February 2011   volume 10 number 1 The Artist's Loft logo The Artist's Loft logo

William H. Hays  Hello and Welcome Friends,

Winter... yes, the ice and snow is something that I do love. It's a good thing too! We're nearing record breaking snowfall this winter and have only just begun to receive a few days with temperatures above freezing during the day. In Vermont, that means sugaring season! The maple sap begins to flow and our local delicacy is boiled down to a golden sugar syrup. This is not just tourist stuff for us. We love our maple syrup and appreciate the coincidence of spring on its way to us (though in Vermont we call it Mud Season). You might remember some years ago I did a print called "Sugaring Season." Here it is to refresh your memory:

Sugaring Season by William Hays   "Sugaring Season" embossed six-color linoleum block print 9" x 12"

These days one sees the sap being collected mostly through the use of plastic tubing rather than the buckets. Gravity feeds the drips of sap down to a large collecting container that is beside a road for easy transport to the sugar house for boiling. But the galvanized tin buckets are still to be found while driving the back roads around here. They usually indicate small family sugarbushes.

You may recall that in December I started out by introducing you to our new little furry friend, Ricki. She's more than tripled in size and weight since then and she's quite a little darling. She gets me outside in the mornings and I've been brushing up on my snowshoeing skills most days. Since I'm out pretty early, I frequently see the dawn on the Connecticut River. And that is the inspiration for my first print of 2011. But I can't resist showing you Ricki bringing the mail up the stairs. She does the same with the newspaper each morning.

Ricki bringing up the mail   Little Ricki bringing up the mail   Ricki bringing up the mail

Now on to the artwork. As I said, this first print was inspired by the dawn on the Connecticut River. Some mornings in winter the sky is a spectrum of colors that precede the sunrise. So I began with that spectrum. This first image (below) is of my work station and the inking of the first impression. People often ask how graduated tints are achieved. This image shows the inked block (lower left, turned vertical for inking), the 10-inch wide brayer (roller) with the blended colors on it, and the glass palette where the blobs of colors placed to be blended by the roller. On the far right are three of the four colors I mixed to be blended.

Inking the block for Evensong   Inking a four-color graduated tint

And here's the print after this first impression:

Evensong, first impression   "Evensong", first impression

If you draw an imaginary line through the violet stripe above, that would be the horizon line of the image. After much carving, the next color laid down begins to define the image:

Evensong, second impression   "Evensong", second impression

The next color defines the image even more. In fact, I liked this version well enough that I set aside two of the prints and called them a finished image, even though there is one more color to be laid down for the final print:

Blue Dusk by William Hays   "Blue Dusk" three-color linoleum block print, 9" x 12"

And below is the final print with the last color in place. Although the dawn was the inspiration, the final print reminded me more of the end of the day. The title, "Evensong" was provided by my wife, Patricia and I like the way it ties into the final image.

Evensong by William Hays   "Evensong" four-color linoleum block print 9" x 12"

You know, when I'm doing these prints, I'm amazed at how laying down a color completely changes the impression one has of the previous color. Know what I mean? Just look at how the graduated tint changes so completely when by itself to how it looks in subsequent stages. As any art student knows, how we see a color depends very much on what color(s) it is next to. And for those of you who might be wondering, that is an owl in the top center of the print - an afterthought when I saw one in the morning while walking along the river.

Next is a print that addresses the theme of dawn in winter once again. This time, the sky is only in the reflection. I don't have a step-by-step progression to show you. But I hope that you'll enjoy seeing this image I created using two linoleum blocks.

Ice Dawn by William Hays   "Ice Dawn" 7-color linoleum block print, 12" x 9"

Finally, I want to let you know about two events coming up. The first is our monthly Gallery Walk. Each month, on the first friday of the month, studios and galleries in downtown Brattleboro open for a collective reception. Last month there were 33 locations within a block of our front door displaying art. Along with visual art, there are always performances of music and theater that go on downtown for you to attend. It really is quite a bit of fun.

A discussion about art with William Hays   

Second, I want to tell you about a public interview which I will be doing with Doug Cox as part of a regular series sponsored by Brattleboro West Arts. Doug is a violin maker of considerable talent and he's asked me if I would talk to him about being a successful professional artist for an audience. Of course, you're all invited and I'm looking forward to talking with Doug on the evening of March 20th at the Elliot Street Café in Brattleboro. The potluck begins at 5:30 and we'll talk beginning at 6:30. (Notice that in the poster above I'm pulling the print, "Ice Dawn" in my studio.)

I look forward to seeing you and, of course, hearing from you.

Yours,

William H. Hays


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