Our “Special Interests” series takes a look at some unusual or special-interest hobbies that people have in the Czech Republic. In the third part of the series, we spoke to Alena Svobodová, who has turned her love of oil painting into her job. Photo credit: Alena Svobodová.
After working as a dental technician for 35 years, Alena Svobodová decided to change course and to spend more time on her favourite hobby: oil painting.
“I have always liked drawing and painting. My example and first teacher was my grandpa. He was very good at oil painting and he taught me how to do it when I was a little child.”
Their styles of painting, however, are different. “My grandfather was very good at landscape painting, I am more into flowers, interiors, still life or animals for example. I love England and Scotland though and I would like to paint some of the landscapes there. I would like to travel to England or Scotland someday, or maybe France or Italy, for inspiration.”
Alena is not the type of person who would sit in a landscape to paint it. She prefers to take pictures and paint them at home. “I think it is more comfortable. I prefer to paint in silence in my own studio, or maybe with music or an audio book in the background.
For materials, Alena prefers a hard board rather than canvas. “Hard board is very smooth and flat, so it is better with the brushes I use.”
Besides, she uses oil paint, not acrylic. “I prefer the way old masters did it, layer after layer. That is how I do it as well. It takes a lot of time. For one painting, it takes about 40 or 50 hours to finish it.
When Alena started painting, she painted after the old masters. Now, she invents her own images or draws inspiration from photographs.
“The image must have something special, something that I can feel. According to feedback I get from people, my paintings always have something positive.”
Since Alena stopped working, she has turned her hobby into her job and sells most of her paintings, though she has a lot of them at home which she changes now and then. “There are some paintings I will never sell, because it feels a bit like a child for me. It has taken so long to paint it, so it is very hard sometimes to say goodbye.”
Alena prefers to focus on one project at the time. That means she sometimes has to wait a few days, until the layer of paint has dried. Now that her pictures are selling, she tries to concentrate on more projects at one time.
“At the moment, I am working on a painting of an old man by a bookstore. It is not a big picture, but there are a lot of books in the picture, which have to be painted layer after layer. That takes a lot of time. Sometimes I choose a topic that doesn’t seem too complicated, but in the process I realise it is more complicated than I thought.”