Nova Scotians will honour folk artist Maud Lewis this week, whose colourful, lively paintings of rural life gained her national and international recognition towards the end of her life and in the decades after her death.

Lewis is this year's honouree for Heritage Day, a Nova Scotian holiday dedicated to recognizing a person, place or event that helped shape the province's history and identity.

While her vibrant and quirky compositions may evoke feelings of joy, Lewis's life was marred with poverty, health issues and poor treatment from her loved ones.

Born in rural Nova Scotia in 1903, Lewis lived most of her life in pain from rheumatoid arthritis, which gnarled her hands and limited the size of her paintings.

She spent much of her adult life in the small community of Marshalltown, N.S., living with her fish peddler husband in a tiny house, which she famously adorned with colourful paintings of flowers and wildlife.

She died in 1970, but her paintings have since sold for tens of thousands of dollars, and the 2016 biopic "Maudie" generated fresh interest in her unique story.