The Power of Colors

Jennifer Hayes finds a new path in life through abstract painting.

By Tyler Bierman

Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


For many, the story of Jennifer Hayes is very relatable. She grew up with a great passion, in her case that passion was art, but as she became an adult, life, love and the common self-doubt of youth took control. "I knew it was what I was destined for, but by my early twenties, I found myself wavering, questioning my ability to make art my career and choosing more 'practical' professions instead of finishing my art degree."

That led to a stable early adulthood. Hayes married her high school sweetheart, had two beautiful children and settled into a life as a stay-at-home mom. That is until fate changed everything for her.

"My husband passed away unexpectedly from a tick bite infection in 2007. There’s nothing like that kind of loss to force you to reassess your life and analyze what you have or haven't made of it," she continues, “I decided that the dishes and laundry could wait but the creative spark in me could not; I needed to seize the day. I started painting again, first as therapy, but then it became so much more.”

Hayes got serious about her art and it grew into a real career path as she made more and more St. Louis connections, surprisingly in the local restaurant industry. "Things really started happening when I began exhibiting at celebrity Chef Hubert Keller’s restaurant SleeK. I found a wonderful niche there full of amazing clients who appreciated culinary art on their tables and my paintings on the walls. Having my paintings in his restaurant in St. Louis led to having them in his restaurants in San Francisco and in Las Vegas."

Bright, bold and colorful are just a few words to describe Hayes' paintings, which focus more on feelings than a message. She paints strong and vibrant figures in the abstract that radiate with her experience and feelings. She explains, "The majority of my paintings are now abstract and all about color and texture. Some have vigorous energy while others are placid and tranquil. I aim to have my use of color, line and movement to speak to the viewer as it does to me. A conversation without words.”

As for how Hayes goes about painting such amazing abstractions, she calls it “paint and response.” She goes on to say, “I start with a base color and start adding layers, then every addition is influenced by the last and influences the next. Sometimes, I feel like I’m creating a three-dimensional landscape on the canvas: thick mountaintops of paint, carved valleys, revealed under wash. I love to manipulate the paint. It is a visceral process, tactile and emotional all at once.”

Today, she's continuing to grow as an artist, always finding new inspirations in color and discovering her next piece of art. When she's not painting, however, she'll likely be pulling together her antique home, circa 1917, or just getting out to experience nature.

Find out how you can take home your own Jennifer Hayes original or how you can add some culture to your corporate office space by visiting her Instagram at JenniferHayesSTL and on her website