This page was born on April 15, 2021. It will over time become a substantial discourse on how I view art in my life. I intend to add many other topics to this page in the future.
I very intentionally violate the dogma that many (educated in art) are conditioned to view a body of work having the same exact ‘style’ or it is not deemed worthy of ‘serious art”. This bias is supported if you view an artist as a ‘product’ that has to be ‘consistent’ for ease of marketing. The dominance of style as an exclusive definer of art history is obsolete. It is the individual artist who creates art history, whether or not the art historian wants to decide how art is looked at by the general public. Whether or not the art is a mass ‘movement’ instead of an overall singularity is not important in the realm of human existence. However, I believe that artists should learn as many styles in art as they can so as to not limit their visual vocabulary and have freedom to choose what to convey.
I was influenced by my paternal grandmother Balbina Lagos Ledo de Villamia. Balbina would take me regularly to visit a Curandera in Cuba. Curanderas are spiritual healers, science combined with philosophical religious beliefs. Thus the cornerstone of how I became a physician and an artist was created
I painted for the first time at age 10 when I was given some oil paints and a few panels as a Christmas present. I was an avid reader at that time, for reading was the way I was able to adventure outside the NYC apartment that we lived in. I combined my reading and the imagination of the places in the books that were pictures in my mind and created a number of paintings. I had no formal training for most of my life though I took a handful of sporadic drawing courses at DeCordova Museum in Lincoln MA, from different artists in my community in the 1980’s.
In college I was a biology science major with a minor in art history. From 1991 to late 1995 I was intensely involved in self-learning how to draw and paint from life rather than just my imagination.
Initially before having any formal training I painted my children because they were the most important aspect of my life that I felt passionate about. Then I segued to photographs of models in magazines (coupled with my imagination) as I had no access to live models. I was attracted to objects and patterns with interesting lines or light so I started painting still life from objects in order to teach myself how to draw/paint directly alla prima. I would do a painting within 3 hours. I had been married to another artist early in life so knew art history and formal terms and principles (composition etc). I critiqued his work many times which strengthened my formal knowledge. During this early time (1970’s) I drew from life and painted, as well as made clothing as an art object (I have none of these objects currently). I had learned photography at this time and was influenced by one of the photographic artists that my husband at that time knew (Jerry Uelsmann).
All in all I looked at art as a normal part of my everyday life despite not choosing it as a career in my early 20’s. I worked as a professional photographer in Berlin Germany in the early 1970’s. I would photograph myself in imaginary roles and situations. I was also fascinated with capturing movement in a singular still frame. As of this writing I have not digitized any of my negatives or slides from this time. The photographs that I myself hand developed and hand printed in a photo lab that I worked in are all destroyed (except for one perhaps). I still have all the negatives/slides and plan to digitize them and place on this website eventually.
Medical training and its absolute domination of time created a hiatus in my life. However, I still walked through the world with the eyes of an artist. In late 1989 the floodgates exploded open and I have never closed them again. I realized that the world of medicine/science enriched my creative vocabulary. My interests in biology, physics, and complexity science/emergence widened the scope of my wisdom for creating a visual poem. My awareness of the fractal nature of the universe (the similarity of the micro and macro that exists), the emergence of systems and ideas from disruptive forces such as chaos has strengthened my creative process.
I understand how the eye and brain functions, how light functions, the frozen ‘reality’ of photograph vs. the actual light experience interacting with the viewer. I understand how we have to learn how to control how we see an object (which in a sense constantly changes) in order to really see what is there without the brain stereotypical interpretation which introduces distortions.
It was not until late 1995 that I sought formal instruction. I was perturbed that I was not reaching the level of optical experiential realism I wanted when I drew or painted from life, or copying from a photograph.
Thus in the fall of 1995 I joined the Ingbretson Atelier in Massachusetts to learn what I was missing from my own self-teaching. I worked full time as an emergency physician. I had arranged to work in the ER nights and weekends allowing me to attend the atelier Monday through Friday 8 am until I had to leave to pick up my children from school. It was a very valuable experience in learning how to see the light. I only stayed two years since I did not want to do a specific type of composition nor a specific palette which was also part of the Paul Ingbretson perspective at that time. I just wanted to know how to see what was actually there but still choose different ways of painting. Paul Ingbretson’s teaching on how to see the light was for me one of the most valuable experiences that I have ever received. Unfortunately, I did not believe that the composition of a painting had to be in an arabesque format to be successful. So that aspect alone was problematic for me and I decided not to stay in the Ingbretson studio.
For me style has always been just an element with many choices even in the same painting. I love mixing abstraction/distortion with notes of perceptual recording of the actual light experience. I love color and form, the wildness of the line, and trying to let actual chaos coupled with my intuition live in my creative process.
Eventually I sought an MFA in studio art in order to be part of the discourse in art of the time I live in, and learn what I needed to know that I could not get by self-teaching alone. I loved science, philosophy, complexity science (emergence as a process of creativity). Since my father had been a Cuban Revolutionary with Fidel Castro I was very aware of political and socioeconomic systems in life and that greatly impacted what I know about life (but that is another story). Since both my parents were intelligent people (both Hispanic) yet not educated that also gave me great insight into the human condition in society.
So those artists who can only draw/paint from a photograph are only copying what light effect and perspective has been designated by a camera but many are unaware of the difference in our actual experience of the object. I call these artists ‘sign painters’ and many are quite masterful at this. I have no belief that this is wrong. I view it as being fine to do yet am aware of how limiting it is, as there are so many ways to create and this should not be the only one used. In a sense our perception of real life is a form of simultaneous order and chaos juxtaposed on each other. If we train this experience it will give us greater creative fluidity. The resulting work will have energy to it and will be ‘alive’ and not static or rather artistically ‘dead’. That is the problem with many artists who merely copy a photograph trying to be ‘realistic’. The untrained eye can’t discern this distinction unfortunately.
Today, I will finish with one last statement.
For me the hand is the mind and the mind is the hand. None exists without the other for an individual artist.
I will add more ideas and thoughts to this page from time to time. Thanks for reading and please contact me anytime.
About me link
Links to some solo or special exhibitions:
MFA Thesis Aidekman Gallery Tufts University Boston, MA
MFA thesis video
SugiPOP! Portsmouth Museum of Art Snowboard
NeuroMorphic – Beland Gallery Essex Art Center Lawrence MA
NeuroMorphic – NKG Boston MA
Between Presence and Absence: Making Roots -The Carrack Modern Gallery Durham NC
Retablos – Waterworks Visual Arts Center Salisbury NC
Making Roots – CMAC Gallery Raleigh NC
Litmus Gallery Group exhibition interview
In the meantime here is a link to a pdf with my exhibition history: Natacha Sochat
May – August 2019 Solo exhibition: Retablos Waterworks Visual Arts Center, Salisbury NC. Unedited video which shows each Retablo.