The Copley Society of Art is pleased to continue our series of “5 Quick Questions” with artist member Tim Rakarich.
Tim Rakarich, Self Portrait #2, 20 x 20”, oil, 2016
Q. How did you become interested in art?
I guess it was a combination of things when I was a kid. I remembered being inspired and in awe of iconic movie posters by Drew Struzan, and the power of Norman Rockwell when it comes to telling a complete story with a single image. But probably most importantly, my grandmother, Nonnie. She would not only sit with me and draw at her kitchen table, but was wise enough to see my interest in art. So she insisted that I tag along with her to her adult art classes every now and again.
Q. What is your inspiration, process, and style?
I am a big fan of American painters and illustrators in the early to mid 20th century. It was an amazing time for art. You had John Singer Sargent in his prime. We also had JC Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, and James Montgomery Flagg creating some of the most iconic images in modern America. Not to mention the birth of Howard Pyle’s Brandywine School. That institution started to merge the worlds of fine art and illustration by giving birth to a whole army of legendary artists like NC Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, and Harvey Dunn, to name a few. I have tried my best to study every one of these artistic deities and add my own twist to their illustrative styles. I work very hard to have my paintings tell a story—not just be a pretty picture.
Q. What is some of the best advice you have received as an artist?
I will never forget one day when I was in college, a fellow student decided to sigh loudly and complain to anyone in earshot about the fact that we were doing the exact same fundamental drawing exercise for the “millionth” time. He then bemoaned that he couldn’t wait to get out of school so he would NEVER have to do these ever again.
At that moment our professor, a 4’ 11” Russian firecracker named Flavia Zortea, leapt at him with purpose. Her head lurched forward and her eyes squinted and began to teach a new, personal lesson to just a single individual. “Let me ask you a question,” she growled slowly in her thick Russian accent, “when a college football player gets drafted to the NFL, do you think he never lifts a single weight ever again? Do you think he never watches his weight or tries to improve his endurance with the same drills every day?”
Needless to say, the message was sent. It was heard loud and clear by everyone in the class, myself included.
Q. What is your favorite subject to paint?
I absolutely LOVE painting portraits. I find people fascinating. Every person is unique with their own history that creates their own look.
I really adore getting to know the people who hire me to paint their portraits. I want to hear their stories of triumph and heartbreak. I look for ways to put in little hidden nods to their journey, their tale. If I can hide little things in the painting that aren’t immediately apparent but are slowly discovered by the viewer, it creates a wonderful overall narrative to the subject's personal legacy.
Q. What project(s) are you working on now?
Right now, I am hip deep in a series of paintings entitled “________ is the new Pretty”. In January 2017, my daughter went to the Women’s March. She was 12. When she came back later that day she was energized in a way that I had never witnessed before. Her world became bigger, but not scarier. You could feel her become empowered, emboldened. It was inspiring in a way I had never felt before. I wanted to create a series of paintings of women, all ages, shapes and sizes, who identify as something far more than just “pretty”. Women who OWNED the title they created.
I have an indisputably independent wife so I asked her to be my first model. I dressed her in the outfit of Evel Knievel, sat her upon a throne in a very unlady-like pose, and had her holding a sparkler in a way that would make any punk band from the late 70’s proud. It is titled “Insubordinate is the new Pretty,” and it is currently hanging in Duxbury at the Duxbury Art Complex.
Tim Rakarich, Insubordinate is the new Pretty, 24 x 24”, oil, 2017. Previously featured in Co|So's "Portraits in the Now" exhibition
To see more art by Tim Rakarich, view his artist page by clicking here
Note: Some responses have been edited for clarity and conciseness