San Angelo artist adding her own “pop of color” to hometown

A 27-year-old San Angelo artist is adding her own “pop of color” to her hometown.

After graduating from Central High School in 2014, Ashley Perales attended Angelo State University pursing a degree in kinesiology.

“My parents always said, ‘Pick something you’re gonna love cause you’re gonna do it every single day,'” Perales said. “I like sports. My first semester was fun, but I didn’t love it,”

She knew she loved art, and her parents were supportive in her changing her major.

During college, she worked at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts to get her foot in the door. She worked at the museum for three years and had opportunities to meet many local artists.

She graduated from the university in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in studio art.

Perales began teaching paint-and-sip classes as well as paint parties for kids.

“I learned to paint really fast,” she said. “Every job I did ties into what I’m doing today.”

Perales’ first mural was five years ago in Paintbrush Alley, 33 W. Twohig Avenue, an outdoor landmark covered in art. The mural was for Lone Star Boots, showcasing a cowboy trying on boots, bordered in a teal frame and surrounded by red-washed brick.

“I look at it now, and it’s cool to see that I keep improving,” she said.

Perales opened her art studio, Pop of Color, in 2019 at 602 Orient Street. She utilizes it as a gift shop, a space to paint her work, host events and much more.

“The living room floor was not working anymore, I needed a bigger space,” she said.

When COVID hit, her business was in a bind after being successful with paint parties and other events.

“We couldn’t gather,” she said, pausing. “That was my whole business. I didn’t know what to do, so I did private lessons one-on-one with kids and even adults.”

She continued on that course during 2020 and 2021.

In 2022, Perales received her first commissioned piece, a Dr. Seuss mural at the local Child Protective Services office.

“I saw how excited it made the kids. It was fun,” she said. ” I feel like that was the one that got my name out there. Since then, I’ve had to make a list of my work because I can’t keep up with it all.”

The people of San Angelo quickly learned of her name; she started to get commissioned for murals and sheep statues in town.

The Downtown San Angelo Inc. Sheeptacular art project is seen all over town at participating businesses and public areas. Each sheep statue is designed and painted by local artists.

In 2022, Perales completed 30 murals, then 21 murals the next year and seven so far this year. She also has 14 sheep statues under her belt with more in the works.

Being the only child, Perales’ parents were always supportive of her and her work.

“They let me use their truck, that we now call my ‘work truck’ since I have a little car,” she said. “My mom will even come and paint edges for me, help me prime walls.

“My grandparents come and help too. One time I did a big mural outside with weeds and grass everywhere. The whole family was out there landscaping for me, so I could get to the wall. I don’t think I’d be where I’m at if they weren’t so supportive.”

Perales said her dad’s side of the family is artsy, and her mom did photography.

“I have some artsy genes in there, but I feel like I do it so often, it’s muscle memory now,” she said. “I’ve painted so many cactus; I could do it with my eyes closed at this point.

“I’ve been a professional artist for almost five years, but I still learn from every single mural.”

The largest piece Perales has ever done was an 80-foot mural in Bronte for Guns and Tackle, featuring a large sunset over the water with deer, birds, fish and more.

Her favorite piece is a mural of a postage stamp of San Angelo colliding with Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

“It’s crazy what paint can do,” Perales said. “It really transforms. I think art should be colorful, bright and vibrant. I want people to look at my artwork and feel a sense of joy.

“I think that’s what art is all about. I hope to keep painting more murals and sheep around town and adding my pop of color to my hometown.”

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