by Daryle Dickens
Rachel Herrera is an oil painter in the classic tradition. If she had her choice she would paint people, but admits to also being fascinated by everyday objects. Rachel is a Colorado native who has studied at Colorado State University as well as the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. And if youíve heard of the Colorado Coalition of Artists or CoCOA as it is known, she founded that in 2003. Which is where you can often find her and her work. And if you sit still long enough she just might paint you.
ZAF622: Do you prefer to paint from a photograph or a sitter?
Rachel: I prefer to work from life but sometimes I have to work from photographs because of time and money..
ZAF622: How long have you been painting?
RH: 7 or 8 years. I painted in high school but not very seriously. I just kind of messed around. I got a little scholarship to paint with this local lady in water color. So that kind of got me going. Then I found oils and I never went back to watercolors. I guess I was 18 or 19 when I started painting oils.
ZAF622: So are you self taught?
RH: No. I wouldnít say I am self taught. I donít know if anyone is ever really self taught. There are always so many influences that are always around. I went to CSU for a couple of years and their program there which is more modern and I wanted classical training so I went to Italy for two months. And I learned a lot of the classical and traditional ways of starting a painting. And I am always painting with other people so I am learning from them.
ZAF622: How often do you paint?
RH: Probably about 3 or 4 times a week. And the rest of the time is spent doing art related things, the business side. Making prints, working on my web site, there are so many other things that go into painting. And it depends on if I have a painting I am working on. Then Iíll work on it everyday until I get it done. A lot of times it takes me a while to figure out what I want to paint. That is probably what takes me the longest, coming up with an idea.
ZAF622: Your work is very traditional, what draws you to this style?
RH: I like the traditional style for now because I feel it has a universal appeal, it's romantic, and it's also a good place to start. I feel that if I can paint traditionally and get that down really good, I can paint anything from that point. This may be a totally flawed theory, but I guess I will find that out if I want to go more abstract someday.
ZAF622: Tell us about what your working on these days?
RH: I am currently working on a painting with an Ophelia reference. Everywhere I turn these days, Hamlet keeps popping up. So I am painting my version of an Ophelia inspired character. I would like to do more paintings that have reference in literature and songs that inspire unique imagery. I am also still working on my portrait series project. I still need more models. I have also been doing a foot series. I don't know why.
ZAF622: You decide on an idea before you start a painting?
RH: Yes. Otherwise I will be all over the place. And I usually always have a reference of some kind. A person sitting there or a photograph, or a combination of peopleís different paintings. Usually always have something to paint from. It is difficult for me to paint from my head.
ZAF622: When did you realize art was something you had to pursue?
RH: I guess I realized art was something that I wanted to do when I was in sixth grade. I was super sick and had to stay home from school. I painted the whole week. I loved going back to it and working on it. I was obsessed. Nothing ever made me feel like that. Also, art was the one thing that I got constant praise from, teachers, parents, friends, etc. I think that has a lot to do with people pushing something. It had a lot to do with me pursuing art. Besides, I wasn't really passionate or talented with anything else.
ZAF622: For you what is the hardest part of the creative process?
RH: Coming up with an idea that is exciting, original, and sellable is the hardest part of the creative process. Painting is the easy part.
ZAF622: Do you have any goals specific to your art?
RH: It's frustrating to not be totally satisfied with where I'm at, but it's also very boring and complacent. So I guess my ultimate goal is to never be satisfied and always try to be better. Also, making serious money is a goal. Making good money and painting full time would be fantastic. Of course.
ZAF622: Do you like the business side of art?
RH: I hate it actually. I do like working on my web site. But I am a terrible self promoter. I need someone to do that for me. I know how to paint, I donít know how to sell myself.
Rachelís website can be found here.