Grandma Moses

Are you a fan of American folk art?

If so, you may know the artist whose passing we lament on December 13.

Need a hint? Take a look:


Image courtesy of Wikipaintings

The sweetly simplistic style of Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known to all as Grandma Moses, is nearly unmistakable. And her subject matter is as dear to this farmgirl’s heart as that of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

A picture speaks a thousand words, as the saying goes, and Grandma Moses proved it to be true. With the clarity of her almost childlike imagery, she preserved the rural arts of maple sugaring, soap-making, haying, quilting, and Apple Butter Making (below),  to name a few.


Image courtesy of Wikipaintings

She once said, “I’ll get an inspiration and start painting; then I’ll forget everything, everything except how things used to be and how to paint it so people will know how we used to live.”


Sugaring Off by Grandma Moses courtesy of Wikipaintings

“In person, Grandma Moses charmed wherever she went,” read her obituary in the New York Times. “A tiny, lively woman with mischievous gray eyes and a quick wit, she could be sharp-tongued with a sycophant and stern with an errant grandchild. Cheerful, as a cricket, even in her last years, she continued to be keenly observant of all that went on around her. Until her last birthday, September 7, she rarely failed to do a little painting every day.”

Talk about an inspiration!

Perhaps what fascinates me most about the iconic Grandma Moses, though, is the fact that she didn’t begin painting until she was 76 years old!


Photo of Grandma Moses, taken in 1953, courtesy of Wikimedia

She took up a paint brush, she said, because she could no longer wield her embroidery needle as a result of arthritis. “She had been too busy all her life to bear the thought of being idle,” reported the Times.

Grandma Moses died on this day in 1961 at the ripe ol’ age of 101.

To learn more about her and enjoy a bountiful sampling of her paintings, I recommend the out-of-print book Grandma Moses by Otto Kallir, the renowned art dealer who helped popularize Moses’ work. It even includes a summary of her life, handwritten in her own words.


Leave a comment 3 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I am a huge fan of American Folk Art and have loved Gramdma Moses’s works for many years. The simplicity of her creations just speak to my heart and each painting is full of beautiful details of American life. Thank-you for this book title as I will definitely look it up!

  2. Sharon D. says:

    I love her paintings, especially the Sugaring Off. She is such an icon for ‘You are never too old to try something new”. My mother never graduated high school, she made it to 5th grade and then quit to help my grandfather. At 67 she received her GED and in her late 70’s took some college courses. I love the photo of Grandma Moses, she is such a cute, sweet little thing and I would have loved to have given her a hug 🙂

  3. American folk artists are my favorite. I don’t own anything by Gramma Moses, just deeply admired her work. I buy calendars by Charles Wysocki and other folk artists. That way, I enjoy something different every month. One of my joys in life.

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