SIERRA VISTA — Already a working artist with a body of work that has been turning heads for two years, 18-year-old Noah Hernandez hasn’t taken an art class since middle school.
Apparently, he didn’t need to.
The commissions he has lined up — along with the stunning array of murals and wall paintings he has already produced — would turn any struggling artist green with envy for one simple reason.
Hernandez is still in high school.
The self-taught wunderkind with a paintbrush and a vision as creative and startlingly innovative as Hernandez’s is taking mural painting to a new level rarely seen by someone without any formal art training — or as young.
The Tombstone High School senior says he’s not just becoming more disciplined and a better artist after each project he completes; he says he’s still figuring out art as he goes.
“I’m learning what it means to become a real artist,” he says, “and that means learning how to get better.”
Hernandez’s sense of getting “better” is what pushes all the buttons of his creativity that explores a landscape of flowing designs along with a whirl of color that catches your breath. His work has caught the attention of scores of people in both the private and business sectors who find him and drop a sizable commission in his lap.
How much better Hernandez can become is almost like asking how much better quarterback Patrick Mahomes can get.
“I’m learning how to break down each section of a painting with a better approach and method for planning and then connecting it all into one unified piece,” said Hernandez, who has completed close to a dozen commercial and residential projects in the last year. “I’m seeing certain techniques improve and learning how to create my own colors.
“I’m trying to see if I can really pursue being a working artist. So far, it’s been working out.”
For someone whose only production of art was primarily a sketchbook of doodles until he was about 15, Hernandez has blossomed into an extraordinary wall and mural artist seemingly overnight.
“As long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawing or sketching so when I got a chance to paint a mural, I knew I could do it really well,” he said.”
Hernandez got his chance when he was 16. His Leman Academy of Excellence art teacher recognized his talent and asked him to join her on a mural project on El Camino Real behind his mother’s insurance office. His stunning depiction of a Gila monster with its colorful, realistic scales quickly caught the attention of scores of motorists, who went into Ginger Hernandez’s building to find out who created the mural.
Once they did, the phone calls started coming.
Two years later, they still haven’t stopped.
“He’s always had this artistic gift, and it’s pretty exciting how this is working out for him,” said his mom. “He’s following his dream, and opportunities are coming his way.”
Right now, Hernandez’s calendar for more projects is filling up. After completing a spectacular full-length wall painting of a peacock displaying its eye-spotted train of feathers, several other businesses commissioned him for wall paintings. Arizona HomeStores LLC and Indochine Family Restaurant hired him for paintings, and then several private parties called him to paint 20- and 30-foot murals with elaborate, detailed artwork that took months to complete.
An antique store opening this month contracted him for a stunning indoor wall painting, and he just began what will be his largest project: A 40-foot mural for Ramsey Canyon Cabins, depicting specific species of birds weaved into scenes of nature targeting birdwatchers who flock to the area.
Hernandez expects the project to take about four months to complete.
“I was only 17 when a lot of this was happening, and I was pretty thrilled,” he said. “I’m 18 now, and I’m still pretty thrilled. Some clients are a little shocked that I’m still in high school, but no one balks about it. It’s been working out.”
So have the referrals and the phone calls, which keep coming in. With a few months until he graduates, Hernandez has already compiled an impressive portfolio.
“I really want to see how far I can take this as a working artist,” he said. “Someone contacted me after seeing my murals and said they could line me up with projects in Texas, and another talked to my mom about having me illustrate a book.
“What’s really cool about all this is I’m still learning my way as an artist. And that’s what makes what I’m doing pretty exciting.”
For information, contact Noah Hernandez at 520-732-3973.