“We must recapture our personal and idiosyncratic language so that we may speak about our personal and idiosyncratic life.” –Peter London
Whenever I begin to feel disheartened about the art I create, I return to Peter London and his book “No More Secondhand Art,” which in 1994 gave me a satisfying explanation of what I was doing with my visual imagery when I read it for the first time. At that time, I had been making art for about six years. Then a writer and poet, I found my metaphors had begun leaping from the page to the canvas demanding to be viewed rather than read. I was transformed from writer to painter.
The intensity I felt to create visual images overcame my fear of making “good” art. I was driven to speak from a force within. This force had no need to conform with social norms and expectations. I became dedicated to the “process” of speaking without developing an attachment to what I was saying when I made images, the “product.” I engaged in this artmaking process without showing my work to the public for more than 10 years.
In this way, I developed the early stages of my own visual language. Yes, when “experts” began looking at my work, they used dismissive words such as “derivative,” and “primitive.” Yet there were others who were attracted to my soul work. I knew even then that I should not be pulled in either direction towards criticism or praise.
I knew I had to speak my own idiosyncratic language regardless of what others were saying to me about what this “language” was or wasn’t. This determination to listen to my “gut,” to “see” my visions, and to “speak” about them how I wanted to took perpetually crumbling courage. I continue to fight the outside critics that summon my inner critic, but I practice “doing” and “making” anyways.
And I look for support from those tribes to which I belong. Thus my return to Peter London in order not to be gagged:
“There are some disabling myths about what art is, how to do it, what is good art, and what art is for, that have gagged generations, depriving them of a significant and natural means of expression. This is a terrible loss and an unnecessary one. The purpose of this book [No More Secondhand Art: Awakening the Artist Within] is to address that situation and return visual expression as a natural and full language to every person and to enable everyone to employ this means of expression to do what all language does, to speak about the world as it is, and to create a world of our choosing….
Oh Hallelujah to creating a world of our choosing! Especially in these times of political duress, I know that I can choose to create GRACE from the mundane to the mysterious using my idiosyncratic voice. I hope you will choose to do the same! That’s Coffee with Hallelujah!