Hello and Welcome Friends,

  August, 2006
volume 5 number 6

Some of you have been wondering where I've been after not receiving the newsletter for last month. Truth be told, I simply let it slide and continued to paint. Once I hit August, I thought, "Well, this month's offering will just be larger than usual." And it is.

We'll start with paintings that came about as a result of a trip my wife, Patricia and I make to Lockport, Nova Scotia. It is a small town that occupies what would be an island but for a causeway and the resulting beach. The setting is a large harbor that is dotted with spruce covered islands within the bay and scoured clean down to the rocks by waves and weather out in the mouth.

"Pleasant Point" Oil on Canvas 38" x 28"

Before arriving at Lockport, we took a little detour to a spur road that ends at Pleasant Point. Barely attached to the land with a shallow string of rock, this little islet stands in defiance of the continual inflow of weather and waves. The few trees that found refuge in the accumulated, spare soil dig their roots into the forever cracked and split granite. Seaweed and periwinkles vie for space on the pale gray rocks that are stained dark by the sea.

"Lockport" Oil on Canvas 18" x 24"

Looking out to the mouth of the harbor a string of islands and lighthouses hopscotch to the horizon. These paintings show one of the two lighthouses, the one that I found most interesting. Information about this particular lighthouse has been difficult for me to find. I'm not even sure of the proper name for it. The structure is on and island called Gull Island and looks to have been built by stonemasons on this bald rock at the mouth of the harbor, fully exposed to the sea. It may not be functioning these days. It certainly is not occupied by a keeper as it was in the past. Through binoculars it looks as if the ocean has blasted away one of the windows on the leeward side.

The main structure is a three story, hip-roofed building. From the land the symmetry of the structure is interrupted by the turret of the lighthouse, set into the windward side. This aerial image (I located online) gives you a little better idea of the setting. You'll note the old foundation with nothing on it. This view is looking from the sea back into the harbor.

Gull Island Lighthouse, Lockport, Nova Scotia

It is hard for me to imagine building a structure like this out on a rock that would obviously be quite difficult to land on with a boat, let alone a boat full of concrete and other building materials. That it is not the first building on the island is testimony of the necessity of this lighthouse for navigation and warning mariners.

"Far Horizon Coast" Oil on Canvas 36" x 72"

Traveling out the only road, past the town of Lockport, you come to the end and a point of land called East Point on one side and (you guessed it) West Point on the other. On the eastern side you can look out and see the lighthouse again. The smooth, rolling fields of grass and flowers wave perpetually in the ceaseless wind. Here is a little closer view of the lighthouse from a detail of this painting.

"Far Horizon Coast" (detail) Oil on Canvas 36" x 72"

The final painting of this trip resulted from the lazy traverse of a sailboat around the end of the East/West Point at the end of the day. My interpretation of this scene tends more toward the coloration of the point in autumn, even though I experienced it in summer. Using your imagination a little bit, you can see how this painting is the same point of land as the previous painting, just shifted to the right a little bit.

"West Point Dusk" Oil on Canvas 18" x 24"

Moving away from Lockport now, I return to subject matter that is a bit closer to home. When I first came to Nova Scotia, I traveled around from place to place painting in watercolors on location. In the course of my experiences I found that I felt there wasn't much for me to paint with regard to beaches. I couldn't see interesting compositions in the long stretches of white sand, still water and the uninterrupted horizon of the sea. I never thought that I would find myself drawn again and again to the beaches for my subject matter. But they have found a way into my heart's inspiration and I am now finding that the beaches offer me a variety that I did not see at first.

"Trail to the Beach" Oil on Canvas 28" x 38"

My wife and I have been extraordinarily privileged to experience many places on this earth through our travels. In the course of our journeys, we have seen many wonderful places. It is tempting to want to rank them and say, "This place is the most beautiful place I've seen," or the like. But over time, we've seen so many wonderful places that we realize that there is no one place that qualifies as "...the most beautiful..." anything. Nevertheless, I will venture out onto that precipice and say that Carters Beach in Nova Scotia is one of the most beautiful beaches we've seen anywhere. I hope that this painting above will provide some indication as to why we feel this way.

"Tranquil Morning" Oil on Canvas 28" x 38"

And I suppose that this painting (above) will support my contention that there is no one place that qualifies as the most beautiful. This is based on Beach Meadows, a provincial park near our home and a frequent subject of my paintings. As you can see, the painting is not so much about the particular place as it is addressing the graceful, gentle, lapping waves rolling into the beach over a thin film of crystal clear water, the sun refracting through the rippling current onto the shifting sand below the surface.

"Spectacle Island Lighthouse" Oil on Canvas 38" x 28"

Last year we were out on the water with a friend and cruised around Spectacle Island, just off Summerville Beach and Carters Beach. This lighthouse was originally build in 1873. Offshore there is the Spectacle Marine Provincial Underwater Dive Park where divers can explore shipwrecks that date back to 1782, silent evidence of the importance of these lighthouses, again. When painting this image, I imagined a high wall of storm clouds rolling through, illuminated by the late afternoon sun.

"Moose Harbour Morning" Oil on Canvas 24" x 18"

Closer to home, this is a small port about five minutes from our home. I did another painting of Moose Harbour boats a few years ago, but this is the first a while. This time of year, the docks are empty and the boats are awaiting the lobster season in winter. But I chose to depict the harbour when I saw it at the end of the season and the beginning of the summer. At this time, the lobster pots are stacked high on the docks in preparation for storage in the off-season. I introduced the heavy atmosphere of a fog that frequently envelops all ports along the south shore of Nova Scotia.

"Urantia Attended By The Stars" Oil on Canvas 72" x 48"

Finally, this painting that seems so different from what you've seen so far. It is a large canvas and brings together various facets of this subject that I have been exploring since October of last year I've given quite a bit of thought to my doing these paintings, so far removed from my usual landscapes and portraits. What I've come to see is a long series of connections that point to my love of this planet that we inhabit and its people. She, Urantia, is a metaphorical embodiment of all things that make up the earth. In her hand she carries light, not the light of the sun, but the spiritual light that we strive to connect with. She stands on a glowing symbol that represents her origins.

She is in turn connected to the Source and Center of all things through a circuit that extends out of the painting frame from top to bottom. Think of this as a continuous circuit that connects us to the unfathomable granduer of the universe. The globe of the earth is included here to illustrate the fact that we are on a sphere in space. The upper left portion of the canvas depicts the aurora borealis, not as the geophysical phenomenon that is so beautiful from the ground. Rather it is also a visual metaphor, a symbol. In this case the symbol represents a rain of light carrying the power and love of God that continuously washes down on our little blue marble in space.

What a gift it is. What a privilege to paint it.

"Urantia Attended By The Stars" (detail) Oil on Canvas 72" x 48"

I told you there were alot of paintings at the beginning of this newsletter. I hope you enjoyed them. I look forward to hearing from you.


William H. Hays

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