When Haley Badenhop was growing up on a farm in northwestern Ohio her mother wouldn’t give her coloring books. She wanted her daughter to draw from scratch.
Her mom’s insistence must have worked, because after studying fashion design at the University of Cincinnati and drawing and painting as a hobby, Badenhop has a large show at Cowboy Coffee.
The show, her second at Cowboy Coffee, features a mixture of styles framed in wood from her dad’s barn, but with the theme of animals. One side of the coffee shop showcases watercolors of all kinds of animals, while the other side features intricately drawn animals filled with Western motifs.
“I wanted to showcase two different parts of what I can do,” Badenhop said. “I’m used to doing fine art drawing … so the watercolor is actually more expansive. It’s a little bit harder for me because it’s that looser style.”
When Badenhop started to explore watercoloring she didn’t want to just paint muted landscapes.
“They weren’t exciting enough for me,” she said. “I was always looking for something a little more bold.”
So she decided on animals because of her experience with portraits. There’s something about adding eyes to a picture that draws the viewer in, she said. She also chooses to rarely draw backgrounds with her animals. The creatures seems to pop out of the white background with splashes of color.
Her watercolor animals look like animals, but the color palette is a little different. Instead of using the true realistic colors she will use a slight variation of the original. In “Sly the Fox” the fox is orange and white but also has hues of blue and purple.
“You don’t normally see blues or purples in a fox, but when you stand far away it looks like a fox,” Badenhop said.
Her first line drawing, a wolf, was actually a tattoo idea for her boyfriend. She never planned to take it further, but just fell in love with the style.
Badenhop will find an animal that catches her eye. Then she decides on a theme and motifs. Her bison is inlaced with dream catchers and feathers, her moose with cactuses and desert patterns. Her wolf is made up of mountains, wood grain, arrowheads and leaves. They’re all sketched with pencil, but as soon as she starts to use her black fine point marker there’s no room for mistakes.
“Your hand has to be so fine the entire time, and you’ve got to be thinking and things have to be symmetrical,” she said.
Badenhop does use her fashion degree during her day job as a fashion designer at Aion clothing. And she is an adaptive ski instructor during the winter. She also does commissions, which primarily consist of portraits and painting wedding photos. But it’s always fun for her to get a little creative with her work.
The commissions “kind of took away a little bit of the fun,” she said. “This is more relaxing, and I can actually kind of just explore the art side.”
Though she thinks of her art as a hobby, it’s anything but amateur. And although her work doesn’t have underlying meanings, it still requires a second look to catch subtle colors or fine hidden details.
“Art to me has always just been a really fun thing to do,” she said. “I’ve never been one to look too far into it. I want pieces that people can relate to and they don’t have to be an artist to understand it or make up an explanation for what it means.”