WHEATLAND - Stephanie Bayne Wilson who was born in Scotts Bluff and raised in Wheatland lends credit to her parents for nurturing and bringing forth the creative side of her.
“I was raised in Wyoming,” she said. “Six-months after I was born, we moved to Wyoming. We were in Scotts Bluff because we had a lot of family there. The first recollection I have of Wyoming was living in Casper and then moving to Manville where my dad had his first church.”
Wilson’s dad was a minister in the Christian Missionary Alliance organization, first in Manville and then eventually in Wheatland where he pastored for a time.
“He had the church in Manville that was basically a community church for the whole community,” she said. “My parents both graduated from Lusk High School and were very familiar with the area. After Manville, we came to Wheatland in 1978. I started going to West Elementary. Then on to junior high and high school where I graduated in 1986.”
Growing up with three sisters who were, according to Wilson, “all creative” came from parents who are also very creative.
“My dad’s a writer along with having kind of an engineering mind as well; and he’s also a builder,” she said. “My mom is very creative in kind of very practical ways, but she was always doing art projects with us and Christmas projects and things like that. She taught us all those little things that used to be taught by your mom. Like how to sew and knit and I never learned how to do either one of those, but… we were always encouraged. We were all reading at a very young age and I can remember my parents reading out loud to us. Those kinds of things were very much encouraged.”
Wilson has taken many of the loves she had as a child and still embraces those things today, such as her passion for losing herself in a good book or finding a lonely piece of wood that needs “cheering up” with some paint.
“My one sister and I were drawing and writing comic books when we were probably seven or eight years old,” she said. “We wrote and illustrated comic books for years and sold them to neighborhood kids.”
Wilson’s nephew, Quaid Cundall has also developed a love for comic books and has taken that to the next level by producing and creating movies. He has written and brought to the big screen his Superman trilogy. Although Wilson said that she may not have been that influence on Cundall since she departed Wheatland in 1986, it may have been some hidden family “comic book gene” that pops up every once in a while in the family.
She said that she was not part of the Marvel DC comic universe, but was always partial to Archie comics.
“I mean, I read all of them,” she said. “I read the Batman and Spiderman comics because my sister like them and I wanted to do whatever she was doing. I even read Mad Magazines, but my parents weren’t real excited about it because it was fairly adult. We did get the Mad Magazine on the sly sometimes.”
As elementary as comic books are, there was a depth to the creative in Wilson that transcended comics. She was fascinated with fashion, perhaps again, with the influence of a mother who was a sewing aficionado.
“I was always interested in fashion,” she said. “I was always pouring over Vogue, Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar and I really wanted to be a fashion illustrator for a long time. I would look at people like Karl Lagerfeld, and Yves Saint Laurent. Their drawings are absolutely lavish, but they are so full of energy.”
She says that her parents encouraged the kids to be creative, to follow their dreams and make up their own fun.
“It’s very different for kids now,” she said.
At Wheatland High School, Wilson’s main focus was art and science, but she also dabbled in drama and theater.
“I did some acting, set production and painting because at a smaller school you kind of do everything,” she said. “I was also in science and then college level science. I was kind of split between art and medicine and what I really wanted to do.”
When Wilson went off to colleges. Plural. She had a type of Midas touch and found success in anything that she put her hands to. She studied nursing at WNCC where she got her degree as an LPN and then also studied journalism and Biblical and Theological studies at Crown College in St. Paul, Minnesota. For a few years she was a surgical nurse which she said that she really enjoyed.
She has seen the world from many platforms.
Wilson is also a talented photographer with an eye to make people see a different view of the world, and also a very accomplished artist with the ability to be precise in her scope and spot-on in her scale.
“I think some of that is innate,” she said. “Sometimes I just have a sense of proportion and composition. You can teach that of course, but it came natural to me and I was probably doing it before I even knew what it was. Sometimes, a way of seeing things and your own perspective on the world or maybe a point of view is, as I said, for me, is Innate. My style is not like photorealism but I would call it more, illustrative or representative.”
In childhood memories, Wilson remembers that she was drawing before she could read and probably two or 3 years old when she was drawing deliberate scenes. She said that she was always drawing. Not from pictures or other drawings, but she was one of those rare artists that could draw from images in her mind.
“When I got older though, if I saw something, and liked that style, I want to emulate that certain style,” she said. “Like fashion design. You can have your style, but there’s a specific way that it’s done to, let’s say, represent the fabric and the industry. So, there are rules and you learn those things by imitation. I have a harder time looking at something and reproducing it than just drawing something from my head. I’m not a pattern person and I don’t like to follow a pattern or a template.”
Wilson has gone on to do many things in her time away from Wheatland, one being the creator of what people now know as the Panhandle Prep Sports Magazine. Her and her husband created that ultimate sports preview magazine in 1994 that showcased many high schools in eastern Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle. The couple owned and produced the magazine until approximately 2009.
From comic books to fashion to nursing to fine art to journalism, there is really nothing that she hasn’t been able to accomplish.
“I’m just kind of one of those people, that if I have something in front of me, I’m going to do it and do the best that I can,” she said.
A lifestyle change moved her to Denver when her kids were in college and she was writing and editing for a Denver corporation.
As her parents are now growing older, there was a sense inside of her to come back home to Wheatland to be able spend time with them. She also said that the pandemic may have played a role in her coming back. Since she has been back, she has been involved in a lot of local and Wyoming craft fares showcasing her talents.
“When I was in Denver and COVID hit, it was an absolute Stephen King novel,” she said. “It was the Twilight Zone and a total disaster. It was very frustrating and very stressful all the time. I was just ready for a quieter, simpler, low stress lifestyle. So part of being in Wheatland, I’m closer to my parents and just a complete change in where my energy is going all the time. Coming to Wheatland was easy and quick and I feel like I’ve almost regained the time I lost in the pandemic while in Denver.”
Wilson, who owns Steph Bayne Photography & Paint recently collaborated with another local artist, Ruth Moyte who owns Mustard Seed Faithwear to create what was called a “Pop-up Holiday Open House” on the last day of November.
The team of Bayne and Moyte transformed Bayne’s residence into an eclectic art gallery that featured crafts, photos, paintings, clothing and jewelry just to name a few things.
Items were hand-crafted, designed and painted holiday home décor and gifts along with photographic art pieces. The clothing line by Moyte featured faith-inspired lounge and workout apparel for women which included leggings, hoodies, t-shirts and joggers along with homemade bling to accessorize their outfits.
According to Bayne, she was supposed to attend and sell her items at the annual Aspen & Sage Market Days at the Grand Encampment Opera House which is one of the bigger arts shows in Wyoming. Due to the weather, it was impossible for those on the eastern side of the state to get through with the blizzard conditions.
Instead, Moyte and Bayne came up with a kind of last minute idea to create their own mini Grand Encampment show in Wheatland.
“I would like to, possibly and think about having something brick and mortar,” she said. “Just a permanent place to have everything available. Whether it’s my photography or a painted piece or whatever it is. I don’t really know yet as I haven’t gotten that far. I kind of liked the popup because you control the traffic and it’s not something you have to maintain each day.”
Whatever she does, she will be successful and possibly, it could be another success story right here in Wheatland.
“I am always going to take pictures, and I am always going to be working on some project,” she said. “But whether that translates into a storefront or a home gallery, we’ll see.”
Bayne creates eclectic and unique gifts that will not be found anywhere else. She has the “innate” talent of just getting a paint brush in her hands and painting. Her motto may be something that will one day become part of her legacy.
“I feel like you can paint on any surface,” she said. “If there’s an available surface, I want to paint on it.”
To set an appointment to view her artwork or her gallery, you can email her directly at [email protected] Christmas is coming within a week and her gallery still has those perfect unclaimed treasures just perfect for the person who is impossible to shop for.