With Christmas and New Year just round the corner, here is my list of the 10 best presents (that money can buy) according to me. I always think any gift should be special, personal and reflecting the character and preferences of the one it’s meant for. The mere fact of giving(gifting) is a about showing care and appreciation for those around us. That’s why I prefer selecting presents that contain special energy which would be transferred to their future owner and would remind them every day that you thought of them and that you wanted to make them smile from within.
The card also does matter. It can make all the difference. One of the best gift messages written for me on the inside cover of a book was ‘To Silvena, because of who she is.’
………….TOP 10 Wish-list………….
1.An Original Painting
Choosing a work of art is the best gift you can get for someone. It has powerful energy within it and it’s almost like a new ‘creature’ that you have invited to share your dwelling. Selecting the right artwork for someone close to you can be tricky as it tests your knowledge of them and their preferences. But at the same time you cannot go wrong here as every single person sees art differently and can find something personal in it and re-discover themselves through it. Below is a list of Artists that I would personally recommend:
Neil Moore – Contemporary Figurative Realist Paintings and Drawings
I am absolutely fascinated by the depth of thought and feeling in Neil’s paintings. They are everything Fine Art is for me – deep, moving, silencing.
‘The resulting imagery is not illustrative, it is always metaphorical. This is because I am trying by painting an image to “understand”, not to be understood.’
Feel free to have a read the interview I took with Neil.
Tina Spratt – Figurative Oil Paintings
I like the detail in Tina’s artworks, the beautiful representation of the figures, the tenderness of the colors, the capture of the moment.
‘My paintings which are focused on the female form, are glimpses of a simple everyday intimacy, I am interested in capturing that fleeting time when a person is unaware of being observed, there is something very honest and private about that moment.’
Bryan Kelly – Naive Art Paintings
Bryan’s paintings just let the sunshine in, without realising the healing sun rays have reached the dark corners of your soul.
‘I describe my paintings as naive with more than a hint of surrealism, uncomplicated and generally happy, probably appealing more to the heart than the head.’
Feel free to have a read of the interview I took with Bryan.
Suminder – Abstract Paintings
What is the shape and colour of a feeling? Is it carved deep inside your heart. Suminder’s paintings trigger your reflection, they open a door.
Jean Pierre Kunzler – Portraits
I see one of his paintings every day on my walk back from work on the window of what looks like an accounting company. The portraits change almost every month. They are like friends, people you would like to know more about, some of them make me smile. They remind me of my own art. I just love them without knowing why.
‘The world speaks to me in pictures. My soul answers in silence.‘
William Oxer – Figurative Realist Paintings
His depiction of female beauty is mesmerizing. You can see the character in the eyes, gestures, in the little details.
‘My paintings use subtle allusions,picking up on the notion of perfect love and playing on the word ‘passion,’ as in Troilus and Cressida, Romeo and Juliet or Dante’s Beatrice.’
And if you like you can also have a look on my own Art website – Silvena Toncheva – Naive Art.
‘I have been painting for all my life as means of escape and expression of my inner self. An artwork is like a living universe, it has a powerful energy within which you can feel when you are close. ‘
A good book can truly transform your life and a book given by a friend can would be forever treasured. I am not sure if there is something like paradise but if there is I am pretty sure it must look like a giant library or a bookstore. It doesn’t matter whether the book is new or old, it’s what inside that makes all the deference. Below are just a few books which I personally find resonating with my inner voice.
1984 by George Orwell
Dystopia, even more relevant today with the new extreme UK law for surveillance.
“Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.”
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
‘As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. ‘
Nine Sories by Jerome Salinger
‘I was six when I saw that everything was God, and my hair stood up, and all, Teddy said. It was on a Sunday, I remember. My sister was a tiny child then, and she was drinking her milk, and all of a sudden I saw that she was God and the milk was God. I mean, all she was doing was pouring God into God, if you know what I mean.’
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.
The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
‘Twin primes: pairs of prime numbers that are close to each other, almost neighbors, but between them there is always an even number that prevents them from truly touching. ‘
You may also have a look at my own book – Ichtys – The Fisherman’s Daughter – in which I’ve taken portraits and interviews with 12 different women and asked them questions about spirituality.
‘Ichtys was the symbol of Christianity in times when you had to hide your religion because of fear of being killed. In this photo project it is used as a metaphor for something you believe in which you cannot see but you can find the signs of in your surrounding and read them with your heart and soul. ‘
I have never had big interest in jewellery but Photography did change that. Being always on a search for the right props to match my creative project and build my characters, I have started to appreciate more the symbolic significance of costume and personal ornaments. And in recent years I have been lucky enough to meet some extremely talented jewellery designers and makers. Which, needless to say, have not been very good for my bank account, haha
I’ve discovered Lucy’s nature-inspired art at The Contemporary Art Fair held in Stratford-Upon-Avon Town Hall this winter.
‘Lucy believes you cannot compete with the beauty of nature, its perfect lines, textures and forms. Taking moulds from her delicate finds, she casts into the cavity they leave, creating exact replicas of the original forms that retain the finest details.’
Jina is a professional costume designer and stylist working on film and commercials. I’ve known her name for years as she is a top stylist in Bulgaria and is featured in all big Fashion magazines. But it was only about a year ago when I got to meet her and she became a close friend. Jina has created a unique jewellery – Alyosha Cosmo.
‘Alyosha has always been a Diver. But his real dream was to become an astronaut, just like his ancestor Yuri Gagarin. A wise man once told him: “Alyosha, in order to become a real Astronaut, you have to see the whole world first!”. “The Whole World?!” – exclaimed Alyosha. “Yes! Only then you can become a real Astronaut!” – said the wise man. And so, just like the little Prince, Alyosha began his journey… When people buy an Alyosha, they help him fulfill his dream. They take him travelling along with them and take pictures of the amazing places they go to, capturing unique moments and telling amazing stories.’
I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth on a photo-shoot I did for her first jewellery collection. She later took part in my Ichtys project.
‘Her route into jewellery was not an ordinary one. She was studying chemistry at University, when a chronic illness called narcolepsy forced her to withdraw. It was during this time that she developed her skills as a silversmith, teaching herself every technique necessary to create the first pieces in her Silver, Knot Lace collection. Her motto is: “If jewellery’s not art, it’s not jewellery.”’
During my first Art Fair at the Leamington Spa Town Hall I got to know Milagros – the talented and beautiful personality behind the Milik brand.
‘Milik combines high quality Peruvian/Japanese materials with an artistic and technical vision. Milik’s work mixes materials such as the kimono (Japanese textile) and the poncho (Peruvian textile) and puts them into a different context. Combining both tradition and contemporaneity, Milik communicates its multicultural influences and passes them into other worlds.’
It’s difficult (if not impossible) not to like something that has been specially created for you. It’s a gesture of care and also shows how well you know the person you are making the gift to.
Set aside the fact I love her to bits, Maria is one madly talented and hard-working custom print designer who runs her own busy studio in Coventry. She can personalize with your own message a wide range of items such as T-shirts, jerseys, albums, stickers, bed sets, flags, etc. and she can also make a custom drawing or design lettering to be then printed on a garment.
‘We are all about the cool look and unique style! Nothing is templated and it doesn’t matter whether is for a big print or a small sticker, we work with every customer individually so they can get their dreamed one-of design and run it proudly.’
At first glance this may seem a bit of a conformist option but it’s not when an album has a personal meaning for someone. It could be a contemporary band that you and your friend/relative/partner have been to see live or a musician that you know they absolutely adore who has released a new album.
I’ve recently been to see gig – The Moonbears – and was moved by their powerful music and quirky sound. I immediately wanted to buy their album.
That’s how my little (not so little anymore) monster came into my life – Shadow was a scared ball of fur that could fit into the palm of my hand.
What could be better than being given the chance to discover and build new skills or develop a passion of yours that you didn’t have the chance or the time to take on previously? This could make a prefect present for someone close to you. I’ve started Live Drawing course this year and apart from allowing myself this time dedicated purely to art itself without any outer disturbance, I actually was surprised to find out some of my skills have improved with time through practice.
Just some ideas but the opportunities are endless:
- Driving Course – I would personally recommend Rock Driving School or AA Driving School.
- Bloggers Course – I’ve had the pleasure to attend a course by The Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life blog.
- Graphic Design Course
- Live Drawing Course – I highly recommend the Live Drawing Course led by Neil Moore.
- Portrait Live Drawing Course – Althorpe Studios organise drop-in portrait sessions which are an enjoyable experience.
- Vintage Hair-Styling Course – my lovely friend Jane from Chez Titine Salon will teach you how to ‘turn yourself into a glamour puss‘.
- Make Up Workshop – I’ve worked with Suezanna from Make My Day Makeup on a creative project, she did a brilliant job and she is also so much fun to be around.
- Pottery Course
- Photography/Retouching Course – I’ve won a retouching lesson by Siyana Kasabova Photography last year which I found most informative and easy to apply in my work.
- Jewellery Making Course – Ruth Mary now offers Jewellery-making workshops.
- Couture Course
- Cookery Course
This gift option would give you the opportunity to create a memory for a lifetime and make a loved-one feel truly special. I’ve had photo-shoots booked as a present for sister or mother and the feeling of making someone happy by revealing their beauty is hard to describe. Moreover the images can later be turned into a keepsake to put on the wall.
Hardly needs any explanation, it’s an experience like no other, definitely a treat.
Your first thought is often somewhere exotic and this would be truly wonderful but travelling to discover locations even near you can sometimes be just as rewarding. It’s more about sharing the experience and discovering new places in and out.
So, that was my list, what is on yours?