Hello and Welcome Friends,

  January, 2007
volume 6 number 1

For the first time since December of 2002 I have updated the photo of myself. This time it is in color, but it didn't improve my looks at all. Having a four year gap between images of yourself brings the changes of time into stark relief - even further receding hairline, beard even whiter.... But I guess the black t-shirt is my preferred uniform and I like to stand with my arms crossed for photos.

Last night we went to the opening of the Biennial Regional Juror's Choice Competition at the Thorne-Sagendorf Gallery on the Keene State College campus in Keene, New Hampshire. Although I have been included in the exhibition previously and received the People's Choice Commendation in 2005, it's the first time I've seen the show in years. We've been traveling out of the country and missed the opening and the exhibition in the past.

The show is a regional selection of works that is of a very high quality. There is a range of styles and media represented which makes the presentation of such an exhibit difficult. But to their credit, the show is well hung and the quality quite satisfying. I was very happy to receive a juror's honorable mention this year for my painting entitled "Deep Forest Night" (see last month's newsletter).

We're not even three weeks into January and the holidays in December caused a reduction in my output for the month. So I don't have quite so many paintings to show you this time around. I thought I would start by providing one answer to a question that I'm often asked, "Where do you get your ideas from?" There are several different answers I can give you. But I'll start with the most basic answer, I work to compose the images I paint.

I began with the recollection of a watercolor painting I did in 1993. (The painting is entitled, "Cockleburrs") I was interested in doing an image that explored the raking light of the afternoon winter sun across snow in a field. The following are the four little (about 4" x 6") sketches presented in the order they were done, exploring the idea.



And here is the painting taken from the last of the sketches. As you can see, I make things up as I go along according to how the painting is taking shape. As I'm drawing, I often am thinking only in broad terms of composition and I leave elements out that can seem quite prominent in the final painting, like the grasses poking through the snow. The distant clearing or lake in the background center took form as I was blocking in the composition on the canvas. It may not appear so to you in this image, but that little patch of blue in the distance ended up to be the compositional focal point of the painting.

    "High Meadow Shadows" Oil on Canvas 18" x 24"

Like most artists, there are certain patterns that I follow. One of the things that I've come around to in the last decade is painting over existing paintings. Sometimes I completely change them. Sometimes I'll just shift tone and mood. Sometimes I'll just touch up one or two areas. I haven't ruined a painting yet doing this. But it can be a little unsettling when you pick up a work that has been "finished" for years and begin painting on it. Here is an example of one that had been nagging at me to be repainted for about a year and a half:

  (Before and After)   "The Swimming Hole" Oil on Canvas 38" x 28"

As you can see, the painting is essentially the same. But the tone has shifted quite a bit and there are elements in the foreground reflections that have changed such that the whole flow of the image is different.

The next image is also a repainting but the results changed the original image much more so than "The Swimming Hole." In addressing this painting the second time around, I wanted to accomplish two things; to simplify the image and to unify the color. Simplifying the image happens in the painting process. But unifying the color was something that took some forethought. I decided to address the repainting with just two colors, using the existing painting underneath to add variety and depth. The two colors were a mixed blue for the cool color and cadmium yellow medium (kind of a yellow orange) for the warm color. Of course, I used white to tint each. And here is the result:

  (Before and After)  "Morning on the Connecticut River" Oil on Canvas 38" x 28"

I know that it seems as if the change must be the result of more than just two colors. But I assure you, only two colors were used. The fog in the distance behind the trees is the only significant change in the image. But the feeling of the painting is completely different as a result of the reworking.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these. I do enjoy hearing from you, so keep in touch.


William H. Hays

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