VMPA Senior Thesis

Clara Riley McFarlane


Clara McFarlane is a dedicated artist whose lifelong passion for art, cultivated through frequent visits to museums, galleries, and sculpture exhibits, has inspired her creative journey. Her fascination with the interactive nature of video games sparked a desire to contribute to their creation, driven by the potential to immerse audiences in transformative experiences.

With a profound appreciation for the integral role of animation in gaming, Clara aspires to be at the forefront of this dynamic art form. She envisions a future where games are seen more artistically in the mainstream, allowing for more artists to be noticed and given attention.

In addition to her artistic pursuits, Clara is deeply involved in music, graduating with a minor in the field. Raised in a family with all sorts of different musical tastes, she was exposed to all kinds of music. She took a keen interest in queer music as a queer woman, recognizing its power to unite and empower LGBTQIA+ communities worldwide.

Self-taught in guitar and currently expanding her musical knowledge through formal education in music theory, Clara is committed to honing her craft and exploring new avenues of creative expression. Through her art and music, she endeavors to foster connection, inspire dialogue, and celebrate the diverse tapestry of human experience.



The first time I was exposed to the process of 3D art was when I was a child, my dad and grandfather were messing around with Blender, just to try it. Neither of them had experience and didn’t do anything with it in the end, but seeing what it could do led me to look into it on my own. I was learning Blender by the time I was 9, as janky as the program used to be. I’ve wanted to do 3D animation ever since.

I’ve had a love for animals and insects all my life, and my art certainly reflects that. For Computer Animation II, the character I created was an anthropomorphic luna moth, which I adjusted for use as a 3D print.

For my animated short, I animated a bold jumping spider (Phidippus audax) and a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio troilus.) The short was created using information I knew about the insects such as the way a spider walks and what the chrysalis of the caterpillar looks like. I chose to make the caterpillar have the silk capabilities of a moth caterpillar for narrative sake even though it isn’t accurate.

For the digital painting, I created a surreal work inspired by Giorgio de Chirico. De Chirico used a lot of yellows and greens to create environments, which is the most direct usage of his style in my work. He also uses plenty of statues and marble structures, which make up the foreground of my piece. I have a personal love for the surrealist and dadaist movements and was excited to work on a piece inspired by them.

My oil painting was for an assignment to create an observational piece of an important object to us using only black and white. We were restricted to not being able to use straight black paint, instead having to mix our own. The object I chose was my engagement ring.

The compositing project was simple. We took our own image of the campus, aligned it to be to scale with a 3D camera in Maya, and added a pre-made model and animation.