'Stef Tarasov Discovered'
Mia Lake for House&Court
I recently attended 'The Other Art Fair', a global exhibition where you can meet and buy art from hundreds of emerging and undiscovered local artists. Each artist had their own stand, each displaying 6-20 artworks. It was a feast for the eyes. It amazed me how many unique styles of art there are. The 'Fair' gave an opportunity for me to talk directly with the artist, getting an understanding of their story behind each piece, their processes and personality.
There was one artist who is responsible for my heart skipping a beat. I instantly fell in love with Sydney artist, Stef Tarasov. I was so drawn to her oil paintings. The subject matter was so simple yet interesting. I loved the use of colour. Each artwork was well presented in a shadow-box timber frame. I could imagine her artworks in so many of my client's homes...and mine too.
I got in contact with her after the event to find out more.
Your subject matter really interested me, it seemed quirky and 'offbeat', in a fun way. Can you tell me more about how you pick your subject matter?
I love to explore the familiar, the everyday moments and what may lurk beneath - those moments that you wouldn’t think twice about, let alone see any beauty in! From the history of art, we all know a vase of flowers or the nude can be a thing of beauty - but what about your nana’s old mixmaster found under her house? Or a dusty pair of binoculars filled with unspoken history? How about that overindulged bloke sunning himself in the dam?
“I AM MOVED BY, AND COMPELLED TO PAINT THE EVERYDAY, THE BANAL, TO EXPLORE ITS FORM AND TO LET NOTIONS OF STRANGE BEAUTY AND DISQUIET CREEP IN.”
How long have you been an artist, and how did you start your career as an artist?
I have just finished my Bachelor of Fine Art (National Art School), so I am a newbie on the scene, but grateful that I am already really busy with the demand for my works.
I love the way you see colour; in skin tones, you paint pinks, purples, even greens? Is this something you have trained to do, or is this just your super talent / personal style?
It is very much from my fascination and study of the relationship between colours. I look at flesh tones and see they are made up of greens and greys and ochres and reds and so many combinations in between!
I have always loved working with portraiture and the human figure, getting to know someone and describing their essence with just paint and a brush is a crazy fun thing to do - and the flesh is just so delicious to paint!
Each of your paint strokes looks so intentional, your paint looks quite thick compared to other artists. Can you give beginner artists any tips on your painting techniques?
My paintings are oil on canvas, mostly alla prima (layering and working the paint before it dries) - there is an immediacy of working with the materiality of the paint that is very special. I love working with the luscious, buttery texture of oils, and when the magic happens it is a truly wonderful thing!
I start by making a few charcoal sketches to loosen up. Each sketch is a way to get know my subject, - to explore and play, and to turn off the inner critic. As I sketch, things start to come together, and I can’t wait to get stuck into it with my oils!
Then I prepare the canvas with a couple of coats of gesso, then a very light wash for a base coat. I don’t use any mediums – just good quality oil paint (with a touch of linseed if I really need to thin something out). From there, I paint in the tones and shapes quickly and loosely without any under-drawing, building up the image with very energetic and expansive strokes. Then I slow down to build and sculpt the paint until I’m happy with the form.
“I KNOW THE PAINTING IS FINISHED WHEN EACH OF MY BRUSHSTROKES’ COUNT’. BY THE END OF THE PAINTING I FEEL I HAVE RUN A MARATHON AND REACH FOR A GLASS OF RED.”
Where can people view or purchase your artwork?
My Instagram account @steftarasov is a pretty good place to see what I’m working on, and you can email or message me anytime If you see something you like!
In Sydney, I have a group show coming up in September at Stanley Street Gallery, and a solo show in November.
For those in Victoria, you can find some of my work at Studio Gallery Melbourne.