Teen donates artistic talent to OHSU

12/09/15  Portland, Ore.

'Onward' Scappoose High School senior Caitlyn Sparkman used colors representing various cancer awareness ribbons in "Onward," one of her paintings that are displayed at OHSU. One local teen is spreading cheer throughout the year by donating her artistic skills to honor cancer patients while brightening up an area medical facility.


Since becoming a volunteer at OHSU in the summer of 2014, 17-year-old Caitlyn Sparkman has helped Dr. Charles Thomas' radiation department with various administrative tasks, such as billing, sorting, designing brochures, and more.

Department staff say Sparkman is always ready and willing to help with anything the office needs, but her true passion is art. So when her mother, an executive specialist in Dr. Thomas' office, asked her to paint something to brighten up her office, Sparkman was happy to oblige. After many in the department enjoyed her painting, Sparkman made another for the doctor's birthday.

"I knew Dr. Thomas liked the phrase 'onward', so I wanted to center his painting around that theme," Sparkman says.

In her design, she incorporated a running figure to symbolize forward-looking movement with the goal to remind patients that there is always something to look forward to. Her color palette for "Onward" was carefully selected to represent various cancer awareness ribbon colors - including breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer."

I wanted to make it cancer-related," she says. " There are lots of people that go through that office, and I thought it was important to make something that fit the atmosphere.

"Later on, the office asked her for another painting. They didn't give her any specific guidelines, opting to rely on the teen's artistic vision. It was then that Sparkman had her inspiration for "Nobody Fights Alone."

caitlyn-sparkman "I saw the patient/doctor relationship and how important that is," she explains. "The blue represents the doctor or caregiver, and the yellow represents pediatric cancer. It was an artistic choice to represent that nobody fights alone. There are so many people involved in the treatment process.

"Sparkman says she likes spending time on the OHSU campus as "there is a lot of diversity in patients and their families —lots to learn.

"A senior at Scappoose High School, Sparkman says she plans to study graphic design at Portland State University next year and would "love to keep doing artwork and being involved with OHSU."