Hello and Welcome Friends,

  January 2009
volume 8 number 1

I notice that this is the beginning of my seventh year composing this newsletter. I hope that you have enjoyed my sharing artwork and stories over those seven years. To those of you who've just joined our mailing list, welcome. I look forward to sharing my work with you another seven years (at least!).

First a little news. Tonight (January 29th) I'll be speaking along with several other artists at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. My self portrait from 2002 is included in their exhibition, "As Others See Us." The show continues through February 22nd. Also, my block print "Autumn Girls" was selected to be included in the biennial regional selection at the Thorne Sagendorph Gallery in Keene, New Hampshire. That show continues through the 26th of February.

For some time now I've had a composition in mind that is, for me, the epitome of driving around the Vermont countryside. Everywhere there are old clapboard (we pronounce it "claberd") farm houses built from the mid 1700s up through the 1950s. Given their age, they are often surrounded by mature hardwood trees that become a blaze of color in the autumn. The combined image of the house and the tree contains an undeniable essence of the Vermont countryside.

But what I had in mind was very complicated when considered in light of making a block print - at least, the one in my head. The white clapboard house is composed of cool colors. The tree composed of warm colors. Working with the reduction technique that I've been using, I couldn't figure out how to do such a print with one block. I mulled it over for months, off and on. Finally, in one of those classic nighttime revelations, I realized that I could do the print using two blocks. One block for cool colors. One for warm.

The resulting print ended up with 14 colors applied in 13 impressions. From the beginning, I thought that the process would be interesting for you to see. So I photographed each application/impression over the course of the print's evolution. Below is the finished print, but I also animated the sequence of the process for you to see how it took shape. Click here to see the animation of this print taking shape.

    "New England Clapboard" 14-color Linoleum Block Print 9" x 12"

Our Christmas holiday week was spent at the apartment of a friend in New York City while they stayed at our place in Vermont. We had a wonderful time and very much enjoyed their collection of works on paper by a wide range of artists. They have a rabbit that we took care of while there. In an idle moment or two I did a couple sketches of the rabbit which I then translated to a drypoint etching. I took the sketch almost as it is in my sketchbook with overlapping images and various states of completion. Not wanting to call the print "Peter Rabbit," we decided to call it "City Rabbit" or "Lapin de la Cité."

    "Lapin de la Cité" Drypoint Etching 5" x 7"

This next print continues the thought of taking a page from my sketchbooks and translating it to a drypoint etching. This image came from a painting I saw in the Prado Museum in Madrid. The original painting is by Corregio and is called "Noli me tangere," or "Touch Me Not." The painting has the most unusual composition, almost like Jesus is dancing rather than drawing away from Mary Magdalene. But I was especially attracted to the beautiful face that Corregio created. Here is the painting from which the sketch came:

    "Noli me tangere" 51" X 42" Corregio, c. 1525, Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain

Here I modified both what is in the painting and what is in the sketch into a new image. The title was changed since I was not fond of those forbidding words for the image I did. I preferred the question Jesus asked of Mary just prior to Corregio's title.

    "Whom Do You Seek?" Drypoint Etching 7" x 5"

Now I'll shift gears with you just a little bit. Prior to my highly representational work, I spent years working in abstract imagery. For some things, abstract images are the only way to convey meaning or carry intent. I understand that this is more difficult for some folks to understand. But it is more appropriate for me to do it this way, this time.

    "Michael's Balance" 7-color Linoleum Block Print 9" x 12"

The last print for this newsletter comes back to home. My back yard, to be precise. The winter has been quite lovely with much snow and ice in Vermont. The Connecticut River has been frozen over just as we all remember from years past. The view from our little B&B and my studio is brilliant, filled with light from the snow on the river. At my wife's suggestion, I did this print of the winter stillness from our window.

    "Brattleboro View" 7-color Linoleum Block Print 9" x 12"

Finally, a painting.

One of my local associates, Sydney Longfellow, had an exhibition of her portraits locally and I enjoyed seeing her paintings. I proposed that we might "trade portraits." She accepted and is working on a portrait of Patricia and me while I did a painting of her and her partner, Naomi. Here is the painting that I did. Hers is not yet finished. I will share it with you in the next newsletter.

    "Sydney and Naomi" Oil on canvas 38" x 28"

And that is the latest from The Artist's Loft. Winter time is a good time for me in the studio. There are few distractions and I produce quite a bit of work, usually. I hope that you'll take the time to drop by to say 'Hello' when you are in town. I look forward to hearing from you and be sure to drop by for Gallery Walk on Friday, February 6th from 5:30 to 8:30 PM.


William H. Hays

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