Silvia Karamfilova painting "Carnations"


We live in a very fast paced, hurried and turbulent world with numerous problems and difficulties. We often forget that humanity developed not only on the basis of modern technologies and material goods, but above all on the basis of the spiritual. Most of us like to travel and to visit various places of interest, however few of us question why from the very beginning of human existence people began painting…

In order to feed themselves, people had to collect roots and plants and hunt. In the caves of Lascaux, La Mouth and Altamira, in the rocks of Africa and Siberia, as well as in Indonesia, we find numerous rock and wall paintings some of which were small sized. Why would a person in these ages deem it necessary to paint the images of trees, animals, plants and other things? Because, they acknowledged that there exists something inexplicable in Nature. They tried to engrave the images of the magical world of the animal kingdom and the flora surrounding it on the walls of caves. Thus, they believed that they can mesmerize and enchant the animals they hunted and it would be easier to catch them and feed their tribe. This is how the dawn of art began through the practice of magic and often these ancestors of ours experimented on a tiny scale.

The painting of small pictures was later utilized in illustrating documents and manuscripts to help those reading them in times when they were not able to before printing was invented. The small image conveyed a story and brought meaning to written words. Later small paintings became directly associated with book art. These illuminations were cut out of books or documents so that they could be carried more easily. They resembled miniatures.

Developing from the hand-carried miniature, later on artists were commissioned to paint small (mini) portraits – paintings that had the same use as wallet-sized photographs or selfies do today. In 16th-century England, Elizabethans carried small, painted portraits of loved ones in their pockets as tokens meant for “private pleasure.” These sizes of paintings became popular with collectors and are often referred to as “hand-held miniatures”.

My idea for these types of small-sized paintings came from my numerous personal experiences in which the receivers of some of the paintings crated by me were children. Their small physical frame and hands would usually not allow them to easily hold big-sized paintings and discover them well enough. I quickly noticed that these small-sized boards (10 x 10 cm) were easy to hold and be handled by children and somehow made them much more inquisitive about the images which were on them, as well as about art in general. I soon discovered that adults are also enchanted by these hand-held pictures and look upon them as carriers of wishes clad in wood and acrylic paint. In that way they could buy them for a loved one and convey an important message which can easily find its place in any setting or environment.

I have also discovered that some people are intimidated by the scale of traditional art forms. They require a proper gallery or an exhibition hall to be displayed successfully. But good art does not have to be cyclopean in size. Some fine art and/ or antiques are actually quite compact and can be displayed in much more intimate environments.

Over the last couple of decades our lifestyles have changed. We are now more mobile than ever, even if at the moment we are experiencing lockdowns due to viruses. Our cell phones are mobile. Our media is mobile. Even our living arrangements are oftentimes mobile. So why shouldn’t our art be mobile too?

Artists continue to explore the possibilities of the miniaturized art. Many are attracted to the challenges and limitations of a process that requires extreme concentration, creativity, and patience. Others, like me, are drawn to the intimacy of the tiny paintings, or the conceptual weight and symbolism of depicting various types of images on diminutive surfaces. They also have a magic-like appearance when coupled with other materials like crystal elements or metal rods or pins which are excellent at reflecting light and conveying metaphoric messages.

In every one of my “small” paintings I am telling a story not only for children but for adults too. Notwithstanding that in our current world there exists a lot of ugliness, destruction and disharmony, I have intentionally chosen to portray the beautiful, exquisite, symmetrical and inspiring. I hope you enjoy these small hand-held treasures and share them with your loved ones.

The sub-cycle of “Small Paintings” is called “Whispers of the Leaves” and the paintings, part of it, are characterized by their size which is, with a few exceptions, always 10×10 cm. This cycle is in a way a continuation of one of my first cycles “Trees and Flowers in Time”. READ MORE GALLERY