6 enero, 2020
5 enero, 2020
4 diciembre, 2018
The artist Sonsoles Shack
Interview to Sonsoles Shack
by Ana Trigo Alonso
Art consultant and expert Museologist
Throughout the History of Art, artists have not limited themselves to paint, sculpt, photograph or write. Many of them have done much more than that and have used their talent and sensibility to serve a cause that contributes to Humanity’s progress, little by little, step by step. This is the case of Sonsoles Shack, a very, very special artist, because besides creating art, she also works in the fight against cancer. Her job as a scientist contributes to the advancement of our knowledge of this terrible disease, and helps improve the quality of life of the patients that suffer it. Not only that, her artwork has also contributed to this great project. Would you like to know a little more about Sonsoles and her important work? Do not miss the interview that she has been so kind to grant us.
Sonsoles, every artist has a moment in which she discovers her talent. When did this happen to you?
Since I was little I loved to draw and paint. I grew up surrounded of art and talent. Mi father is a sculptor, and my mother also loves art and painting. I probably was eight or nine years old when I realized that the drawings with pastels were pretty good, and my teachers would cheer me on to continue painting. I enjoyed so much doing it. That plus the example and advice of my parents have been the biggest incentives to continue practicing, and painting a lot is essential to perfecting the painting technique, to find a unique style and in general, to grow as an artist. In fact I am happy to see that I am painting more and more.
At the time you decided to take drawing and painting classes, where did you study? How did you learn to create?
Well, first I need to admit that, although art is my passion, my vocation and profession is the research against cancer, a field I have worked on for almost 25 years. When I came to live to the US in 1987, I quickly joined the university to finish my degree in Molecular Biology. It was then when I took a painting class in campus because I wanted so much to draw again and I had not done it in years. Later on I signed up to take some private classes. I could paint very little since I was working and studying at the same time. It was only recently that I dared to experiment with oils and acrylics and started painting seriously. Regarding the moment I learned to create?… What a great question! For me to start creating was hard since I am a perfectionist and I was terrified to do it wrong. It was easier to «copy» a style or another artist’s painting, and justify to do it «only as an exercise» (and that is how I copied the drunken old man from «The Feast of Bacchus» by Velazquez). At last I could fully give myself to create my own original work when I lost the fear and I could let go. My first real original work is the «Backlit Lilly».
Analyzing your work, it is clear that you have an excellent drawing technique that allows you to create works that bear great realism. Is the drawing the most important part in the creation of a work of art?
I think so. To draw well is essential to paint well. The drawing is so to speak the skeleton and the skin of a painting. The skeleton because a g
ood drawing is the base upon which a painting grows and develops; the skin, because the final details need to be drawn with accuracy. I am very lucky, because I love to draw and I have done it for many years. Being a perfectionist also helps, but it sometimes torments me!
Still-life, portraits, landscapes… you have an ample array of themes, which is unusual in artists these days. What do you feel more comfortable doing?
You are absolutely right… I do a bit of everything because I like everything. But it has been interesting to observe how I have evolved in the last few years. The drawings you see in my website were done earlier, then I dared to tackle color, still-life, landscapes… and two years ago I tried something «even harder», making portraits. Now I can say with certainty that portraiture is what I like most of all. Making good portraits is very difficult, and it is a great challenge; that is why the satisfaction is ever greater.
I personally like your landscapes very much, I see something exciting in them, something that makes me wonder: where is that place? who lives there? what story is about to develop?… as if it was a painting by Edward Hopper. How do you choose those paintings? Where do you find them?
It is interesting, only a few days ago someone was telling me that my landscapes have mystery and poetry. I had never thought about it that way. I think without consciously trying to, that is my goal. I do not stop painting until I achieve that mysterious and poetic look… A landscape is much more than a group of trees and mountains. The beauty and mystery in a landscape can be in the light, the contrasts, or the soft and cold tones in the far away mountains… Yes, Hopper was a great master of light and drama in painting. He is a great inspiration. Regarding the choice of landscapes, they ought to be beautiful and evocative places. I try to go to interesting places to paint plein air. Later in my studio I touch up and finish the painting using photographs.
Portraits are one of the most difficult subjects to tackle. Yours have a great realism and, at the same time, there is something unreal in them, as if you captured the «soul» of your model. What is your objective when you start a portrait?
If I can, I choose a model that has beauty, not necessarily in the literal sense, but in an artistic sense. It is a little like the landscapes I guess… The protagonists of the portraits ought to be interesting and have a lot of character. Besides achieving the likeness, which is what I was most worried about before, now I see that I also need the subject to transmit or communicate personality and feelings. Otherwise, the portrait will simply be a face, without «life» or character. I do not want it to look like a photograph. That is why it is important to know the person portrayed. It is difficult to explain, because each portrait is a world apart, but something happens during the making of a portrait, a dialogue between the model, the portrait and the artist, during which the portrait almost comes to life. If I cannot give personality and character to a portrait I feel like I have failed. My goal is to reach that level of depth that goes beyond the likeness.
Do you have a favorite piece, one of which you feel especially proud of?
I have two favorite paintings right now. First, Randy, my last portrait. I feel I have improved greatly with Randy, not only regarding the likeness, but with the look in his eyes, his expression, the color and the light in his face. I have succeeded in giving him an expression of happiness, of hope… I am quite satisfied with him. Another example is Tea with Blanca. I painted this still-life as a memorial for a friend of mine that died of leukemia a few years ago. Blanca loved red roses and this china tea cup always reminded me of her. Last year we had a fundraising event for ovarian cancer research. When they invited me to participate, I decided to donate Tea with Blanca. The painting was auctioned and was a success. It was a moment of great satisfaction for me because I think Blanca would have liked it. It was a very emotional moment. In fact, I am thinking I will do this again with another painting.
You have lived in the United States for 25 years. What has living between two cultures meant for you?
Yes, I lived in Maryland for 16 years, and in Arizona for the last 8 years. Spain is very different, and at first it was difficult to adapt, but now I love living here. I love my work, the lifestyle and the people. But to leave my whole family behind in Spain has been one of the hardest things I have done in my life. Each time I go back I realize how much I have missed. I wish we were closer.
Lastly, could you tell us what project are you working on now?
Right now I am making another commissioned portrait, she is the mother of one of our scientists in our institute. It is going to be a birthday present. I am half way through with this portrait. It is going well for now. Also, I am enjoying doing this portrait because till now I have only done portraits of children and adolescents. I will probably finish this portrait in December, and will be published in my website by the end of the year.
Sonsoles lives very far (from Spain), at the other side of an immense ocean. That has not become an obstacle for her warmth and simplicity to travel across the thousands of miles and reach me wrapped in the many emails that we have exchanged in order to make this interview. Sonsoles, it has been a real pleasure to collaborate with you and get to know this wonderful project with which you contribute every day to make this world a better place. Enjoy the work of Sonsoles Shack visit her website with all her artwork and news. Sonsoles, from Spain we are sending you all our love and we wish you all the best luck!
Happy Tuesday 🙂
Sonsoles vive en Estados Unidos, motivo por el que hemos decidido traducir su entrevista, que ya se publicó hace unos días, al inglés. También podéis leer su entrevista en español.