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This is the Senior Art Exhibition Portfolio of Catherine O'Brien. The work was exhibited in the Baer Gallery in Spring of 2019.

Semester Completed

Spring 2019


De Pere, WI


Watercolor, illustration, character design, splatter painting


Art and Design

Artist Statement

In this body of work, I partnered with Julia Serra, a senior English Ed major at SNC, to illustrate some of her incredible poems. The style of this body of work is a continuation of work that I started in high school. At the time, I thought that by drawing monsters, I was facing my inner demons; that I was actively fighting against my own anxieties and insecurities. I no longer think that is the case. In fact, in many ways, this work is a form of escapism: not a method of facing my fears, but a way of avoiding them.

The process of creating each piece is important to the larger message here, so that is where I will start. At the beginning of the process, I have yet to plan which poem each particular piece will be about. I want this part of the process to be unaffected by the larger theme of the work. Using a mat board, which is thick and durable, allows me the freedom to practice creative mark making. I use anything I can find to make an interesting texture: I dip necklaces in paint and move them across the page; cover crumpled up plastic wrap in watercolor and press it down, stamp-like; transfer images from newspapers onto the board. The best part about this step in the process is how carefree I can be. It doesn’t matter if the page rips. It doesn’t matter if the paint goes in a different direction than I wanted it to. All that matters is that I am making a texture that is interesting and excites me.

Next, I begin planning. I look at the textures I have created and begin to match poems to color schemes and textures. Some jump out immediately, others take longer to find. Sometimes I look at the textures as if I were looking at clouds and find a character already waiting for me. Other times, I’m not that lucky. Once I finish a sketch that fits the feeling of the poem, I ink, watercolor, and ink again. This process allows all of the pieces to feel cohesive, even in their differences.

Enjoy the escape! I know I have.


Copyright Catherine O'Brien

Catherine O'Brien, Senior Art Exhibition Portfolio