Maureen O’Brien, a Nashville artist and illustrator, is a recent graduate of a low-residency MFA Illustration Program at Hartford Art School. O’Brien was one of only 17 students in this illustration program designed to accommodate professional illustrators across the country. In addition to being an award winning illustrator for many name brand companies, O’Brien also teaches Illustration at Nossi College of Art.
To obtain her MFA, O’Brien flew to Hartford to attend classes for several summers, attended meetings in cities across the country and finished her thesis, eight illustrated spreads for a children’s book. She received the idea to create this book from a children’s song created by LuAnn Fenton. Leapin’ Lizards features a young boy whose friends happen to be zoo animals.
The illustrations took O’Brien a full year to complete. She used an acrylic wash and digital illuminating to create the work.
“The hardest part was fitting everything into my schedule,” said O’Brien. “The thesis was difficult because it was an intense program, and I only had a year to finish it.”
But her work is only half finished. She plans on completing her book and hopefully publishing it and possibly more titles in the future. O’Brien previously worked in an agency setting, creating images for Nestle and Kellogg among others. She credits the MFA program for turning her into a newer direction.
Her thesis has been exhibited at the Joseloff Gallery on the University of Hartford’s campus and is currently on display at Nossi College of Art, where she will continue to teach illustration courses.