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  • Writer's pictureKOH-I-NOOR HARDTMUTH

"Sometimes, I'm inspired by a simple phrase" • Michal Janovský

Many of you already know a Czech artist, Michal Janovský, and his spectacular artworks. If not, his works will definitely entrance you as much as this interview we had a chance to prepare with him.

Together, we talked about Michal's beginnings in art, favorite artists, education, but also about his approach to creation and cooperation with Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth, leading to the development of several new products artists will love!

Michal, in the beginning, we would like to thank you for making time for us. Let's start simply. How would you, in a nutshell, describe your work to readers who haven't had a chance to get to know you yet?

Perhaps, I need much more words for that, maybe a morbid Romantic-Gothic symbolic and genre painting…?

We think you described it quite precisely! Do you remember when and in which circumstances did you enter the field of art?

I don't have it exactly time frame. I started a few years ago to draw for myself and then placed a higher demand on myself, quit painting according to the template, and started to produce my own works. So I've been feeling like a painter for about five years now.

An admirable approach! Have you ever developed your talent in any educational institution, or have you always been self-taught?

I went to the Secondary Vocational School of Glass and Vocational College, where I received the most crucial basics of drawing, but otherwise, I'm a self-learner. I'm not afraid to try new things, even if sometimes it costs me unfinished artwork. I calm myself down that it probably wasn't supposed to be finished at all.

Where do you get themes for your paintings?

Inspiration comes from various directions. From books, dreams, or immediate impulse and ideas. Sometimes, I'm inspired by a simple phrase, and then an entire theme begins to develop inside my head.

Interesting. Do you remember which painting took the longest to complete and how much time it was?

It was Kotel Hříchu (Cauldron of Sin) on a two-meters canvas. Preparatory sketches and the painting itself took six months to complete.

That must have been demanding both technically and psychologically. Which technique do you like the most for the realization of paintings? Is there more, or is it just one?

Some time ago, my principal technique was using pastels, but at the moment, it's more likely an oil painting. It allows me to work in a larger format and be more focused on details. In fact, both techniques are very similar in some aspects.

Do you have any favorite products from Koh-i-noor that you use in your work?

The afore-mentioned soft pastels are my favorite products from Koh-i-noor, and I can't forget natural charcoal.

We are delighted! You cooperated with Koh-i-noor on new products development - soft pastels set and fixative. How did this idea come into existence?

I tried to improve the products, the color range of pastels and fixatives, with personal experiences. I suggested it right in the Koh-i-noor main office, where we gathered to establish cooperation. Right on the first meeting, I brought up flaws I had found in some products.

Was it an entertaining process for you to analyze various samples, composition, and functions of the new Fixative Art?

I enjoyed the testing, even if it quite dragged on for my taste, as it took a few years, but I don't fully see into what such development entails. I simply tried everything, observed, and sent feedback, and I must tell I was very strict with developers and was sending samples back all the time as unsatisfactory whether it was emulsion or sprayer, which is a very significant part of a quality fixative. But to be honest, it was worth it. In my opinion, it's now one of the best fixatives on the market, not only in the Czech Republic. I'm happy about it.

Did you have any other demands for it to be a perfect product?

The crucial demand was for fixative not to change a picture too much, for tints and transitions not to get darker and not to disappear, and for it not to create visible drops from a sprayer, something the original one did. And also for it to be able to protect colors of artwork with UV filter.

Apart from stated above, you have published a book. What will the readers find there?

The book is focused mainly on the portrait. Readers find practical dos and don'ts about how to draw and paint with pastels. It contains some pieces of advice on composition, a little bit from color theory, and also step-by-step instructions on how to draw a portrait.

It is definitely worth reading! Is there any other way through which you pass on your experience?

I've been holding workshops throughout the Czech Republic for six years now, and I must admit it has had great acclaim. Not only beginners attend them, but also advanced artists who have been returning, for example, for the tenth time. I am pleased to see that for people, it means something.

Such a workshop led by an artist himself surely must be for many people a great experience. But let's go back to you. What period in art history do you like the most?

I would summarize it to the period from Gothic to Romanticism in the 19th century.

So no modern art, but classic painters. Which one is your artistic inspiration?

Géricault, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Bosch, Eyck, Goya, Delacroix, Grunewald... But I'm also inspired by people who achieved something, not only in painting but also in music, which influences me a lot in my work.

Great choices! Do you have an artistic experience you will never forget?

As for art exhibitions and galleries, I'm not a frequent visitor. But when I went, it was galleries with artworks of old masters who influenced me the most.

Are you planning an exhibition for this year?

Probably not this year. The majority of paintings were sold, and now I spend most of my time in the atelier painting new ones, which takes some time due to complex compositions and themes.

We look forward to an exhibition in the next year then! What are your artistic goals for upcoming years?

Continue to paint what I enjoy and strive for further growth. I wanted to say I want to be self-satisfied in my creation, but it's that occasional, sometimes more frequent, dissatisfaction that forces me to continue to grow.

So we wish you a sense of satisfaction in the future because you definitely deserve it for your diligence! Thank you!



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