Kelsey Wailes is a local artist from Taneytown. Wailes drew when she was small. By the time she was 12 years old, she thought art might be a future career. Wailes drew animals and things from nature with colored pencils and markers. She also she drew people from movies.
Her parents are very artistic. Her mother, Laura Wailes, is a professional ceramic artist. Her father, T.R Wailes, did photography and still does woodworking.
When she was 14, Wailes took some summer art classes at Carroll Community College. She took the standard art classes at Delone High School in McSherrystown, Pennsylvania. She also did an independent study class.
After graduation from high school in 2008, Wailes majored in art at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg. She studied a little bit of everything in art including acrylics, oils, ceramics, art history, graphic design and life drawing. After graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in fine arts in 2012, she went on to get a Master of Arts and Teaching, also at Mount St. Mary’s University. She graduated in 2014.
After graduating, Wailes filled in for art teachers who were temporarily unable to teach school for the next three years. Then she accepted a job as a middle school art teacher for Western Heights Middle School in Washington County. She has been there for three years.
“I love teaching the kids,” Wailes said.
Wailes parents have been selling at arts and crafts shows since she was born. She started selling her art at their arts booths when she was 14. Wailes sold her wildlife drawings and robots made out of clay. Each robot had a charming story with it.
In 2009, when Wailes was only 19, she started selling at arts and crafts shows on her own. Wailes sold her drawings and a little bit of her clay creations. Now, she sells more clay artworks and some drawings. Wailes makes realistic creatures and fantastical creatures out of polymer clay. She paints them with acrylic paints and seals them with polyurethane. She also sells her work at comic book conventions in the Washington metropolitan area, such as MAGFest, a music and gaming festival. She also participates in the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, a festival that celebrates all things sheep and fiber arts and is one of the largest festivals of its kind. She is also a vendor at the Carroll County Artists’ Studio Tour, Monster of a Show, and conventions up and down the East Coast.
Wailes has also written comic books. She wrote a comic book about a blue monster named “Stompadon.” She also did a Kickstarter campaign to fund her books and then she had plush toys made.
Her colored pencil illustrations and polymer clay sculptures have gotten a lot of attention on the internet, leading to work from BBC America, and her art has been featured on websites like The Nerdist, People Magazine, Kotaku, i09, and on television shows such as “Doctor Who.”
When Wailes was in college she studied three years of Japanese language. She has always been inspired by Japanese art, movies and animation. She loved reading Japanese comics.
Wailes made some art inspired by Japanese art and film and it helped her to learn Japanese. She took the classes until they were no longer available. Japanese movie monsters such as kaiju, which are large monsters you would see in Godzilla-type films, have also inspired her sculpted creatures.
“I like being able to make something new or a version of something. If it is an animal, I still make it my own.” Wailes said.
Wailes currently teaches art classes at Common Ground on the Hill at McDaniel College. She has been teaching polymer clay classes, manga (Japanese comics), and colored pencil illustration since 2010.
Since 2013, Wailes has taught at Carroll Community College’s “Summer Kid’s at Carroll.” She teaches how to draw American and Japanese comics.
Wailes has an Etsy store at www.etsy.com/shop/eattoast. Her Facebook page is Eattoast. She is also on Twitter at eattoast3, and eattoast on Instagram.
Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.