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“She’s a very talented human being”: student artist thrives between classes and COVID-19

<p>Student artist Sophia Thompson turned to painting for comfort during the pandemic. Behind her is an unfinished piece.</p>

Student artist Sophia Thompson turned to painting for comfort during the pandemic. Behind her is an unfinished piece.

Psychopharmacology, human physiology, and … intro to painting? 

Miami University sophomore and freelance artist Sophia Thompson organizes her class schedule to strike the perfect science-art balance. Between her psychology and neuroscience majors, Thompson said she needs a respite from the intense studying — a relief she finds in her studio art minor. 

Like the rest of the world, Thompson is no stranger to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With shops, theaters and everywhere but the outdoors closed for quarantine, Thompson found herself with a lot more free time than usual. For her, this meant picking up an old pastime. 

“I started painting again with different [mediums] and things like that, so it kind of sparked an old hobby that I had, and now it's such a big part of my life,” Thompson said. “I can't believe that I wasn't doing it last year.”

When her friends saw the work, they were in awe. 

Aidan McDanel, a sophomore inclusive special education major and Thompson’s best friend and roommate, summed up her thoughts succinctly. 

“She's a very talented human being,” McDanel said.

Thompson’s friends encouraged her to start streaming her art-making process on the live-streaming platform Twitch. Now she has over 100 followers and an art community on her Twitch account, @soph_rae. McDanel said it’s nice to see all her friend’s hard work recognized through the internet. 

The pair have been friends since their high school days in Youngstown, Ohio. McDanel said she has been able to see the shift in her roommate’s artistic inspirations and aspirations.

Mostly, though, the change has been in their interior decoration. 

“In the beginning you had your average room, and then she started this and her art just piled all over her walls,” McDanel said.  

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Saffa Parveen, a sophomore social work major and fellow friend of Thompson’s, said it’s been hard to keep up with her artwork because she’s been evolving and adapting her art so quickly. 

“Just to see how this whole entire process has been so quick,” Parveen said. “I didn't realize how fast she started to blossom.”

Parveen bought a piece from Thompson at the inaugural “Art on Vine” event in Cincinnati where Thompson sold her pieces and a new addition, phone cases. Parveen’s favorite part about the artwork is how unique each piece is. 

McDanel shared the same sentiment. 

“I think it's really cool because she'll start a piece, and you'll think you know what she's doing,” McDanel said, “and then you see it two hours later and you're like, ‘did not expect that.’”

That’s Thompson’s favorite part about making the art, too: the free-flowing nature. 

“I think my favorite thing about art is that I can make things that look really weird, and they don't have to look a certain way,” Thompson said. “I'm doing what I feel like in the moment or colors that I'm vibing with, or something like that. And it doesn't necessarily have to be realistic or technically good and they can still look really pretty.”

Thompson said her favorite paints are acrylics and gouache (a mix between watercolors and acrylics). Soon, she hopes to move beyond the brush and canvas — Thompson wants to make clothing, like crewnecks and t-shirts. 

Although “Art on Vine” was the first art show Thompson had ever been to, Parveen said this feels like just the beginning. 

“It was a really cool experience for her and for us to see, like that's our friend, she's doing pretty big things now,” Parveen said.” She's gonna be doing really big things in the future.”

Thompson plans to attend the next “Art on Vine” event from 12 to 6 p.m. May 9, in Cincinnati. Her work can also be seen on her Instagram, or her prints website