Gouache Spotlight: Mike Hernandez

The Gouache Spotlight is a segment where I focus on an artist who creates gouache artwork that I admire. I will share some examples and discuss what I find appealing about it.

I first discovered Mike’s work in 2019 when it was recommended to me by the Instagram algorithm. I clicked on his profile and after viewing only a couple of his posts I was hooked. I instantly followed and have been admiring his work ever since.

Mike has a very bold, expressive style of painting. He doesn’t shy away from intense lighting situations or vast landscapes.

Mike Hernandez teaching at Plein Air Convention
Mike’s demo at the Plein Air Convention

There’s a playful spirit to his paintings, and a sense of drama and wonder. In his workshops he discusses his favor for not over-mixing his color. He likes to let each color sit separately on the brush and be visible in the final brush stroke. I think this is particularly noticeable in his rock paintings.

Last year I took a two day Zoom workshop with Mike called “Painting Rocks & Water with Gouache” which was incredibly inspiring. The main focus was on how to create dynamic compositions. He also emphasized the importance of values.

Here are my results from that weekend:

Sarah Burns gouache demo
Day One
Sarah Burns gouache demo
Day Two

As you can see he encouraged us to start with a value study, which helps in creating an interesting design. After exploring the composition, we did a color version. I learned so much about color and light, but even more about design. I highly recommend his workshops.

In addition to teaching at the prestigious Carmel Visual Arts, Mike is a Visual Development Artist/Production Designer and Art Director at DreamWorks Animation. He often shares sneak peeks of his digital paintings, which are stunning works in their own right. Again you can see his bold brush work and use of “raw” color.

Mike is also an avid outdoor painter, renowned for his expressive brush work especially in coastal scenes.

Mike Hernandez Warrior Art Camp images
Warrior Painter Workshops

Mike Hernandez’s Plein Air Kit

I couldn’t find a recent exhaustive list or photo of his complete setup, but there are many hints to it in his social media images.

In these images you can see he frequently uses an easel/pochade box setup. He also does oil painting, so I’m assuming it’s the same setup he uses for both. This is a STRADA easel.

Gouache Nocturnes

More recently his nocturnes have caught my eye. I love his use of greys in these desert night paintings. There’s something dreamy about them!

Mike Hernandez nocturne painting
Celestial Plains
Valley of the Sleeping Giants
Desert Sleepwalker

As of January 2023, he doesn’t have an active website. However you can find his work on Instagram where he is very active. He posts on his Facebook page once in a while too.

I hope this post inspires you to see gouache in a new way!

All images are borrowed from various sources and direct links are included with each.

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I'm an independent artist living in Scotland. Always chasing the light, and painting the beautiful highlands.

2 thoughts on “Gouache Spotlight: Mike Hernandez

  1. Hi Sarah. Thank you for sharing your inspiration references. I recently saw some art by Jenny Grevatte, and although she doesn’t work in gouache, for some reason I think you’ll like her work. She also has an Instagram profile. Greetings from Brazil.

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