My definition

How do I define art?

On my living room wall are matted, framed black and white photographs of the outdoors, images from an area less than a mile in circumference from my Grandfather’s home. He captured the images, processed them, matted them and then shared them with his world of friends and family. He was a humble man with deep abiding faith, and a quiet manner. He had a love of nature which showed in his timeless images. I consider these photographs works of art.  Which leads me back to the question, what is art?

I often speak of the influence of my grandparents here, and justifiably so because they had a great impact on me.  Grandma’s art was her cooking, sewing, keeping a home…the domestic forms of art.  She put herself into the simple quilts she made for us to sleep under, in the delicious chicken and dressing that she made repeatedly for church dinners, and in the many garments she sewed in her lifetime. Her handwritten recipe book sits on the desk here as I type this, a treasure to me because of who created it and what it meant to her… it was her best of the best recipes.  Some are splattered with food stuff from frequent use.

I still have not answered my own question…

There was the sound as I was falling asleep as young girl of my mom playing the piano while my dad sang.  And the absolutely beautiful sound of my sister playing Chopin as she studied piano. My brother performing Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin in high school, another brother singing and playing guitar. The signs painted for people by my dad, the singing in four part harmony with the family at home and in church.

The arts have surrounded me all my life. But the hardest thing to do is describe what they are. Here is what I do know.

When I view those images on my living room wall I am moved by the simple beauty of them, by the light that was captured and the point of view, the texture of the snow that is heaped up on the wood pile in another image. The photographer was moved by these, too, and successfully caught that moment in this art form. 

Grandma’s quilts are ragged, imperfect, and showing age, yet I can remember the dresses and shirts she converted into those scraps that make up the quilts, can see her at her old Domestic Rotary sewing machine as she sewed for hours on end. I can still taste her chicken and dressing, her sweet rolls…though mine never tastes as good as hers.  Her art gave us a taste, if you will, of what was important to her, what she wanted to share, and we got that.  We got that.

Art is a point of view of the Artist, expressed in some kind of art form in such a way that it moves the beholder or partaker. Somehow the Artist has discovered a way to capture the essence of what they are moved by, and can use the means they have to express what is coming from deep within. There is mystery in this. I believe that the deeper the mystery, the more the art moves us. Just as my Grandmother’s cooking filled our bellies it also nourished our souls, which I believe also is an important aspect of art in any form…it nourishes us spiritually.

Yes, photography is an Art. And I’m finally understanding that I am an Artist. I say understanding because this is a process, coming to that point, and it will continue as I learn and grow.  Being able to write this paragraph, to say what I just did, has come about because of this photography class. For the first time in my life the question of why I take photos has been asked of me, making me look deep inside.

Being creative feeds my soul. While looking through the lens on a DSLR is my preferred way to create, I also enjoy other things like music, mixed media art (which I’m working on learning more about), painting, and decorating the canvas that is my Home. Most recently, though, I was moved by the thin line of ice on the edge of a leaf in my front yard, thousands of tiny crystals that outline features we otherwise might not see.  That is the art from my point of view that I will share here…and my hope is that it will move you as it did me.

Written for Kat Sloma’s photography course…click here to learn more of what she has to offer.

12 Replies to “My definition”

  1. This is beautiful Deborah. You have such love for your grandparents. I am very moved. And I agree that you are an artist. I went to your gallery at bug picture and found quite a few I really like.

  2. The way you write about your grandparents is very touching. Your family in all, your memories of them performing art. And of course you are an artist – photography is an art. The image of the leaf with the icy edge says it all – it is stunning, and I often thought so about many of your photos.

  3. I have no doubt that you are an ARTIST!! Be proud of what you have learned and how taking pictures is part of who you are before they are even developed. I love the way you see the world from the little things to the big things. You appreciate them all and I love that about you too.
    So many times you come across my mind as I take pictures and walk thru my yard and stare up at the big sky and clouds. Other times it's when I'm out and about and I wonder what would Deborah think of this how would she take this picture and what angle would she use. So you see by your learning and enjoying means that we are too. Thank you for always inspiring me and making me keep my eyes OPEN to the world and right under my feet.
    You said this all beautiful and exactly how I feel about art too.

    This photo is stunning and so full of life, I can actually feel how cold it must have been and see this shining while on the ground. Just stunning!!
    Thanks for always sharing. Have a wonderful first day of November!!

  4. Your words are the words of an artist. You express yourself so beautifully. I have never met you or your family but as I read your post today I felt as though I knew all of you. Your picture of the leaf is beautiful.

  5. Deb,
    This was a hard one – trying to define what is in some ways undefinable. But I love the very personal and emotional viewpoint that you took on this question. And your thoughts that this process of claiming the title of "artist" is a process, a journey.

    Lovely image – with those snowy crystals, like sugar coating, on the leaf's edges. A beautiful detail – from an ARTIST!

  6. Your post itself is a work of art, a creation straight from your heart, beautifully written!! Your photos inspire and yes, they move me!! I agree that we are on a journey, learning and growing! I'm glad to share this journey with you!!

  7. We are so, so lucky to have you sharing your journey with us Deb. Your contemplation of art in all its forms is beautiful, and I resonate with the idea that art is the expression of the artist, trying to capture a feeling or a moment that moves us. You are definitely an artist. I am so glad that you have found the courage and the place deep inside you where you can start to claim that for yourself. Thank you so much for being in the class, and taking it to heart.

  8. Deb, once again you've moved me to tears with the beautiful word pictures you paint. It sounds like there was and is a lot of love in your family. That is an art, too, you know. And your frost-rimmed leaf is lovely.

  9. Beautifully written. I love how you wandered through the influence of your grandparents and encompassed so many senses in the answer to "what is art". I think you might add writing to the art forms you do.

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