PATRICIA CZEPIEL HAYES

About the artist.

Where I started:
I grew up in Easthampton, Massachusetts, a small town in the western part of the state. Obsessed with drawing at an early age, I redrew my coloring books using a #2 pencil and yellow-lined paper (crayons were for losers). Eventually I began drawing everything and anything around the house. I nagged my parents regularly (“What should I draw today?”) and was disappointed if they ran out of ideas. Art wasn’t their thing but it kept me out of their hair so they made sure I had art supplies. I’d usually come up with something to draw … a lamp, a vase, Ginger the family dog or my goldfish Fluffy. I started painting eventually, acrylics and watercolor. A total introvert, I avoided the world by immersing myself in art. Lessons weren’t necessary. I knew how to entertain myself and was happy.
In school I was only interested in art and sports but generally did well in all of my classes. I worked extremely hard, achieving good grades and eventually earning merit and financial aid scholarships for college.
My parents were busy, hardworking people. Both originally from Easthampton, they met while employed in a factory. My father worked most of his adult life in that factory; my mother in a local clothing store. They didn’t go to fancy colleges but managed to send me to one. They chose Smith College for me (in nearby Northampton) due to its stellar reputation and to keep an eye on me. I helped pay my Smith tuition by working summers in the Easthampton factories, a typical situation for local kids. We had tuitions to pay, were happy to get full-time employment, worked alongside very nice people who didn’t get to go to college, and we didn’t dare complain.
While at Smith I majored in studio art and fell in love with oil painting. I also played sports but mostly hurt myself, and briefly considered a career as an athletic trainer since I spent so much time draped in ice packs. (On the plus side I was able to keep up with my reading classes since I was rarely out on the field.) I did well academically at Smith but looked forward to graduation and earning a living.
With my liberal arts bachelor’s degree in hand, I began a career as a graphic designer. [Insert 30 years of ranting about graphic design here.] During those decades as a publications designer for educational institutions (including Smith), I painted part time. The practical issues of life kept me busy, but I never let go of fine art.

Where I am now:
I’m in my fifties, life is short, and I’m painting full time. I’m completely me again.
Graphic design was rather isolating. Fine art connects me to people. No longer a total introvert, I show my paintings publicly, love talking about art at receptions, and I share my method of painting without solvents by teaching beginners who can’t draw. (Who needs that pressure?)
I’m married to someone who’s very supportive of my full-time art endeavors, and I hear from friends that that’s not a typical situation. I appreciate him every day, and I try to make sure he knows that.
I live in Hadley, MA, about 20 minutes from where I grew up. My studio is in Easthampton, ironically in one of the factory buildings that employed me so long ago. The building’s been renovated and is full of artists now. As I travel to Easthampton each day, I drive past my parents’ old neighborhood, their first apartment, the buildings they worked in, and their cemetery. When I take a break from painting and look out a window, I can see my old factory entrance. I remember walking through that door early in the morning, way back then. One hundred yards away. A lifetime ago.

What I create and is there a message:
I paint in oils, landscapes mostly. I often work without a plan, from my imagination, one brush stroke to the next. My paintings are inspired by nature, but often don’t represent a particular place. They are an expression of the general sense of hope that lives in my imagination. There is also turmoil, an occasional fracturing of trees, land and sky. I hope viewers see both the peace and the struggle.
For me, trees and open space symbolize the passage of time. I’m inspired by the land near me in Hadley, and am fortunate that farmland has been preserved through local land trusts. I’m also inspired by the land on Cape Cod, and a visit a few years ago to New Mexico. No matter where I am, I see color and compositions with every turn of my head. I’m completely obsessed with the sky, which is why my husband usually offers to drive the car.  
I use traditional, professional-grade oil paints, without adding solvents. I paint in layers, working on three or four paintings at a time. Working in layers requires me to consider “fat over lean.” This has nothing to do with my fondness for potato chips (my husband’s theory). “Fat over lean” is a layering technique in which you add a bit more oil to later layers to increase the flexibility of the paint film.

Exhibits and public support:
I’ve had solo and group shows over the years in Western Mass., as well as a few in Connecticut and New York City. More recently my work is available through the Sawmill River Arts Gallery in Montague, MA (a collective), Cottage Street Studios in Easthampton, MA (a collective), and Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton, MA (May 2019). Work can be seen by appointment in my studio (#508) at 1 Cottage Street in Easthampton. Sample images, contact information and news about upcoming shows is available at www.hadleydesignworks.net.
Regarding public support, sales are of course the best way. Sales allow artists to move forward. Also, I would ask two things of the public:
1) Please try not to negotiate prices downward. The most direct way to support the arts is to avoid taking money out of an artist’s pocket.
2) Please refrain from asking me to donate my art to charities. This may sound harsh, but the reality is most artists can’t afford to give away their work. When I do donate art, I’m met with annual expectations from the same charities and requests from new charities. I think it’s assumed my paintings are easily created, but the reverse is true. Each is a struggle. An expensive, time-consuming struggle. That struggle is my choice of course. Yet with time, materials and rent being what they are, I really can’t give this work away, at least not very often.

Local, national or international issues and my art:
I stay informed about local and world events, but I don’t leave the news on for long. I look for reliable sources of information and I value the facts (in the original definition of the word). I value a free press and I value my sanity. I value the most important thing my education gave me: how to think critically, analyze the source of information, and to understand that—if I’m not careful—my desire to believe something is (or isn’t) true may interfere with how I absorb the material. If I use that kind of rational thinking with my creative work, I will create images that are, at the very least, honest. And if that honesty resonates with people, that’s a good thing.—Patricia Czepiel Hayes





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Exhibits