What is an Artist? “An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts, and/or demonstrating an art.
To be artistic is to be open to all that is around you. To see things that others cannot and help them to see it through your eyes.
We recently read a brilliant post by Amy Sundberg which we will be leaving the link to and recommend you read her view-point of what it means to be an Artist.
For us, it’s been a way of life passed down from one generation to the next. We seem to have a plethora of artists on both sides of my family. And although the art has varied in degree’s, changed a bit in styles and ventured to new avenues, most all our family have had their hand in the artistic well in one form or another and drank from it freely.
We have/had writers, journalists, painters, seamstresses (quilting, crocheting), photographers, sketch artists and MUSICIANS; a slew of musicians. When my mother and father married they united two families of musicians giving us abundance. And not just musicians who play for the love of playing; more than five of them made a living out of it my father included.
Of course new generations bring with them new ideas and passion for what their art would and could be. Coming from the Dirty South, the elders (my great grandparents: Kenny and Jackie) of our family had a deep love for Blue grass and country. So there was never a shortage of this.
But then my grandparents (Poppa and Nana) who grew up in the 1950’s loved their era of music so we loved rockin’ around the clock as well.
The younger family members were introduced to another style and with it my Uncles’ love for Southern Rock, then enters my mother’s preferred music, the Blues. Of course around the 1990’s, Mathair heard a musical group and fell in love with their sound and style and thus was born her love for Grunge. That one she never shook!!
Then came the new generation: me with my preferred style of Classical.
Should we go further, we’d find my sixteen year old brother….. Okay, so we stopped evolving and crept back up the ladder to the grunge rung. Shoot! I wanted to persuade him to listen to classical and win another for my team but it just wouldn’t take!!! Damn that Mathair!!!
A family of stringed persuasion with a family of percussionists, we had musicians stacked to the ceiling. Nine guitarist, two drummers and now my brothers playing so make that 3. One banjo player, one bassist, Grandpa played the mandolin and my Uncle played the harmonica. Ahem…I took piano for a year. Okay, back to the musicians. Our family used to get together every Sunday after church and eat a sinfully delicious meal of Soul Food then play together for three to four hours or what they would call their jam. I remember those Sundays and loved them so much that they still make me smile and fill my heart with a longing for the old days before we lost so many of our family members. And those memories trigger my senses to the sounds of music, laughter and the smell and tastes of great food.
My great grandmother Jackie singing “Mule Skinner Blues” or “Crazy by Patsy Cline”; my Uncle Barry and Mama playing guitars while my dad played drums with my Poppa picking his leads while Uncle Robert thumped his bass. And the food, Good Lord! The smell of collard greens/ham hock simmering in the pot-liquor fills the air and makes my mouth water; the beautiful glazed ham baking in the oven; Nana making homemade macaroni and cheese. No box crap here, this is the South! And yes my friends, it’s not an urban legend or a great movie, fried green tomatoes with the best batter the South has to offer. (Sorry I can’t give away, it’s a family recipe!) And what good Southern meal doesn’t come with cornbread and red-eyed gravy. I can feel my hips expanding as I think back.
After the pants were unbuttoned and we couldn’t eat another bite of food it was time to take a walk to the music room where a circle of guitars awaited their musicians and a drum set sat in the corner. Microphones scattered about, amps turned up.
Although we are Southern and kept with those Bluegrass roots and country, the younger family members went their own way so, our dinners were introduced to Uncle Barry’s passion: Lynard Skynard, 38 Special, ZZ Top, The Eagles just to name a few.
Then there was mama, who at that time (the eighties pre-grunge) just couldn’t get enough of the blues, loving and learning the greats such as: Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the names go on and on.
I’ll never forget the day mama started a playing a tune on her electric guitar and the smiles broke out on everyone’s face as they joined in. Right before they were done, my Poppa’s voice rose above the music. “That’s tasty little girl, what’s the name of it?” Mama nodded then broke into the lyrics of Cocaine by Eric Clapton. Poor Poppa’s smile fell and he looked shocked, but joined in and played the hell out of a song called Cocaine. (Hold while I laugh. As you all know my Poppa was a minister. Thank God he had a great sense of humor and believed in his children’s right to choose their own artistic avenues.) Once an artist, always an artist, yet how can art bloom unless it’s given the freedom to move? Never confine art!
Good food, good family, good music and art evolving and becoming something wholly different from its root but Art nevertheless. To say life couldn’t get any better, would be putting it mildly. Of course like any dream, it did come to an end. Five of those people from those memories are gone now, gone home to be with the Lord. But I can at least say, that I tasted from the artistic well and one day, will see them again, where we’ll meet for good food, good music and good family or as my poppa like to call it, a ho-down!!
I guess artistic souls will always be evolving and find their avenues of creation. Most of the Artists we’ve met have more than one passion: novelists who also write poetry, Journalists who paint; Photographers who also play guitar in a band on the weekend, Fiction Authors who quilt. So tell us…what are you our dear friends waiting to surprise us with? What other waters do you pull from the well? We’d love to hear what your artistic gifts are. We know your writers, but what else turns you on? What’s your other gift that you love to practice? Whether it keeps you busy, allows you to vent, maybe it’s passed down from your family or perhaps you went off on your own and created something new. Whatever your passion may be, we are Artists and the well runs deep!
AMY SUNDBERG’S BLOG: THE PRACTICAL FREE SPIRIT: http://practicalfreespirit.com/2012/02/21/what-does-it-mean-to-be-an-artist/