VF Artist Spotlight: No Matter the Medium, Catherine Sheehan Showcases Her Artistic Flair

No matter the medium – pastel, paint, charcoal, or just pen and paper – Catherine Sheehan is definitely an artist to watch.  Catherine pushes the boundaries of creativity and finds peace in inventing innovative works, all the while managing the ever-challenging academic life here at Vanderbilt. Interested in learning more about Catherine’s artistic persona? Read the interview with her below!

Name, Major(s)/Minor(s), Year:

My name is Catherine Sheehan, and I’m a junior! I’m majoring in Engineering Science with a concentration in design, and I’m minoring in computer science and engineering management. 

Why art?

C: I read the other day that dreaming helps you sort out your thoughts and I think, for me, art serves a similar purpose. It gives racing thoughts a chance to settle down and helps me to make sense of things. 

When did you start pursuing art?

C: Since I can remember! I’m lucky to have been raised in a home where it was okay to make a mess for the sake of imagination. My mom has always been enthusiastic about being creative and the first to help me get an art project on its feet. I remember one time we cleared out my entire closet so I could paint a lifesize mural of TinkerBell. 

What inspires your work?

C: Everything!

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rock climbing circa 2009 32” x 32” #oils

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Who is your favorite artist?

C: I can’t say that I have an all-time favorite artist, but I’ve enjoyed following Loribelle Spirovski’s work recently. She shares video content of her design process which I find really captivating and inspiring — Instagram is a great tool in that way.


What is your favorite art medium? What work do you most enjoy doing?

C: My favorite medium to work with is chalk pastel. They’re very forgiving in the sense that you can always smudge or layer over your work to completely change direction. I really appreciate this quality because I can start on a piece without the pressure of having a finished product in mind.


What is your most important artist tool? Is there something in your studio you can’t live without?

C: I would say my journal is the one tool I couldn’t live without. 

How do you balance being a student and an artist? How does being a college student influence your work?

C: Finding time to be creative for the sake of being creative can be tough with the inherent demands of college. It’s easy to prioritize academics and other commitments over drawing or painting but art is a significant source of fulfillment in my life and I think quieting that part of me might be more unproductive than anything else. 

Do you have a favorite piece or pieces you’ve made?

C: I’ve always had trouble picking favorites (and have given up on trying to pick a favorite color), but if I had to choose it would be the collection of portraits I created for my AP Art concentration in high school. I chose to depict impressionistic renditions of some of my closest friends and family using chalk pastels.


Favorite or most inspirational place you’ve traveled to?

C: That’s a really great question. To be honest, it’s more the people I’m surrounded by and pace of life that has the greatest impact on my creativity. 

Where can people view your art?

C: I have an instagram for my artwork as well as a website! I also painted two murals by the track at the Rec Center. Beyond that, I like to hang a lot of pieces around my room (if they haven’t been claimed in advance by my Mom).



What are your professional goals? Do you have a dream job?

C: I can’t say for sure yet what my dream job is but I imagine it’ll be in the tech industry where I can use my engineering and computer science background in a creative way. For now, I intend to pursue a career in user experience design, front-end development, or product management. Although my passion for the fine arts won’t be directly involved in this profession, I plan for it to always be a part of my life (I made a promise to myself to have an art studio in my home someday).


Are there any current art trends that you are following?

C: I’ve been working a lot with the Procreate app on the Ipad Pro! The new stylus has been a game changer for graphic designers. My latest project has been designing a logo for a Women’s Premier League soccer team. There’s definitely a lot to learn but that keep things exciting.

By Bella Sprague, Editor-In-Chief, Class of 2020