White Birch Shadows


As the very hot summer (around the world) continues, I once more find myself thinking of winter. For me, the brilliant, low sunshine on snow and the dramatically contrasted shadows are an endless source of inspiration. Since my time in the far north, years ago, I have a special place in my heart for snow covered landscapes in my work.

With this particular print I started with two photos I took many years ago when I first moved to Vermont from Alaska. After combining them to make the composition I spent several days drawing out the image on my linoleum block before any carving or printing. I carved away some small highlights on the sunlit sides of the trees and in the snow before printing a light salmon color to establish the mood of the scene. Here are the first three impressions as the print begins to come together.

Impressions one through three for "White Birch Shadows"

Interestingly, I want to point out that the color which was applied (over the first two salmon colors) is actually a pure, light blue. It looks gray because, even with opaque white used to create the color, the ink is not fully opaque. The orange and the blue combined to make this blue/gray, as I planned.

Really! I planned that! But I have to tell you that I only understood this by experiencing this type of color overlay many times.

This print underwent many changes as the subsequent layers were applied. Here are the following three steps, coming to six impressions so far:

Impressions four through six for "White Birch Shadows"

You can see, as I did, the dramatic changes from one impression to the next as the relationship between lights and darks begins to settle in. The last two impression are both dark colors. The last is nearly a black but you can see (perhaps better in person) that it is a dark blue/violet actually. So here is the finished print after eight impressions:

White Birch Shadows, linocut print by William H. Hays

"White Birch Shadows" linocut print by William H. Hays, 12" x 9" (31 x 23.5)

And that's about all for my story about this linocut. Of course this print is available for purchase on this website and will be arriving in galleries over the course of the next few months.

In the process of making this print I also had a wonderful week in Montreal with my partner, Nina. We attended the Jazz Festival there and reveled in the fabulous music along with walking miles and miles each day in the city. It is a beautiful place and very welcoming to we Americans. With the vacation, this print took about seven weeks to complete.

I do hope to hear from you. My work has been included in five national juried competitions so far this year. Currently you can see one of my prints in Rock Hill, South Carolina at the Arts Council of York County. As always, I have my work on display year round at the galleries that represent me and I hope you'll drop in to see them and what all they have to offer. 

Take care of yourselves and each other.