William B. Hoyt’s studio is contained in a cupola on the top of his beautiful home in Hartland, Vermont. With a view of New Hampshire, this artist’s oasis is where the magic has happened for over twenty-five years. He spends most winter days up in his sunlit room working on inspiration he found during his summertime wanderings.
Having a studio in your home allows for a bit of fluctuation in a schedule, but still Hoyt attempts an eight hour day when he is at home. There are usually breaks for dog walking and lunch, but many hours are spent at the easel. On average, Hoyt takes two-and-a-half to three weeks to complete a painting. However, he recalls one that took him almost ten weeks from start to finish.
Hoyt says, “There is an old feller up in Barnard, Vermont, by the name of Bill Cobb. One day, someone asked him how many hours he worked a day. He said he worked from ‘can ’til can’t.’ That’s me.”
The first step when beginning a painting is choosing a surface. Hoyt’s varies depending on what his subject is. From canvas to panel, the texture is a factor in the decision of which one to choose. The more detail, the smoother the surface.
“I change my work surface frequently and experiment with how paint mixtures interact with each. If I am working on something with a great deal of detail, I choose a panel for the smooth texture. A rough canvas with lots of tooth with show all the gradations, but makes for beautiful sky.”
Hoyt is an artist who prefers to sketch out a subject before beginning to paint. For anyone familiar with his work, saying he is detailed is an understatement. Photographic is a term often used when describing a finished Hoyt piece.
“Normally, I sketch on the surface before I begin with any paint, so another variable for me is what I use to draw the image. I tend to use charcoal on a rougher canvas and a pencil on a smoother canvas. Then, on a really smooth canvas, I use a stick of silver. Sometimes, I will use all three depending on the level of detail I want to achieve before I start painting.”
Then comes the decision of medium. Oil paint is the choice, but never does he use it directly from the tube. With a texture of butter, it must be mixed, usually with linseed oil, but even that comes in different forms. Then there are resins that can be added, as well as ingredients to alter drying time. Finding the perfect concoction is an ongoing process that he is continually altering.
“I’m always looking for the ideal mixture,” says Hoyt, “but nothing is ideal. The surface I am painting on effects the behavior of the paint. When I begin a painting, the surface is kind of dry, very white and a little bit rough. As I continue to work and build up paint, it changes. It changes day to day.”
Hoyt can always imagine something better. Everyday he tries to reinvent the ideal medium. He makes extensive notes about what he adds, the reaction to the surface and how the paint finishes.“I’m like a cook. I keep track of my recipes,” he says, referring to just one of many dated entries in a book next to his easel.
When experiencing a Hoyt painting, the details are incredible. It takes time to absorb all that has gone into the creation of these fantastic works of art. As much as we try to duplicate in digital, seeing them in person is best. We hope you have the chance to visit Kennebunk and Kennebunkport and stop in at a Maine Art Shows. Hoyt’s one-man show will be running through September 5. We are open from 11am – 5pm every day.
To read more stories from Hoyt regarding his work at Maine Art, click here – Artist Insights – William B. Hoyt.
You can also view his entire show online at William Hoyt at Maine Art Shows.
Click on the icons below to share this on your own social media.