When artist Hannah Stewart Yanetsko first begins a painting, she starts by selecting the perfect wood panel. Free of imperfections and just the right size, the panel serves as a sturdy, solid canvas for what will eventually become a fluid piece filled with motion. As she plans her painting, she marks the panel with X’s. Then, she starts drawing her figures, contemplating how much distance to put between them and what that might mean to someone who can’t stop thinking about those in-between spaces. Next comes the background color. This ranges in her current works mainly from light grays and beiges to deep blues and greens. The wax layer goes on after the color. It is exfoliated with a mixture of coffee grounds and dark coloring to give it a stain.
Etching into that wax layer with various tools and repainting it with watered down paints is where things truly start to come together. It’s in this stage that Yanetsko follows her intuition in full force. She lets it guide her toward creating a painting that feels as simplistic as it does complex—as modern as it does timeless.
This feels true of all her current works, where she depicts people from a bird’s-eye view adrift on her water-like canvas. Sometimes close together, sometimes far apart, these people wade the calm currents of what sometimes looks like the open ocean and sometimes looks like…somewhere else. That “somewhere else” is a place Yanetsko knows well. It’s a place that harbors emotions that can feel inescapable for most people.
“In the depths of every human heart is an ache…” says Yanetsko. “Whether we are wading in oceans of grief, disappointment, uncertainty, a loss, a dying dream, or the space that holds what has been and gone and yet still to come, no one is without this divine ache.”
That divine ache and the place people find themselves in once they feel it is a focal point of Hannah Stewart Yanetsko’s paintings.
“My paintings are my attempt at showing you a glimpse of that endless sea as a place of abiding rather than achievement,” says Yanetsko. “They are invitations into ‘other’ oceans, where the space between love and mystery becomes a meeting place of grief and goodness.”
From Craft to Career
Recreating that meeting place on her canvases has come with an immense amount of introspection on Yanetsko’s part. After losing her father just before she started sixth grade, Yanetsko found solace in art. She sought out mentors and continued to refine her technique through high school. But it wasn’t until after her daughter was born in July of 2020, while the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns were in full effect, that Yanetsko turned to her art as a fulltime career.
“The weeks following her birth were nothing like I had imagined they would be,” recalls Yanetsko. “They were quiet without family and friends being able to visit, and at times, I felt anxious and lonely. I needed an outlet, and painting had always been mine since my father passed away in 2009.”
Once she got her paintbrushes wet again, she never looked back. After finding an audience for her work through her Instagram, she made her way into several galleries and private collections. Those interested in Hannah Stewart Yanetsko’s work can view her recent pieces in the Art & Light Gallery in Greenville, SC. Additionally, they can visit her studio website, where she also takes commissions.