Creativity Magazine

What Willie Nelson Reminded Me About Art

By Cjc
What Willie Nelson Reminded Me About Art

What Willie Nelson Reminded me About Art

Ever wonder why some artists can be so successful while others, who are seemingly more talented, never seem to get recognized? Why is it that some weird looking piece of art can sell for thousands, and others get passed by?

When I was 13 I found one of my Dad’s old cassette tapes with Willie Nelson’s ‘Red Headed Stranger’ album on it. That did it. I was hooked on Willie. I must have listened to that tape a million times. My Mother never cared for Willie Nielson’s music, although she was a County music listener. But let’s face it, Willie is no Dean Martin. With all of those rich baritone voices of the early County era, it’s no wonder my Mother would prefer someone like Jim Reeves and Charlie Rich over Willie. Many years later I gave my Mother a CD with a Will Nelson’s ‘Stardust’ album on it. She loved it!

Certainly Willie’s voice had not improved. In fact quite the opposite, it was high pitched and nasally as ever and the years had left his voice rather rough around the edges. Why the change of heart? And then it hit me. It wasn’t Willie’s voice, or his stellar guitar picking skills, or even his choice of songs for that great cross over album. It was something more than that. It was Willie, unpretentious (not that he ever was) singing from the heart. Absolutely, thoroughly enjoying himself. He was sharing his joy. The album was rich with passion and my mother recognized it immediately.

“So I have finally converted you over to Willie Nelson,” I joked.
“His voice is terrible,” she laughed. “But, it’s a great album.”

My Mother and I are both Artists. She taught me most of what I know about oil painting. She was good enough that she actually supported six kids with her art work, painting murals and commissioned pieces. She is one of those rare artists that can paint passion. It’s just there. Her pieces are full of emotion. She can paint an emotional pile of rocks that are screaming with passion. It was not the quality of Willie’s voice, but the passion. That’s what she heard in Willie’s nasal whine. That’s what made her enjoy the album so much.

It’s not the medium you work with. Not the quality of your paint brushes or the brand of paints that you use. It’s not the classes you’ve taken or your ability to create a prefect rendition of your subject matter. It’s the passion that you bring to the table that makes art great. It’s not an easy thing to describe, but you know it when you see it. Truly blessed is the Artist that can paint with emotion. Just ask Willie.

Curious to see my Mothers work? visit

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