Katelynn Tussey is one of a growing number of young artists featured on the Corner Gallery’s dedicated wall who is thrilled with the chance to shine in a professional setting. “I'm so thankful for this opportunity to get my name out in the world and start my career in art.” She says. “I have dreamed about this time since I was a little kid and it is exciting to see it come true.”
Katelynn is a transplant from coastal North Carolina, where she spent the first half of her life using her vivid imagination to have tea parties and draw with her dolls. She was homeschooled most of her life and also attended Ukiah Independent Study Academy once her family moved to Ukiah. She explains, “Growing up I’d always draw but never seriously until my freshman year of high school. I was able to take multiple drawing classes through my high school and it fueled my love for art.” By Katelynn’s senior year of high school she was committed to pursuing a career in art, though she has very realistic trepidations about the difficulty of being recognized by “the right crowd” and making a living at it.
A major inspiration came to Katelynn through a class at Mendocino College. “I took a ‘Fundamentals of Drawing’ class with Jazzminh Moore,” she says. “Jazzminh was a wonderful and helpful teacher who aided in my artistic growth, and helped me to discover my unique artistic style.” Another mentor was Katelynn’s dad, who she describes as “a talented artist who really inspired me to draw when I was little.”
Katelynn, like many young people who weathered the pandemic, did not get through it unscathed. She explains, “As I got older, I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression. My anxiety was made worse from the 2017 Redwood Complex Fire and from the COVID pandemic of 2020. COVID-19 lockdowns took a severe toll on my mental health, as I am a very sociable person.” Katelynn continues, “I found drawing and painting to be a form of therapy for me to ease my mind and to be able to draw out those feelings I couldn't express in words.”
Her unplanned years of reliance on drawing and painting for therapy also gave Katelynn opportunities to explore a variety of media and get to know them. As she describes it, “Painting came naturally to me. I couldn't explain how to do it, all I could do is show you. I think every artist who is self-taught can relate on a certain level.” When asked which medium is her favorite, Katelynn says with certainty, “My favorite medium is acrylic on canvas. I love to do many layers on my painting. Acrylic dries fast so it makes adding layers much easier than oil paint or watercolor. I would love to keep practicing other mediums such as charcoal and or pen and ink as I love how dark and bold you can be with each one. Trying out new things is always something I strive for as an upcoming artist.”
When asked to choose her favorite painting on her wall, Katelynn wasn’t quite so sure. “It’s hard to pick a favorite piece of mine that I am putting in this gallery,” she explains. “But I think my favorite is "Poppy Blooms" as it reminds me of Mendocino County when the poppies are in full bloom and how bright and on fire they look. You can look any direction and it's a guarantee you will see a few blossoms. It gives me a sense of home and spring, which is my favorite time of the year.”
Katelynn’s work will be on display at the Corner Gallery (201 S State Street) throughout June and July. The First Friday opening celebration will be on June 2 from 5-8pm.