Hello and Welcome Friends,

  July, 2007
volume 6 number 5

Unlike the last installment where I felt like I didn't have much to show for my time, I have much to share with you this time around.

We began our summer in Nova Scotia near the beginning of June. I had been considering a couple of designs for another print (linocut) or two and started in on them once we were settled in. The first is a favorite thing to see, piping plovers scurrying through the skim-coat of water left from a receding wave.

    "Five Pipers" 4-color Linocut 9" x 12" edition of 12

The next image is also a linocut. This time I thought it was going to be a four color print. Instead, it ended up being a 7 color print with an added watercolor wash at the end. Oh my... so much work for this little print! But I enjoy the process and the challenge when carving the blocks and pulling prints.

The image contains a certain distillation of Nova Scotia's essence along the coastline. Peggys Cove is justifiably famous as one of the special places in the province. Indeed, Peggys Cove's lighthouse has become iconic of the Maritime Provinces in general and Nova Scotia in particular. Many, many artists have interpreted the lighthouse over the years and its image is seen in just about every craft shop in the province - and even further afield.

This distant view is less specific to that particular place and more inclusive of the character of the North Atlantic coast in general.

    "Peggys Cove" 7-color Linocut and Watercolor 9" x 12" edition of 14

If you are interested in purchasing these or other prints of mine, go to my Prints page.

After spending several weeks doing the two prints, I was motivated to begin painting again upon the receipt of a commission. My client wanted an interpretation of a smaller painting, "Beach Meadows Morning". She is a math teacher and I thought that it would be interesting to approach the painting with the limited palette that I've experimented with before - the three primary colors (red, yellow, blue) with the addition of an accent color, Cerulean Blue. I thought that she would appreciate the range of possibilities within the combinations of this limited selection of colors.

I was right. She did enjoy this aspect as well as her new painting.

      "Beach Meadows Morning II" Oil on Canvas 28" x 38"

I too am fascinated by the possibilities of this limited palette. So I decided to continue working with just these four colors to further explore the possibilities. All of the paintings that follow are using this same palette.

Let me be a little more specific in describing the palette for you. The blue is a combination of Ultramarine Blue and Cobalt Blue. The yellow combines Yellow Ochre and Cadmium Yellow. The red blends Permanent Rose, Red Madder and Cadmium Red. The Cerulean Blue is not blended

This next painting was done at the same time as the previous one. The relationship is obvious.

    "Red Sky Morning" Oil on Canvas 24" x 18"

Perhaps not as obvious is the relationship between these two paintings and the next. I decided to revisit one of my favorite compositions on a moderately large scale. The sunlight passing through the crystal clear water at Carters Beach never fails me and I enjoyed the challenge of this painting.

    "Passing Storm" Oil on Canvas 60" x 40"

For years I have enjoyed the drama of a place near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia called The Ovens. There is some interesting history that goes along with the place. But what grabs me is the precariously tilted layers of rock that hang above the pounding surf in great cliffs undercut with caves that thud and thunder like cannons firing with each wave. The pounding of the waves against the back of these sea caves can be heard many miles out at sea.

The place is privately owned and has a wonderful trail that winds its way along the edge of the cliffs. This painting is composed from two watercolors that I did in 1998, "The Ovens I" and "The Ovens II". There are other influences as well, but most especially the painting is shaded by the work of Frederick Edwin Church along the Maine Coast in the third quarter of the 1800s.

         "Rhythm of the Land and Sea" Oil on Canvas 40" x 60"

Keep in mind that all of these paintings and the two that follow are using the same four colors for everything they contain.

The next painting is rather different that the others in that it looks at man's presence along the coast. This house is based on one that Patricia and I saw one cloudy day near Shelburne. What struck me about the place was its lonely stand on a wind-swept piece of land directly on the sea. A little cove next to the house provided shelter for just this one boat. The gothic central gable and steep pitched roof are frequent design elements of the houses along the coast which I find very appealing.

         "Of The Sea" Oil on Canvas 38" x 28"

Finally this painting of one of the tiny lighthouses that dot the coastline, marking the entrance to various harbors. This particular one is just off Carters Beach (above, "Passing Storm") and is one the the navigation markers for the harbor of Port Mouton (pronounced "Matoon"). We were out one day with a friend on his fishing boat and I was struck by the glossy reflection off of the undulating, smooth water. The lighthouse, like most along the Nova Scotia Coast, is quite small and unmanned. This is actually a reworking and retitling of a painting I did last year called "Spectacle Island Light".

         "Calm Before The Storm" Oil on Canvas 38" x 28"

I hope you've enjoyed seeing these paintings and prints. I also hope you've enjoyed seeing the wide range of mood and tone that can be explored within a limited selection of colors. I'm thinking about writing more on this for publication. I'll let you know.

I look forward to hearing from you.


William H. Hays

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The Artist's Loft Bed & Breakfast and Gallery, Vermont
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