Daniela Astone, Painter, Teacher, Mother

Daniela Astone teaching at The Old Masters Techniques Workshop in TIAC Beijing.  

Daniela Astone teaching at The Old Masters Techniques Workshop in TIAC Beijing.  

Daniela Astone is an Italian realist painter born in a small Tuscan fishing village called Porto Santo Stefano, a peaceful and quiet place close to the sea where the relationship between its inhabitants and its splendid nature is strong and important. According to Daniela, fishermen and farmers are the village's main population, the reason why people are strongly attached to the environment in an almost rustic way. Her parents, owners of a "pizzeria", are hard-working people who taught her passion and respect for work. Daniela recalls herself as a child taking naps on top of flour sacs because her family life was spent mainly in their working place.

Astone splits her time between painting, teaching and being a mother and she admits she's capable of managing several aspects of her professional and personal life at the same time because her parents educated her to devote to work.

Eva, Oil on canvas 110x110cm

Eva, Oil on canvas 110x110cm

Daniela confesses that since she was a child she felt different, weird and extremely creative, qualities that didn't fit into the regular behavior expected from a child from her town, reason why she felt misunderstood.

Daniela started drawing in a spontaneous and passionate way at an early age, often preferring to draw instead of paying attention to school, the reason for which, after several failures, her mom wanted her to abandon her studies to find a job. In response to that, Daniela asked for the last chance to show she would be a great student if their parents sent her to an art school. Daniela's mom agreed with one condition: if she would have failed just once, she would have had to find a job. Daniela not only didn't fail an exam, but she became a great student because she found her personal channel in Arts, getting also her parents support once they realized that was what she needed. 

After completing high-school, Daniela enrolled at the Comics School of Florence in order to develop her drawing skills. 

In Florence, the path to take wasn’t very clear. I wasn’t too ambitious and I didn’t have big expectations. I just wanted to refine my drawing method and find any job which would put me in front of a table with a pencil in my hand.

At the Comics School, Daniela met her partner, Simone, a professional illustrator who introduced her into the working field. After a year and a half of working together, Daniela realized that committing to a client's request didn't fit her, because she doesn't like her creativity to be restricted by someone else. Luckily for her, Simone knew Daniel Graves, the Director of the Florence Academy of Art, who invited her to an evening drawing class in his academy. 

I just fell in love. What shocked me the most was the difference between the environment I came from, which was very free but often chaotic and messy and this place in which the act of drawing was almost a ritual where everyone silently focuses on what they’re doing. Going to that drawing class felt like entering into a temple. That was exactly what I wanted.

Daniela is currently the Director of the second year program of the FAA. She is in charge of the transition from charcoal drawing to oil painting. She feels mentoring someone is a matter of paying attention to the needs of every student, reason why she frequently modifies and adapts her program method in order to pass on very classic and precise techniques and concepts in a creative way. Daniela believes the human relationship with the student is fundamental because it defines the quality of the teaching.  To her the most important lesson she can convey is to challenge oneself, to be constant, focused and disciplined. She thinks Art is not only the product that comes from the voluntary need to create, but it is also the consequence of the act of repeating and practicing in class or in a studio. "Inspiration must catch you with a pencil in your hand. Probably most of the things you do are meaningless or worthless, but those are the small experiments that lead you to great results. It is important to be in the studio with yourself" she says. 

Daniela splits her time between teaching, painting and being a mom. She loves what she does, and her inspiration comes mainly from her feelings, her environment and the people who surround her. She believes being an artist is a state of being, and to her drawing and painting are the means to be in touch with herself, an encounter between her conscious and her unconscious. It is not clear to Daniela what does she want to share with the viewer, she feels her goal is not to make an impact or to change the world. 

I just want to be honest with myself. There are people who empathize with my art not because I want to move them, but because there’s a communion of souls. There is always a universal language that goes beyond the literal message of a painting. I believe that if Art is honest, it has the power to take the viewer to a non-space in a no-time where they feel eternal. Isn’t that the purpose of art?

Daniela's inspiration comes from her own life and fantasies. She also spends time looking at other painter's work in order to understand what she doesn't want to paint. To Daniela, painting is a sort of ritual that starts with strong "call" by an image or a form which asks her to be instinctively put on canvas. She explains that during this process she gets into a state of mind similar to a trance where she doesn't really understand much what the image is about, but she allows herself to be guided by it, creating a strong relationship with the painting. Once she finishes it, she lets it rest for a variable period of time which allows her to settle down the experience.

...and when I look at it again, I understand what it is about. My paintings are a sort of chronology of my life, and the images that come to me so spontaneously are talking about specific voices of my subconscious that want to have space. I really love this aspect of creation.

Daniela likes challenges and that's one of the reasons she has followed the path of representational painting, which suits her research and taste. To her observing and understanding nature in order to find the way to transfer it into a canvas is exciting, and she believes teaching a classical method of relating with the world gives young people the tools to be more honest with themselves. 

When you put students in front of an object or in the middle of nature, and you ask them to observe it their own way, you force them to be in contact with themselves in order to find solutions. When someone is alone finding solutions, personality gets developed, and a much more sincere journey to personal research starts. I think people should be more sincere with themselves to be able to discover who they are and what they really want despite society.

Daniela believes we live in times where we are bombarded by images and messages which encourage people to reach a kind of "success" decided by social media and society, which send people away from their own voices. Learning a method which demands to be in contact with reality helps to give a clear form to what could be an abstract concept, often unclear for the artist himself.  

Daniela finds the expression "Classical Studies" is boring, she simply believes that if someone wants to master a language it is important to learn the "grammar", that's why representational education is important. 

Daniela has collaborated with TIAC teaching during the Old Masters Techniques workshop in Beijing organized ate the beginning of 2018. She spent a short but intense time there, realizing that intercultural exchange is a way of creating a sense of peace.  She's confessed her desire to go back To China to establish more strong human relationships with people, to get to know them better and to discover a culture completely different from the European in order to get inspired. 

Light and form, oil on canvas80x70cm

Light and form, oil on canvas80x70cm

Anna Rosa Paladino