Hello and Welcome Friends,

  November, 2006
volume 5 number 7

At last I've come around to writing another newsletter. In September and October I not only didn't paint too much, I also was very busy coming back to New England from Nova Scotia along with a busy season at our bed and breakfast. Autumn is always a busy time and this year we got to meet some wonderful people from many parts of the world (Turkey, England, Holland) as well as folks from all over the U.S. They all enjoyed the foliage and being in downtown Brattleboro. Some are making plans to return next year already.

    "Stickneybrook 9" Oil on Canvas 28" x 38"

Coming back to Vermont each year in the fall, it is an inevitability that we will stop at Stickneybrook at one point or another. It is an unusual place for me in that each time I go I am excited anew at the scene. I have entitled this painting "Stickneybrook 9". But I think there may be as many as 15 paintings of that particular place in my history. In the course of doing landscapes, most of my compositions are just that, compositions. They don't usually represent a particular place necessarily. They are composed with a combination of imagination, photographs, charcoal sketches and pencil sketches. At times there is no preparatory work at all and I just compose on the canvas with a brush and thin paint.

What is unusual for me about Stickneybrook is that I tend to work from photographs. It is hard for me to see how I can improve the natural compositions. I do change time of year, light and color. But the basic foundation for the image is in the photographs I take of the place. Most of the time I can stand in a room of my gallery and say that the only painting of a real place is the one that has Stickneybrook as the subject matter. (Still, the bridge in the background is my addition.)

  "Moonlight Blanket" Oil on Canvas 18" x 24"

This painting revisits a composition that I did quite some time ago, about ten years ago in fact. Although winter has not even really begun to weild its blanket of snow and ice, I am drawn to it again. It has been a while since I've done a wintertime painting. This is also one of a long series of nighttime paintings I've done. Some are in winter and provide a similar, overall blue of this painting. But few have had the shaft of moonlight illuminating the soft mounds of fresh snow. This kind of scene is impossible to capture with a camera.

  "Sunlight Blanket" Oil on Canvas 38" x 28"

Now, it is only natural that after doing the moonlit scene that I would want to do the opposite, a sunlit scene. I did several pencil sketches that led up to this composition. Like most of my recent paintings, this is composed of a limited (four colors in this case) palette of colors. The dominant combination is a slightly violet blue and yellow ochre. This painting took longer to accomplish than I thought it was going to.

People often ask me, "How long does it take you to do a painting like that?" My answer is almost always the same, "It depends on the painting. Some of them flow out of me like magic and I can hardly believe I've painted them. Others seem like they're going to be fast and relatively easy and they end up taking many, many hours - sometimes months and even years to complete."

  "Winter Meander" Oil on Canvas 24" x 18"

This painting is derived from one of the sketches that led up to the previous painting. You can see that the basic idea of the sun coming across a blanket of fresh snow is essentially the same. I mixed a different palette but still limited it to four colors. The main difference here is the yellow I used. In the previous painting the yellow is pure yellow ochre. In this, the yellow is a mixture of cadmium yellow deep and yellow ochre. It is more orange to the earth tone of the yellow ochre.

As a result the overall tone is changed considerably. I also used deeper yellow tones in the reflected light areas. They may look a bit dull in this photo. Something funny about the way the camera is reading the pigment....

Finally, I offer you a before and after of a recent painting from the August Newletter of this year. As with many paintings I reconsidered this one over the course of a month or two. The reworking of the image (I hope you'll agree) an improvement:

       "Urantia Attended by the Stars" Oil on Canvas 72" x 48" (before and after repainting)

...and a detail....


Finally, a little commercial work. I was contacted by Marty Greenhut of Harp of God publishing to see if I would do a cover for a new daily devotional book by Joyce Brenton of Arizona entitled, "The Mind of Christ - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." This kind of work is never easy and something with this kind of content takes a bit of thought and careful consideration along with the effort. The illustration is a watercolor that is then manipulated in Photoshop. The background is a shot I took of a thin, clear sheet of water at one of the beaches in Nova Scotia. The book is a lovely daily meditation along the lines of "God Calling."

And that's it for finished work so far this month.

Since it is the day before Thanksgiving, I'll take a moment to express to you how very thankful I am that you're a part of my life. There are many blessings that I can count. But none are so meaningful as the relationships we have with one another.

Join me in a sincere expression of thanks....


William H. Hays

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