Anna Mary Moses was born on September 7, 1860 on a farm in Greenwich, NY. She was one of 10 children and she left home to work on a nearby farm at age 12. She showed an interest in art at an early age and was even given a set of chalk and crayons by one of the families she worked for who noticed her interest. During her limited time at school she relished art classes. However, she never spent much time with art. One can imagine that earlier American farming life was a lot of difficult work and didn’t leave much time for pursuing hobbies.
At age 27, she married Thomas Moses and began a farm and family of her own, having 5 children that survived infancy (10 pregnancies total). Anna Mary was known for adding an artist touch to everyday life. She painted items in their home and embroidered and quilted. After Thomas died of a heart attack, she passed the farm onto one of her sons and began to paint with her spare time. A local grocery store hung her paintings. An art collector noticed them one day and bought them, leading to her first solo showing when she was 80 years old. People loved the vibrant depictions of “old time” country life. She was called Grandma or Mother Moses by those who knew her and soon the press also picked up this name. Over the next three decades, she would produce over 1500 canvases and her work would be reproduced and printed on tiles, fabrics, ceramic and used to advertise various household products. Grandma Moses painted crowded and busy panoramas in vivd colors that gave a happy view of a simpler time. She never received any formal education and is a great example of how anyone can become an artist, no matter your education or age. Anna Mary Moses died at the age of 101.
Look over the prints with the students (there are explanations of what each scene is showing printed on the back of the pictures to help with this). Point out the busy and detailed scenes. It is these details that make her paintings so interesting. They draw the viewer into a scene that they might have no experience with, but make them feel at home like they belong there. Notice perspective isn’t super important here. The lack of training gave her paintings a stylized look. Today we are going to make our scenes like Grandma Moses. Think of something your family likes to do, a time of year or holiday and all of the things that go on during that time or maybe a vacation you have taken and enjoyed. Now map out all of the activities in your picture. Use the colored pencils to make it vibrant and interesting and don’t forget to add the details that will make your viewer feel like they are there!