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  • Writer's pictureKOH-I-NOOR HARDTMUTH

"You can never be sure when it comes to aquarelle!" • Jitka Zajíčková





Let us introduce you to the work of Jitka Zajíčková, a famous Czech artist, who fell in love with the aquarelle technique. During her long artistic career, she achieved many successes and established various co-operations.


Not only about this, but other things she talked about in an interview we exclusively prepared for you.









How would you describe your unique style to readers who are not familiar with your work yet?

It’s a difficult question, to begin with, but I’d probably mention a fine line, more muted colors, and ornamentation. Then I would say blending, finding, and playing. Most certainly playing and dreaming, maybe a little bit of nostalgia. I, myself, am sort of a searcher, observer, and collector at the same time, which obviously reflects in my work.





Do you remember when you started to devote yourself to art full-time?

Creating in the sense of being detached from the world around me was always a part of me. The creation process is as natural for me as breathing. I slowly started doing professional art to earn a living around 2008 when my children were older.







You devote yourself to art all your life then, so you must have tried several artistic mediums. Could you tell which one is your favorite?

It’s without any doubt an aquarelle and drawing ink, but also a paper itself. It’s not always meant to be a "bearer“ of drawing or painting, but you can make wonderful creations with it as well, such as cutting, collage creation…





Aquarelle is one of the most favorite but also demanding art techniques. Do you remember what fascinated you about it the most?


I could never forget it. Aquarelle enchants me still and every day. It’s a playful artistic medium, and it won’t give you anything for free. It’s a chance that comes into the painting. Colors are blending and layering. It's then when great things happen.





We couldn't agree more. Are there any other art techniques or materials you like when you create, besides aquarelle and drawing ink?


Things that must be present in my studio are iconic graphite pens 1900, powder graphite, inks, anilines, drawing charcoal, soft pastels in all their forms, or artistic pencils, either ordinary or water-soluble.


I also like gouache. You can say it’s a bit stronger brother to aquarelle. Pictures drawn in gouache can have many forms like soft and similar to aquarelle, or the other one, where gouache shows its opaque quality. Then I can’t forget to mention ink painting Sumi-e, a phenomenal lasting forever. For me, it’s the way to approach the work with aquarelle and ink differently. And talking about ink, I also love suminagashi, an ancient technique of “floating ink“.


To conclude, I’d mention painting with coffee. Though I’m not a coffee person, I like creating with it.





If we understand it right, you rather experiment than play it safe?


Yes, I do like experimenting. In general, I’m a little bit of an alchemist, but only when it comes to my creations. When it comes to orders, I’m not that experimental. After all, there’s a sort of time pressure and obligation towards the customer.


Often, I experiment with natural dye from plants and use it to prepare my own inks, and I mix my own aquarelle colors from pigments. I’m delighted to combine different techniques, so it’s not unusual to use ink, aquarelle, and soft pastel all in one picture. The great thing about aquarelle is that it can be combined with almost anything, and the result is usually amazing.


But you can never be sure when it comes to aquarelle, though these days I rarely have failed paintings. In experimenting, you can always make a purpose from a failure. In 20 years of painting with aquarelle, I can say I know it, I know what I can and can’t do with it. We have such a harmonic and respectful relationship.





You have lots of experiences, it’s clear at first sight. Is there something concerning your creation you would like to get better at, or is there no need for further personal growth?


There’s always something where you can get better, and it sometimes happens completely spontaneously. My work reflects my life, mood, and feelings. When my son was small, I used to draw pictures of machinery for him, something I’m not that good at. For my daughter, it was animals, fairies, and princesses. It’s still animals for me, and though I liked it, I’m glad I could put machines behind. That is something I can get better at in the future.


What is important to mention is the necessity to constantly train my hand and paint or draw every day, even if just a little. You can train everything, and hand forgets fast. Basics, such as drawing, anatomy, and perspective, are very important too.





Where do you get inspiration for your creations?


It’s nature in the first place, followed by childhood. It’s that carefreeness and naive, straightforward view of the world. You could say I specialize in botanic art to some extent. I’m a slave of detail, so I explore a variety of natural products, feathers, mushrooms, lichens, withered flowers, anything that catches my eyes. Besides all mentioned above, I dedicate myself to book illustrations or my free creation.

You deal with concrete topics in your work, but what’s your opinion on abstract art? Did you ever dedicate yourself to it?


Abstraction is great. The best ones master the art of simplification, work with shape, color, emotion. I, personally, have a few abstract or distinctly stylized works as well.





Do you have your own master or artistic role model?


I was lured to the aquarelle technique by watercolorist Mirko Hanák. I was searching for a way to get closer to his genius. When I got to know an Asian style of ink painting and combined it with aquarelle, I told myself this is it!


I have several role models, it’s not even possible to name them all. As a child, I liked browsing through illustrated books and encyclopedias. I absorbed and formed my artistic taste and feeling.


What, and who I would definitely mention, are medieval book illuminations, then masters of botanic illustrations across the centuries, such as Pierre-Joseph Redouté or a brilliant Albrecht Dürer with his absolutely innovative aquarelle concept, because aquarelle, as we know it, didn’t practically exist till that time. An artist who belongs among those we don’t know much about, Marcias, who Boccaccio writes about. Then Sofonisba Anguissola, Rachel Ruysch, who even got to the painter guild in Haag. Among others, Adriena Šimotová, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe. There are many!





That was an exhausting and very inspirational response. Can our readers get inspired or see your work live somewhere?


In the past, I had several exhibitions of various orientations. On one, I combined aquarelle with metal, and I even had one in Mexico.


Currently, due to the pandemic situation, I present my work, unfortunately, mainly online. Apart from akvarelsjitkou.cz, where I lead an extensive blog about aquarelle, you can find me on Instagram, and Facebook. I have a small e-shop with authorial creations. And, published on one quite well-known website about aquarelle, there’s an article about me in English.


You’ll find my illustrations in several books, manuals, and articles for various magazines. Sometimes you can see me on TV shows. Nowadays, the best way is to subscribe to my course, where students take a close look at how I work. I’ll look forward to it!



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