Grandma Moses began painting at the age of 78, becoming enormously successful throughout her remaining 23 years. In the words of her obituary in the New York Times:
Grandma Moses, the spry, indomitable "genuine American primitive" who became one of the country's most famous painters in her late seventies, died here today at the age of 101 […] The simple realism, nostalgic atmosphere and luminous color with which Grandma Moses portrayed homely farm life and rural countryside won her a wide following. She was able to capture the excitement of winter's first snow, Thanksgiving preparations and the new, young green of oncoming spring. Gay color, action and humor enlivened her portrayals of such simple farm activities as maple sugaring, soap-making, candle-making, haying, berrying and the making of apple butter. In person, Grandma Moses charmed wherever she went. 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, Sept. 7, she rarely failed to do a little painting every day.
Apple Butter Making demonstrates exactly this. It reminds one of the same type of domesticity as embroidery, one which is perhaps made up more of memory and longing than of physical reality.
“Madeleine Dring was born on the moon… Arriving on a speck of cosmic dust she came face to face with the human race and has never really recovered.”
The multi-talented Madeleine Dring has a widely varied output, from film scores, ballet and opera, to chamber and solo works. She has an unerring eye for good song lyrics; her songs still appear in exam repertoire lists, and on recital-hall platforms. Unfortunately, much of her other output seems sadly neglected, even the oboe music written for her husband, oboist Roger Lord. It is perhaps a result of how brilliantly easy Doing makes her music sound - the Color Suite, of which Blue Air is the second movement, is a case in point. The five-movement work, with each one based on a different color, borrows heavily from jazz idioms. It is a wonderfully crafted piece of music, and roves that virtuosity is not a requirement for musical worth.