Why I love drawing in the great outdoors, by Petr Horacek

Published on: 03 March 2018 Author: Petr Horacek

Author and illustrator Petr Horacek has always been inspired by the great outdoors - here he tells us how nature has influenced his latest book.

The Mouse Who Wasn't Scared

My latest picture book is called The Mouse Who Wasn't Scared.

The book is about the fact that we all are scared of something. We are all are scared of very different things.

In the book, Little Mouse goes to play in the woods. She is not scared!

Little Mouse illustration

I love painting and drawing in woods. I grew up in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. I started to paint outside when I was 15 years old. I used to take an early train and go out of the city. I knew roughly where I was going. Sometimes I would get out of the train earlier and walk until I found an interesting place.

I loved the early morning, waiting for the day to start. It was cold, quiet and I was on my own.

Petr Horacek paints in the woods

I used to paint the landscape. Later in my teens I went to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.

Petr Horacek painting

My views and taste in art changed, but even at the Academy we used to spend a couple of weeks in the countryside just drawing and painting.

Petr Horacek painting

Petr Horacek painting

My work became more abstract, but if anybody asked me what my paintings were about, I would still say that they were landscapes. I was still dealing with the same problems of composition and colour.

Petr Horacek paintings

I like contrasts. In my paintings, I like to have contrasts with texture, in the use of different media and materials. I like colours. I think the same goes for my illustrations.

Petr Horacek painting and photograph

I don't paint big canvases these days very often. Partly it is due to lack of time, partly because painting canvases messes up the studio where I work on the books, and partly because I'm still actually dealing with paint and brushes when I'm illustrating, so my needs are satisfied.

But at least once a year I travel back to the Czech Republic, where I stay for a couple of weeks on my own in a cottage. It is one of the prettiest places I know and it belongs to my friend. The cottage is on a hill surrounded by fields, meadows and woods.

Petr Horacek at the cottage in the Czech Republic

This is the time and this is the place where I walk, write and paint outside again. I always come back with a couple of ideas for books. 

Petr Horacek painting

I go there in the autumn. It is my favourite time of year.

Petr Horacek painting

Of course the surrounding landscape slowly creeps into my books. I try to be careful not to situate every one of my books in the woods.

Petr Horacek illustration

I am aware of a connection between my abstract paintings and my illustrations.

Petr Horacek illustration

Petr Horacek illustration

Petr Horacek illustration

Everything I know about painting, and everything I know about colour, composition and drawing, I learnt from nature - from the time I spent painting outside.

Petr Horacek illustration

It is not just that. Most of my ideas for picture books came to me when I was walking outside.

Now you know where the idea for The Mouse Who Wasn't Scared came from.

I hope you enjoy the book!

Petr Horacek illustration

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