Getting to know April Hammock

April 13th, 2018


Who is, or has been, the biggest influence on your art?
Quite a few artists come to mind who have influenced my latest works: Jules Olitski, Cy Twombly, Susan Rothenberg, Joan Mitchell, Sol LeWitt, and Willem de Kooning come to mind as some of the artists who have influenced me lately. 

However, there is a really talented artist who has inspired me to take chances and to paint more freely; the way I have always wanted to paint but, in the past, was afraid to. I don’t want to reveal his identity right now. I’m not sure how he would react since I don’t know him very well. But, if I ever see him again, I’ll ask if he’s okay with it. 

Which of your works is your personal favorite and why?
Usually, it’s my latest creation. Probably because it marks the moment that I can most closely identify with. Each painting I complete is an evolution of the former one, too.  

Of all your travels, which city or place inspires you the most? Why?
I did an artist residency in Sedona, AZ. The gorgeous land of the red rocks, Grand Canyon and variegated terrain of Arizona was breathtaking to me. Though the terrain was barren and remote from the world, I felt safe, warm, as if I were home. There’s a strong native American influence there that I (part Native American) felt kindred to. There was something truly magical about this place. I was humbled by the land and fell in love with it. I plan to revisit this place in the next few years. Who knows, maybe my husband and I will retire there. 

I also really like the beach and the caverns. I’ve always been attracted to light and how it refracts and reflects on different surfaces such as water and rocks. I study it closely to memorize the complexity of light upon these surfaces so I can incorporate them into my works.

What inspired you to study to become an artist?
When I was fourteen, my family and I moved to Indiana. There was an art teacher who noticed that I had potential with art. To this day, I give her the credit for discovering me as an artist. The beautiful land of southern Indiana inspired me. People there took the arts seriously and regarded it as an important subject in education. I was sad to leave it after only a year of living there. This experience changed my life and perspective. It was then that I realized that art would become a life-long undertaking.

How long have you been working with your medium?
I’ve been painting in acrylics and oils for almost thirty years. My passion toward painting grows every day. I will never grow tired of painting.

Where do you get your inspirations for your work?
Nature, music and color and the paint itself.

What is your creative process like?
I write in my sketchbook about thoughts that inspire my works as well as processes and techniques that I’m currently working with. I do a small paint sketches, often in oil. Though, I like acrylics, oils allow me to relax and experiment without having to be concerned how fast the paint is drying. On the contrary, I prefer acrylics as my main medium to work with because it allows me to work quickly. I like to work spontaneously so that I can capture the moment, thus allowing the forms to develop more freely. Also, in the humid climate of South Louisiana, acrylics are a sensible choice considering I work with lots of texture, layers and impasto techniques with most of my works.

What are the most important factors you consider when you create your work?
Time and energy. I try to exercise everyday so that I’m my best when approaching my works. I plan carefully, cleaning my studio space. All of the tools and paints are arranged in order, so that I can begin with ease and work intensely without interruption.

How has your practice changed over time?
When I was in college, I used to paint representational imagery primarily with landscapes.  I mainly painted in oils. When I entered graduate school in my mid-twenties, I began to work primarily with abstraction. I would go to nearby lakes to paint what I saw in the water. Then I would take the paintings inside and finish them, basically improvising the subject matter. Now I paint straight from my imagination, focusing more on concept and expression. For me, that’s complete freedom.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect of making work? Why?
Beginning one sometimes-so many decisions. I usually change the work mid-way and it turns out differently than I initially thought it would.

What is something quirky or unexpected about you that most people don't know?
I like to visit Native American mounds. I am fascinated that under these mounds are a vast history of a forgotten culture. There’s something mysterious about these mounds, an eerie yet familiar presence that they resonate that lingers well after I’ve visited them.