Artist Spotlight part 1: Judy Coates Perez

July 14, 2010

I’d love to introduce you to one of my favorite artists. Judy Coates Perez is talented in so many ways. I’ve loved her work since almost the first time I saw art quilts. My first favorite of hers was a weird and wild martian scene. 

There’s A Place Called Mars…   2004   37” x 62”
Judy Coates Perez
Looking at Mars mission photos, I was struck by the contrast between scenes of a rocky, lifeless planet and the rich, fanciful portrayals of Mars in popular culture.  I prefer a fanciful Mars. A place, where flora and fauna from the pages of Ernst Haekel’s book, “Artforms in Nature”, fill a Ray Bradbury inspired world and a 50’s Sci-Fi alien femme fatal watches a song, sung by my sister in Girl scout camp to the melody of “The Snake Charmers Tune”, weave it’s way though the landscape.

This is a machine quilted whole cloth painted quilt. I used textile paints, chromacoal powders, tsukineko inks, foil and beads.

Moon Garden  2008  69” x 56”
Moon Garden is one of my current all time favorite pieces. So clean and beautiful – a perfectly balanced composition in so many ways.

Lyric: I’d love to hear about your background, how did you become an artist?
Judy Coates Perez: I have a graphic design degree from Otis Art Institute of Parsons school of Design. As part of my curriculum I took drawing classes as well as a couple illustration classes. In my typography classes we had to perfectly render enlarged letters from specific typefaces with ruling pens and paint brushes, that really works to develop hand skills.

I learned a lot about painting from my ex when we were in school because his father was an amazing painter and had taught him. The one thing to keep in mind, is that painting is primarily a skill, once you learn some basic techniques, like anything else the more you do it the better you will get. you know- practice, practice practice. I still feel like a painting novice in many ways and would love to learn more since I mainly focused on design while I was in school and now regret not taking more classes on painting.

L: What are some of your inspirations?

J: I derive a lot of inspiration from my life experiences and fascination with global cultural traditions and mythology. When I was 12, my family moved out of our house, put everything in storage and drove to Guatemala, traveling through the US, Mexico and Canada, 18,000 miles in all. We spent a year on the road and rented a house in Antigua Guatemala, studying the arts, culture and archeology of these countries. My mom and I also spent time learning back strap weaving from Indian women in Guatemala. In college I went to Japan to study graphic design and now I have just returned from teaching in New Zealand, I find that it all influences me in some way.

Some of the nature inspired imagery has come from things my kids were studying. For example, when we lived in Texas my son was obsessed with fossils and lichen, I have made work based on both of those subjects.
You can see more of Judy’s work at:
Stay tuned for more about Judy. I’ll spotlight some of her wonderful upcoming classes (she’s a fabulous teacher!) and a review and giveaway of her latest DVD workshop. Leave a comment on this or any of the posts spotlighting Judy for a chance to win. What about Judy’s work inspires you? Have you had a class with her? Tell us about it.


  • Reply
    July 20, 2010 at 2:13 am

    I count myself truly lucky to call Judy friend. She is one of the most amazingly generous and natural teachers I have ever met. Her ability to encourage students without making them feel like complete "dufuses" is a true gift.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Hiya, I'm from down under and follow Judy's blog, love and admire her work. doubt I'll ever get to a class, but can always dream..

  • Reply
    July 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    I'm going to be taking one of Judy's classes at the Long Beach Quilt Festival – can't wait!

  • Reply
    Barbara Elmore
    July 18, 2010 at 5:46 am

    I saw the Martian quilt in person several years ago in a gallery in So. California. I was mesmerized by the intricacy of the stitching and the fantasy of the fabulous composition. Then, by accident, I found a blog, which turned out to be by the artist of the fabulous Martian quilt! Judy is a true source of inspiration to me in my own creative journey.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    I love Judy's quirky styles, she must have a wonderful imagination!
    And she has my maiden name, Coates, so I figure somewhere along the path, we may even be related lolol
    Lyn in UK

  • Reply
    July 17, 2010 at 3:55 am

    Nice interview. I follow Judy's blog and I am an admirer of her work.

  • Reply
    Linda Teddlie Minton
    July 16, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I first became aware of Judy's work in 2004 when I saw her "There's A Place Called Mars" at Quilt Festival in Houston. I was in awe then, and remain in awe at her creativity, sense of humor, and technical skills. Thanks for this great artist spotlight!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I was very lucky to have Judy stay with me in New Zealand, and I attended her workshop the guild put on – she has so many ideas (for mixed media) and is so encouraging and freely giving of her talents. It was fantastic having her. I hope she will return soon for more teaching!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 8:52 am

    I have not taken a class with Judy but do follow her blog. I most love the way she represents nature in her art. Very inspiring!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 1:12 am

    I follow Judy's blog and have taken her online Color Theory Class. She is a wealth of information and never fails to inspire me. I don't think I could choose a favorite when looking at her work! Thank you for a great interview!

  • Reply
    Sharne's Bit 'n' Bobs
    July 15, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    I follow Judy's blog and admire her work. Ohh, to be able to paint like she does.

  • Reply
    July 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    I love the details and the diversity in Judy's work. It's an inspiration to read her blog. I haven't had an opportunity to take one of her classes. Is there any chance she will come to Northwester Wisconsin?

  • Reply
    July 15, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Hi Carol – if you change your words to "I haven't yet spent the time it takes to develop my drawing skills" I'll let you get away with that comment.

    Drawing takes lots of time and work to learn – but I'm pretty sure that everyone can learn it!

  • Reply
    Quilt Rat
    July 15, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Yes…Judy is such an incredible artist. Not only is her work amazing, but she is so generous in sharing the process with us all. She is a wonderful instructor as well. I have just completed her color theory class which I highly recommend!
    I have her Painting for whole cloth workshop DVD ordered and on the way.

    LOVE all of her works!

  • Reply
    July 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Julie's work blows me away. I can just let my eyes wander around any piece she's done. I have no drawing talent at all and I admire her so very much.

  • Reply
    July 15, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Often read Judy's blog but have not done a class.

  • Reply
    judy coates perez
    July 15, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Thanks for such a terrific feature lyric!

    I wanna have an artist playdate with everyone here, what fun we would have! thanks for all the kind words everyone!

  • Reply
    Diana Trout {}
    July 15, 2010 at 1:51 am

    What an interesting life Judy has had. Thanks Lyric and Judy for sharing this and her beautiful work!

  • Reply
    Deborah Younglao, Silk Painter
    July 14, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    That Martian scene is too much! What a great imagination.

  • Reply
    Jane LaFazio
    July 14, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Judy is a phenomenal artist. I pretty much like everything she does. She works in lots of different mediums and seems to master them all. I love her metal work, I love her pure clean paintings on canvas and cloth, I love her teabag stuff, and can't wait to see that in person. I know Judy personally, but haven't had the opportunity to take a class and I sure want to! And now I see why the mexican influence in her artwork is so true.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I am always in awe of Judy's work. She makes it sound so effortless. I would love to take one of her classes or just sit and shoot the breeze with her.

  • Reply
    Melly Testa
    July 14, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I didn't know Judy traveled in quite that way during her youth! Great interniew. Terrific art.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2010 at 7:06 am

    I, too, follow Judy's blog for a while now. Her work amazes me, and I have to admit – I just LOVE her smile ;-)) When I ever get the chance to take a class from her – I'll jump at it!!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2010 at 5:21 am

    I too, first fell in love with the martian quilt and have followed her blog for a long time. I love her originality and would love to take a class from her someday.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2010 at 2:43 am

    I follow Judy's blog and am in awe of her design talents.

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