As part of my series of interviews with fabulous creatives from around the world who have found their art or their calling later in life, and who are Living Life In Colour, I would love to introduce you to Antonella Bargione a fellow Creatively Fit Coach. Antonella is Italian and since ‘98 has lived in Harare, Zimbabwe.
She trained as an Architect and now supports people to transform their life through making Art, reconnecting to their Soul and being their Healing Coach. In 2015 Antonella accepted herself as an Artist and turned her big front veranda into her art studio. She dreams about building a space dedicated only to Art where all her art materials are visible at all times. Next month she will be in Italy and planning deliver an Intuitive Art workshop for the first time.
Antonella feels blessed to live and work from home and has gallery and a tiny theatre, a multifunctional space where she runs her workshops from. Her home is also where the family business runs from, The Mbira Centre, where they make the iconic musical instrument of Zimbabwe.
Tell me what was your journey to becoming an artist?
Since I can remember, I always have been very creative; Beauty is one of my core values. My grade 0 teacher often used to tell my mother how talented I was. Both my parents in their own ways were very creative and I believe I am carrying their gifts.
When I finished school I wanted to become a psychologist but I would have to go to another town to study and there were not enough money in the family to do so. For a short while I caressed the idea of going to the Accademia di Belle Arti, the Art Academy, in Palermo, my home town but in my family you don’t become an artist only, so considered that I was so creative my brother prod me to do Architecture, and so I did.
At that time I lived in Italy, I practised as an Architect for a number of years. When I moved to Zimbabwe I became a free lance graphic design and I created a line of lamps made out of fibreglass moulded on natural gourds to be used as resonator for the mbira. I designed and participated in exhibitions in early 2000 and for a short period I experiences stone sculpture that I loved very much.
At the same time my passion for energy psychology and energy healing and well being was growing in parallel until I did my entire certification programmes to work fully in the complementary healing Arts. I also became a Conscious Leadership Coach. The healing and the creative sides of me worked separately and never together. Both of them were high demanding Arts and I never really took the time to use creativity to keep myself adrift and fulfilled.
Instead I forgot about it, a bit at the time I lost the playing and the fun part of it. I ended up unconsciously burying my creativity. I was at a point in my life were I had all qualifications to help and support others and I got lost myself. All this knowledge became so fragmented that I spent a long time in confusion trying to figure out what direction to take.
Then one day, two years ago, through a serendipitous Facebook post I found that the Creatively Fit Coaching Program was starting and I felt a shiver; and I know that whenever I got the shiver is my Soul talking to me! Whitney Freya, the Creatress of the programme was proposing Art as process and not necessarily as a product. Enjoying the process brought me to slow down the concept of time, brought me to be more in the present time and that transformed my approach to life.
It unfolded my ability to express and channel through my brush strokes. I love it. Now I guide others to do the same. I feel so grateful to have the gift of reading paintings for others. Now my healing practice and my creative practice often integrate and that is such a relief. It’s the confirmation that I am expressing my creativity fully and can also be of service to those who need it.
What inspires you to create?
The magic of the act of creation itself. Most of the time I don’t know what I want to paint until it happens. I know that my painting and I will have amazing conversations. These days I am painting lot of animals, totem animals that come to me to teach me what I need to listen. It is a way for me to access different dimensions.
It’s a space in between where I meet with the subject of the painting. Let me give you an example. Last year I did a painting of a mother and a baby elephant, they were holding trunks making a heart shape. The day I was almost finished I started crying. I kept crying and crying painting this elephant love but I couldn’t figure out why, I knew that this grief wasn’t mine… then I found out that the night before crying 24 elephant calves were shipped from Zimbabwe to a zoo in China. It was a heartbreaking experience.
What do you love about being an artist?
Seeing life through a different perspective. Enhancing my feelings through my sensorial and extra sensorial painting experience. Touching the canvas, blending the paint on the canvas, smelling the paper, having lots of boxes full of colours, crayons, pastels, a dirty apron, the way the paint travels on the canvas, the different consistence of mixtures. Expressing freely my emotions on the canvas when I start my first layer, using symbols to embed a painting with a specific energy. Making the time stop; forget everything as I am totally immersed in the creative process.
What essential mistakes have you learned from along the way?
Allow mistakes to become gift. I remember I was doing a watercolour reproducing the Venus of Lascaux. A big drop of black ink fell on her leg. After the first disappointment, it asked me to become the centre of a flower. That started a totally new background that did not exist before. Now it is a much better piece that I had ever conceived.
Sometimes I start my first layer and it’s too dark and requires lots of light colours to bring light. That teaches me not to let myself fall too deep into a dark place as it takes lots of extra work to come back to light. I am learning the dance between dark and light, how to create contrast, as I often have been scared by it. I finally changed my belief that contrast equal conflict.
What are your favourite pieces of equipment and why?
A good quality boxed canvas because is a good foundation, that’s the architect in me talking! An easel as it allows my body to move when I paint. My hands because for me many times I approach painting as a sculpture, my hands mould the light and the shadows to allow the subject to pop.
Do you have any tips for new artists?
Paint, paint, paint and … paint some more! Every day, it doesn’t matter even if it is ten or twenty minutes only. I read that Picasso by age fourteen had 400 finished canvases! What matters is practising.
Keep a sketchbook with you. Jot down on your journal. Experiment new stuff until you find your voice. I found that for me style was simple to find while my voice took longer. Get inspired by others BUT avoid copying; if you do it use this process to learn how you can do it differently.
Publish your art on social media, as people will follow your growth and they will know you are serious with your passion. That will help you to grow.
What is one thing about you which you think would surprise people?
The best form of Art is Nature itself and because WE are Nature as there is no separation, WE are a work of Art even if we have to continuously remind ourselves so. That’s why many times I go or I organise groups to go into the wilderness to recharge. We learn, create rituals, and through spiritual practices we enter into that space in between where Soul conversations mostly with wild animals, happen. They have so much to teach and share with us.
The Elephant Love, 100 postcard box was a result of one of these trips. 10 women artists coming virtually together from all over the world connected with a group of women, also from every continent, who arrived in one of the National Parks of Zimbabwe called Gonarezhou, the place of elephants. The first group was painting elephants while the other group was working in consciousness with all of Nature. The strongest message was delivered specifically by the elephants. They invited us to live self love fully.
Thank you so much for spending the time with me Antonella – I loved your answers.
If you would like to find out more about Antonella, her art and her coaching please connect with her here:
I hope you enjoyed this interview, and if you would like to find out more about getting past your barriers letting loose your inner creative then why not Click here to find out more about my Painting Happiness Experiences!
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