Completing the Picture in Many Strokes: One Artist’s Story

“BAC has greatly influenced my path as an artist. By giving me professional experience at a very young age they jump-started my career, recognized my potential and gave me a platform on which to grow.” ­– Wesley McClain, BAC artist

Today’s the day! It’s Kitsap Great Give day, and we are so proud—and grateful—to be participating in this countywide day of giving! It’s also the last day of our Annual Fund Drive, and we’ve loved sharing stories of how your support to our organization inspires, educates and enriches our community.

As a nonprofit gallery providing art education and outreach, we believe that every program we run is like one brush stroke of our bigger picture, and sometimes those many strokes can have a cumulative impact on just one person. We’re excited to share one last story with you about how BAC encouraged one person’s artistic path. Bainbridge Arts & Crafts artist Wesley McClain—whose art first graced our gallery when he was a 9th grader—is just one such example.

Wesley McClain.

Wes McClain loved to draw and create from an early age, which, of course, is true of most young kids. But, says Wes, “I’ve always seen art as a core part of my identity. I remember wanting to be a filmmaker or animator pretty early on. I used to come home from elementary school, turn on the Turner Classic Movie channel and watch whatever was on. That’s where I discovered Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion monster movies. …I was also drawing a lot then.

“Later, in middle school, I was obsessed with Lord of the Rings and the behind-the-scenes features that showed how everything was made. Those are early memories of really considering the reality of working as an artist.”

Even for this dedicated young artist, however, Wes didn’t experience showing his art outside of home or school until participating in one of  BAC’s  Student Art Shows, which are held every May. “I remember feeling proud to have my art on display. By high school, art was already such a big part of my identity that I don’t think I seriously considered doing anything else.”

Knowing art would remain a passion in his life, Wes applied for and was awarded an Art Scholarship through BAC; three are awarded each year to high school seniors who plan to continue their art studies in college. “Receiving the Pauli Family Scholarship was a huge honor and definitely helped give me the confidence to go to the school of my choosing,” says Wes.

Critique 2 (detail). Monotype.

Since that first year at the Student Art Show, Wesley McClain has come into his own as a printmaker, digital artist and animator­, and has been shown in our galleries multiple times. His dedication to his craft earned him an Amy Award in 2015, an honor bestowed bi-annually to an emerging visual artist from Bainbridge Island under the age of 35 whose work demonstrates a sense of quality, creativity, exploration, and dedication.

Reflecting on the impact BAC has made on his career, Wes says “I was presented with opportunities that challenged me to rise to the occasion and mature as an artist. I owe a lot to the people at BAC. They’ve been a hugely positive influence on me.”

Help us continue to make this real impact in the lives of artists, teachers, students and our greater community. Please donate right now at Kitsap Great Give and your gift will be amplified. Be a part of our bigger picture as the only nonprofit art gallery in Kitsap County that supports working artists’ livelihoods through year-round exhibitions and sales, while also providing completely free art education and outreach to schools, seniors, and the healthcare community.

Thank you for your support in making art happen!

Driving Home. Digital painting.