The old Italian and Dutch master have always intrigued me, their light and shadow
(chiaroscuro) eects are so amazing. I love to nd unique antiques or objects for
my set-up and make them shine as the main character in the painting. I contribute
the look of my painting to making my won canvases from raw linen, rabbit skin
glue and oil primer.
~Alice Hernandez-Gaona
Alice was born in 1963 in Los Angeles, California and was the sixth of seven
children. Her father Alfred Hernandez was an artist and Alice was always intrigued
by his artistic work.
She knew that she would one day follow her dream and become an artist, however
it wasn’t until she turned 45 years old that she fully embraced her calling to be
an artist.
Alice studied with David Leel, who is considered as one of the great masters
of our time. She also attended Los Angeles Academy of Fine Arts and Kline
Achievements include
Best Oil Painter Award: La Quinta Art Festival (2014)
Best Oil Painter Award: Laguna Art Fair Festival (2011)
Honorable mention: Beverly Hills Fall Show (2011)
“Make each day your masterpiece
Personal Quote
As the Editor of Creative Artist Magazine, I have interviewed and written many articles.
However none have touched my life like the one I did for Alice. My interview was with
her husband Phil. He took me on a journey by sharing the stories behind many of her
beautiful paintings. Hearing him describe the various detail that lead Alice to paint a
particular picture, elevated the experience of seeing her beautiful paintings.
Although, Alice Hernandez-Gaona didn’t fully embrace her talents until in her 40’s, it
seemed as if she had been painting her whole life. Creating extraordinary skilled works
of art.
Even though she is no longer with us in body, her legacy of ne art will touch the lives of
generations to come.
Pauline Samuels
Editor, Creative Artist Magazine
lice Hernandez-Gaona created
a gallery full of her beautiful
oil paintings before losing her
battle with ovarian cancer.
From the moment Alice started
painting, she knew she had
found the thing she was here to do. It seems
that Alice inherited the artist gene from her
father Alfred Hernandez who was also an artist.
Alice leaves a legacy of her fine art works with
her husband Phil, who invited me into their
home and took me on a journey that I will always
cherish and remember. My message to Phil was
that his beautiful wife Alice leaves a legacy that
touch other people’s lives far beyond her own.
It seems Alice’s spirit was watching over Phil and
I even before coming to their home. It started
while on the phone when suddenly a beautiful
yellow butterfly fluttered by me on the second
floor of my home oice. I made mention to Phil
that I just saw a bright yellow butterfly, when
Phil said he saw a yellow butterfly at that exact
moment. This connection to Alice continued
and, on the day, I arrived at their home again
we were visited by a single yellow butterfly.
As I entered their beautiful home, I noticed
several of Alice’s masterful works of art on
display as far as my eyes could see. After settling
in and unpacking my recording equipment, Phil
pointed to a picture on the wall by the door. I
turned to see and was completely captivated
by the brilliant yellow colors reflecting from
the painting. Phil asked me if I noticed the
cross that is reflecting in the water. I said yes.
Phil told me that this painting had a significant
impact on him because of the unintentional cross
reflecting in the water and it was also one of
Alice’s last finished pieces before passing away.
As we sat to conduct our interview, I could
feel how painful it was for Phil as he started
sharing details of Alice’s life and her work.
Phil said that Alice did a lot of landscapes,
but her specialty was still life art that was
reminisced of the renaissance period. This
style of art is called “chiaroscuro” which
means light and dark, which is the contrast
that gives volume and definition to a subject.
This is the style you can see in painting by
such artist as Rembrandt and Leonardo
di Vinci. Phil stated that Alice’s style was
influenced by her teacher, famed artist
David Leel, and that she truly admired
him. In fact, David even worked with Alice
in the space we were currently occupying.
Alice with David Leel
As Alices husband Phil took me around her home
studio, he told me that he left everything as she left
it. Looking around, it was as if time stood still as Phil
beckoned me over to the unfinished painting she
was working on before she passed away. It was
of one of her favorite props, that of a horse located
next to what look like a shadow box. It was then
that Phil showed me a picture and said that she
was so passionate about her art that she would
come in even while on hospice with tubes in her
and in pain still wanting to paint. Phil told me that
Alice was truly a dedicated artist even stretching
her own canvas, using brass nails and rabbit skin
glue. Being authentic to the style of art she painted
was also something that Alice took pride in.
Le: Crystal Cove
Center: Alices painting
of the photo (inset
circle), where she used her
imagination to create an entirely
dierent scenery to place her subjects.
As we continued, Phil pointed to a large
shelf filled with various props and artifacts.
Phil said that this was Alice’s muse for many
of her paintings. The whole experience had
a surreal feeling to it. It was as if I could feel
Alice’s spirit as we walked around the room
she used as her home studio. Then the pace
slowed as there was a beautiful silence in
the room as I stared at the area around
her unfinished last piece. As I took time to
notice all the little details of various things
that surrounded the area. Phil noticed me
staring at the book by David Leel laying
on the table to the right side of the canvas
and said that there was a lot of David’s
influences in the things that Alice painted.
I could tell that this was diicult for Phil
and at the same time it seemed to be very
therapeutic and I asked him if I could take
a picture of the area. With his permission I
took the pictures that you see here in the
Now that I had my camera in my hand,
Phil once again took me to the shelf and
oered some of the details to the props
and artifacts by adding that they were
things that she acquired all over the world
on her many travels. Phil pointed to them
sharing where each one was from by telling
me the decanters were from Egypt, pots
from France, and that some of the other
artifacts where from China and Japan as
he pointed to the Terra cotta warriors and
the Tang horses. Phil said the Tang horses
were especially favorites of Alice’s and that
I could see them in her paintings displayed
throughout their home.
As we continued our interview, I noticed Phil
sadness turn to pride as he boasted about
his wife’s beautiful paintings. It seemed
showing o Alice’s painting was therapeutic
for Phil, as he would shift us down memory
lane sharing all the interesting facts about
her paintings. Phil pointed to a painting an
told me that it was a place that they would
visit at Crystal Cove. Phil told me that this
picture was special because the whole
place is being renovated and her picture
captured a moment in time. Adding this
is unique because he still runs there along
that beach and sees the house now fully
renovated brings back memories of his and
Alice’s jogs along that beach. Phil was calm
and yet filled with emotions as he pulled
out another painting and gave me more
wonderful stories. Each painting had a story
as Phil filled me in on the various details
behind many of Alice’s paintings. Then
as if to prepare me for our journey, Phil,
said Alice’s painting were oil-based paint
and that she did landscapes and portraits
of things and pictures that she saw and
sometimes adding her own touch to them
by changing colors or entire backgrounds.
While at other times she simply painted
from her own imagination. This was a
unique experience for me as it wasn’t just
seeing the paintings but also understanding
the reason for the paintings that gave me a
greater understanding of the cause and the
eect of them.
Above: Book by David Leel laying
next to Alices work area and the shelf
containing several of Alices artifacts that
she used to draw inspiration from.
Phil said the next thing was to get Alice’s work recognized.
Phil knew that each year Laguna Beach held an art
festival, that you could get your work juried in. This is
when they select an artist to be on display. Phil said that
once again, Alice really didn’t think her work was good
enough and decided to wait.
Shortly there after, Alice’s work started getting noticed in
the art community and she started receiving ribbons and
recognitions for her paintings. Alice then got juried in at
the famed Laguna Beach Art Festival. According to Phil,
thats when things took o for Alice and her confidence
in her work was peeked, and she decided to paint full
Phil said, Alice saw a picture and said, “I can do
this”. Thats when Phil once again showed me the
reference picture and the resulting painting which
made the whole experience even more surreal
for me. Phil said that after seeing that she had
such a natural gift for painting, he had to ask her,
why wasn’t she pursuing this as a career. Phil
explained that prior to painting, Alice was in oice
supply sales. He told Alice this is what you should
be doing, as he referred to her paintings.
Phil told me that when the economy took a dive
in 2006 and many of Alice’s big contract were
reduced, is when Alice decided to take Phil’s
advice and started painting more. Phil tells me that
in the beginning Alice had a very modest opinion
regarding painting for a living. However, with Phil
support and encouragement she embarked on a
journey of a lifetime by fully engulfing herself into
Above le: Post card Alice told Phil she
could paint. Above right: Alices painting
Alice painted several angels and took part in a fundraiser in which she donated funds to the
Queen of Hearts Foundation to help bring awareness to ovarian cancer the silent killer
of women. Part of why it’s so deadly is late detection. By the time Alice was aware she had
the deadly disease she was close to stage 4, which is when the cancer invades a major organ.
Although going through an aggressive and invasive surgery that removed her uterus, spleen,
ovaries along with chemotherapy Alice lost her battle with this deadly disease and passed away
at home on June 6, 2017 at just 54 years old.

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