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nly a few American folk artists left diaries, letters, or autobiographies that provide firsthand accounts of their lives and artistic careers. Yet what may be one of the most interesting of such documents has rarely been cited.' Roses and Thorns, or Recollections of an Artist:A Tale ofTruth,for the Grave and Gay is the 1854 autobiography of Susanna Paine (1792-1862), which she wrote at the age of61.2 This account is a description ofthe life and career of an itinerant female portrait painter and her extraordinary determination to be self-sufficient. Many of the events recounted in the text show how Paine overcame the entrenched prejudices she encountered as an itinerant and as a single woman traveling alone. Roses and Thorns provides a remarkable view of the folk portrait painter and of the few women who followed Paine down the itinerant's road. It is likely that Rosesand Thorns has not been extensively referenced because of the difficulties that it presents for the reader. Because rumors and innuendo had affected her painting commissions and relationships, Paine's autobiography omits any details that might be used to spread gossip. For example, only her parents, grandparents, and brother are named at the beginning of the 204-page book. Not included are the names of her stepfather, who was married to her mother for thirty-nine years, her own husband and son, or many of the people she encountered throughout her lifetime. Although the autobiography is presented chronologically, the only date in Roses and Thorns is that of its completion. Even locations are given in code; for example,"P (RI)" stands for Providence, Rhode Island. For these reasons, it has been necessary for us to fully research Paine's life,

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WINTER 2005/2006 FOLK ART

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Folk Art (Winter 2005/2006)  

Obsessive Drawing • Surface Attraction: Painted Furniture from the Collection • Roses and Thorns: The Life of Susanna Paine • Passing Though...

Folk Art (Winter 2005/2006)  

Obsessive Drawing • Surface Attraction: Painted Furniture from the Collection • Roses and Thorns: The Life of Susanna Paine • Passing Though...