John Hammond’s previous book was a marvellous demonstration of what can be achieved in a medium as versatile as acrylics. In this new one, he exhibits a slightly looser, more relaxed approach, still relying on the play of light, but seeking out some perhaps less obvious viewpoints that give a very slight quality of abstraction to his work.
As before, the paintings are from France, Italy and England and capture the very different types of light that these locations offer, from shady corners in strong sunshine to dappled shade and sky effects. It’s also noticeable that John is starting to get interested in reflections, both in water and on wet streets and polished stone and he produces some striking effects from these.
With any author’s second book, the big question is: is it any different from the first? In this case, I’d have to say “yes”, but in an almost indefinable way. There’s less text, or a feeling of less text, there are still no step-by-step demonstrations (it isn’t that kind of book), but there’s an overall more relaxed feeling that I’m trying hard to put a finger on. I think what it comes down to is an artist’s confidence with their medium. To mix metaphors a bit, John speaks Acrylic like a native. Does that make sense? What I suppose I mean is that the paintings in the book look like real life without being hard and fast representations; they capture the feeling of the place, of the moment and that’s perhaps what art is about.
Whatever the truth of the matter, this is a book that can’t help but inspire you and the words and pictures together can’t help but make you a better painter just by changing the way you look at art, at the process of painting, and at your subject.