Wesa Neely capped her senior year of high school with an art award and even studied art at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, for a year. “I loved art so much, but I was young and didn’t know how to pursue that line of work,” she said.
So this Anderson native returned home to attend Clemson University, where she majored in early childhood and elementary education, leading to a 40-year career that included teaching various grade levels and reading in elementary schools and preschool classes at early childhood development centers. Most of her working years were spent at Calhoun Academy of the Arts, where she continues to do volunteer work. “I enjoyed teaching,” she said. “Every year was brand new, and I met new kids.” She retired two years ago but continues to volunteer at Calhoun.
Over the years, she has painted off and on and taken lessons from Al Stein, Mary Whyte, and others. She has gravitated toward watercolor. “I love the way it flows, the interaction between the colors,” she said. Her favorite artists include Andrew Wyeth and Winslow Homer.
She also does about a half dozen commissions each year—pets, homes, wedding portraits, and area universities. The Anderson University bookstore carried some of her giclee prints for a while, but mostly she relies on word of mouth. “The more I do, the more people see them,” she said.
The process begins with a meeting with the client, and she takes photos. Sometimes she makes requested changes, like making flowers bloom, removing outbuildings, or adding a background. Sometimes the colors are transformed. She completes each piece in about two to three weeks.
Neely has served as the program planner for the Anderson Artists Guild for the past six or seven years and continues to enter shows. Most recently, she had a piece accepted by the South Carolina Watermedia Society.
For more information about Wesa Neely, visit https://www.paintingsbywesa.com/.