 2020, we visited the Village Historique Acadien in Bertrand, NB. Among its' buildings is a replica of the original Nicholas D. Thériault General Store (1924). Almost every items inside are for sale for a few exceptions. The available inventory is meticulously curated by Mrs Lanteigne. While none are antiques, every items has a vintage flair. The top shelf had a display of can goods wrapped in vintage replica labels. When I spotted the vintage Campbell's Tomato Soup cans, my knees buckled. The label is probably pre 1930. When she told me that they weren't for sale, I was so disappointed but understood the situation. When we returned in 2021, I had forgotten about them, but upon seeing them again, my desire to acquire one was renewed. Fortunate for me, she remembered me and said she felt bad once I had exited the door. I had mentioned that I was a painter and wanted to incorporated one somehow in a painting. She kindly agreed to give me one, as long as I was willing to climb up the step ladder to get it. It was a fun moment and I was very thankful. 

I could have used a very similar soup can as in the photo of Maud Lewis, but opted for the retro can to create a narrative that linked her earlier years while her mother taught her how to draw, paint and play the piano when she lived in South Ohio, located 11 km north of Yarmouth.   

If you are still reading, hoping you enjoyed the ride!

This painting is currently on view in a group show entitled "Comfort and Joy" at the Fog Forest Gallery