For Kent based artist John Hammonde, the creative process evokes feelings of excitement, anticipation and euphoria. In his explosive and expressive art pieces he uses a spectrum of colour to express an array of emotion. In our chat John shares his creative process, his exciting collaboration with Folkestone Fringe this year and how art is essential for a balanced mind and a healthy mental wellness.
When you look at a piece of art you are looking at the creation process, and especially with my art, you are looking into a small piece of my soul.
Talk to us about the inspirations and meanings behind your art pieces?
It’s an old cliché, but art is a journey; every day I feel that I am just at the beginning. I fell in love with my painting style and wake up every day excited what will happen next in the studio. I find inspiration everywhere. Recent inspirations were: a cloud formation, the waltzers at The Pilot beach bar, and even more strangely a colourful pair of trainers that I saw on an advert!
If I struggle with inspiration, I paint my feelings, I paint the moment that I am in and that gives the painting a real connection with my state of mental wellness. Colour is an incredible way of expressing your feelings, and I love a lot of colour.
If your paintings could speak, what message would they send the viewer?
Each painting means something different to everyone. For me, there is a complete range of emotions within a piece. The creation process is a roller coaster. I become excited thinking of ideas and seeing inspiration and feel both anticipation and nerves when I am about to begin painting – the anxiety can be overwhelming sometimes. When I like what I have created, I ready my trough with paint to drop onto the background. The anxiety comes back! When I am stood by a piece that’s turning on the machine, with a trough full of paint hanging from the ceiling, my heart is in my throat. It’s a destruction or creation moment. As Picasso said, “Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction”. When it works, the euphoria is incredible. It is a complete spectrum of emotion in each and every piece. So in essence, each piece will say a lot about that moment in my life.
Walk us through your creative process, what are the different stages of your work?
So, like most things everything starts online. I order my materials in, canvas rolls and paint. I make 90% of my canvases, from the timber framing, to stretching the canvas. I try to keep all my work bespoke. I mix the acrylic paint that I use, so that it is the correct fluidity that I need. I use the inspiration I have for colour pallets and how I want the final piece to look. I clamp the canvas horizontally to the spinning machine I have and pour on the paint. I mix and blend the paint on the canvas using my hands, or art pallet knives, and sometimes even a kitchen spatula. Then I spin the canvas. Once it looks how I like I will start to fill a trough with paint. I make all my troughs and use most troughs just the once, as they also become a piece of art in the process. I spin the canvas slowly and let the trough go over the canvas. The paint effect is so therapeutic and creates the most beautiful loops and swirls of colour. Then it is drying time. Paintings can take around 3 days to dry completely!
The emotions that I have while creating are huge, the euphoria and the endorphins that it creates in me make me feel incredible.
How and where do you like to work? Do you have any art rituals?
I work in my studio at the bottom of Folkestone’s old high street in Kent. I have a set up for capturing all of the paint spray. The floor of my studio will also become artwork, once it is at a level I am happy with, I will stretch it across canvas frames. This year I will hopefully be taking the creation process outside and doing some live art performances, which I am really looking forward to.
I have no real rituals, if the moment grabs me, it grabs me! The only thing I do really every time is take a big breath before I paint.
What do you find most challenging about practising art and how do you overcome this?
The creation process is so rewarding to me, I was in a dark place and art pulled me through. I must keep it real and always remember that. So I try not to put too much pressure on myself to create. If it was a pressure and a stress it wouldn’t be enjoyable. I do struggle with everything that goes along with the business side of things. There is so much these days that are included: websites, marketing, social media. I just want to paint!
How does art and creativity affect your overall well-being?
As I said, I was pretty low and art really grabbed me and pulled me through the other side. Art for me and the creation process is essential for a balanced mind and a healthy mental wellness. Whether that be picking up the brushes or pencils, or making a canvas and spinning it. The emotions that I have while creating are huge, the euphoria and the endorphins that it creates in me make me feel incredible. That moment when you stand back and see what has just been created before your eyes is second to none.
What are you currently working on? Anything we can look out for?
I have just finished a series of 18” x 24” canvasses which encompass different mediums, acrylics and spray paints. I have recently painted a piece for a local record producer which will be the artwork for a new band called X Superstar. That was exciting and a privilege to do. I have a busy year ahead. I am hoping to be working with the Folkestone Fringe over the Triennial period to be painting in live art performances over the summer, as well as opening up the studio for evenings of live performances (when we’re allowed!)
If I struggle with inspiration, I paint my feelings, I paint the moment that I am in and that gives the painting a real connection with my state of mental wellness.
And lastly, what does art mean for you?
Now that is a tricky question. Art is everything and art is everywhere. Art can be a state of mind or a feeling. I embrace all I can through art, the creation process and everything along the way. I have met some amazing people and made very good friends through art, so art is also a lifestyle. When you look at a piece of art you are looking at the creation process, and especially with my art, you are looking into a small piece of my soul.
To connect with John:
Studio 69B, The Old High Street, Folkestone, Kent, UK