January 2012   volume 11 number 1 The Artist's Loft logo The Artist's Loft logo

William H. Hays  Hello and Welcome Friends,

It's just a few days before my 56th birthday and I'm pleased to look back on this past month's work in the studio. I'm going to get right to what I've been doing because it has been an unusual progression of variations on a theme which I hope you'll enjoy.

I've done just one painting of a Nova Scotia fishing shack in the ten years I've been painting maritime scenes. They are classic structures that are rich with texture and character. They're often accesorized (perhaps that's too fashionable a word for this) with floats, ropes, signs, boxes and boards of various kinds which make for time-honored compositions for artists to explore.

My idea was to work with a composition that was fairly simple, one that would pay most attention to the weathered cedar shake exterior with a smattering of floats. My plan was to keep this to a fairly simple, one-color linocut print. So that's what I did:

Idle Season

    "Idle Season" 5" x 7" Linoleum Block Print, edition of 20

After seeing the resulting print, I decided that I needed to open it up a little bit and add an element that I had thought of earlier but not included in the window. So I again carved the block and again printed a one-color print. The first version was printed using a green-brown ink. This second version used a dark blue ink.

Idle Season II

    "Idle Season II" 5" x 7" Linoleum Block Print, edition of 20

There are differences from the first to the second version throughout the print. But the most work was done around the window. This included the introduction of the fingers of work gloves hanging up inside the fishing shack. They are there, but not so obvious that they detract from the overall composition. Good enough? Reasonable minds might think so. But now I thought, "I could introduce some color to this and it would be interesting."

And that's how it really got going!

So I carved two additional blocks. The first was for color in the floats and the gloves in the window. Although I used one block, I inked it with two different colors, yellow and orange. The third block was carved to introduce a tonal color into the overall print. In this case, a blue gray.

Then I finished it with the original block:

    "Awaiting The Season" 5" x 7" 4-color Linoleum Block Print, edition of 10

Once more, reasonable minds would think, "That's enough." But reasonable doesn't seem to enter into my thought process. So I diverged by thinking, "If I carve the original block a bit more and add a darker color, I'll have more depth in the image." So, that's what I did. And now the print has four impressions and five colors:

    "Awaiting The Season II" 5" x 7" 5-color Linoleum Block Print, edition of 38

Good enough. Right?

Apparently not.... My thought was, "What if I went with a warm tone to the print rather than cool?" That seemed like a good idea and off I went. This time, instead of using two colors for the floats and gloves, I introduced a red and used three. And that resulted in the next two versions of the print:

    "Weathered Gear" 5" x 7" 5-color Linoleum Block Print, edition of 12

    "Weathered Gear II" 5" x 7" 6-color Linoleum Block Print, edition of 22

So now that I've got six versions of this print, reasonable minds would surely think, "That will do it." But that nagging little thing in the back of my pea-brain made me do just a couple more versions in very small numbers:

    "Idle Season III" 5" x 7" Linoleum Block Print, edition of 2


    "Fishing Memory" 5" x 7" 2-color Linoleum Block Print, edition of 1

And I believe that will be all now for that composition. Stop me! Don't let me do another one! Destroy the blocks!

There is one more image I did this month. (Actually there are about 75 more... but that's another story.) This print is for my nephew and his fiancÚ. They are both officers in the US Coast Guard and they are going to be married in July in Belgium, which is where her family is from. They will be having part of their celebration at a castle. So I borrowed one of the castle's spires, a little touch of Marc Chagall and a little sail boat to reference both of their love of the sea. Here's the print for them and for their invitation:

    "Sail Away With Me" 5" x 7" Linoleum Block Print, edition of 12

There is actually much more I did this month. I know that seems hard to believe but its true. I became fascinated with doing monoprints and this too got a little out of hand. You can take a look at some of the results and read about my thought process on my blog site. This Friday is Gallery Walk in Brattleboro. I'll have all of these versions of the print out for folks to see and might also have some of the monoprints displayed. I do hope you'll come by on Friday, or just about any day! It is always good to have visitors and you'll enjoy seeing the art in person far more than looking at these images online.


William H. Hays

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