Tony Hernandez was born in 1964 in Atlanta and raised in Buckhead. He attended the Art Institute of Atlanta and went on to The Southern College of Technology, where he studied architecture. He has had solo exhibitions in Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, New York, Krakow, and San Francisco. The San Francisco Museum of Fine Art purchased his work for their permanent collection, and the musical group Train bought the rights to some of his paintings for their album artwork.
The children in Hernandez's current body of work are inspired by the drawings on the walls in the kindercamps in Auschwitz, as well as by photographs of Jewish victims and refugees. The children appear to be not from this era, rather, they represent the haunting images of children displaced by the Holocaust. Hernandez says that the children are not expectant, waiting for hope; instead they are vessels of peace and enlightenment.
Hernandez paints on birch panel with thin layers of beeswax and damar resin, melted together to create a wax medium called encaustic, and oil pigment. The word encaustic is derived from a Greek word meaning "to burn in" and has existed for several thousand years. Using a blowtorch, Hernandez fuses this wax medium and oil pigment causing the wax to engulf the pigment and allowing for the addition of more layers of wax. A specific amount of paint is applied to each layer; the heat then infiltrates the paint so that the color is suspended in the wax before progressing to the next layer. This meticulous process achieves a deep, three-dimensional illusion that the image itself is afloat within the composition. This creates the mysterious depth and shadow that he is known for.