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Living the Life of an Artist • by Monica Sabolla Gruppo

Monica Sabolla Gruppo Creating Art in my Childhood
I grew up in a big city in the north of Italy, where I used to feel lost because I couldn’t find cheery faces (flowers), happy voices (birds) and arms that hug (trees) ... just a chaotic, uncomfortable environment made out of asphalt, cement, high suffocating buildings, and noise. For an introvert and nature lover like I am, the city looked like I had landed on an alien planet and was surrounded by the dwellers of that same, unknown, hostile world. My only, comforting, true friends were creativity and ART.

Fortunately, I spent most of my childhood with my maternal grandmother (who loved to sew, cook, and make) and grandfather, an award-winning painter who was completely consumed by his hobby. I often had access to his studio and the remnants of oil colors on his palette. Those hours we spent together drawing, painting, and playing surrounded by lots of interesting and magical tools were pure joy for me.

Unfortunately my Nonno left his material body when I still was little, and couldn’t pass on to a “wiser” me the secrets of his painting techniques. But I can vividly remember his fire while painting; his expression; the way he used to hold the brushes and move them on the canvas; his messy palette; the dark apron my granny had sewn for him and he always wore; the glass Mason jars on his worktable (an old woodworking table, actually) half-filled with trementine; and lots of brushes resting into those jars for a while, before he carefully, slowly, and lovingly cleaned and put them away.

ART has been my constant companion since those early days, and every single day of my school-age years. As soon as I was back from school, you could see me flying to my bedroom to start drawing and painting.

Choosing a Path
When it was time to choose a profession for my future, neither my family nor I, honestly, were used to art as full-time job, so I deliberately ignored that small voice whispering inside my heart and didn’t go to art school. ART could remain my hobby.

As I loved nature, I diligently got my master’s degree in biology with specialization in ecology, but what was obvious, beyond the fact that I had real difficulties with math and statistics (which my active right brain hemisphere definitely refused to understand), was that the highlights of my days were those hours I could spend painting and crafting, which made my studies more bearable and kept me sane and happy. I even managed to take ten watercolor lessons (a gift from my mom) from an elderly painter who lived nearby. Those were the only ones I took that definitely opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me. I can still tenderly remember not only his watercolor lessons, but also those about life and the deep meaning of being an artist. He had surely read between the lines, and understood at first sight that I was an artist myself.

Needless to say, I never became a biologist, but continued to experiment in the arts and crafts, always growing and evolving, and no day of my life has passed by without thinking of or making something creative. ART has saved me again and again, on a daily basis.

Trusting my Inner Voice
After years and years of struggles with my big fears and feelings of inadequacy, always supported by a loving, understanding husband, I finally was able to free myself from the opinion of others about what I should do and how I should live, and trust my inner voice instead, in 2011. I started a career as a licensing artist and photographer with an American agent. What I had heard in the beginning like a gentle whisper in my heart, eventually became a strong, steadfast, powerful “calling” that I was no longer able to ignore.

Being an artist means I can see and feel what others are often not able to see and feel, and that may seem a little daunting and somewhat isolating. Many times in the past I’ve considered this a curse, but I can see clearly now, I am not blind anymore. When I do stop and take a deep breath, as my sweet doggie has taught me, I deeply know that having a strong sensitivity, a soul receptive to beauty and the “essence” of things, and the ability to make them tangible through whatever medium I might want to use, is a great blessing to me. On any given day, I always have something to hang on to, and I am always able to find deep joy in the images that live and dance in my heart and mind. And most of all, I can make them visible and perceivable through my artistic abilities and let others partake of my joy.

So, here I am on my journey—a simple girl who now owns her humble truth, and goes along the less traveled path with a full, happy, open heart, living and crafting the exact life of an artist she was meant to live.

To learn more about Monica Sabolla-Gruppo, visit or the-white-


Monica's spirit is just as beautiful as her Art, what a lovely post, catherine x

oh Monica! how wonderful to see you here! Congratulations mon amie! you deserve this! truly! SO proud of you! ;)

Great choice of artist. Monica always speaks to and touches my heart.

I've always admired this artist's work. It speaks to me. I recently saw an article that put a name with art and was so pleased to see that it was someone I had followed! Am looking forward to seeing what she does with Cresendoh

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