Spring in Nova Scotia and the sap is running in the maple trees—the subject of this engaging work by Maud Lewis. The beloved artist from Nova Scotia documented the daily life she witnessed all around her. Using her trademark bright colour palette—red, white, yellow, and green, this scene depicts the act of gathering the maple syrup from tapped trees. Two oxen in decorative yellow and red harnesses haul a large cask that a farmer fills with syrup; a forest glade is in the background—each tree has a different coloured bucket, a gray stone house with a red roof provides the backdrop.
Despite the hardships of poverty and advancing arthritis, Maud was able to create a body of cheerful paintings that belied her situation – the fluffy white and black cats, the jaunty sleighs on wintery roads, the oxen festooned with bells and more. The self-taught artist painted on whatever surface was available including clam shells, dustpans, and the walls of her tiny home.
“I imagine and paint from memory. I don’t copy much…just have to guess my work up.” Maud Lewis
Maud’s house which she shared with her husband was restored and is on permanent exhibit at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Her artwork is held there and in the Canadian Museum of Civilization. She is the subject of several biographies and two National Film Board of Canada documentaries. In 2017, a biopic of Maud's life titled "Maudie" was released starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.