Teen Rangeley’s intensely personal artwork brings her to art school and a Times Square billboard

Sophie Chu-O’Neil, 18, from Rangeley holds a self portrait from a photo taken when she was younger. Donna M.Perry / Sun Journal

FARMINGTON – Sophie Chu-O’Neil from Rangeley tends to put her life stories into her artwork.

And it’s those personal touches that drove Chu-O’Neil to art school, as well as an eight-week internship this summer at Branded Cities in New York City.

Her mother, Stephanie, who always encouraged her, entered the 18-year-old into a competition the summer after graduating from the Hebron Academy in Hebron.

“I sat and painted and to date this is my favorite,” said Sophie Chu-O’Neil.

She painted a breakfast scene that included toast, blueberries, a cup of coffee, and a newspaper on a fluffy, white blanket.

Sophie Chu-O’Neil’s painting won the “Best Ensemble” award at the Rangeley Friends of the Arts local community art project competition in September 2020. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

“I couldn’t think of anything that would make me happier than a good meal in the morning,” she said. “I never painted anything that I really fell in love with. I was like ‘wow’, if I could do this everyday and love it that would be a dream. I think when you really love a room, it’s hard to recreate it. Like any good thing in life, it doesn’t happen right away. You must wait.”

This room was really special.

“The writing on the journal is like chicken writing to the people I loved,” she said. “I did it in an illegible way so only I would know what he was saying. Even the four recipients don’t know.

She initially refused to attend Maine College of Art and Design in Portland, but changed her mind after taking a fall semester at a local college to study psychology.

She had found herself trying to find time to do her art. She decided to try art school. She has just started her second year at Portland College.

Jewelry creation, painting, fashion textiles, illustration, graphics, digital art, she loves them all. She is primarily interested in graphic design and illustration, she said.

“I would love to do food illustration and illustration for children’s books,” she says.

She is choosing her main subject and leans towards graphics or illustration.

What she loves most about Portland Art School is that she wants students to build careers in art, not just freelance art, she said. declared.

This summer, she attended an eight-week internship at Branded Cities in New York City where she took photos for clients and edited videos to show them their work.

Towards the end of the internship, she was allowed to make her own work of art to show what she learned.

She was even selected to exhibit her works in Times Square.

“I had never done animation before,” she said. “I have never used Adobe After Affects; this tool and Adobe Photoshop were the main tools I used to create a July piece that would be shown in Times Square.

“Failing February” represents a very busy month in the life of artist Sophie Chu O’Neil. Photo by Sophie Chu Oneil

She had made “Failing February”, an abstract work during the school year.

“The room was really busy and that’s what I felt, busy that month,” she said. “I felt I was late. It’s really chaotic. It was visibly overwhelming. It was an overwhelming good. I had a great February, but there was certainly a lot going on.

She made a partner piece during her internship.

“In this new suite, the colors are more vivid. There is more open space. It’s less chaotic, still so busy in my life and this room, “she said.” It was like a rejuvenating July. “

“I enjoyed my internship so much,” she said. “I never did a nine to five.”

At the end of July, his designs were placed on a billboard and illuminated above the street of Time Square.

Sophie Chu’O’Neil, 18, of Rangeley, showcased her creation of a rejuvenated July on several billboards in July in Times Square during an internship at Branded Cities in New York City. Photo by Travis Bebbe Photo by Travis Bebbe

Her mother, her grandmother and her mother’s friend were there for that.

The sun was shining. The sky was blue and went well with his art.

Everything and everyone she always loved was in her room, including the silhouettes of her late grandfather and his family.

“Everything that makes me and everything that makes me proud of myself,” she said.

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Kayleen C. Rice

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