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"Ahead of the Curve"
by Matti Salminen

Vermont Views Magazine, December, 2013

William Hays

As artists go, William H. Hays is comparatively subtle, poised, and articulate. The interview that occurred between us, when he had me in his loft, was as enjoyable as any I have done. My efforts to look behind the scenes into the belly of Brattleboro's art scene have rewarded me many times. These rewards were in times of writing about artists, and getting to know them. Spending time with William was certainly an example of this joy.

William's paintings are often of nature scenes, and meticulously painted with incredible detail. He tells me that he has the ability to "render." However, his task in painting a river, or even a person standing in front of Mocha Joe's is to capture the mood, or the feeling of the moment. William explains that there is something lost from an experience within a photograph.

Our talk began with a comment I made on the theme of nature in William's paintings. He responded by saying that human beings inherently relate to the earth. And that particular places become imbedded in our bodies. This talk went on into where William went to college, and other places he had lived.

Alaska was a place in which William honed his skills in painting landscapes. At that time his medium was watercolors. This was shortly after he graduated from Virginia Tech, where he got a degree in geography. William tells me that geography is a distilled response to landscape. Obviously, there is a theme within his interests and associations.

In traveling, William experimented with and in turn learned mediums other than watercolor. He began to show his work. But this experience made him realize he wanted to learn to speak intelligently about art, use any medium, and be able to work with the human face. He returned to college. Later, he would graduate with a degree in sculpture.

After gaining his degree in sculpture, William and his wife found a third floor apartment in Brattleboro. As sculpting materials were too heavy to be brought to a third floor studio, he returned to painting. However, now, he had become versed in many more mediums than his original watercolors.

With a degree in the arts, William was able to get a position at CCV teaching art classes. He loved teaching, but couldn't afford to do it. He did however, find a way to make a living from his artwork, which few artists do. He explained to me that it took twenty-one years of practice before he could support himself from his art. And had he known it would have been so hard when he started, he wouldn't have done it.

It was a great pleasure to sit down with this accomplished artist. From the short time we were in conversation, I got the sense that he has much to teach. His story, his success, and his character all combine to make him an enchanting, but also well spoken person. It was towards the end of our conversation that I saw how graceful a man William was. He showed me his beautiful apartment that overlooks the Conneticut River.

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