Grandma Moses:How a Fabulous Woman Reinvented her Life at 76

Table of Contents

Never too Old!

Whenever I think that I may be too old to start or to learn something new I think of Anna Mary Robertson Moses (Grandma Moses) and many other women who reinvented themselves during their later years.

I started to sketch line drawings or doodles to describe my travels a few years back. They weren’t outstanding, but they were expressive and fun. I loved doing them because they transported me to another world while I made them. I felt peaceful; they made me look at things for a longer time, and I was entertained during my solo trips.

I showed my artwork to a few people and got some interesting responses:

A smile and a quick turn of the head accompanied by an abrupt change of subject.

Smiles and raised eyes and eyebrows.

A few “How cute,” some “oohs.”

“These are great.”

The one comment that impressed me the most was, “I could never start something like that now because I am too old.”

I thought a lot about that because I’m one of those persons that believes that it’s never too late to do something, and I searched for people who have reinvented their lives after a certain age.

Grandma Moses autobiography

Hardcover book-Found on Amazon (not an affiliate)

The Making of Grandma Moses

Have you heard of Grandma Moses?

What a lovely lady! She reinvented her life after the age of 76. Grandma Moses’ name was Anna Mary Robertson Moses, and she was born in 1860 and died in 1961. She was known for her beautiful and dreamy paintings about American rural life.

Moses worked on a farm since she was 12 years old. She loved to draw and was always sketching something. Grandma Moses drew on newsprint and used natural pigments made from fruits such as berries and lemon juice to paint. The family she worked for noticed her enthusiasm and gave her chalk and crayons and that was the beginning of her artistic career.

The Encyclopedia of World Biography stated that she was fixing up a room and applying wallpaper but ran out of it. So she plastered white paper and painted over it. The artwork on those walls is called Fireboard, and it is hanging in the Bennington Museum in Vermont!

Moses folk artist

Grandma Moses: An American Original by William C. Ketchum Jr. -hardcover- on Amazon (not an affiliate)

From a Farm to a Museum

When Moses was 70, she stopped working at the farm. She felt her age, and it was all getting too challenging. So Moses picked up stitching and embroidering as a hobby and sold a few pieces. She got arthritis on her right hand and couldn’t stitch anymore, so she took up painting again.

And when I read this, my eyes opened wide, and my heart beat faster, and she became my heroine! Instead of giving up, she chose a different medium and kept on working. However, she had more challenges: Her arthritis made it very hard to paint with her right hand, so she continued to do so with her left hand.

Grandma Moses

 

Grandma Moses: American Modern by robert Walterstorff -hardcover- on Amazon (not an affiliate)

Moses’ history and some of her extraordinary accomplishments

1938 Exhibit at the W.D. Pharmacy, Hoosick Falls, NY-  Moses was 76!

Louis Calder, a NY collector, bought all her pieces and introduced her to an art agent. Her work was shown in different museums.

Here are only a few of her artistic accomplishments:

1939-1942

  • Galerie St. Etienne NYC, solo show (He also sold Klint’s artwork)
  • Gimbels Department Store
  • MOMA private show
  • Museum of Modern Art, Paris
  • She participated in more than 150 exhibits.
  • 1953 Cover of Time Magazine
  • 1960 Life Magazine

Rainbow was her last painting.

Her work was reproduced in Christmas cards, porcelain, and marketing materials for different companies. She received awards, and in 1969, her painting “4th of July” was placed on a U.S. postage stamp.

Did you know there is a Grandma Moses Day? It’s on September 7.

View Grandma Moses’ art on Wikiart

Grandma Moses on Youtube

Marguerite

Feeling hopeful and optimistic and hoping to see you all reinventing yourselves all the time and anytime!

Another post about an inspiring woman

How One Woman Reinvented Herself at 72 by Marguerite Beaty

Research

Great Second Acts: In Praise of Older Women by Marlene Wagman-Geller, Pam Ward (narrator)- audiobook

My online research:

Great article:

How the American Government deployed Grandma Moses Overseas in the Cold War by Katherine Jentleson, Smithsonian Magazine, March 2020

Note:

I would like to have read her book, Grandma Moses: My Life’s History, by Grandma Moses and Otto Kallir, but it’s a challenge to import things to Portugal from the U.S.- without huge fees due to E.U. regulations.

I can hardly wait to get her book when I return to the U.S. for a quick visit.

Updated January 2024

Main picture by Richard Barnard on Unsplash

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Updated May 2024

Marguerite Beaty, Blogger, Photographer & Artist

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