There’s what amounts to a neologism in the subtitle to this: “How to paint sea, sky, land and life”. That’s right, “life” – not nature, animals or portraits, just life. This is a clue to the style of the book, and to Glyn’s work, which is itself full of vitality, like the man himself. I said quite a lot about this in relation to his first book.
Flick quickly through the pages here and you get the feeling more of a magazine than a book. You’ll see images, features and stand-outs rather than the more usual progression of projects, exercises and demonstrations. Delve further, though, and they’re all there; it’s just that the design brings Glyn’s own dynamism to the pages. I must say I like it and, if this is a new dimension in the layout of books, you can say you saw it here first. That doesn’t mean that I want all future publications to be about appearance rather than content, form rather than function, just that it works here and I think it’s worth following up.
Glyn is a passionate ambassador for his medium – not as an end in itself, but for what it can do – and this is a book that takes paint, brushes and supports by the scruff of their necks and explores their possibilities. Although Glyn is more or less a representational painter, it’s images rather than depictions that are his stock in trade and it’s the colours, tones, shades and brushwork that convey the subject rather than detailed observation. That’s not to say that he doesn’t observe at all: distillations only come from intimate understanding.
So, in sum, this isn’t a book about how to paint, it’s a book about how to paint. In the immortal words of Captain Beefheart: get me? What I mean is that this is a celebration of both painting and of acrylics. It’s about understanding your subject and feeling passionate about painting it. It’s about exploration, not least in the challenges it presents, such as “What next” and “What else could you do” that take each demonstration beyond its normal confines. Every stage is a jumping-off point for something else, every successful exercise a challenge for the next one and the journey is never complete. It’s an exhilarating, thrilling ride and the joy is that there may be no safety net.
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