The Heroine’s Journey of Sonia Cipollari

What is the best thing that I love about my work? Sometimes, when I’m in front of the easel, I find myself deeply absorbed in what I’m doing, while at the same time I feel strongly present in myself. Its like being in a meditative state. As painter I often spend a lot of time on my own, and through my work with portraiture I can connect deeply with the person that I’m portraying. This kind of psychological investigation attracts me very much. Teaching is also a big part of my work and I love doing it much because it reflects back to me all the passion that I feel for painting.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? An early morning walk in my city, from my home down across the Gianicolo hill and over the river to a bar which still has a traditional roman feel. A happy, peaceful, island in the sea of chaos that is Rome. I go there just to sit on my own and have a coffee and cornetto. Moments like that are pretty close to perfect happiness.

What is my greatest fear? Being unable to provide to myself with “a room of my own.”

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? A constant fear of failure.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? I look for inspiration mainly among art and artist from the distant and recent past. One of the living artists who’s work I’ve been most impressed by is Marlene Dumas

What is my greatest extravagance? Letting my hair go grey!

On what occasion would I lie? I’m really bad at planning things and respecting deadlines, so it is pretty likely that I would be lying when I make a promise like: “tomorrow I’ll have it ready.”

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? Dealing with people who try to barter the price that I ask for, and managing all the self promotion stuff that I should do.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? The first time I stepped into my studio. Even today I can still recall all the feelings, the excitement, and the beautiful light coming through the floor to ceiling windows.

Where would I most like to live? I have the great fortune of living in Italy and every stone, every field, and every tree of this country is constantly a source of inspiration to me. I would love to spend a year in every one of the thousand villages spread across this nation from north to south.

If I could, what would I change about myself? So many things, maybe countless, but in the end I feel pretty happy with myself even with the hundreds of things that I don’t like.

What is my greatest achievement in work? My experience as professional painter is pretty short, so I’m really happy and grateful for what I have achieved so far, I would say that finally allowing my self to be a full time painter is the greatest achievement.

What is my most treasured possession? During the last few months I have had the chance to think about this a lot. In my life, for many reasons, I have tended to get divided from my beloved childhood photos in more than one occasion, and it still hurts me today, but I have realised that my real treasures are my life experiences and all the inner skills that have led me here.

What is my most marked characteristic? Forgetfulness!

What is my most inspirational location, in my city? I think the jewish area because it is rich in history and is full of beautiful views, and of course my studio.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? The supplì from Venanzio in Trastevere, gosh they really drive me crazy!

What books influenced my life and how? Among others, “The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin, “Se questo è un uomo” by Primo Levi , “A Room of one’s own” by Virginia Wolf, they have all represented a turning point for me. Each one for a different reason but they marked important moments in my life.

Who are my favorite writers? For a long period of time I loved reading Bruce Chatwin, but I’m not a great reader so now I can’t offer any other specific name.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? I grew up listening to heavy metal and grunge, so I mainly had an english/american musical background, but today I think of Strade Parallele (Aria Siciliana) by Giuni Russo and Franco Battiato. Growing older I have fallen in love again with my country’s musical tradition and now I can really enjoy the subtlety offered by the Italian language. The Italian music scene is full of heroins!

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? In my youth I was inspired in many ways by Jo from the novel Little Women, I also very much loved the character of Carmen from the novel of the same name by Prosper Mérimée.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? I wish it was possible to have a chat with Hypatia! I really admire people who stand up when they see injustice, and generally speaking all the people who live a life serving others.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? Above all “Brutti, sporchi e cattivi” by Ettore Scola, but my list is a very long list.

What role plays art in my life and work? I guess it plays a big role, but I prefer to use the word art as little as possible.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My partner, my friends and my studio’s colleagues are all those things together.

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on? I don’t have any names in mind, but I would love to work with a curator and participate in a project involving many artists.

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017? Again if it was possible I will love to meet somebody from the past, for example the Sixteenth century artist Sofonisba de Anguissola, she spent all her long life as a professional painter.

Where can you see me or my work in 2017? In October I will hold an Open Studio as part of the Rome Art Week, and will participate in the Christmas group show at RvB Arts in Rome.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Yael Scalia is a wonderful painter, Annalisa Vandelli a generous, brave and sensitive fotoreporter.

How can you contact me?

You can contact me through my email address:

What follows is a message of Peter de Kuster,  the founder of the Heroine’s Journey

What is Your Story?

Two Day Tour with Peter de Kuster  in the greatest bookstores of your favorite city. In Paris, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Berlin, London and Amsterdam we offer this unique What is your Story? experience.  To (re) write your story about yourself and your work. In the process transforming your capacity to successfully have the creative life and work you love. 

In this journey, Peter de Kuster,  founder of The Heroine’s Journey explores with you the way we tell stories about ourselves to ourselves — and, most important, the way we can change those stories to transform our creative business and life.

“Your story is your art, your art is your story,” says Peter. As human beings, we continually tell ourselves stories — of success or failure; of power or victimhood; stories that endure for an hour, or a day, or an entire lifetime. We have stories about our creative challenges, our art, our clients, our money, our self promotion, our time, our families and relationships, our health; about what we want and what we’re capable of achieving. Yet, while our stories profoundly affect how others see us and we see ourselves, too few of us even recognize that we’re telling stories, or what they are, or that we can change them — and, in turn, transform our very destinies.

Telling ourselves stories provides structure and direction as we navigate life’s challenges and opportunities, and helps us interpret our goals and skills. Stories make sense of chaos; they organize our many divergent experiences into a coherent thread; they shape our entire reality. And far too many of our stories, says Peter, are dysfunctional, in need of serious editing. First, he asks you to answer the question, “In which areas of my creative life and business is it clear that I cannot achieve my goals with the story I’ve got?” He then shows you how to create new, reality-based stories that inspire you to action, and take you where you want to go both in your work and personal life.

Our capacity to tell stories is one of our profoundest gifts. Peter’s approach to creating deeply engaging stories will give you the tools to wield the power of storytelling and forever change your creative business and life.

Become a great Storyteller

That’s why I set up What is your Story? service in the great cities of the world and their great bookstores. A new way to use the power of your story.  To guide you to life-changing, eye-opening but often elusive works of literature, both past and present, the books of fiction that truly have the power to enchant, enrich and inspire.

In two days with Peter de Kuster you’ll explore your relationship with books so far and your unique story identity will be sketched. You will be guided to books that can put their finger on what you want to rewrite in your story, the feelings that you may often have had but perhaps never understood so clearly before; books that open new perspectives and re-enchant the world for you.

You will be asked to complete a questionnaire in advance of your session and you’ll be given an instant story advice and books to read to take away. Your full story advice and books to read list will follow within a couple of days.


What Can I Expect?

Here’s an outline of the WHAT IS YOUR STORY? journey.

Journey Outline


  • What is your Story?
  • Are you even trying to tell a Story?
  • Old Stories  (stories about you, your art, your clients, your money, your self promotion, your happiness, your health)
  • Tell your current Story
  • Is this Really Your Story?


  • The Premise of your Story. The Purpose of your Life and Art
  • The words on your tombstone
  • You ultimate mission, out loud
  • The Seven Great Plots
  • The Twelve Archetypal Heroines
  • The One Great Story
  • Purpose is Never Forgettable
  • Questioning the Premise
  • Lining up
  • Flawed Alignment, Tragic Ending
  • The Three Rules in Storytelling
  • Write Your New Story


  • Turning your story into action
  • The Story Effect
  • Story Ritualizing
  • The Storyteller and the art of story
  • The Power of Your Story
  • Storyboarding your creative process
  • They Created and Lived Happily Ever After


The “What is your Story?” fee is Euro 2.495 excluding VAT for a private tour with a small group of 1 or 2 people.

Questions? Contact Peter de Kuster at 0031 6 33661772 or mail him at


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