Mpowered. By Women for Women: Debbie Bonello

Mpowered. By Women for Women: Debbie Bonello

Meet Debbie Bonello – An astounding artist responsible for creating atmosphere and emotion through her brush strokes.

Debbie Bonello is an outstanding artist, recently having a sold-out exhibition called Gatherings in Mqabba. Mostly using water-based oils as her form of medium, Debbie paints a variety of paintings including landscapes and people. Scroll down to listen to the full podcast.


I like to paint most things – landscapes, people. Object drawings, not so much though – I think those are my least favourites. I like the live model experience as well because it’s a great exercise to practice your drawing skills. I vary my work a lot. I wake up in the morning and decide what I need to paint that day.’

During the past five years, Debbie’s work consisted mostly of water-based oils.

‘I tried different techniques. I tend to gravitate towards water-based oils. I also like charcoal quite a bit. In the past 5 years, I have been showing my work and introducing it to the public, mostly with water-based oils. Maybe a should give water colour a bit of a chance now, especially in summer!’


Debbie’s work is very expressive and due to this fact, she prefers to paint bigger pieces rather than small ones.

‘I started with bigger sizes. The biggest canvas I did was a 2m-by-2m canvas. I love a big space to paint on. I use all my body to put the brush work on the canvas. A small canvas is restricted in space. However, around two to three years ago, I decided to challenge myself with smaller sizes. The smallest painting, I ever did was on a 20cm-by-20cm canvas. I still feel more comfortable painting on bigger sizes.’

Debbie’s career kicked off at a very young age. She was always a creative soul.

‘I started at a very young age. My dad is a stone sculptor, and he works in churches. As a young girl, I saw him draw a lot. I find anything created by human hands extraordinary. I remember myself drawing all the time. I studied to become an Arts teacher. After I had children, I had to decide what I wanted to do for work – go back to being a teacher or become a painter. I decided to become a painter!’

‘For me, the arts are my lifestyle and my life. I am very lucky to have an incredible support system including my husband, family, and great friends.’

However, even someone as passionate about art as Debbie, stumbles on some bumps in the road.

‘I do hit walls and when they hit you, it’s hard to go through. Last time this happened was after my first solo exhibition. You get on a high during the exhibition and then in my quiet studio, I just couldn’t paint anymore. It passed after a couple of weeks. You must persevere. The more you practice, the better you become – just like with everything else.’

A highlight in Debbie’s career was her recent sold-out exhibition called Gatherings. She never expected such a welcoming and was overwhelmed with the response she received from the public. Debbie claims that the exhibition’s theme found her.

‘I was painting people in silhouettes. No gender, no identity – they were in different situations. It all started because of the recent lockdowns we had because of the pandemic. The room the exhibition was held in was also so intimate that it almost reflected what we went through in our lockdowns, everyone confined in a room or small space. The location felt like an extension of the exhibition.’

Debbie admits that, although everything about the exhibition was very exciting, the interviews were very nerve-wrecking for her.

‘I feel that I am a better listener and observer. I get so nervous with interviews. I prefer talking through the brushes rather than through words.’

As an ending note, Debbie gives us some sound advice about following your heart.

‘You should always do what you love. If someone loves to paint, just do it! Once you put your heart into something you love, the passion will show. For me, this is my dream.’

So, what’s next for Debbie?

‘I have a collective exhibition which will be hosted by Gallery 23 and next year, I am hosting a big exhibition with Andrew Borg in Gozo which is very exciting!’

Thank you for joining us on our podcast, hosted by Trudy Kerr. It was a pleasure getting to know more about you, Debbie!