August 2011   volume 10 number 2 The Artist's Loft logo The Artist's Loft logo

William H. Hays  Hello and Welcome Friends,

I have to start with the decidedly unpleasant issue of tropical storm Irene and what happened to Brattleboro. But let me back track a bit.

Most of you know that we spend summers in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Hurricanes are not strangers to Nova Scotia and we watch them all closely. We watched Irene on CNN for days as it made its way up the coast and felt relieved that we were not to receive her as our guest.

Sunday, August 28th we watched the news on Canadian TV to see how the landfall in New York City had gone. It seemed to not be nearly as serious as the potential we'd been warned about. So by afternoon, our viewing had stopped. That evening we went to a plank salmon supper in the nearby town of Brooklyn and enjoyed ourselves with friends. When we came home and turned on CNN we were shocked to see the lead story on CNN featuring footage within sight of our front door in Brattleboro!

Ricki bringing up the mail
   Flat Street from the garage, Chris Bertelsen / Brattleboro Reformer

Ricki bringing up the mail
  Whetstone Studios in Brattleboro

I don't need to tell you that we were (and have been) glued to the TV and the computer to find out what happened to our friends and our beloved little town. And as you can see from the above photos, those affected were really hit hard. It was enough to put a lump in our throats as we watched.

Starting the next day we began receiving emails from all over the world asking about us and our home/studio/B&B. And so it has been for the past few days. It has inspired me to finally do another newsletter and tell you that we are high and dry. All is well at The Artist's Loft. But many of our fellow artists had studios in the blue building above and our fellow business owners on Flat Street also had significant damage.

Inking the block for Evensong
  Flat Street clean up underway at Adivasi

I knew from the first moments that our community would come together to help. And come together they have. I've been following the cleanup of Adivasi on Flat Street via Facebook. Elissa Banti has been keeping everyone abreast with her photos and words. She has confirmed my belief in our neighbors and friends. Elissa tells us that she is opening her doors today! Four days after we gasped at the footage we saw on CNN.

Inking the block for Evensong
  More than 80 people showed up yesterday to help empty the basement at Adivasi and get things sorted out, cleaned up and dried out.

I'm personally quite touched at the way folks have turned out to help. As I told a friend in Florida yesterday; for a place that apparently has the fewest "religious" people per capita, I don't know of anywhere people love one another more - and show it in their actions. I have yet to see any born again politicians on the streets with mud on their clothes helping those who need it.... OK, enough already.

Main Street Brattleboro
  Main Street, Brattleboro near our front door yesterday

I do not mean to paint a rosey picture from all of this (and the picture above). But destruction has not wiped Brattleboro nor any town in Vermont off the map yet. Many outlying towns and villages have been hit much worse than Brattleboro. There is a huge amount of work to be done to recover. Some have lost everything and our hearts ache for them and they are in our thoughts and prayers. But we will all go on and continue to live our lives in Vermont with the help of our friends, family and neighbors. If you hesitate to come this way because of what you've seen on TV, think again. The people of Vermont will appreciate your visit and you'll see that this is still a special place.

Let's get to some art, shall we?

I've not been as productive as I can be sometimes. But it is like that and I try to go with the flow rather than fret about it. The art-making machine in me will return! First, let me share with you a watercolor portrait commission I've just finished.

Although I very much prefer to do portraits from life, that's not always possible. Especially when it is a surprise. So I accepted this commission to do a double portrait based on a photograph taken at a wedding. Here is the portrait in stages:

  "Josh and Sarah Horton" first state. This pencil cartoon is very lightly filled in with almost random strokes of yellow, red and blue. The idea is that the white wedding dress needs to be more interesting than just white paper.

  "Josh and Sarah Horton" second state. Here I've begun to block in forms as well as light and shadow in the dress and his suit.

  "Josh and Sarah Horton" third state. Now it's beginning to come together and you can see how the white dress will stand out when its done. The violet and brown shadows in the suit will become the darkest points in the painting.

  "Josh and Sarah Horton" watercolor, 16" x 12"

  "Josh and Sarah Horton" detail

That is the only painting I've done in a while. But I've not been idle. At Patricia's suggestion, we decided to replace our screen doors, front and back. Seeing the plain pine doors, my first thought was, "I can make them better than that!" and I slipped.... I said to Patricia, "You know, I could carve something for these doors."

Immediately her response was, "Oh that would be nice!" And so I embarked on yet another project that took way longer than either of us thought. I took a piece of scrap pine and carved a sun - front door - and a moon (and stars) -back door - to attach to the doors. And here they are:

The Artist's Loft back door
  Back door

Moon and Stars
  Moon and Stars, pine and enamel, the moon is about 12" in width

The Artist's Loft front door
  Front door

Winking Sun
  Winking Sun, pine and enamel, about 12" in width

Aside from that hair-brained scheme..., we have had a beautiful summer of cool, sunny days along the South Shore of Nova Scotia. We've tried to take advantage of our lovely surroundings and get out for day trips. So in closing, let me share some photos of this place with you.

  "Fishing boats preparing for the season in Nova Scotia"

  Cape Sable Island coast

  Salt marsh on Cape Sable Island coast

  "Fishing Boats in Pubnico Harbour"

  "One of the Digby Scallop Days princesses shucking scallops"

  "Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick"

  "One of the beaches near our home on the South Shore of Nova Scotia"

  "Me and Little Ricki. Little Ricki loves the ocean!"

  "Patricia loves the ocean too!"

And that will do it for now. Thanks for sharing with me. I always enjoy hearing from you. And should you find yourself in Brattleboro, Vermont or Liverpool, Nova Scotia - look us up, drop in.


William H. Hays

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The Artist's Loft Bed & Breakfast and Gallery, Vermont
103 Main Street, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301-4308  USA

The Artist's Loft Fine Art Gallery, Nova Scotia
120 Main Street
Liverpool, NS B0T 1K0  Canada