John Tarahteeff’s imagination is the source of ideas for his classically-rendered figurative paintings.
Nuart Gallery showcases his latest work during the show “Placeholder,” which opens on September 21.
“All of my work is basically self-portraiture,” explains Tarahteeff, who lives a reclusive life in Sacramento, California. “I make all the figures up in my head, although I do use photo references. But I pose for most of what’s going on.”
A student of landscape architecture at the University of California, Davis who minored in art, Tarahteeff moved away from architecture and toward painting after graduating from college.
He’s an avid sketcher with thousands of sketches available as reference material.
Drawing is part of his daily practice. “I start with arms and a head and draw from there,” he says. “I stay open to my imagination. It can be like a movie in my head. I feel that I’m revealing something to myself through my paintings. Maybe I’m revealing something to someone else, also.”
The computer has become a useful tool for Tarahteeff, who likes to scan some of his drawings into his computer and photoshop them together. “I get to reassemble these images into new ideas,” he adds. “If something doesn’t work out, I can easily move on. This is a great way for me to try out new stuff.”
Titling a new painting is generally left to the end of the painting process, although a word occasionally pops into his head while he’s working that later becomes the painting’s title.
“Even when I’m finished with a painting, I may not be exactly sure what’s going on with it,” he says. “Putting a title on a painting doesn’t limit the meaning of the painting for me.”