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Live boldly, laugh and make art

How to make art that touches people. Or – How Brandon Heath made me cry.

How to make art that touched people, or How Brandon Heath made me cry

Brandon Heath gave a talk at Donald Miller’s Storyline Conference, in Nashville Tennessee, on Sunday October 13th. His talk was one of several “Breakout Sessions,”  called, “Telling Your Story Through Art.”

I thought about going to the session, “The Voices We Hear in Our Heads.” The voices in my head are always telling me to clean my basement. But, I didn’t need to go to that session, because I actually started to clean my basement last week. The other sessions looked interesting, but I really want to tell my story though my writing and painting so I attended Brandon Heath’s class at 10:30 a.m.

Since all the front row seats were taken, I sat in the second row. Notebook  in my lap, holding my favorite pencil, I was  ready to write down everything Brandon Heath said.

Art is an artist sharing their view of what the world is. Art is just you being honest.

Brandon Heath

Then he picked up his guitar and played, John Brown Petty. He said it would be easier to show us what he meant with his music, rather than just talking.

Pencil in hand, I was prepared to take more notes.

As I listened to the lyrics of the song, I put down my pencil and cried. Not just a polite little cry, with one tear rolling out of one eye. There were several tears. Okay, I will be honest. There was at least 10 million tears. “Pamela, control yourself. You are sitting in the second  row. He can see you crying.”

His song brought back feelings and memories of my father, William Fernuik. My father was a good ol’ man, and you always felt better when you shook his hand,( or hugged him.) He died in 1998, before my youngest two children were born. They would never know their grandfather. The pain and the loss felt as real as the blister on my middle toe on my right foot  in my black custom-made leather boot from Seoul Korea.

Tears ran down my face, my chin quivered and I couldn’t talk when Brandon asked the audience, “How did the song make you feel?”

John Brown Petty was Brandon Heath’s grandfather. Brandon sometimes gets sad when he talks about him. Sometimes I get sad thinking about my father.

Sometimes when I talk about him, I get sad
You see, Paul Brown Petty was my granddad

Lyrics from John Brown Petty,  by Brandon Heath

Brandon helped me see what is important.

If you want to make art that touches people, put your heart into your work.  [ Would you like to tweet that? tweet tweet]

It doesn’t matter what you create; art, literature, music. It matters how you create. Be honest and share your heart.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou

People will remember how you made them feel.

p.s. John Brown Petty is on Brandon Heath’s latest album, Blue Mountain, which was released on October 9th, 2013. You can order it at Brandon Heath.net.

It’s my birthday on Friday. I know what I want.

Will you  put your heart into your art? 

Please tell me in the comments. I would love to chat.

About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Minmin Hsu

    i cried too, it is the most touch song that i have ever heard.

  • kathunsworth

    Pamela I love this post and we all need a little passionate story to get us fired up, this one was heartfelt and made me smile. Look forward in seeing what comes next for you.

  • La McCoy

    Love this

  • JeNan Merrill

    Thank YOU for sharing from your heart. Isn’t it funny how when we are trying to be MINDful, something like this touches our HEART and that memory is so much more powerful and lasts much longer than any notes we might have taken ever could? Wish I had known you were in Nashville, I live right down the road.

    • Oh dear JeNan, I wish I had known too. I would have loved to meet you. The next time I drive 19 hours to Nashville, lets meet!
      Oh, and you are welcome. My heart is all I have.

  • Hallo Pamela, my table is painted and know I can sit in a proper chair I try and catch up with 300+ emails. And maybe write a blog. Still no furniture except a bed. But getting there. Your story today is o-so-true. That is how I remember people too. How they made me feel. Geez, its everyone’s b-day in October. Mine is on the 22nd. Like the swiss I will only congratulate you on Friday, otherwise its bad luck. And we don’t need that do we.
    I like your nester series, son’t always comment but do follow.
    I miss my online friends and say hi to Pooh. I’ve got lovely pictures of M and will write soon.
    Take care,

    • Hello Patricia and Marshmellow,
      So nice as always to hear from you. I look forward to reading about your life and your adventure on the ocean. Piper asked me where I would go if I could go anywhere in the world. I chose Hermanus, South Africa.
      What color is your table?
      And why do we need so many places to sit? Sleep and walk and eat.
      Hugs to send you, since I can’t come yet.

      • My table is plain pine wood painted white with plastic chairs, it looks funky and modern. You will love Hermanus. It’s relly beautiful.

  • Jaana

    “Students will remember how you made them feel” I had to change it a bit to remind myself that on many days, my art happens in the classroom. Thanks Pamela. As always, your writing touches both my heart and mind.

    • Hello Jaana,
      Yes, students will remember how you made them feel. And children will too. I have to remember that when I want to teach my students or my children. I want them to feel loved more than I want all the shoes lined up perfectly at my front door.

  • Art is just you being honest, I love that. What a wise thing to say.

    What do you want for your birthday?

    • Something I can wrap around my neck and keep my warm. Something colorful from Africa.
      Or a can of sardines.

  • Elsie

    It matters that you create, how true. There is joy in each bit we create, so keep on putting your heart into it Pamela.

    • Thank you Elsie, I will keep my heart in my writing and art. Your encouragement has helped. You were my first subscriber on my blog.

  • Stacey Shubitz

    I love that Maya Angelou quote. It is so true. I can remember how people make me feel so much more than what they said to me.

    Beautiful moment captured here, Pamela.

    • Feelings are often more real than words. People can leave deep marks for good or evil. The feelings stay.

      Thank you Stacey. Have you heard the song?

      • Stacey Shubitz

        No, but I’m listening to the YouTube clip you posted now.

  • Yes. I will put my heart in everything I do. Thank you, Pamela, for sharing your experience and your art with us.

    • You are very welcome Anastacia. And, I think you allready put your heart in your art.

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  • Yes, I will keep trying to put my heart in my art. Even if at times it makes others uncomfortable. I think God wants me to help others feel. And sometimes feelings are sad.

    Thanks for sharing your “heartfelt” post.

    • Hello Anne,
      Thank you. Yes, sometimes feeling are sad, but at least they are honest. Your heart is in your art Anne. I see it there every time I read your writing.