Hailey Herrera has been painting watercolor since she was seven years old until the end of her junior high years. She decided to paint again in her adult life, and painting with watercolors was her first choice. Since then, she has tried acrylic, oil, pastel and if she wasn’t allowed to use watercolor she would “use collage: cutting out fabric or colored rice paper and rearrange them on paper or canvas”. But, it seems she enjoys painting the most when she uses watercolors. Herrera with the glint of someone talking about their true love in life said “ I can control watercolors better than other mediums. One of my favorite ways to paint is to drop colors onto wet paper. It is exciting to see watercolors blend together as they touch the water. Watching the watercolor spread like a drop of ink in water creates a sense of happiness and relaxation for me.”
One look at Herrera’s watercolor paintings and even those that lack art expertise can tell she uses a unique approach and technique to create these works. Hailey uses a batik method in her watercolor that is similar to a traditional batik method and uses wax as a resistant to block the areas she wants to keep with colors for each layer. On top of this Herrera uses a paraffin wax and melts it into a hot skillet with temperature control, then dips a natural hair brush into the hot melted wax and applies it onto the paper.
She uses rice paper because rice paper is fabric-like; thin and strong enough to be used for batik. Any thin paper can be used for batik, but not all are successful for painting watercolors. Rice paper has been used in East-Asia for watercolors. For Hailey, it was a great choice that reflects and compliments her style and senses.
So how does she make her colors so vivid? Instead of mixing the colors on a palette she mixes them on paper. She also doesn’t mix multiple colors at once– this helps the colors to stay vivid and not get muddy on the rice paper. Hailey uses any visual elements she encounters (photos, magazines, nature, movies) to help inspire her. When she isn’t painting her eyes are always peeled for a piece of visual stimulation to inspire her next piece. She also uses new-age or contemporary classical music, music by Yiruma, July, Valentin to help along her innovation and inspiration process. Her favorites include: July’s my soul, Valentin’s a little story, and Yiruma’s River flows in you. And some of her favorite artists are Randall David Tipton, Erin Hanson, Robin Purcell, Wolf Kahn, Shirley Trevena, and Carolyn Lord.
Her latest exhibit “Into the Woods” is featured in the SEAD Gallery’s Parlor Gallery, where the pieces (21 in total) are selling quickly. So, make sure to stop by the SEAD Gallery in Downtown Bryan, TX to see her unique ingenuity of rice paper, vivid colors, wax, and watercolor.