Hello and Welcome Friends,

  October 2008
volume 7 number 5

I am very grateful that so many of you have inquired about where I've been for the summer. Of course, the short answer is, Nova Scotia. But the longer answer is that I've simply felt like a rest from the continual online communications. Nova Scotia provides a real respite in that it is fairly isolated from daily traffic and phone calls. But email and spam continue to be a daily avalanche of astonishing proportions. Fortunately, few of you have considered my quiet summer to be a statement of how I feel about you! Thanks for that.

Enough explanation. Let's get to some of the work that has come to fruition in these quiet months, shall we?

Although I painted a comparatively small number of paintings, I think you'll enjoy what I did create. The four paintings I did all revolve around the coastline, looking at various characteristics of the water as it meets the beaches and rocks along the Atlantic coast.

The first revisits a subject that I seem repeatedly drawn to, Carters Beach in Queens County, Nova Scotia. As an aside, I am very happy to say that the province of Nova Scotia has finally purchased this sparkling gem so that it will never be developed and ruined.

    "Carters Beach IV" Oil on Canvas 18" x 24"

This painting celebrates the view that greets those who drive to the beach. But they are almost never alone on this first of three beaches because it is a very popular location to moor for the night when sailing along the coast. Below is the "Caledonia", a passenger sailing ship out of Halifax harbor. We watched it come in to Carters Beach from another beach, Summerville. Once moored, it disembarked passengers off and on for a couple of days before sailing on.

I am confident saying that Carters Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I've seen anywhere in the world. And, to our surprise, at the end of August and through September, there were quite a few days when the water was actually warm enough for swimming and wading without pain!

The "Caledonia" sailing into Carters Beach past Spectacle Island Lighthouse

The next two paintings are based on Summerville Beach. It is quite a large stretch of white sand that has been a provincial park for several decades. It is very popular with travelers and residents alike with Broad River on one end of the beach and a fine restaurant, the Quarterdeck, on the other end. We tend toward the river end. There the rising and falling tides alternately reveal and hide wide swaths of white sand. Thin sheets of water roll over the sand, reflecting the sky and creating ever changing patterns of water and light.

    "Summerville Tide" Oil on Canvas 38" x 28"

    "Summerville Shore" Oil on Canvas 18" x 24"

This next painting is perhaps more typical of what one sees along the South Shore of Nova Scotia. In fact, almost any shoreline of Nova Scotia will have scenes like this. Granite boulders alternately covered with Irish Moss and with spruce create a complex, undulating shoreline where around every corner is a different scene.

    "Glistening Coast" Oil on Canvas 18" x 24"

Along with the occasional painting this summer, I did some drypoint plates. You might recall from previous newsletters that a drypoint is a drawing that is scratched into a plate surface using a steel scribe. In this case, I use plexiglass. The plate is not so durable under the high pressure of the etching press and the editions are limited to small numbers as a result.

Although I could scribe the images on the plates in Nova Scotia, I could not print them until returning to Vermont. My wife was surprised to find that I was spending many hours working on plates that I could not print. But, the delayed results are beginning to come off of the press in Vermont. Here are three of the four that I did this summer:

    "Iris" Drypoint Etching and Watercolor, 7" x 5"

This print and the next are tinted with watercolor. Of course, they are printed like a regular etching, initially with only one color, the "black" drawing. Each time I do an edition of a print like this, I weigh whether or not to put additional work into tinting the image. This one is extensively tinted, requiring a full day of added work once the edition of 25 was printed.

    "Hydrangeas" Drypoint Etching and Watercolor, 7" x 5"

This very complicated little etching returns to a subject that I first addressed in August of 2007 in a block print entitled "Monarch of the Flowers." Each August the huge hydrangea tree (yes, tree) beside my deck erupts into a vibrating buzz of bumble bees, wasps, flys and other insects that come for the pollen. As the weeks go on, the white flowers gradually turn a rusty pink. The tinting in this print is quiet, with not only the rusty pink but also a little bit of green that is more difficult to see in this low resolution web image. By the way, do you see the bumble bee and the wasp?

I do love my garden and the plants that climb up my deck and trellis. One of my favorites is the Dutchmans Pipe. This fast growing vine becomes a solid canopy of heart-shaped leaves that hide a profusion of the understated flowers that give the vine its name. They are graceful plants that grow as much as four or five inches per day. You will notice that I decided not to add anything in the way of additional color to this print.

    "Dutchmans Pipe" Drypoint Etching, 5" x 7"

And now, something a bit more light hearted. Each September, Patricia and I celebrate our wedding anniversary. This year marked our 22nd year of marriage and our 29th year together. Surely one of the highlights of our life together has been the privilege of spending summers in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Like most people, we love our house. At more than 200 years old, we see ourselves as the current caretakers. I wanted to express our fondness for the place visually and give it to Patricia. The back of the house is where we do most of our living and so the back is what I painted. I did the painting entirely from my memory/impression of the home and know that it is not accurate. But I believe it expresses our appreciation of the place.

    "Our Nova Scotia Home" Oil on Canvas 18" x 24"

Finally, this word to everyone. Since coming back from Nova Scotia, I've had the pleasure of seeing many of our friends and talking with a wide range of folks on Main Street and in my gallery. In these conversations, I have taken note of the significant expression of fear and anxiety about the current world situation and what the immediate future seems to hold for all of us. In response, I've written an essay entitled, "The End Is Nigh! (but you'll be fine)" I invite you to read it and take from it what you find useful. If you are so inclined, I would appreciate your comments.

I hope you've enjoyed this longer than usual newsletter. We are solidly back in Vermont and hope that we'll see you at The Artist's Loft Gallery in Brattleboro. I look forward to hearing from you.


William H. Hays

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