Hello and Welcome Friends,

  November, 2007
volume 6 number 8

For one reason or another, painting has not been taking off this month as it has in the past. Not to worry! It will return in yet another flurry of activity in the near future, I'm sure. I have a painting on the easel now... but it has just been slow for me to find my stride lately.

By way of compensation, I have been doing some print making this month. Just two pieces. But I think you'll like them.

To begin with, my first print of Brattleboro. On the corner of High and Main Streets, just down the block, is a large, Mansard roofed building that stretches almost the entire block. The Brooks Hotel was built in 1872 after a fire destroyed the entire block. The hotel was a bustling place for many years but eventually became apartments on the upper floors and shops at street level. Locals all call it the Brooks House.

    "Brooks House" 4-color Linocut 7" x 5"

The cutting of the block to create this print was done with some beautiful new Japanese wood block cutting tools. They are finely crafted and have given me a new level of precision in cutting the linoleum blocks for printing. With that in mind, I decided to see just how far I could go with the new tools.

I wanted to revisit an image that was my second linocut print, "Night Angel." I not only felt that I could do this better than I did back in February (when I first started doing block prints), I wanted to change the feeling of the image. I added snowflakes to the background and decided to see if I could define shadow and contours of the figure by using the thickness of the line rather than hatching or cross-hatching.

This style of attaining tonal variations in a black and white image is derived from engraving. Engraving is a much more precise and fine medium than linoleum block printing. In engraving, the image is cut into a metal plate and the lines can be extremely subtle and very exact (just take a look at a dollar bill in your pocket.) But linocuts are not known for such subtlety. Nevertheless, I wanted to give it a go to see what I could do. Here's the block I cut:

    Linoleum Block for "Angel of Winter" 12" x 9"

I had to pull three test proofs before deciding that the image was completed. In all, it took about four days to cut the block to prepare for printing. It was quite difficult and required great concentration. Any mistakes in cutting would stand out as glaring mistakes since there is a regular pattern that makes up the figure. Here's the print:

    "Angle of Winter" Linocut 12" x 9"

So now I know how far I can go with these new tools....

My wife, Patricia, has been very generous and is often a source of inspiration and critique for me. It was she who prodded me toward working in printmaking in order to create multiple images that were more affordable for the average person than the oil paintings I usually do. She has been able to see the wear and tear that this process of pulling prints by hand has wrought on my shoulder (in particular). As a result, she is giving me a combined anniversary and Christmas present of an intaglio press! This is not a small gift on several levels and I am very grateful to be recieving this press (in a couple weeks, I think.) I very much look forward to using this new tool in my arsenal!

Unfortunately, that is all the artwork for this month. But I want to call to your attention something that happened at the end of this month. We had a reporter from the Boston Globe who stayed at our little B&B in Brattleboro some time ago. She enjoyed the place very much and wrote a review that is in the Sunday, November 25th edition of the Globe. I've put a reprint of it on our website if you'd like to read what she had to say. Our "little B&B that could" has been so well received during these past 11 years of our having it. It is good to see a little free publicity in a large market newspaper. So now the emails and phone calls start rolling in....

Winter has arrived in Vermont with much colder weather and even a little snow. We both like the shorter days and the drama of the frozen landscape. We hope that you find your home as beautiful.


William H. Hays

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The Artist's Loft Bed & Breakfast and Gallery, Vermont
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