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Meet Judy Coates Perez

Emily Achondo

Meet Judy Coates Perez. She’s an award-winning, mixed media artist, author and teacher. Her unique creative process consists of designing quilting fabrics using a variety of tools and mediums, which is then followed by stitching and the use of other alternative quilting methods. Every one of her finished projects began as a blank, white panel of fabric, which she said that she buys by the bolt. She has self-published two books, titled 10+ Techniques with Acrylic Inks, and Alternatively Bound and Stitched.  She teaches and lectures internationally to share her stitching and painting techniques. Her resume boasts an extensive lists of awards, including, but not limited to, First Place Innovative, at PIQF in 2006, Honorable Mention Painted Surface at IQF Houston, A World of Beauty, in 2009, and Honorable Mention Painted Surface at International Quilt Festival, Houston, in 2015. She moved to Sacramento from Chicago about four years ago. And, she will be teaching several workshops at Craft Napa 2017.

I caught up with Judy Coates Perez to learn more about her, her creative process, and her Craft Napa classes:

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Describe who you are in one sentence.

Judy Coates Perez: I’m a mixed media textile artist and teacher who uses quilting techniques for design and construction of my work.

Describe your creative process in one sentence.

Judy Coates Perez: I create original fabric to quilt by painting with a variety of mediums, and use mixed media techniques to additional design elements.

What is your background in the mixed-media textile arts and the path you took to reach the point you are currently at as an award-winning artist?

Judy Coates Perez: I have a degree in graphic design, but I always liked to sew and began making art quilts in 1985, without any prior knowledge about how to properly make a quilt. From the start I made them with the intention of putting them on the wall, using appliqué and piecing methods, but before long I started adding paint and exploring dying fabric. I moved from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas in 1995, and joined the quilt guild to make friends and learned that technical construction skills mattered, especially after going to the International Quilt Festival in Houston for the first time in 1996.

In 2002, I entered IQF for the first time with my quilt Graven Images, a quilt with designs from old New England gravestones that I free-motion machine quilted into blocks of hand dyed fabric, and I won 2 awards. After that I was hooked and wanted to keep finding new ways to make work that was different, pushing boundaries with unusual imagery and ideas, often created using techniques from the traditional art world.

Tea Bags Judy Coates-Perez is a mixed-media textile artist. She frequently experiments with various mediums, like tea bags, to create unique prints.

I enjoy experimenting, and over the years I made work incorporating painted cotton batting, stitching and embossing metal, collaging teabags with hand drawn imagery and printing tissue-weight abaca paper to collage into my work.

My work is primarily whole cloth and painted with textile paints or acrylic inks with imagery inspired by nature. These days, I particularly like to use surface design and mixed-media techniques with acrylic inks, incorporating a variety of stamps for visual texture, printing graphic images with thermofax screens and collaging printed paper imagery into the layers of paint.

I love sharing what I have learned with others, so they can create new and interesting work and express the ideas they have on fabric with confidence.

What prompted you to begin making quilts?

Judy Coates Perez: I had just finished getting my BFA in design and for the first time in 6 years had time to pursue something fun for me, and I also had a house that needed some art on the walls, so I combined my two loves: art and sewing, and started making quilts.

What are your major sources of inspiration?

Judy Coates Perez: My life experiences, world events, my kids interests while they were growing up, and nature

Do you have one award or achievement that stands out among the rest?

Judy Coates Perez: It’s hard to pick one specifically, but I think getting the call from Houston on the first quilt I ever entered was a bit of a mind blower, because I thought my quilt might be too weird a subject matter to get accepted, let alone receive an award.

Why did you choose to begin teaching and lecturing?

Judy Coates Perez: I began because people kept asking me to after seeing my quilts in shows and magazines like Quilting Arts. In the beginning I resisted because all the classes I saw were project based and I didn’t have a ‘kit’ or a ‘project' to teach. I’ve always been far more interested in the process.

Having a blog really helped me learn what people wanted to know, because they asked me questions, like what kind of paint brushes do you use? How do you prevent paint from bleeding? etc. I also had been homeschooling my kids for years and never considered that I was their teacher in the traditional sense, I saw my role as a facilitator of their learning. As a teacher of textile arts my goal is to help students learn the skills they need to create the work that they want to make, and encourage them to try new things and have fun while their doing it.

Prayer Flags Judy Coates Perez will be instructing her class "Blessings in the Wind: Making Mixed-Media Prayer Flags" at Craft Napa 2017. Students in this workshop will create their own fabrics through the use of paints, and then they will personalize their prayer flags through printing, stamping, and using Coates-Perez's Abaca tissue papers.

Talk about the workshops you will be teaching at Craft Napa in January.

Judy Coates Perez:  On Thursday I will be teaching Painting Imagery on Fabric Using Textile Paints. This is an illustration type class using plant and animal images that I’ll provide along with white pfd fabric. In this class students will learn how to paint backgrounds and large areas evenly avoiding blotchiness, control paint bleeding, create smooth gradations, and learn about glazing paint to create more visual depth, as well as paint fine lines and details.

Thursday night I’ll teach students how I make the foam stamps I use in many of my mixed classes like Paint and Print-A Palooza and Prayer Flags. These are fast, easy and inexpensive to make. Once you start making them, you won’t bother trying carve rubber stamps and more.

On Friday I’m going to teach a new class that Paint and Print-A Palooza which will show students how fun and easy it is to create beautiful printed fabric of their own to use in piecing and appliqué projects. We'll use acrylic inks to make colorful fabric using a variety of surface design methods for applying the inks. Then we will print our colored fabrics with stamps and thermofax screens.

On Saturday we are going to make prayer flags in Blessings in the Wind. The tradition of hanging Prayer flags comes from Tibet and the premise is that when the wind blows through them the messages are sent out to the universe. With all our present strife I can’t think of a better time to make flags expressing hope, peace and positive messages for all. We will us acrylic inks to paint the fabric and use stamps, thermofax screens and then collage printed words and phrases on them.

What kinds of work can we look forward to seeing from you after Craft Napa and beyond?

Judy Coates Perez: I’m still very interested in mixed-media, using layers of paint and collage while working whole cloth, but I’m also really interested in exploring making my own printed fabric that will be used for piecing and/or appliqué. I hadn’t thought about it until now, but I guess maybe I’m starting to come full circle with that concept.

The interview for this post was conducted by email.


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