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This week starts with the interesting interview of Bretislav Stejskal, a self-taught painter from Czech, who currently lives in Ireland. Bretislav is one of the two winners in the contest for the “Artist of the previous week” with the wonderful artwork “Girl with horses“. His work is perfect in performance, details and colors, combining classical with surreal themes that leave no one unmoved. Yet, I think the most impressive in his work is the medium he uses; with his color pencils and his gifted ability can transform any white canvas to a gorgeous painting. The result is so realistic, vivid and professional that few would understand from the first sight that is made with pencils.
By jwp. How did you get into art?
Bretislav. My mother says I loved drawing as soon as I gained awareness. At about the age of seven, my mother convinced me to join art school, for she could see the talent straight away… I did for about a month. Nonetheless, it was enough to have one work sent to a Gallery in Prague. So, I actually gained exposure at the age of seven, without understanding how much it could mean. Unfortunately for my early relationship with art, I loved something much stronger, Ice Hockey. I joined the local junior club and I never joined any art school ever again, although all the schoolteachers were mesmerized with my ability to draw. I won a couple of school competitions. After I finished education, I received a training course in a local casino, and work in the industry ever since. Since then up until about ’94, I did not touch pencil.
By jwp. So, which is your first real artwork in mature age?
Bretislav. Between jobs, I did “The Guardian”. It took me few days. I loved it, for it made me be aware how much talent was in me, even with no art education whatsoever. This was the first real piece of art. Unfortunately, it didn’t change anything. I went on with my profession and put my talent on hold again.
By jwp. Which was your turning point to decide to focus on art?
Bretislav. In January 2013, I suffered a heart attack…and that was it…that was the turning point. When I got out of the hospital I knew. I felt I owed so much more to me and this world, having this talent. I knew people with talents die all the time, without knowing they have it and that’s a waist. It needs to be used and shared. Our talent is what defines us as human, our urge to create.
By jwp. Would you tell us some words for your work? Do you believe that the themes you choose could tell something about your personality and what would that be?
Bretislav. My work takes in excess of 2-6 weeks to finish, dependently of the size and complexity. I would say my work represents my character, I feel they show my love for challenge. It’s visible in the backgrounds of my artworks. I can’t make a simple background, with few shades of smudged color. I can’t have a main subject that has no background without a story to tell. When I look back I can see “The Guardian” to be the first prove for this. It was just a tiny little snake photo in a very old encyclopedia with no background. I had to create one. Now, dropping just few brunches and pieces of dry wood would have been sufficient, but would have had no story to it. So, I decided to give the snake a purpose. I dropped the old mask in the set, making the snake to look like a guardian. It gave the simple picture of a snake a story.
In “Forbidden Love“, I could have just drawn the couple in stone with a simple background and it would have been sufficient as a decor. But I had to put a surreal background to it, for the couple has to have a story to tell. And, this goes on and on in every work I do.
By jwp. Your winning artwork in this contest is the very impressive “The Girl With Horses”. Could you tell us the story of it?
Bretislav. I started it in ’96. I found a reference in an old-fashioned magazine. I drew it in pencils on A4, which was one of the luckiest things ever did. A year later, I decided to do it in colored pencils on A0, a huge format. Half way through I had to move to another city, so again I had to delay it. The delay in finishing it turned into 16 years. During this time, being on the move to often, I lost the reference. But luckily for me, as I mentioned earlier, I had the sketch in pencil on A4, so I used it to finish this winning piece of art.
By jwp. Your medium is quite a difficult, for me at least. I must admit is the first time I saw so impressive and perfectly done artworks with colored pencils. Could you tell us more about it and the other mediums you use?
Bretislav. Firstly, I used the sketch to finish “The Girl With Horses“ and then just went on. I challenged myself with different things, testing colored pencils to the limit. This medium, what they so-called experts call a “child’s toy” is a medium that beats the experts on there mouths. Anything can be done in this medium and handled with patience and passion looks stunning. I recently started mixing mediums. Firstly, it was “Vivat Gordon“, where I used Caran d’Ache Neocolor II; more waxy pastels in combination with colored pencils. Then, it was the newest one “Fire In The Valley“ where I used soft pastels with colored pencils.
By jwp. How do you handle negative or malicious comments?
Bretislav. When it comes to malicious criticism, I couldn’t care less. Malicious criticism contents no constructive arguments, just simple words of insults of someone who most usually can’t even come close to pulling a straight line himself. Therefore, it more speaks for the people who give it, rather than for the artist they address it to. On the other hand, I very much welcome constructive critique from anybody who really observes and is looking for things that could be improved, or done differently, for it helps me become better and better. I must give credit to my niece because she has a very good eye for it. In fact, I love constructive criticism because it means that a person actually finds my art worthy of studying.
By jwp. Art is so subjective. What I may find awesome, others may think is awful and bad. And, there are also the art critics and the experts’ opinions. What do you think about all that?
Bretislav. There are no experts in art. There are only people who can and people who can’t. There are people who like art and people who don’t care about it. There are people who love to watch and there are people who want to collect. There is no such thing as an expert in art, for art holds no uniform, no boundaries, no limits, no framed knowledge. You can choose to use car crease or a bird’s poop and create art with it and whoever thinks is an expert, cannot be more expert than the artist who created it.
By jwp. How would you describe you as an artist? Are you extrovert or introvert?
Bretislav. As an artist I find myself vary patient, never too happy with me, always looking for perfection. I am introvert as a person, so I would say it’s no different in art.
By jwp. How would you describe your activity in online communities, like Fine Art America or social media networks?
Bretislav. When it comes to my activity on FAA, I must confess, I’m not very active. It gives me a lot of pleasure browsing in the site, discovering all these beautiful talented people. Other than that and jumping in contests my activity is close to none. I know, I should be a shame.
By jwp. What is the most challenging in being creative and an artist?
Bretislav. The most challenging thing I find in my art life is the space I don’t have. I work on 1 m. square next to my bed. I would love to have a studio and finally be able to start working other than dry media. When it comes to creating art, everything and nothing is a challenge. There was a first time for me to use different pastels. I did it. Create a stream of water from a close up. I did it. I always feel challenged, but have confidence that I can do it and a lot of pleasure doing it. That love and pleasure from creating art beats every challenge.
By jwp. What are your expectations and your goals regarding your art?
Bretislav. I hope that art will take me away from casino business. I’d like to become a professional, so instead of spending 8 hours in creating wealth for someone else, I’d love to create pleasure for everyone who loves art.
By jwp. Can art change someone’s life in a better way? Would you like to give an example?
Bretislav. Art can changes everybody’s life. Art takes you away from the dirt of this world, from everyday problems. It’s a music you see. It calms you down. It fulfills you. It makes you grow bigger than the world. It makes you come back every day and run away from things you love. It makes you selfish in sharing time. It widens your field of vision. Art, unlike other things in life, is endlessly, boundlessly and timelessly beautiful.