Biography of Susan Wester Perez

Biography of Susan Wester Perez

A native of New York City, Susan and her family moved several times around the United States when she was a child. They lived in New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, and California before settling in to Newton, Massachusetts, where she spent her formative years.

An artist from a young age, Susan took every art class available to her up through high school. After graduating, she studied Design, Painting, and Literature at The University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and later at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston.

Susan spent the late 1980s and early 90's in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California. There, the quality of light inspired in her a love of bright, saturated color, which started showing up in her artwork. The bold use of color in her paintings remains part of her signature style.

After meeting her future husband Jerry in L.A. they left California for the borderland of El Paso, Texas, a city she now calls "home".

Today, Susan works from her home studio in a Spanish revival syle home from the 1920's, located at the edge of the Franklin mountains. Spectacular sunrises, views of Mexico, and big wide Texas skies are a never-ending source of inspiration and make frequent appearances in her artwork.

Susan has shown her work all over El Paso and Las Cruces, N.M. Her work is shown locally at "El Paso's Finest", in downtown EP, and at "The Ysleta MIssion Gift Shop", on the El Paso Mission Trail.

Currently, she and Jerry are preparing for the Las Cruces Art Fair, where we will be showing our work together for the very first time. Jerry will show his nature photography, and I have a series of paintings that were inspired and influenced by his stunning images. We are calling it "Perspectiva", it will be at the end of March 2024.

Her process typically starts with a watercolor or pencil sketch onto paper, mapping out the thrust of the composition.
“I need to understand a subject before I feel ready to paint it.” Susan says, “And that can entail anything from consulting photos and making preliminary sketches, to surfing the net for research and context. Only when I understand it can I begin to paint it.”
Typically, her next step is a base layer. Using washes of color she maps out different planes and surfaces, letting that fully dry before moving on.

“There is a transformation that takes place when watercolor dries” she explains, ”patterns and textures appear in the paper, where color has settled into tiny pools on the paper. This makes some areas darker and richer while others are filled with light.” Susan takes cues from this natural process, and strives to incorporate them into the final composition whenever possible

Her color palette is filled with saturated colors and often opposite colors share edges, making them even stronger and more vibrant. She calls this technique “making the colors sing.”

Layering of colors is another feature of her work. The transparency of the water media can give a painting a stained-glass effect when dark colors are placed over light. However, Susan will also layer light colors over dark, breaking a cardinal rule of watercolor, when she wants her piece to have a strange glow.

When different textures and/or opacity are needed, other media may be added as the final touch to a piece, such as pastel, pencil, ink, acrylic and gesso.