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William H. Hays

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Click here to read about William Hays' relationship with printmaking -- in his own words!

Vermont artist William Hays has been creating beautiful works of art for more than 40 years.  He began painting in watercolors as a teenager and eventually ended up with a degree in sculpture from the University of Alaska in Anchorage.  After moving to Vermont from Alaska in 1987, he concentrated on painting in oils.  His works in linocut prints began in 2007 with the encouragement of his late wife, Patricia.  Since 2012 Hays has concentrated exclusively on printmaking.
William Hays printing a linocut
Hays' work is frequently included in juried exhibitions regionally and nationally where he has been singled out for recognition.  His artworks grace the walls of private collectors in more than a dozen countries around the world.

He says, "Landscape is the foundation of my inspiration. I often work more from memory or an impression than from a particular place. The compositions are the framework on which I hang a sequence of layered colors in rhythmic patterns to create a mood and a harmonious image. Using reduction printing techniques and multiple blocks allows me a level of complexity that suits my drive to create artworks which evoke my imaginings, my experiences, my creations."

Block printing is the oldest form of making multiples of an image.  Using color is slightly less ancient but still a traditional technique.  The overall method is to carve away parts of a smooth surface and use the remaining, original surface to print with ink on paper or cloth.  The overriding characteristic in relief printing is positive or negative, black or white, carved or not carved.


For William Hays, the idea of positive and negative is everything but black and white. Hays takes the simplicity of linocut printing to new levels in his beautiful and complex prints.  Intricate techniques of carving and printing are brilliantly reflected in the rich colors and resonant atmosphere of each print.

Hays' linocut prints are original works of art, not reproductions.  Each is hand printed by the artist on 100% rag paper using oil-based inks. They are created in strictly limited editions.  To learn more about William's extensive linocut printmaking process, please visit this link.

The artist has received several national awards.  In 2017 his work was purchased for the permanent collections of the Boston Atheneaum and Syracuse University Art Galleries.  He received the honor of being invited to become a member of The Boston Printmakers and is participating in their 70th anniversary members show on display now.  Pomegranate Press has published a line of holiday cards using four of his images and will be publishing a wall calendar of his work, “Linocut Prints by William H. Hays” for 2019.

We are delighted to add William Hays' award-winning linocuts (linoleum block prints) to our collection and invite you to see them on display in our east gallery.  Read more about William Hays in these news articles.

After the storm
After The Storm
  July 2016
12-color linoleum block print
Image size 12" x 9" (30.5 x 23 cm)
Paper Size 14" x 11" (35.5 x 28 cm)
Edition of 100 and six Artist's Proofs
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image, dated on reverse.
$425 framed
$300 unframed

The sky reflecting in puddles of water was the starting point for this print. The subject has been addressed many times by artists. So I wanted to lessen that aspect and concentrate on the sky and clouds. Carving clouds is an ironic phrase but that is exactly what I spent several weeks doing to create this print.

I wanted the clouds to have within them a sense of motion as they billow up into the sunlight. So I carved small undulating lines which also served as transitions from one color to another. Figuring out how the carved lines would translate into color was very challenging.

I used two, separate blocks of linoleum for this print. One block was used for everything above the horizon and included the reflecting puddles below the horizon. The second block was for the road, fields, mountains and trees.

Autumn Field
Autumn Field
August 2017
10-color linoleum block print
Image size 12" x 9" (30.5 x 23 cm)
Paper Size 14" x 11" (35.5 x 28 cm)
Edition of 100 and six Artist's Proofs
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered 16/100 and signed in pencil below image, dated on reverse.
$425 framed
$300 unframed
 
Vermont, my home, is a beautiful place. In most parts of the state there are heavily forested mountains which roll off into the distance in diminishing shades of greens and blues. This print started by borrowing the composition from an oil painting of the same name which I did some eight years earlier. The painting took nearly a year of off-and-on work. The print took nearly two months of steady work.

It was a complicated print to execute. I used one block for the first seven colors, working above the horizon for the sky and mountains, and below the horizon for the field and flowers. I then carved a separate block for to put a transparent blue over the near range of mountains. Then I carved two separate stamps with which I stamped burnt orange flowers in the foreground and the same transparent blue onto the light parts of the grass.

As a result of the stamping, each print is quite unique within the edition of 100. Although I describe it as a 10-color print, that is actually the number of impressions. With each impression often using two or three colors at a time, there are many more colors than 10.
 

Halifax House
Halifax House
April 2016
9-color linoleum block print
Image size 12" x 9" (30.5 x 23 cm)
Paper Size 14" x 11" (35.5 x 28 cm)
Edition of 100 and seven Artist's Proofs
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered 28/100 and signed in pencil below image, dated on reverse.
$425 framed
$300 unframed

Halifax, Vermont is a village near the center of the southern border with Massachusetts. When we first moved to Vermont in the winter of 1987 we often went for drives in the countryside to explore. This house, built in 1804 caught my attention as we passed and I ended up taking photos and doing several watercolor paintings of it. One watercolor, from which this linocut print is done is, perhaps the best watercolor I ever did.

The architectural simplicity of the house, set on a small knoll and flanked by some very majestic sugar maples caught hold in my mind. Over the years I've driven through Halifax many times and have always had the same reaction; I'm pulled to this house. For me it has become iconic.

The print was done with two blocks, each carved and printed multiple times. One block was used for everything above the horizon line and the second for the grassy knoll.

Summer Moon
Summer Moon
February 2016
10-color linoleum block print
Image size 9" x 12" (23 x 30.5 cm)
Paper Size 11" x 14" (28 x 35.5 cm)
Edition of 100 and six Artist's Proofs
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered 38/100 and signed in pencil below image, dated on reverse.
$425 framed
$300 unframed

The densely forested mountains of the eastern United States have been my home for most of my life. Near the end of a long journey from Alaska to Vermont, my late wife and I were camping in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Forest fires in the west were raging and the smoke from far away was tinting the sunsets (and the moon rise) in rosy tones. One evening, the full moon was rising above the mountains and this image stuck with me for nearly 30 years between then and when I made this print.

Although it is inspired by the Appalachian Mountains much further south than my home in Vermont, the composition is of my own making and more like Vermont than Tennessee. Unlike most of the prints I do, this print is almost entirely done with transparent inks. Almost every pass involved more than one color of ink blended in graduated tints on the palette making the resulting print a complex combination of many colors.

See photo detail of the process of making this print here.
Fair Skies
Fair Skies
September 2016
7-color linoleum block print
Image size 7" x 5" (17.5 x 12.5 cm)
Paper Size 9½" x 7½" (24 x 19 cm)
Edition of 100 and one Artist's Proof
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered 36/100 and signed in pencil below image, dated on reverse.
$225 framed
$150 unframed

Autumn in New England is a most glorious time of year. On a day when the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the trees are myriad colors, nature's perfection is on full display. And it is this glorious display which I find very daunting in my art. Sometimes, when being most true to the brilliance of it all, the result is garish and artificial looking. I've rarely been satisfied in my attempts to portray autumn in Vermont.

So, for this print, I changed my emphasis and concentrated on the fair sky cumulus clouds. But carving and printing clouds is equally daunting to the brilliance of autumn foliage. Along with the beautiful light and shadow within the clouds, I wanted to imbue them with motion. I carved and printed interlocking swirls and twists to show the constantly changing form and motion of the clouds.

Though this print is very small, it was one which took me a great deal of time to create. It is very difficult for me to see what I'm supposed to be carving and what it is going to look like when I'm in the middle of the process. I never quite know how my carving and the colors are going to look until I print. Even then, I don't really know until the last color is printed.

Moonlight Coast
Moonlight Coast
June 2016
7-color linoleum block print
Image size 7" x 5" (17.5 x 12.5 cm)
Paper Size 9½" x 7½" (24 x 19 cm)
Edition of 100 and four Artist's Proofs
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered 34/100 and signed in pencil below image, dated on reverse.
$225 framed
$150 unframed

For thirteen years I and my late wife Patricia Long spent four months of each summer in Liverpool, Nova Scotia in a 220 year old house we purchased in 2002. We were within 20 minutes of five, beautiful, often deserted white sand beaches studded with granite boulders. Although my initial response to such a landscape was cool and it's uninterrupted horizon did not interest me very much, it ended up to be the subject of quite a few paintings in oil and watercolor.

This print was composed from two photographs I took and inspired by the Japanese Moku Hanga print makers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Few things on this earth are more satisfying, peaceful and solitary as walking the beach at night with a full moon rising in the clouds. The hypnotic glow of the moon in the ever changing clouds is a significant challenge in carving and printing.

In a similar setting in my print, "Moonlight Lead" I treated the clouds and light with flat planes of color, much like my traditional predecessors.

In this print I wanted to try more intricate transitions from the illuminated edges of the clouds to the shadowed body of the ephemeral lunar frame.


Skimming the
                    Sunset
Skimming The Sunset 
October 2016
7-color linoleum block print
Image size 11" x 17" (28 x 43 cm)
Paper Size 13¼" x 19½" (34 x 49.5 cm)
Edition of 50 and two Artist's Proofs
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered and signed in pencil below image, dated on reverse.
$495 framed
$395 unframed

"Skimming The Sunset" is a print which developed in my mind's eye over the course of about 15 years. I was invited to spend a few days as a guest of the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, Vermont to paint on their grounds. I also took photographs while there. One photograph of the Adirondack Mountains on the other side of Lake Champlain stuck with me. Later, the idea of a small flock of birds skimming over the surface came into view from a print I saw by the British artist Mark A. Pearce.

The idea of creating a sunset in a linocut print is a very daunting prospect. The birds and their reflection increases the complexity of the colors and patterns.


Night Flight
Night Flight
January 2017
7-color linoleum block print
Image size 17" x 11" (43 x 28 cm)
Paper Size 19½" x 13¼"  (49.5 x 34 cm)
Edition of 100 and two Artist's Proofs
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered 5/100 and signed in pencil below image, dated on reverse.

$495 framed
$395 unframed

The initial inspiration for this print came from a painting by Andrew Wyeth called, "Northern Point." (Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford CT) Aside from a vaguely aerial point of view, the painting bears little resemblance to my print. Nevertheless, that's where I started. Many months after the fact, I realized that I may also have been influenced by Grant Wood's "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC).


I spent a week working up the drawing for the print. I chose the church steeple from Main Street in my home town as my model. Then I put on my mechanical drawing hat and proceeded to interpret it as if viewing it from above, looking down on the surrounding town. Though the church steeple was based in fact, the town was something I composed.

The carving and printing of seven impressions was very time consuming with a print this size. The first impression alone (which involved no carving at all) took four days to complete because of the complexity of the inking.

I love the dreamlike quality that came along with the aerial perspective. It was not something I anticipated when I began the drawing.

Deep Wood Falls
Deep Wood Falls 
6-color linoleum block print
Image size 17" x 11"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$395 unframed

This linocut print is perhaps the most difficult I've done to date.  Along with being a larger print, the complexity of the imagery and how to depict that by sequentially carving and printing is daunting. I took my time to get it right.

It took more than two months to complete.  If you include hiking around the woods near Stowe, Vermont in October, I worked on this print for more than four months.  I visited Moss Glenn Falls and very much enjoyed the setting all the way around.  It is the highest cascade of falls in Vermont at around 125 feet (38 meters) from top to bottom.

There are 11 colors used in creating this print.  It is, perhaps, the most difficult print I've done to date.  The carving was extremely complicated and color choices - very particular.  I only get one chance to choose color for each state of the block (I'm using just one block).  It can be very difficult.  In the end, I was quite pleased with the balance and tone of the print.

Evensong
Evensong 
4-color linoleum block print
Image size 9" x 12"
Edition of 44
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$300 unframed

Every morning I take my dog for a long walk beside the Connecticut River in Vermont.  In winter it can be quite still and lovely.  As the sun begins to rise over the mountains the sky can gradually become a beautiful spectrum of colors against which the trees are silhouetted. 

One morning there was an owl that took its place there and inspired this image.  An open lead of water in the iced-over river provides a distant dash of color in the muted tones of the winter dawn. There were four separate impressions made to construct the print but the first impression alone has four colors in it.

The owl?  You can see it in the top center of the print.

Click here to see more detail on the blending of colors and printing of this linocut.


First Snow
First Snow 
7-color linoleum block print
Image size 12" x 9"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$300 unframed

Winter in Vermont is one of my favorite times and places to be. The snow falling in the little villages that dot the countryside is the stuff of nostalgic memories for most of America. For us, it is our home and we love the beauty of it in all seasons.

This print builds on the explorations contained within several previous night/snowing scenes I've done. The creation of this linocut print is illustrated in a step-by-step progression of images and commentary in my December, 2012 newsletter.


Island Universe
Island Universe 
4-color linoleum block print
Image size 12" x 9"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$300 unframed

Shortly after my wife's death in 2013, a dear friend of mine took me to a place in Nova Scotia called Beach Meadows where we watched the Persied meteor shower.

The evening was clear and the stars were bright with the faint cloud of the Milky Way arching overhead. The gentle lapping of the waves on the sand completed the experience and the picture in my mind for this print. The island just off shore made a perfect pairing for the title.



Kissed by the
                    Sun
Kissed by the Sun 
6-color linoleum block print
Image size 12" x 9"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$300 unframed

The heavy atmosphere of a summer evening is the inspiration for this linocut print. If you would like to see this print in a little more detail, take a look at my March, 2017 newsletter.

Stickney Brook
Stickneybrook 
9-color linoleum block print
Image size 12" x 9"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$300 unframed

Since first moving to Vermont, this nearby stream has been a continuing source of inspiration for me. I've done half a dozen watercolors, at least nine oil paintings and now, this linoleum block print of this special place.

Each time I visit and come up on the cascades of Stickneybrook, I feel like I'm seeing it for the first time. The complexity of this print is considerable. If you'd like to see the process by which it was created, take a look at my newsletter for October of 2014.


Twilight
                    Village
Twilight Village 
5-color linoleum block print
Image size 9" x 12"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$425 framed
$300 unframed

The Connecticut River runs through my hometown in Vermont, freezing over each winter. The last glow of the day offers a range of possibilities which differs each evening.

My choice of the yellow-green for the sky was influenced by the New England artist, Maxfield Parrish who lived just north of my home. The bluffs which border the river on the Vermont side offer views over the frozen ribbon and down onto the town of Brattleboro and many others along its course.

If you would like to see more about how this print came together, you can take a look at my newsletter from December of 2016.


Water's Edge
Waters Edge 
11-color linoleum block print
Image size 9" x 12"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$300 unframed

I used to spend a great deal of time on the Connecticut River where the West River flows into it. Sunsets on the West River were a favorite experience in summer. I did many paintings of the scene and finally, this linocut print.

 You can see more about the creation of this print in my August, 2017 newsletter.
Moonlight Lead
Moonlight Lead 
8-color linoleum block print
Image size 12" x 9"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$300 unframed

In 1998 I did a charcoal drawing which hangs in my bedroom. This drawing was the starting point for this 8-color linoleum block print. The inspiration for the imagery was the view from my home on the Connecticut River in Vermont. I can see that there are elements of my time in Alaska which contributed to the image as well. This print is a refinement of all those influences leading to this still, cold night image.

This print was awarded first place in the national competition, "Ink For Alaska" in 2017 and was part of a national touring exhibit in 2017 promoting the work of the Alaska Wilderness League.

Tailwind
                    Migration
Tail Wind Migration 
7-color linoleum block print
Image size 11" x 17"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$495 framed
$395 unframed

Watching the weather roll over the Vermont countryside inspired this linocut print. With the wind at their backs, a flock of geese moves over the patchwork of farms and the vista below

Solitude
Solitude 
9-color linoleum block print
Image size 5" x 7"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$225 framed
$150 unframed

Titling my prints is sometimes difficult. Not with this one. It seemed to say it all. In October of 2014 I went up into the mountains near Stowe, Vermont and hiked around several different waterfalls over the course of a couple of days. They are wonderful things and have the same captivating quality that a campfire holds over us in the night.

The sound, I can never put into my prints. But the rhythms of the falling water are a lovely challenge in the medium of relief printing.

If you'd like to see the progression of colors that went into creating this print, you can take a look at my November 2014 newsletter.


Sultry Evening
Sultry Evening 
6-color linoleum block print
Image size 5" x 7"
Edition of 50
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$225 framed
$150 unframed

My hometown, Brattleboro, Vermont, is on the Connecticut River. When I first moved here I spent much time in a boat on that river in summers and I loved it. This image is derived from my time on the water.

If you would like to see more about the creation of this print, take a look at my March, 2017 newsletter.


Summer Falls
Summer Falls 
13-color linoleum block print
Image size 5" x 7"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$150 unframed

"Summer Falls" is part of a long series of images I've done in both oil paintings and linocut prints. Like everyone, I love waterfalls. In Vermont, swimming holes are frequent companions of waterfalls.

This one is on Stratton Mountain and is known as Pike's Falls. It's one of those places that if you know where it is, it's easy to find. If you don't know where it is, you'll never find it.

I did pencil sketches there one day and I've been using them as the basis for images for two decades.

Water Lilies
Water Lilies 
8-color linoleum block print
Image size 5" x 7"
Edition of 41
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$150 unframed

Water Lilies is inspired by a painting of the same name that I did some years ago. I did some experimenting in this print by printing the first six colors as usual. Then the last two passes were done with a separate block that laid down two graduated tints of transparent blues to provide the rich color and sense of looking down through the clear water.
Winter's Gown
Winter's Gown 
7-color linoleum block print
Image size 5" x 7"
Edition of 100
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Stonehenge, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$150 unframed

This print stemmed from a barn in Marlboro, Vermont that I've driven by many times in the 25-plus years that I've lived here. I've never quite settled on a composition that gives the impression one has when driving past it. After many years, I came up with this and was very pleased with the results.
Snowy Roost
Snowy Roost 
3-color linoleum block print
Image size 5" x 7"
Edition of 12
Printed with oil based, fine art printmaking inks on Lana natural, 100 percent rag paper.
Titled, numbered, and signed in pencil below image.
$150 unframed

“Snowy Roost” is my first multi-color linocut print. Unlike nearly every (reduction) print since, “Snowy Roost” is done with a separate block for each color. The image is the view from my former studio, overlooking the Connecticut River in winter. Crows often roost in the trees at the water’s edge and their silhouetted forms in the lacework of branches were drawn from life.




My relationship with printmaking
William H. Hays


Linocut Prints, September 2017


My late wife Patricia Long said, "You've got to offer something more affordable for the average person." I agreed but did not want to produce digital reproductions of my paintings. I told her, "I sell art, not reproductions of art. Publishers do that."

After years of having this same conversation, one day I said, "Well, you know, printmaking might be fun. But I don't have a press." Patricia, never one to be thwarted by the mere absence of a press said, "What could you do without a press?"

"Hmm. I could do woodcuts or linocuts." So she resolved to buy me materials for linocuts for my birthday in a couple weeks and said I could get started then.

In February of 2007 I started casually doing some small linocut prints in black and white. From the first print that came off the block I was smitten. The image was simple, direct, charming and more naive than anything I had done in decades. But I needed color. So I added watercolor to the interstices in the black and white block prints. I found this process to be tedious and I wanted something else using color. I had read about traditional Japanese block prints and I thought, "I can do that." So I did a simple three-color print ("Snowy Roost") with three separate blocks and I was pleased with the results.

A couple days after completing the print an acquaintance who did woodcuts took a look at my latest accomplishment and said, "Oh, that's nice. So you did that with one block. Right?"

I had no idea what she was talking about.

She described reduction printing and the proverbial big light bulb went on over my head - "Ah! Of course! That's wonderful!" I began reduction linocut prints right away and it changed everything for me. It also wore out my arms and hands from rubbing with a spoon to make thousands of impressions. I bought an etching press. I did more and more prints and fewer and fewer paintings. Finally I stopped painting altogether and in 2012 I turned my career over to linocut printmaking.

I love the slow motion unfolding of the imagery. I'm challenged by the anticipation of how a color will look in the final print without having the opportunity to see what it will look like in the company of the other colors. I'm amazed at the complexity of patterns and how the carved, sometimes intricate shapes interlock, layer after layer. I'm often surprised at how carving with (essentially) three tools can manifest so many different textures, patterns, modeling, light and shadow, complex color relationships and flowing rhythms.

The pace is so very different from my decades as a painter in oils and watercolor. It takes an average of a month to complete one edition - sometimes less, sometimes more. In the course of a year, I can only complete an average of about ten prints/editions. The whole edition is printed at once since the block  is sequentially destroyed in the process of multiple carvings.

I produce an edition of prints where each print is supposed to be just like the one before and after. Every step for each print is the product of a meditative state where I try to perform each step exactly as I did for the previous print. Yet a quick comparison of two prints within an edition will reveal the unique qualities of each individual print. Each is a unique work of art.

I am entirely self taught in printmaking. Linocut printing chose me as much as I chose it. I seem have a relationship with the methodical process and materials that brings all of my explorations as an artist together into my personal voice in paper and ink. When I first began to understand reduction printing, I was surprised to find very few people using the medium the way I do. It is quite difficult to learn and took me about five years before it became a part of my natural vocabulary. When I'm carving for a print, I think in rhythms. I think in patterns. I think in layers of color trying to create a sense of mood and of place.


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