Ashley Henderson is an enigma. The artist behind Hel Yas Artistry (an anagram of her name, and “so ridiculous yet so perfect,” she says) is young but seems to be an old soul. While she is friendly, “An open book,” she says, she also admits to “not really being a people person.”
She describes her life quietly, almost matter-of-factly. She softly tells of overcoming struggles with depression, drugs, career losses, family tragedies. Her artwork is a different story. Her pieces are vibrant, cathartic, commanding. “I can’t draw faces, or animals,” she says. Yet, she can get her point across with bright strokes, skillful pours.
It started with crosses. She first started drawing them in 2003, in eighth grade. “It was when I stopped going to regular school, and moved to Oberlin to live with my grandparents. I’d gotten into trouble with my parents, and I wound up at Oberlin Covenant School, which was run by my grandfather.” She started doodling in class, and most of the doodles were crosses of some kind.
She says the art was cathartic for her, a way to deal with depression, a way to express emotions she was feeling.
“I identify with crosses because they are my connection with God.They give me comfort; without God, I’d be dead,” she said. She moved from doodling and drawing them to painting in 2008. She attended UL for one semester in graphic design, then decided to pursue a career rather than go to school. She honed her craft with Continuing Education classes, and learning specific techniques from YouTube.
Some of her work features a pour technique, which gives stunning effects of color and texture. “I like the pour technique, because you can always go back and add or restructure your painting to get a desired effect,” she said.”It’s not over until it’s signed.”
Ashley currently works as an instructor at Painting with a Twist in Lafayette. “I am excited to get into the paintings here, I am always looking for ways to stretch myself, I’m perfectionist to a degree, but I know the value of stretching oneself, getting out of one’s comfort zone.”
She is also hoping to sell some of her work to Jiggy, a puzzle company that features female artists on jigsaw puzzles. “My boyfriend, Corey Broussard, saw them on Shark Tank. He encouraged me to contact them, and I did. Corey is my biggest inspiration, he gets me out of the comfort zone and creating,” she said.
She continues to create, recreating many of her high school cross doodles as paintings, playing with colors and forms in her pour paintings. She’d like to eventually have a gallery of her own. Right now, she is looking forward to being able to show at festivals as they come back to pre-COVID levels. “I’d like to get into the Lafayette Artwalk, but so far, no luck,” she said. She showed at the recent New Iberia Artwalk in April.
Art lovers can find Askley’s work at HelYasArtistry.com, on her Facebook page and her Instagram.