As a pre-med student who is busy studying for the upcoming MCAT and preparing for medical school, being able to work on her art minor has been a great outlet for her creative side.

Olivia Harrison, a senior at the University of Rhode Island, said that while she chose to pursue a career as a doctor, she has been artistic from a young age.

“I always enjoyed it [art] and it was reinforced in my family,” Harrison said. “My parents are both artistic, so I was encouraged at every turn.”

That same encouragement didn’t stop in her home, as she was even given formal instruction once she was old enough.

“I took classes at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) when I was a kid … I’ve been doing art basically since I could grasp a pencil,” Harrison said.

Since then, Harrison has developed a very personal relationship with art, which she is grateful to be able to explore through art classes at the university. She said that she didn’t choose art as her occupation because she “doesn’t want to come to resent it.” Instead, Harrison continues to work on her art solely for her own enjoyment, allowing her to use her process of creating as a method of relaxation. For this reason, art has become much more about the process than the result for Harrison.

“It’s not as interesting when it’s done … but [the process] is calming and cathartic, but also exciting,” she said. Harrison added that she likes to use the drawings she makes as gifts to friends, because that art “gains more meaning.”

As for her artistic style, Harrison described her drawing as “mostly illustrative, and not abstract,” with most of her focus on subjects that she can look at or reference. She prefers figure drawing, because “the base of it is visually grounded in reality,” even when she draws more cartoon-like figures or adds unrealistic aspects to existing figures in her drawings. At their core, Harrison’s drawings are intended to be representative without a central or specific theme.

One of Harrison’s favorite pieces that she has made is a pointillism piece (shown here), which was itself based on a figure. And although she maintains that it’s impossible to choose a true favorite because every work is so different, that work is her mother’s favorite and is currently hung in her home.

In the future, even though she will likely be busy with medical school, Harrison plans to continue making art for herself and the people around her. It’ll be a way to maintain her sanity through the stress of medical school, according to Harrison, because “there’s no pressure” in making her art. There may be ways for her to integrate her passion for art with her future studies  as well.

“I’d really like to do an illustrated journal during school,” Harrison said, adding that she may pursue work in illustrative medicine, where she could draw pictures to record important information, such as images of stages of dissection. Although Harrison has chosen not to be an artist for her career, it’s still a major part of who she is.

“It’s a wonderful part of my life that makes everything else better,” Harrison said.