Remarkable rural life painter Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961), "Grandma Moses," was born on this day in upstate New York. A hard-working farmer's wife and mother of 10 children, she spent the last 30 years of her life as an artist.
"If I didn't start painting, I would have raised chickens," she said with characteristic wit.
Self-taught with a no-nonsense approach to life, she began to paint in her 70s after arthritis forced her to retire from farm work. In 1938, art collector Louis Caldor discovered four of her paintings in a Hoosick Falls drugstore. He bought them all. Soon others discovered her pictures. Critics and the general public loved her work.
"(The paintings are) daydreams, as it were," she said. "I look out the window sometimes to see the color of the shadows and the different greens in the trees, but when I get ready to paint I just close my eyes and imagine a scene."
An inspiration and national icon by age 80, she created over 2000 works before her death at the age of 101. In 1955 she was commissioned to paint President Eisenhower's farm.
"Memory is a painter," she said. "Paintin’s not important. The important thing is keepin’ busy."
With an eye for color and small details, her rural scenes celebrated life with nostalgia as sweet as the preserves and jams she served at her 1940 New York art show.
"I look back on my life like a good day's work, it was done and I am satisfied with it," she said.
Make it a great, long, passionate life!