Mercer Artist: Self-taught sophomore loves going hands-on through her artwork

Karen Wessells is a sophomore information science and technology and Spanish major at Mercer University. However, outside of her official areas of study, she is also a talented artist who uses her craft to keep herself busy.

Wessells said that she uses many different mediums to create her artwork, including graphite, chalk, paint, pastels, knitting, sewing and crocheting.

“I usually teach myself things,” Wessells said. “I pick up a book, and I pick up the stuff that’s needed, and I just put it together until it works.”

While she was in middle school, she admired one of her acquaintance’s artistic talents. When she asked her classmate whether she’d ever be able to match that ability, the only response Wessells got was a flat “no.”

Ever since then, Wessells has been learning and growing as an artist and a creator.

“I like to tell a story with my art,” Wessells said. “I try to capture how a person might be feeling.”

Most of Wessells’ practice occurs during her classes. She said that she uses drawing as an idle movement to keep herself busy.

“Usually I do my work on lined paper, and the special art paper remains blank,” Wessells said.

Outside of her classroom doodles, Wessells said she will sit outside some of the buildings on campus and watch people walking by her while attempting to sketch them as quickly as possible.

“I’ll sit in Knight (Hall) and I’ll draw the people walking by. (I’ll) see if I can get some gestures down,” Wessells said.

At one point, Wessells ran art blogs on various online platforms, but with the evolution of social media came some negatives for the art world. After some of her friends had their art stolen, Wessells decided to stop posting her art on social media platforms, though she knew that could potentially hurt her exposure.

“I was worried that people would start stealing my stuff,” Wessells said. “But then again, it’s a double-bladed sword. If I don’t put my stuff out there, no one else sees it.”

While Wessells isn’t planning on pursuing art as a career, she acknowledges that it is an important part of her life.

She had some advice for artists who are just starting or who feel like their art doesn’t look perfect.

“Hyperrealism is overrated until you can actually do it. If that’s all you focus on, it can get really stressful and aggravating.”