Welcome to another episode from our Brno Expats Have Talent series. Brno is full of talented people, and some of them are not even from the CR – we’re introducing one talented expat at a time!
This month, Valentine, a painter, describes her painting journey.
VALENTINE SVIHALEK (Belgium / USA) – painter
Watch a short video show of Valentine’s art:
How long have you been practising your art?
After having my first child in 2015, surrounded by people who spoke a different language, I began to feel isolated. Motherhood reinvigorated my creativity and courage in new ways. I’ve always had this excess energy and once I started painting, I knew I’d never stop. After mentorship with a group of US based artists in 2020, I shifted to painting full-time. (see Valentine’s website)
How do you find living in Brno as an expat and artist?
I feel a lot of creative energy in Brno, although as an expat it isn’t always easy to find it without a guide. It’s quite different here from California of course, but there are similarities in my life in both places including lots of accessible hiking spots, energizing yoga classes, and plenty of live music. Although I can tell that Brno and connections among expats are developing quickly thanks to organizations like BEC, I did struggle to find a creative community. Opportunities in English were challenging to find and led me to create the Mama Create community. It’s a space for women, Czech as well as international, to collaborate and connect both online and in person. Since starting in January 2020, there have been collective exhibitions, workshops, evenings out, and more.
How is the audience in the CR compared to your home country?
I’m thankful that although I’m based in Brno, my paintings are part of collections across the globe. I’ve found ways to connect internationally. I shifted some meetings and workshops online due to ever evolving restrictions. Of course it’s always great to connect in person, but sometimes a virtual meeting can make things happen. I’m represented by a gallery who has also pushed me out of my comfort zone, exploring new platforms and ways of connecting with other artists, collectors, and opportunities.
It’s difficult to pinpoint one particular element, but certainly the time and place are components of the shift that brought me to do what I love. Becoming a mother in a country where I didn’t speak the language was isolating and painting became an integral part of my daily life. I’ve always been inspired by connecting with nature and people, particularly from my time in San Diego where I lived most of my life. There are definitely lots of supportive spaces for artists to share their work in Brno which helps support the creative culture.
Is there any other area in art that you’d like to explore?
Although I work primarily with acrylic, brushes, and spatulas, I see myself as a free spirit allowing my process and materials to flow naturally. I’m not really a planner in terms of exploring new areas in art, although I’m mindful of my goals. I lead with my heart and just really enjoy the process wherever it leads. I have exciting partnerships in the works at the moment, so I’m looking forward to seeing what develops.
What did you choose for your live input of this article and why?
I decided to share a video that gives you a glimpse into my work and inspiration.
Photos courtesy by Valentine Svihalek