Exclusive Interview with Tom Glynn – Part 2 | Assembling Life

Stonehenge 8 © Tom Glynn

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PART 1 of Our Exclusive Interview with Tom Glynn

Tom Glynn is a rare breed: an artist who can move effortlessly between artforms, materials, scales and registers, equally adept at making miniature paintings and  monumental sculptures. And yet all of his work is unmistakably English in mood.  His images are populated by the country’s Neolithic monuments and pastoral landscapes, and informed by the many artists who inhabited those places before him.  Glynn is driven by the same Romantic spirit that motivated Palmer and Turner, Nash  and Piper, Wallis, Lanyon and Hockney, but his art is never anything but his own. It  is, after all, underpinned by an urge that has coursed through his veins since he first stepped foot in a sandpit. 

Dr. James Fox | British Art Historian & Broadcaster
© Tom Glynn’s Paintings, Assemblages, and Sculptures:
Apocalyptic Landscape 2 | Fianti Doll | Darkness Beyond | Night Awoken | Homage to Joseph Cornell 3

What makes your art unique? 

My paintings, sculptures and assemblages are potentially unique as I explore the narrative of everyday events and issues, historical journeys, the paradox of objects and the abstract qualities of both landscape and  the built environment. Direct responses to landscape are significant recurring themes. I work with a multitude of found objects, materials and  techniques within the scope of painting and sculpture, in order to harness the mystery and visual excitement created by juxtaposition, visual memory and spatial configurations – the surrealist and dada  placement of objects and images. Themes and visual ideas often  explore incongruity, archaeological qualities, visual ambiguity, pictorial and real space, political irony, symbol and humour, resulting in a wide  range of outcomes made from expressively applied paint, collage,  assemblage, wood and objets trouvés that yield a profusion of colour, texture, form and spatial complexities.

Homage to Magritte (Personal Values) © Tom Glynn

What is your favourite or most exotic artwork?

This is a very difficult question to answer as I could cite so many creations through the history of art and because I am most excited and moved as an artist by the last hundred years of art history, I could so  easily suggest many examples from the work of Picasso, Matisse, Brancusi or Arp.

Saying that, I would still have to provide Louise Nevelson’s “Black Wall”, 1959 (currently exhibited in London) as my favourite example; even though it comprises scavenged pieces of wood and furniture parts, assembled and painted black, to me it is an exotic object in so many respects. Nevelson was such an innovative and fabulous New York artist and her work has influenced many of my own sculptures and assemblages. Some of these pieces are illustrated in my new book,  entitled “Tom Glynn Paintings Sculptures Assemblages”, by the celebrated British Art Historian and Broadcaster, James Fox, especially my piece entitled “City Moonscape”, 2016. 

City Moonscape © Tom Glynn
City Moonscape © Tom Glynn

What materials do you use and how long does it take for you to create an artwork on average?  

I have always worked with a multitude of mixed-media, acrylic paint, texture paste, corrugated card, collage, objets trouvés, drift wood, rope and plaster of Paris. Typically, I will have three or four pieces of work in progress at any one time, gradually moving from one painting to another as they evolve over many weeks and months and I can also be working simultaneously on either a small series or collection of sculptures, or one larger structure. I will often lay down multiple layers of sand glued over objects in order to achieve a stone-like quality, which is then embellished  with colour and often diluted acrylic as this absorbs into the surface more  easily, providing a greater sense of depth and surface mystery.  

My larger canvases often take longer, although recently some of my  paintings, approximately one meter square, have taken six weeks to two  months to complete, because I will move from one to the other successively. This allows me to make considered and informed decisions about the composition, structure, surface textures and the symphony of colours that work cohesively together. My paintings are often very  colourful. I have also recently completed a series of smaller sculptures that have the stone-like surface already described and painted with an illuminating ultra marine, synonymous with the ‘International Yves Klein Blue’. I find this both unifies and brings to life the object. Some of my sculptures and constructions, depending on size will take a few weeks to  complete, while larger objects can often take a few months.  

Evening Harvest © Tom Glynn

How do you decide what size an artwork will be and what is the typical size of your art? 

The subject and visual effects I want to achieve will often dictate the size of the artwork I am intending to create. Should the subject be an intimate  scale or theme, I will choose to work on a smaller board or canvas; however, if the subject is expansive, such as a particular aspect or part of an open landscape, I will work on a larger support.  

I would similarly apply the same approach to making a sculpture or  assemblage, as some pieces work better if small to medium, what I  would best describe as a ‘domestic’ scale or size. Whereas other themes I explore, work more successfully on a larger scale and will often be just slightly bigger or taller than a human proportion, so typically 2 meters in height.  

My creations can often take several days or weeks to complete from conception, as they will vary from something as small as an A5 canvas  board to a larger painting in excess of a meter or so in length and in  width. A recently completed collection of paintings were in excess of a meter square, and I am about to embark upon a large canvas for a client  that measures 1.5 meters square, about 5 ft square in old money.  

Rural Lights (Monoliths) © Tom Glynn

How do you come up with innovative art ideas? 

Ideas for my art, whether they be for paintings, sculptures or assemblages, evolve over time and my imagination fosters so many  visual concepts. I will unconsciously go through a cerebral process of selection and might initially begin with a canvas, onto which I have glued some textures and shapes using corrugated cardboard, hemp and scrim and then I build on successive layers and applied colour, which is also built up in layers using washes of colour and impasto paint, pulled and  scratched or dry brushed across the surface, creating a harmonious symphony of form, textures and colour.  

The themes that embody my work come from either observed places within the landscape or built environment, the abstract qualities therein  and from my internal imagination, where I will continuously manipulate  and rearrange. Often with my sculptures I will begin with one single found wooden object or fragment and then gradually attach and assemble other found or manipulated made forms. I also use found objects that have an inherent history or previous life, as many of my  sculptures are about the passing of time, ancient, historical and museum objects. I also bring images and thoughts from successive sequences of dreams.  

PART 3 – Taking Care of Business

Apocalyptic Landscape 1 © Tom Glynn

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