Film fest poster artist shares the joy in her heart with her work


Vicki Henley came to Las Cruces to raise her children. With a criminal psychology degree, she was floating around delving into possible careers but never found herself content with any job she found.

“It was 13 years ago and my daughter said, ‘You need to start painting again,’” Henley said. “A lot of things were going on at that time and we had moved to a smaller apartment. So, I started painting strong women with aprons on and that started making me feel stronger. People liked them, so I started going to the farmers’ market.”

Then her daughter, a real estate agent, suggested Henley quit her job and clean houses as she worked on her art. She did that for eight years until even the house cleaning job was in the way of art. Now, painting is all she does.

“I thought it would be hard to discipline myself, but I get up at 4 a.m.,” Henley said. “When you are doing it … to pay bills and eat, its good motivation.

“I paint with my heart and I think it comes out in my paintings. People say they make them happy.”

She said being her own boss suits her. She defines herself as “not a leader and not a follower, but kind of a loner.”

“I’m not good at taking directions,” she said. “I am very stubborn with my creativity. I like to create. I like to be my own boss – that’s the best part.”

Then one day she got an Instagram message on her feed, @number1treegirl. Ross Marks, executive director of the Las Cruces International Film Festival, saw her Instagram contributions and liked them a lot. He wanted to talk to her about painting the poster for the festival.

“I don’t do that kind of thing, so I was really surprised,” Henley said. “I asked him if he had the right Vicki.”

Of course, he did, and of course she said, “Yes.”

The poster party, including surprise reveal, is scheduled for March 1, so she has some time to create her painting and was still mulling it over at press time.

“I’m very humbled and I don’t know why they picked me,” she said. “I think people just get happy when they see my art. My art just makes me happy, and we need happiness. People who gravitate toward it have that spirit themselves, they feel joyful.”

Henley said her style is loose and fluid. She has been doing a lot of Van Gogh-style backgrounds lately, working on large canvases but also on minis. She said she has something for everyone and one recurring subject has earned her “the cow lady” for a nickname.

“I tell people I can’t do a dog unless they resemble a cow,” she said with a laugh. “I just try to have something for everybody at farmers’ market every weekend.”

Henley said she loves to paint everything, but if she has to pick a favorite, it’s flowers.

“I love everything,” she said. “But flowers, I can make them dance, give them any kind of background, wrap trees in flowers.”

The ninth annual LCIFF, April 3-7, will reveal the collectible poster at a party from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 1, at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, 4100 Dripping Springs Road. The original artwork will be auctioned off at the event. The artist will be on hand to sign limited edition prints. Tickets are $25 and include a signed collectible poster, food, drinks (beer and wine) and music. Discounted VIP tickets will be on sale for $100 at the poster party only.
The five-day festival will be live in-person at the Allen Theatres Cineport 10. VIP passes are $150, all-access passes are $75, day passes are $25 and admission to the Outstanding Achievement Award celebrity screening with actor Ron Perlman is $25. Tickets are available now at

Vicki Henley, Film fest poster