Hello and Welcome Friends,

  June 2008
volume 7 number 4

Once more, I've missed a month. But you'll have to excuse me. We have not only been preparing to depart for Nova Scotia for the summer, I've had a project that I'll show you which has occupied most of the month of May.

We are, in fact, in Nova Scotia now and just about settled in. The ordeal of packing everything up, traveling and unpacking has become more routine now that we are in our sixth year of doing this. But it still takes a couple of weeks to really get settled in once here and we are happy to see our friends and feel the cool ocean air again.

So now on to my project I said I'd show you!

I was very pleased to receive a commission for a portrait from Northfield Mount Hermon School in April. The subject was a philanthropist who has been most generous with the school over the years. David F. Bolger is an alumnus of Northfield Mount Hermon School (in the 1950s) in Northfield, Massachusetts. David attended on scholarship and after making a financial success of his life, he has become an exceptional supporter of this school as well as other schools and libraries in the United States. This portrait was commissioned to honor his very generous gifts to the school. The setting is the campus chapel, for which Mr. Bolger has provided an endowment for its upkeep and maintenance (only one of his many gifts to the school).

Although I spent about 45 minutes with David doing a watercolor study, I was not at all happy with the way it came out and it now resides in pieces, somewhere in a landfill in Vermont. There were a variety of challenges that made doing this study difficult, not the least of which was a lack of time.

So, I took him over to the beautiful campus chapel and took about 20 photos of him. Then after he left, I went around to various parts of the chapel and took about 30 more photos of the interior so that I could find the right setting to place him. Back in the studio, with the aid of Photoshop, I combined two images to create the composition you see below.

    "David F. Bolger" Oil on Canvas 32" x 24"

For the time being I'm sorry to say that the client, Northfield Mount Hermon School, has requested that I remove the image for the time being until the painting can be formally unveiled on campus. Sorry about that... but that is their privilege, I believe.

    "David F. Bolger" (detail)

I needed to finish the painting before leaving for the north. So I had to work every day (and often night) for three weeks to get the painting done in time.

Working from photos is not the best way to go about such a project. But I will remind you that I spent 45 minutes studying the subject's face while trying to do the sketch (unsuccessfully). Having this time with him in person greatly expands my understanding of his features, personality and how he looks in three dimensions. Having photos alone to work with results in not much more than copying the photograph(s) and is not to my liking when painting in oils. But I was very pleased with the results of this painting.

I'll tell you just one little story about the painting: I was working very hard to get this painting done in time and often worked into each night until midnight. My wife patiently watched the progress and had little to say other than it was coming along well. At a certain point, the changes that take place are in the realm of subtlety and nuance to alter the feeling and "personality" of the subject. It is difficult to tell from the outside, sometimes, what I've done from one session to the next. So after three weeks of work, Patricia came into the studio after midnight and looked at the painting and said, "Are you still working on that man?? You're done. You should stop now."

After a half hour of so of consideration of her statement, I concluded that she was right.

There was one last project that I wanted to complete before heading north and that was a print I started in April. I only got about half way through it when the portrait took precedence. So my last couple of days in Vermont were spent finishing this eight-color print:

    "Wade and Lynn" 8-color Linoleum Cut 12" x 9"

This is a real boat in the little fishing village of West Berlin, about half an hour from our home in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Of course, you noticed the stacks of lobster pots on the left?

I hope you've enjoyed these two works. I'm soon to start in on a new round of painting. I'll keep in touch.

Yours,

William H. Hays


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