Hello and Welcome Friends,

  September, 2005
volume 3 number 8

Art-wise, it has been and interesting month. I'm happy to say that we've also made it a point to go out and enjoy the blessing of the coastline and beaches on the South Shore of Nova Scotia more than a few times.

So let's jump right in.

"In The Wake Of The Comet" Oil on Canvas 36" x 24"

Some of you might be asking yourselves, "Now, where does that come from."

Well, I'll tell you. We've all been very conscious of the profound series of calamaties in the U. S. lately. It has touched me too. In that, I decided to respond in a different way than you've seen before, but not one unfamiliar to me.

I had a composition in mind from a landscape idea. But I simply didn't feel like painting a landscape in the atmosphere of such catastrophy. So I laid out about four colors and started painting on the structure of that composition.

Immediately on roughing it out I started seeing the symbolism and it pretty well painted itself.

"Descending Angel" Oil on Canvas 24" x 24"

This painting is the latest in a small series of square canvases. Turning it on end offers different problems and solutions right away. The diamond shape seemed to lend itself to more of a centered design. There is much scrubbing, painting over and smearing around in the background. It is quite fun to do and very interesting to see what the paint will do. The blue strokes are abstractions of reflections, using the same colors and style of brushwork but without being literal. The title comes from the small figure that is inscribed in the light stroke at the top.

This next painting became about a friend of mine and blended with some spiritual ruminations that have been occupying my mind. It is loaded with personal symbolism. In a sense, it could be about several friends of mine. It could also be read as a painting about the greater human condition and our place in the cosmos.

"Truth Seeker" Oil on Panel 12" x 18"

You know, this creating things as a way of life stimulates constant questioning. Questioning about the purpose of what we're doing and what we should be saying with our work. Questioning about techniques, about materials. Questioning about our sincerity and integrity.

And then there's the question of whether or not any these intentions are met in the way the work is received. And that part is up to you. I've learned that I am not the best judge of what I do.

Breaking away from the symbolic abstractions, I revisited two paintings that I started some months earlier. Here they are in before and after:

  April 2005    September 2005
"Tranquility's Arc" Oil on Canvas 28" x 38"

  July 2005    September 2005
"Red Sky In The Morning" Oil on Canvas 28" x 38"

Ironic isn't it? The title contains the color that is most dramatically changed in the repainting. So it goes. One can't be a slave to the original idea if you feel that the painting isn't working. No doubt, some of you will feel that the "before" is better than the "after". But they call to me to be changed. Sometimes I don't know how they are to turn out. Sometimes I have a specific fix in mind.

The next paintings are continuations of the experiments in that they start with little imagery in mind. These paintings are done quickly with the addition of plenty of painting medium (turpentine, linseed oil, damar varnish 4:2:1). This makes the paint creamier and more transparent. The runs and rivulets of oil and turpentine were something that I tried to exploit, in part by letting the painting paint itself as it flows on a slope. I then work and rework into and over the first layers of paint.

"Winter Night" Oil on Panel 12" x 18"

"Dusk" Oil on Panel 18" x 12"

"Emptying the Sky 2" Oil on Panel 18" x 12"

Finally, when all else fails, there is the self portrait. This is the first I've done in three years. My wife says that she wants to someday hang all of them (probably about 10 paintings and drawings, maybe more) at once. I shudder to think....

"Self Portrait 9/05" Oil on Panel 11" x24"

A friend suggested that the painting was an honest one. The overly intense look is one that is often repeated in self portraits due to the study involved. I mean, really. If you don't paint, consider what the result would be of looking at yourself in mirror and studying every facet of yourself for about four hours. I think you can see the point. A relaxed, smiling snapshot look is not usually the result.

And there are the paintings of late. People often have a difficult time understanding when an artist has such a diverse seletion of paintings, especially in such a short period of time. Artists who are trying to find their voices at the beginning of their careers are almost required to do this until they settle into their own zone. For me, this selection of paintings respresents something of a vacation and a series of personal responses. There is some exploration and experimentation in there as well. And that may well find its way into future paintings as a part of my vocabulary.

This week we return to Vermont. We'll then have about a week to prepare for Gallery Walk in Brattleboro on October 7th. The October event is always very well attended and promises to be the largest Gallery Walk to date with more than 40 venues in our little town. I would love to see you there! Also the glorious colors of Vermont's autumn are on the way. If you are in the area, I do hope you'll drop by the gallery and say, "Hello", see the new work and enjoy the town.


William H. Hays

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The Artist's Loft Bed & Breakfast and Gallery, Vermont
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The Artist's Loft Fine Art Gallery, Nova Scotia
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