Molly Mayo | BDN
Hampden artist Obrianna Cornelius at work in her studio recently.

HAMPDEN — Artist Obrianna Cornelius is seated in her Hampden studio, surrounded by playful colors and art supplies strewn in neat piles around the room.

“Don’t be afraid to ruin a painting,” she says.

Before I have a chance to respond to this rather radical statement, she follows up with some clarification: “Take your inner perfectionist and throw it out the window. If you’re afraid, you’re never going to take risks or be bold.”

I smiled as I looked around at the many pieces of art surrounding her. Her artwork was physical proof of this philosophy in fluid motion. Whether she’s depicting a friendly cluster of daisies or a familiar Maine landscape, Cornelius paints the world as she sees it.

Known for her bold strokes and vibrant colors, Cornelius’ work is featured in galleries and businesses throughout Bangor and along the Maine coast. She was also featured recently in Southwest Art Magazine’s “21 Artists Under 31” spotlight.

Remembering fondly the days in which she discovered her calling, Cornelius says her greatest role models were Monet, Turner, her mother, and her aunt, Emily Griffin. Growing up and watching “Auntie Em” work on multiple sketches inspired Cornelius to put pen to paper and fill sketchbooks of her own with trademark bold lines. She jokes now, saying, “I keep the sketchbooks to keep me humble.”

From filling sketchbooks to discovering her true passion in watercolor, Cornelius has always kept busy in the arts. It was only when she was around sixteen that she made the decision to pursue art as a career. With this goal in mind she continued painting, finished high school, and worked three part-time jobs to save up for college. She then made her way to Pensacola Christian College in Florida with a drive for success and a mind brimming with creativity.

She credits much of her ability to achieve precise, accurate paint strokes to her teacher and mentor there, Jamieson Jekel, who challenged his students to work hard to achieve success.

Cornelius describes the creative process as “something to focus on and…let all the stress go away. It’s nice to make something with your hands.” One of her favorite things about watercolor, she says, is “the way it feels and moves. It is spontaneous, and unforgiving. When it is on there, it’s on there, challenging you to do it once the right way.”

Following college, Cornelius went independent. She was drawn back to Maine’s rocky coasts, lush forests, and her own loving family. She moved home with an armory of art techniques and an itch to share her talent. She started work immediately, naturally progressing from the realistic sketches of college to the less detailed watercolor of her own imagination. Cornelius started displaying her whimsical art at local libraries, coffee shops, and galleries.

Viewing her original, creative depictions of the stormy Maine seas and majestically serene landscapes evokes in many a love and appreciation for the state in which we live. In fact, I was so inspired by Cornelius’ work that I went home and threw my own inner perfectionist out the window. Putting pen and ink to paper, I created my own handful of imaginative, bold, and unique art.

While you may not see any of my own work featured anywhere (except my mother’s fridge), don’t let that stop you from creating your own art. After all, as Cornelius says, “Take your inner perfectionist and throw it out the window.”