Interview with artist Sonia Vinograd

Sonia Vinograd, born in Barcelona in 1995, is a gifted artist and expressive dancer of Spanish and Argentinian descent. Although Sonia is a self-taught fine artist, she has been connected to it since she was young and during her dance conservatory days. Her primary subject matter is the scenery, especially water and boats in watercolor. At the same time, she also explores the ideas of light and movement in abstract works, capturing the allure and poetry of nature and our appreciation for it.

Sonia, can you tell us about yourself?

I am a 27-year professional ballet dancer with The Norwegian National Ballet and a fine artist. I grew up in Barcelona and have been based in Oslo since 2015. I am quite shy and introverted, although trained in a world of extroverts! I am very sensitive and passionate. I often daydream and overthink too much and care a lot about others. Oh, and I hate giving public speeches!

You started as a professional ballet dancer. How did you transition into painting, and how did you get into it?

I had always been an artsy child and done art in school, but the moment I left home at 17 to start a professional career as a dancer, I found no time or space in my mind to create. It was 6 or 7 years later, when an injury kept me away from the stage for a few months, I felt the need to express myself somehow, and that is when I started painting again. I have never stopped since!

I haven’t exactly transitioned; while painting has become an important part of my life, dancing is my profession and is what takes most of my time. And I must say that both Art forms can complement each other on many levels.

Define what art means to you and how important art is in your life right now.

Art is part of my personality and lifestyle. It keeps me sane and balances well with my dance career; as a dancer, I am essentially part of the art; my body is the medium, and what I do with it is the product, whereas when I create a painting, I am not the art piece. Being the creator allows you to be a different entity to the artwork and I need that sometimes. It is very healthy for the mind.

How did you know what type of art you wanted to do?

Oh, I think it changes constantly! I sometimes want to paint with oils or create a sculpture as much as I feel like making abstract pieces. I have tried many things, and watercolor is the medium which fits best with my lifestyle and my moods.

Your pieces were executed in a very precise and skillful manner! How do you decide the subjects of your paintings?

Thank you! The world can be so beautiful when I look at it with an artist's mindset, and I try to portray it through my eyes so others can also experience it the way I do.

You often work with watercolors. What is it about that medium you like and what was it that drew you to watercolor specifically?

I love the dreamy look of the pigment and how the painting process feels like a dance. Take a look at watercolor process videos, you will see how color flows through the wet paper until dry.

I also love how painting with watercolor requires a lot of improvisation and acceptance to not having full control, letting mistakes be, and working with them.

What techniques do you keep in mind when working with watercolors?

Watercolor painting is one of the most difficult mediums, in my opinion; it requires technique and understanding of the reaction of water together with the density of pigment and the resistance and absorption capacity of the paper (it is almost like chemistry). You really can’t control everything water does, just like in nature and as an artist, you have to accept and work around it.

The other aspect of watercolor painting is that you can’t fix mistakes easily, and you paint the darks and shadows. Everything white is the original paper being untouched. It is like painting in a negative, and you need to decide where you want your paper to stay white before it is too late.

You paint a lot of landscapes, especially water and boats. What is it about these sceneries that inspires you?

It is hard to explain, but I feel very connected to water, especially sea openings and ports. It doesn’t matter where in the world I am. A port makes me feel at home and welcomed; it is the place where the adventurous take off, pass by or return from trips. There’s a nostalgia I crave, and every time I am emotional, I walk by the water, and it lets me think; it calms me. For centuries, water has been the only travel method to reach other continents, it is what unites the world, and I can’t help but look into the horizon and know that far away, in each direction where the water disappears, there is land, lives and family. I then feel closer to home.

What memorable responses have you had to your artwork?

It was February last year. I was sketching Østbanehallen in Oslo with an artist friend (it is the old train station, now used as an annex to the main station for restaurants and cafes), and suddenly, famous painter and art collector Petar Tale stopped by on his way to catch a train and stares at our process. He ended up sitting with us, talking, giving tips, advice and telling stories. I finished my sketch after his tips, and he spoke about art and history, looked at our paintings and coached us for over one and a half hours before he had to catch the next train. I will never forget that experience. That particular sketch is very dear to me, and it gives me lots of inspiration and motivation.

Otherwise, I often have quite memorable responses to my art from my partner, who has synesthesia. He once said about an abstract work: “When I see this piece, I get the smell of roasted chicken!”

You’ve accomplished a lot in the last few years. Dance career, education, exhibitions, and projects. How do you strive to push yourself? Do you think setting goals is important, and if so, why?

I believe the more you do, the more opportunities arise. And unexpected opportunities are very satisfying! It is hard to live with your own pressure, although having your own goals and working towards them is a part of the journey; surprises along the way might take a different and better path. As long as I find inspiration, I can keep going.

I know that you’re using Canvy to showcase your paintings, so can you tell us about your experience with us?

Canvy gives me a lot of the things I need as an artist. It is very easy to use, keeping your artwork organized, and the mockups are diverse with enough customization to give a varied showcase. The mockups preserve the upload quality of your paintings and provide a fantastic lifelike, crystal-clear image while automatically scaling your paintings to the scene. On top of that, you can create a simple yet beautiful website almost automatically. The website is quite a new feature and is constantly developing, so I hope for even more tools in the future! I would highly recommend Canvy to any artist!

Being an artist has its highs and lows. What keeps you inspired in life emotionally and creatively?

A lot of support from my loved ones! And living in a well-organized and low-stress city close to nature helps me find inspiration again and again. Most important, keeping the practice regular as much as possible. In my case, painting is like meditation, and it makes me feel better instantly.

Find Sonia Vinograd and her artwork here.