First Snow

William H. Hays  Hello and Welcome Friends,

This month I want to share a more in depth look at the process of developing one of my prints. I begin with the idea and that might stem from almost anywhere and at any time. This particular idea I started thinking about in the spring of 2012 in two versions, one morning and autumn, the other night and winter. But the composition idea was basically the same for both.

I had hoped to being doing some printmaking over the last summer but could not procure the press that I thought was available. So I had to wait until autumn and my return to Vermont. The photos I began with are not all from this year. In fact, only one is from this year. Photos are an important tool for just about every artist. I use them frequently along with sketches and things I've simply made up. Here are the four photos I began with:

First Snow source photos

From these photos I took the elements I wanted to use and cut them out in the computer.

First Snow sketch

Next I rearranged the elements into the composition. Below is the third version of the composition I worked up over the course of two days.

First Snow composite sketch by William H. Hays

I drew out the composition on the linoleum block, selecting which details to keep and which to eliminate. The first impression was the yellow you see on the block below. It was applied selectively and carefully with a brayer (roller). It took me three days to print this first color 110 times for the whole edition.

First Snow linoleum block, William H. Hays

Below is the print after the yellow and the first, very light blue have been printed.

First Snow, impression 2, linocut print by William H. Hays

With the addition of the third and fourth colors (below), the composition becomes much more apparent and the snow is beginning to fall on the scene. I used a combination of size, shape and color to create a sense of depth (atmospheric perspective) as if looking through the snow falling. This is more delicate way to approach the imagery than I've used before and I must say it gets complicated when carving. You'll notice below that the larger and more detailed snow is in the lightest color blue. It gets less detailed, smaller and darker as the print goes on. This takes a bit of planning also.

Aside from the initial yellow, all of the colors I used are variations on a blue gray made with two different blues, yellow and magenta.

First Snow, impression 6, linocut print by William H. Hays

Below is what the block looks like after carving for the fifth color printing, followed by the print with six colors completed. You'll notice that the drawing on the block has a lot more complexity than the print does. I decided to eliminate the many layers of trees going back on the hillside and let the contrasts of larger planes of colors carry the weight of taking the composition back in space.

First Snow linoleum block 2, by William H. Hays

First Snow impression 6, linocut print by William H. Hays

Finally, below is the finished print with seven colors printed. This print took me the entire month of December to produce and I'm quite pleased with the results. I've shown it to a few local folks who immediately recognized the exact time of year (before I told them the title) because of the unharvested corn on the right. 

First Snow, linocut print by William H. Hays

"First Snow" 7-color linoleum block print 12" x 9"

So we enter an new year (despite predictions to the contrary) and I, for one, look forward to all it brings. We kicked off the year with a party at The Artist's Loft. It was a doozy with plenty of food and many folks. We had a theme and it is encapsulated here in words and pictures - appropriately, mostly in the picture (thanks to Hubble telescope)!

We lit everything with candles and managed to not burn the place down. Here's what our apartment looked like just before our guests began arriving:

And that is all for the month of December.

One of my linocut prints has been accepted into the biennial show at the Thorne-Sagendorf Gallery in at Keene State College in Keene, NH. This show opens on January 24th and is exhibited through March 7th. The print I featured in this month's newsletter will be hanging in a member's show in Peterborough, NH at the Sharon Arts Center. That show opens the evening of January 11th and is on display through February 23rd.

I hope you enjoyed my newsletter and my new print this month. Tomorrow is the first Friday of the New Year and Gallery Walk in downtown Brattleboro from 5:30 to 8:30 PM. I will have a framed print of "First Snow" on display for the first time and will be signing the prints of the edition during the reception. Make a point of dropping into The Artist's Loft Gallery [now closed] when you are in town or come by any day between 10-6 in Brattleboro. I always enjoy showing my work to folks and often have a print underway so you can watch the process. Come on by! 


William H. Hays