Hello and Welcome Friends,

  March, 2006
volume 4 number 2

Since returning from Spain I have launched into old and new canvases with some vigor. It is good to be back in the studio.

One of the approaches I take to painting includes changing my mind. I will look at a painting that I've completed some time ago and decide that it needs some reworking. Sometimes it involves just a touch here and there. Sometimes I end up repainting the entire canvas. Here are a couple of examples that I've recently completed (again).

  "Resplendent Light" Oil on Canvas 18" x 20" (April 1998)

This canvas was inspired by a sky that I saw in Connecticut while stopping for a bite to eat on the way south to visit family. In the parking lot of a diner I did a very quick pencil sketch from which the painting took shape.

  "Resplendent Light" Oil on Canvas 18" x 20" (March 2006)

Reworking the canvas involved softening as well as warming up the sky. The time of year (autumn to summer) also changed. This is not infrequent in my reworking canvases. I find that painting over the autumn colors with summer colors provides interesting variations and variety of color within the pervasive green that a summer, forested hillside carries with it. There's no question that each of us has reacted to seeing these wonderful rays of sun striking out to the earth below from behind clouds. It is a subject that has been included in landscape painters' subject matter for centuries. So much so that it has become a cliché. But done well, it is a scene that continues to inspire.

Artists will tell you that cropping an image can focus in on a composition, strengthening the overall image by eliminating extraneous information. Most often this choice of what to include and what to eliminate takes place in the planning stages of a painting. But sometimes it happens later and in a more dramatic fashion.

Such is the case with the following painting. Like a few other canvases in the past, I was continually bothered by the way the composition was working (or not working in this case). Given enough time, I will consider taking the canvas off of the stretcher bars and approaching it with a pair of scissors. The first few times I've done this were nerve-wracking. After all, cutting up a canvas that has taken so much time to produce is negating at least a portion of the work I've already put into the painting. Here's what I did:

  "Lakeside Morning" Oil on Canvas 28" x 38" (April 2005)

It is not as apparent in this small, low resolution image. But the left half of the painting has an awkwardness to the way it leads into the midground and further into the background. Perhaps having a big rock in the center of the canvas is what was bothering me. That rock seems to stop the eye right in the middle of the canvas.

  "Lakeside Morning" Oil on Canvas 28" x 38" (March 2006)

By holding up my hands at arms length (in the classic pose of an artist framing an image) I could see that the most important part of the image was in the right hand side. So, out came the scissors and the trimming was completed. Then I went back into the painting, warming up the sunlit mist and water while bringing some blue into the sky. The addition of the small tree in the foreground took the focus of the painting away from the rocks that were now on the left side rather than the center.

There is one more canvas that I've been reworking. But I am not yet finished with it. So I'll show you a couple of new canvases that I hope you'll enjoy.

  "Serena With A Crown Of Stars" Oil on Canvas 23" x 16"

The title refers to a particular being of light. The model was a young woman who was staying with us for a few days. Her name is Jessica Lee. She has just recently returned from two years working in the Grenadines in the Peace Corps. Along with being a lovely young woman, she is doing good work in the world. It is not an accurate portrait of Jessica since she posed for me for only two hours. The finished painting took several days. So, it became someone else, Serena.

Finally, I retuned to a subject that continues to inspire me, water. In this case a particular stream that empties into the West River near our home in Brattleboro. It is called Stickneybrook and is well known to folks in the area. It has the distinction of being one of the only places in my landscape paintings that is fairly accurately portrayed from painting to painting. In fact (as the title suggests) I have painted it many times.

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

From the first time I saw this place, I was taken by the thin sheet of water flowing over the huge, flat steps of granite that create one waterfall after another in a short distance near the mouth of the stream. At various times of year the algaes and plants create quite a variety of colors that shimmer under the water.

One last thing. I have been invited by Alvin Paige of the American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts to mount a solo exhibition. The show, entitled "Faces of the Divine", will be hung April 6th and will continue hanging in the Karen Sprague Center for the Arts through May 20th. It will be a large show that will include all aspects of my work and many paintings.There will be an reception on April 21st from 5 to 7 PM at the Arts Center. If you would like to receive an announcement and invitation to the reception, let me know and I'll get one to you.


William H. Hays

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