This story first appeared in print in the October/November issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.
Beauty is born out of chaos. At least, that is what the artwork of local talent, Hayley Stewart, suggests.
As Hayley leads me through the diverse gallery at Revelstoke’s Art First!, my gaze is immediately drawn to her work at every turn, despite the busy walls competing for my attention. What captures my interest, though, is her use of vivid, saturated color alongside the juxtaposition of background and foreground techniques. These coworking factors help create a multi-dimensional, ‘leap off the page’ effect.
Hayley talks me through the process achieving this duality. “There are typically two stages” she says, “chaos and order.” In stage one, aerosol paint is applied somewhat loosely onto a canvas. This — she assures me — is just as fun as you could imagine.
It is a messy business though. Grateful for the vast, open-aired spaces that Revelstoke has gifted us with, she uses the great outdoors as her work studio in summer. The natural ventilation and picturesque mountainous decor are simply bonuses.
In this space, she is free to experiment with color and new techniques, drawing inspiration from the beauty in the landscapes surrounding her. The outcome of stage one (the background) is a seemingly endless depth that often resembles starry galaxies or radiant auroras.
The second stage (foreground) is much more calculated and controlled. Planning, sketching and mapping are crucial steps before the application of her second medium; acrylic. “I think this contrast in my work creates balance and visual complexity,” she explains. Her passion for the outdoors is seamlessly translated through her concise brush strokes that highlight nature’s intricacies.
So, why aerosol and acrylic? Hayley’s choice of mediums tells us her story. “I’ve always been influenced by street art and graffiti,” she admits. Growing up, she was given her first taste of urban jungles when she studied Fine Art at the OCAD in the bustling, metropolitan city of Toronto.
“During that four-year stint, I got into (somewhat mischievous) urban exploration — skateboarding, climbing, biking, rooftop ventures, and urban infiltration. Having come from a smaller town in Ontario, the city offered a different kind of ‘venturing into the unknown’,” she explains.
After a time though, her heart was drawn to the rugged mountains of the west, a place where she could pursue her passion for snowboarding and outdoor sports. She found her feet in Golden, B.C. “Golden was the perfect spot to bench [watch for graffiti on] trains. I lived right by the tracks and could view the trains — and their artwork — passing by from my bedroom window.” The cozy — yet diverse — community allowed her to infuse her new passion for the mountains with her urban-art roots.
She has recently moved to Revelstoke and plans to stick around. This small town is jam-packed with successful artists and I’m curious how easy it is for a newcomer to break into the scene. “All the artists here have been super welcoming,” Hayley assures me. “It is not as competitive as a city, where people can be more cut-throat for business. The crowd here leans more towards encouragement and inclusivity — which is awesome.”
She’s even encouraged other local female artists to hop-aboard the spray-paint scene too. Hopefully you had the chance to check out her interactive geometric dome, created with Kate Shea and Claudia ‘Turbo’ Bambi, at the Luna Arts festival in September. If you didn’t, or if you’re left wanting more, you can view Hayley’s work at ArtFirst!, at various locations around town, or at www.hayleystewart.com.