Hello and Welcome Friends,

  February, 2007
volume 6 number 2

This is the month of both my birthday and my wife's, one day apart. For my gift she gave me tools and materials for linoleum block printing. I haven't really done any print making like this for a long time, about 35 years. So I started right in.

For those of you who do not know what the process is, you start with a sheet of thick, grey linoleum adhered to a wood block. With chisels you carve the linoleum. What you carve becomes white. What you don't carve away is inked and transfered to paper. You can see the carved printing block below right. As you can see, one has to plan for the fact that the image prints in reverse - particularly important in the case of lettering!


"Angles" Linoleum Block Print and Watercolor 7" x 5" on buff paper

As you can see in the signing, I did an edition of twenty. Each is colored with watercolor in the red garment and yellow star. This is printed with water-based, brown black ink in a on buff paper. Patricia asked me why I put the word "Angles" in the image. At the time I couldn't provide a good reason. But it has come to me that since this is the most purely graphic medium I've worked in for quite a while, the use of words is appropriate, especially in a first print. The quality of the carving is quite interesting and it is not physically difficult to do. What a very thoughtful gift!

         "Night Angel" Linoleum Block Print and Watercolor 7" x 5" on buff paper

We have a friend in Nova Scotia named Robert Smith. Easy to remember. Robert sent me some beautiful images of the Pre-Raphaelite painters from England in the late 19th century. In particular he felt that some of my paintings were related to Edward Robert Hughes' works. (There are marked similarities.)

Inspired by one of his gouache paintings called "Night", I did the above image. The model is the same woman I used for the upper figure in "Lifted By Love." I like the results of the way the block took the water-based ink irregularly in the background. It's a lovely little print in a blue-gray black with yellow watercolor in the stars on buff paper. The blue gray wash on her top is from drawing a brush with just water through some of the ink on the paper. It dissolves very readily.

This next print is at least the fifth version of this image I've done since moving to Vermont. It has been interpreted by me in charcoal, oil paint, lithograph, watercolor, and now block print. It is a perfect composition and an image that holds much of the character of the charm of Vermont.

        "Green River Bridge" Linoleum Block Print and Watercolor 9" x 12" on white paper

This image is in an edition of only ten. It is much more work to produce the larger image than the previous prints and the extensive use of watercolor in each print of the edition adds quite a bit of work to an edition. This is done with oil-based inks.

The water-based inks dry so fast that I could only pull about four prints before having to wash the block clean (and the rolling palette and the roller - the brayer) of dried ink. The oil-based ink gave me much more time to work and much more control over the quality of the printing. But they also take 24+ hours to dry.

Because there are multiple images, they are on paper and they're small, these are very affordable works of original art. If you are interested in purchasing one of the prints, you can go to my Prints Page.

The next works on paper are quite different than anything you've seen from me. But from my perspective, this is the way I was drawing 25 years ago. In working with the small blocks and water-based inks, I was inspired to experiment with a combination of drawing, painting and printing. They are largly done with just the brayer and the block along with some brush work to blend inks.

The first image is inspired by a friend of mine named Dante. It is heavily worked with multiple layers of printing, ink washes and colored pencil. The second is the result of working with a block that was not a very successful print... making lemonade out of lemons. It makes less use of washes and adds watercolor.

        "Dante's Descending Angels" Mixed Media on Paper 30" x 22"

        "Gabriel's Offering" Mixed Media on Paper 30" x 22"

Lest you think I've given up painting altogether in this short month, here are a couple of paintings that resulted from one sketch. The first is like what I often see from my studio window across the Connecticut River. I just imagine it from this point of view and try to remember what the feeling is when I'm painting it.

        "Kissing The Clouds" Oil on Canvas 24" x 18"

        "Seraphic Dreaming" Oil on Canvas 24" x 18"

This second painting is the clouds above that same hilltop. After finishing the painting Patricia remarked that there is an angel in the clouds. It is clear enough that I left the painting as it is rather than painting out the figure, as I normally would. We are fine tuned to find human features in natural things and they are not hard to recognize. And once recognized they are almost impossible to ignore.

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


William H. Hays

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The Artist's Loft Bed & Breakfast and Gallery, Vermont
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The Artist's Loft Fine Art Gallery, Nova Scotia
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