Welcome to the world of Verona Peñalba, an accomplished artist and practitioner of IFS (Internal Family System) therapy. Hailing from Nicaragua and currently residing in the vibrant city of Greenport, NY, Verona's artistic journey took her to the renowned Atelier Canova in Rome, Italy, where she honed her skills in painting.

With an impressive portfolio of exhibitions, Verona's artwork has been shown by galleries such as Codice Gallery in Managua, Nic; Pleyades Gallery in Managua, Nic.; Factory Studios in Bourthmouth, England; and The BOX Art Basel in Miami, FL. She has also showcased her talents at independent venues across Miami, the Dominican Republic, and the North Fork of NY. Notably, her creations have found a place in the private collections of art enthusiasts, including a stunning mural on Richard Branson's Mosquito Island in the BVI.

Beyond her artistic endeavors, Verona seamlessly integrates her expertise in IFS therapy into her practice and workshops. Her approach fosters a sense of calm confidence, courage, curiosity, and compassion, empowering individuals to embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery.

Verona's passion for sharing knowledge and fostering growth extends to her role as a co-host of the "Expansión" Podcast. Conducted in Spanish, this enlightening podcast delves into a wide range of relevant themes, emphasizing the significance of art and therapy in unlocking one's full potential.

Verona Peñalba

Can you tell us about your journey as an artist and how you discovered your passion for art?

I discovered painting during my college years. My cousin invited me to paint with canvas (something I had never done), and it came so easily and naturally to me that I have not stopped since then.

How would you describe your style, and what influences or inspirations have shaped your work?

My style has evolved and changed with me, and I love that! For about 10 years, I painted figurative pieces, mainly portraits of women. I have the power to see the best in people, and being able to celebrate each woman with a portrait brought me a lot of pride and a deep sense of contribution to my life. After having my daughter seven years ago, I started playing with abstract art. Over the years, I have developed my own style, which is very similar to how I approached portrait painting, with many layers. The difference is that abstract art allows me to trust in the unknown and let go of control. It is a beautiful balance between myself, the medium, gravity, water, and the pigments. I am looking forward to integrating natural pigments into my new collection and, therefore, continuing to expand.

What challenges have you encountered throughout your art practice, and how have you overcome them?

I have encountered many challenges. Having my child was a big one, as I dedicated most of my time to her and became very devoted. Slowly, it started to affect the other aspects of myself that were eager to create and go out into the world. This also affected my confidence and energy to show up. During the pandemic, I discovered Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS), and it has changed my life to the point that I study the therapy and practice it myself. I now have more clarity, confidence, calmness, creativity, connection, compassion, and courage to live my life to its fullest potential.

Can you share a memorable moment or experience that had a significant impact on your career as an artist?

For me, every painting and engaging with collectors are memorable. The spark is kept alive every time I start a painting or sell one. However, I have to say that a particularly memorable time was when I moved back to my native country, Nicaragua, while I was pregnant. I set myself the goal of having a solo show. I painted non-stop for nine months, and the show date happened to be just ten days after my baby was born. Now, my great goal of having my first solo show in my country seems so small compared to bringing life into this world. It was all very emotional, and I couldn't even speak after the gallery opening—I just burst into tears.

How do you approach the creative process? Could you walk us through the steps you take from idea generation to the final artwork?

For my abstract work, I usually start with a gesture. Sometimes it comes to me before I even begin, and sometimes it is automatic in front of the canvas. I place the first color, usually blue with lots of water, and distribute it. I let it dry and repeat the process with different colors, addressing different areas as I deem necessary, until the painting is done. There is a lot of contemplation and feeling between the layers.

Have there been any significant milestones or achievements in your artistic career that you are particularly proud of? Please elaborate.

Producing a solo show while being pregnant and keeping up with my commissioned work was very important to me. Now, I see my perseverance through having to move countries with a baby, starting from scratch, working side jobs to sustain myself, and having no studio. The perseverance and drive behind my love for creating is what I am most proud of, and I thank myself for that because it keeps me alive and inspired.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are just starting their artistic journey? Are there any lessons you've learned along the way that you would like to share?

I believe that each of us needs to embrace the various lessons that life presents to us. Whatever seems most challenging to you is likely the lesson you are meant to learn and dedicate time and effort to understanding, evolving, and expanding. Continuously pursue growth throughout your life by seeking guidance from mentors, therapists, communities, and other resources. Additionally, focus on leveraging your strengths. Never cease to utilize your strengths to support your overall development and advancement.

What was your favorite part of the Artist Navigation Course? What did you find valuable?

The mindset aspect of the Artist Navigation Course was my favorite part. It reminded me that there is always a destination to strive for. At that particular point in my life, I felt like I had finally regained control of my journey. I had my boat in order and my sail ready to rise. However, I needed support in defining my destination. Through the thought-provoking questions provided by Kat, the course offered an invaluable roadmap for finding my own path.

You can find Verona Peñalba on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/veronapenalba/ and learn more about her work at https://www.veronapenalba.com/.