Natasha Sazonova began painting at the age of two and hasn’t stopped. A resident of Wethersfield, she came to the U.S at the age of 16 and has since made a name for herself around the world.
As a youngster, she found a passion for painting portraits, including ones of herself. Since then she has developed a worldrenowned business painting family trees. Unlike most family trees, there are more than just the names and dates of ancestors, she includes watercolor depictions of the family members.
“Customers send me what information they do have, and any pictures if they have them. Obviously many don’t know what their ancestors looked like, but they often have their date of birth and date of death,” she said.
From there Natasha researches the time period they lived to determine what type of clothing was worn, in what part of the world they lived and what was going on in the world during their lifetime. She then uses what photos she is given to incorporate similarities and family characteristics to determine what someone might have looked like.
“For instance, if someone lived during the San Francisco Gold Rush, I would depict them in western type clothing. I do a lot of computer research to educate myself about the time period and traditional clothing of that era to make it authentic. I’ve learned a lot,” she said.
Natasha includes anything and everything she can in a family portrait. One family said their relative was involved in “disc golf,” something she had never heard of but after research was able to incorporate into the painting. Another family had a log roller in their background, one had a bird watcher, and another were photographers in the United Kingdom who published a book on phone booths, also known as “fox boxes,” all of which she used to enhance the finished work.
“One family was friends of Auburn College and were big sports fans. So I looked up the college and found out that if their team wins there are two oak trees on campus that students toilet paper, and before each game they release a War Eagle. So I made sure both were depicted in the portrait,” she said.
“Doing all this research makes me feel like I have been places that I’ve never been first hand,” she added.
Natasha had been working as an illustrator and graphic design artist while continuing to paint portraits in oil, acrylics, and watercolor when she decided to pursue painting family trees. Her first attempt was what she imagined a typical American family would look like from early colonial times to present day.
“When I finished it, I put it on my website and a chef from New York called and asked me if I would do a custom tree of her family. I said yes and have been doing it ever since. That was four and a half years ago,” she said.
“It was just so much fun that I kept on going.”
Her business took off. Over the years, she has been enlisted by people in Australia, New Zealand, England, Israel, South America, Europe, the United States and elsewhere. Overall she said she has done so many she cannot keep track.
Testimonies from many of her customers have also poured in. Client David West wrote on her website “We came across Natasha's work when looking for an anniversary gift my parents would remember. The painting we received was absolutely stunning…”
That sentiment was echoed by Darlene Krauser who posted “Natasha's work is indeed fantastic. Her ability to paint portraits with such exquisite detail is remarkable… Not only is her art worthy of wonderful review, but the way in which she communicates with her clients is five stars.”
Natasha has always appreciated fine works of art and has a number of favorite artists which include Frida Kahlo, Gustav Klimt, Rene Magritte, El Greco, and Alphonse Mucha, but her all-time favorite is Frida Kahlo.
“Frida was a Mexican artist who did self-portraits, and has always been my favorite,” she said.
“I found out that before she died she started her own family tree, (not a painted one) but never got to finish it. So I decided to do it for her and painted what I thought it might look like.”
In that painting, Natasha included things she knew about the artist including her wooden leg, as Frida had lost it to infection, the house she lived in, and even her dogs. That painting sits center stage on display in her living room in Wethersfield.
Natasha feels her talent is inherited given that most of her family is artistic in one way or another. Her mother is very much into fashion and owns her own fashion tailoring shop; her father is a professor who teaches Geometry and computer graphics but also designs furniture. But most of all, she attributes her success to her grandfather who at the age of two encouraged her to keep painting.
“I started my art career under my grandfather's supervision when I was two. Paralyzed from the waist down, he spent his days sitting in a chair in our living room. It was right next to the coffee table I used as my drawing board. When I was attempting to draw circles he would complement me on drawing beautiful apples or beautiful stones, depending on how many angles my attempted circles had,” her bio reads.
By the age of three, drawing and painting became one of her favorite pastimes, something she did while sitting on the floor in her bedroom. To this day she still paints in her bedroom, but no longer on the floor, she said.
At the age of four, her parents took her to the Fine Arts Studio at the University of Engineering and Architecture in Kyiv where her “kiddy art” as she calls it, gained her enough recognition that she was accepted as a student. She was the youngest and studied with 16 and 17-year-olds. She now holds the title of being one of the youngest students to ever attend that studio.
After coming to the United States, Natasha set off on a path to make her dreams a reality. She graduated with honors from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Fine Arts and started to exhibit her work professionally. Following her graduation, she worked as an illustrator for a variety of publications.
Her paintings have been on exhibit in galleries throughout the United States, including the Museum of Art and Design in New York City, Ridgefield’s Aldrich Museum in Connecticut, Harbor Gallery at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and Capitol Arts Network Gallery in Bethesda, MD.
In addition to painting, Natasha has a mission regarding art itself. She said her mission in life is to get people to understand that art is not something that should just be in a home, it should be enjoyed where ever it is.
“Art is something that is supposed to make you happy. It doesn’t have to be famous or expensive. It just has to be beautiful, because beautiful things make people more peaceful,” she said.
“I want to change the perception that art is just for the rich who can afford it. It is not, it is for everybody. I believe in fine art for the masses.”
For more information about Natasha and her family portrait business visit her website at familytreeforyou.com or her art website which is artns.us.com.