October 2011   volume 10 number 4 The Artist's Loft logo The Artist's Loft logo

William H. Hays  Hello and Welcome Friends,

In Vermont we've been enjoying the autumn and are still enjoying it. I have to say that this is quite a late autumn. We've not seen one go into November before. Whatever the cause, we are enjoying it. Below are three pictures from The Artist's Loft looking out over the Connecticut River onto Mt. Wantastiquet in October. They are about a week apart, beginning the second week of October. For the sake of comparison, I'll mention that in the 25 years we've been living in Brattleboro, autumn colors have always been finished by the end of the third week of October. This time of year, only rusty remnants remain on the mountain to remind us of the blazing colors that last but a few days. The rare exceptions where the leaves have lasted longer have never gone into November, that I can recall. Yet, this morning the mountainside is still a golden orange.

No doubt, you'll notice that the last picture has snow in it. Yes, we got 15" of snow on the 30th of October. Although snow in October is not unheard of, that much snow is quite unusual. Along with it breaking many tree branches, it made for a very beautiful day last Sunday. And three days later, there's still a fairly complete, white blanket below the golden leaves of autumn.

I want to tell you about a new development in my work. This year I was approached by a publisher (Artists To Watch) about my prints. They wanted to use "Nightfall Snowfall" for one of their holiday cards. We agreed to work together and now this print is available as a holiday card from them online and in many stores around the country. I had a shop keeper come up to me a few weeks ago and say, "We're carrying your card now." It took me a minute to figure out what she was talking about! Next time, such a compliment will register more quickly, I'm sure.

  "Nightfall Snowfall" 8-color linoleum block print, 12" x 9"

You may recall that last Christmas, our present to each other was a Springer Spaniel puppy we named Little Ricki (take a look at this picture of Ricki bonding with me). We are very much enjoying her company and she's ended up to be a lovely little dog. As well, she's great fun in the water and in the snow. This first snowfall of the season saw her romping with great gusto and unbridled joy. I took this picture of her on our early morning walk and thought it captured her enthusiasm perfectly.

At the risk of coming across as an overy-proud parent, here's what she looks like when she's not frolicking with abandon.

I've been working on a new print. It's a small one and is inspired by the autumn foliage. Unlike any print I've done in the past, I've begun this one with the intention of doing two different versions at once. One will be autumn. One will be summer.

The process I use for the block prints is called reduction printing. This means that with each step, I carve away more of the surface of one block to prepare for printing the next color. Therefore, I continually reduce the block's surface. Get it? Reduction prints? Oh, you get it!

By using this technique, I am essentially ruining the block I used to print the last color, every time. It gives new meaning to the idea of a limited edition. These days, I usually start with 48 sheets of paper. That means that if all goes well, I will have 48 prints at the end of the process (that rarely happens). I'll never be able to produce any more, even if I wanted to. If I wanted to do a different combination of colors with the block(s), I can't. I've heard the nickname, "suicide prints" before - there's no going back. Every step is a commitment. Whatever mistakes are made I have to learn to work with them.

The image above shows the two rows of prints drying in my studio after the first, solid rectangle of color is applied to the paper. The picture shows only the "summer" version. The next image shows both versions of the print after the application of the second color.

Since I'm printing twice as many impressions with the two versions, it's taking me twice as long and that's as far as I've been able to get. I'm kicking it into high gear now and hope to have a finished print to show this Friday during Gallery Walk in Brattleboro... but I might not get there. Still, do come by so that I can show you the print in process. I think you'll find it interesting and I always enjoy having visitors.

Take care. Thank you for reading what I have to say this month. Keep in touch. I always look forward to hearing from you.

Yours,

William H. Hays


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