One of the best parts of working as a designer is I get the privilege to be involved with amazing inspiring people and bring their ideas into vision.

Such an example was my lovely friend Katya Georgieva and her project Touch with Good/ kindness (originally in Bulgarian: Докосни с добро). The project is dedicated to sharing the stories of genuine acts of kindness we have experienced from other people, and thus inspiring for MORE kindness in the world and making it a better place.

She got inspiration from the wisdom:

When you do kindness, keep silent. When you receive kindness — tell everyone.

With the new year 2018 Katya started a viral challenge to share such stories 20 days in a row, and somehow… I got “infected”.

So here is my

Day 8 of the Touch with Good challenge

There was 1 year remaining by the end of high school and everyone was finding their way on what application subject to consider for higher education. I had it all set. I wanted that to be Art!

Ever since the first grade at my dear friend Yana’s there had been mentioned Georgi Kyoseiliev — a painter who was a family friend, “quite a character”, and at the same time — quite prolific. I had seen some paintings of his, including a child’s portrait of little Yana.

“Isn’t it just felicitous?” — Yana’s mom praised the painting after having collected it from the studio.

That’s why when the time came, the first thought of reason was asking if there was a chance of taking private lessons at uncle Joro’s. Before long there came the answer. He had agreed.

The first meeting with him was quite different from what I had imagined. The painter looked older than I’d expected, inspiring me with respect and awe. He would address me in a formal manner and he slightly stammered.

He first took me around the studio to show his works. I was greatly impressed with a gorgeous portrait of a beautiful young woman with long graceful fingers, which was hung high on the main room wall.

“Th-this is m-my daugh-daughter Assya.” — he explained with pride.

Afterwards, he took me to another smaller dim room, all in paintings, some of which already looked familiar. One of the walls was almost entirely taken by a huge canvas of a village maiden seated at the edge of a stone fountain, and opposite of her, chin rested on his hand — a young man with magnetic eyes, well-trimmed beard, richly ornate turban and fine clothing.

“Оh! The Spring of the White-Feeted!”* — I exclaimed spontaneously in exhilaration.

“Well done!” — the painter was apparently delighted with me recognizing the story. Truth be told, it wasn’t much of a challenge. We had studied the poem in detail at school. (see footnote for a brief spoiler 😉 )

It was time for me to showcase my drawings. At that time I hadn’t the slightest idea how to present my works. I was 17. I had prepared several thick folders of drawings ordered chronologically — starting with pieces from my 14–15 years of age. Of course, they were predominantly princesses. 

After his several minutes of looking and cautiously asking questions, I could hardly understand what he meant but I felt he was close to desperation with the hopeless case he had in front of him. He evasively and delicately started turning me away. He might have sensed my embarrassment, or he had decided to give me one last chance after all, and he asked:

“D-d-do you only have s-such… c-c-copied drawings?”
“No!” — I reacted quickly and at lightning speed, I skipped the piles of sheets towards the end of the folder where my most recent drawings were found. Those were characters from the Russian tale “The Stone Flower”.

At last, his expression lightened up. Flipping one after the other, he finally stopped at a standing figure of a slender blond lad in peasant shirt and trousers.

“Yes, yes, yes…” — he repeated under his breath while holding the sketch in assessment in front of himself. In a moment he cut it straight:
Good! You’re skilled!”

My face lit up. I later learned it was very hard to depict standing human figures in a good balance without having them “fall down”.

While we were discussing some additional details around my future schooling, uncle Joro inserted in a casual and slightly cautious manner:

“By the way, you are very well suited for a model.”

I got shy by the unexpected compliment but I quickly pulled myself together, as the wheels in my head clicked. We still hadn’t discussed the subject of payment. My dad had recently had his office robbed and his business was running in the red. Mom’s salary had to patch up the holes budget. I felt conscientiously that I would now be putting an extra burden on the family. I had no idea how much he would request for his tutorship, but I imagined that would be quite a sum for a painter of his scale. I decided to take the chance:

“Well then… How about bartering? You will mentor me and I will pose in exchange.”

He was surprised no less than I was, but after a few seconds of consideration he bent and we shook hands to seal the deal. 

Myself recently posing in front of a portrait for my 20th birthday

That was the beginning of an unusual professional and personal friendship which was all a touch with good. It passed beyond the boundaries of canvas and paint and lasted for the whole 10 years to follow, when Georgi Kyoseiliev ended his earthly way.

Thank you for everything, uncle Joro! Rest in peace!

___________________

*The Spring of the White-Feeted! — a poem telling the story of Gergana, a beautiful village maiden, who is courted by the vizier to leave her village and become his wife. She finds excuses but the vizier gives a solution to each and every one of her objections. Finally when she can no longer slip away, she confesses her love for a village lad as her strongest argument. The vizier pays his respect to Gergana by ordering to build a fountain at the spring where their encounter happened. Sadly the masons built Gergana’s shadow into the fountain and she passed away shortly. After her death people would still see her seated at the edge of the fountain, spinning wool under the moonlight. 

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