“I had always planned to paint”, Boriana tells me. “I had always thought I would give it a go one day. I bought a cheap little kit, a canvas, and five paints in a plastic pack, I think there was a brush as well. BUT, as a mum with small children. I felt very overwhelmed to start something new. I was suffering from PND at that time and panic attacks. So I didn’t open it, I was just waiting for the right time I think, as soon as I get the time, as soon as the children get bigger, when I feel better. It never came”.
Life is what happens between the plans we make
I think this is something we can all relate to, I know I can, putting ourselves on the back burner, juggling the needs of a growing family. When I look at the woman in front of me, this vibrant, passionate, grounded woman, I find it hard to imagine her as the person she is telling me about. “So, how long was it before you opened the pack and started painting?” She laughs and rolls her eyes. “Ten years. Ten whole years.”
When you look about her studio (the one purpose built from scratch in her yard) and see the wall to floor explosion of colour and form, it is hard to imagine that this self-taught Artist was out in the creative wasteland for so long. So what made her dig out the $10 painting pack from the back of the cupboard and finally start? What eventually led to her studying fine Art and realizing her desire to teach others.
When the Student is Ready
“We went travelling around Australia for six months with our children, and while we were in Brisbane I met somebody, who was an artist but also a very spiritual person and something gradually changed in the way I looked at things. I didn’t paint then, but when I came home I started to paint. I woke up one day and thought, Today I am going to paint and I went looking for that art kit in the cupboard. It had been so long I couldn’t find it, so I went to the shops straight away and got another one. I started painting that same morning. Then I painted every day.”
Drawing on what you know
In this way, she clocked up a very impressive output of 365 paintings in a year, In a vast range of styles and subjects. There are many portraits and of those, several display elements of her strong links with her Bulgarian Heritage. “My art shows a lot of my culture because it’s very important to me to keep it alive. These are my roots, where my children’s history comes from, I try to bring the colour and folklore I grew up with into my work. I have even taken up Bulgarian dancing, Ha, I had not done any dancing but now..” and she shrugs in an apologetic fashion as if to say, ‘I cant help it its in my genes.’
A Two Way Street
Boriana did not consider herself particularly artistic as a child, she enjoyed painting at school, but it was photography that always featured more in her early life. I studied architecture at the technical collage and someone from the photography department took me under his wing and passed on his knowledge.” She acknowledges he was a very important influence. I think this one of the reasons I love to teach and share what I know too. ‘Caring is sharing’ is a well sung mantra in her studio, where the cake, coffee and chatter flow as freely as the watercolours. I think art, like life, is a two-way street. You learn and you teach at the same time.
A Different Passion
It is this belief that drew her into another artistic endeavour by accident. “I was at St Nicholas’s church and there was an Iconographer working on a mural. I was fascinated, so I went up to him and asked, can I watch you work? I gave him my number and I heard nothing for four months, then out of the blue he called me up and invited me to come and observe him painting a ceiling. I turned up in this floaty dress and he was way up on a scaffold. I watched him for a few hours, every piece of a religious mural, each different section, needs six layers of paint. I was watching him and he was sooo meticulous, so careful but also so slow. I asked him, please can I help you, just paint one of the bottom layers even?
Laying the foundations
She gives me a cheeky smile. “Well of course he was a little resistant but I won him over. Now I am a very fast painter, my whole life is fast , so the next day I turned up in overalls and climbed up on the scaffold and by the end of the week I had done the equivalent of his six months’ work! I begged for him to let me do more. In the end he allowed me to do five layers and only finished the final layer himself”. In typical Boriana fashion what she learns from her mentors she passes on to others and now helps those interested in painting Icons achieve their own masterpieces.
The Burning Question
Working as an artist and teacher across all ages and mediums, she still makes the time to paint daily, It is something I can only aspire to, but I am always fascinated by asking people the same question. ‘So what does creativity mean to you?’ There is only a the slightest hesitation. Boriana thinks as fast as she paints. “Life, fulfillment, purpose. It completes me, without that I’m finished”. she laughs. I look around the studio dripping colours and think how curious it is, that such a garden of creativity could have grown from a place of unhappiness, with the seeds of a cheap painting set, lay dormant for ten years then blossomed into this. Just from saying, Today is the day I paint.