Artist Profile – Tarryn Jade

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Using the renaissance masters for inspiration, Tarryn paints with spontaneity and passion, also admitting to being a perfectionist! Her portraits have an intriguing depth and an old world charm …

FOCUS last spoke to you a couple of years ago. What’s been keeping you busy since then?

For the last two years I have been floating around, observing and becoming wiser. I believe that to create art, you have to be able to put it aside when the time is right and just live and experience for a while (unless of course, you’re Pablo Picasso).

I don’t want to be stuck creating the same painting over and over again. Art is the objectification of feeling, so it has to be natural, not forced. I find it hard for reality and art to co-exist, it is either one or the other. When one has been exhausted, you move to the next.

So after functioning in normal society for a period of time, I am able to come back into my mind and live there for a while, using the impressions of actuality to create whatever dances onto the canvas. And at the moment I am living in my head again, with a fresh perspective.

You told me you’d had a stint living in the big smoke (Sydney). How much did you enjoy the contrast between coastal and city living – and are you back in the Great Lakes area permanently now, or just for a visit?

Sydney had its pros and cons. I loved being able to walk to the gallery on my lunch break and share a coffee with the Pre-Raphaelites, and I loved mingling with artists, musicians, poets and memorable characters of the underground.

But my adventure to Sydney was not productive artistically. I was simply experiencing. I often found myself feeling very lonely amongst thousands of people.

And I think it was this, along with the fact that there is no place more nurturing than home, that I decided to move back to the beautiful Great Lakes and get my thoughts down. Life seems to be a balancing act of being brave and going out into the unknown, but then coming back to absolute comfort. For now, this is the perfect place for me to cocoon myself again and paint.

For those who aren’t familiar with your artwork, describe your style and the tools you use to create your pieces …

Lately, I have been working with all sorts of materials. I’ve experimented with sculpture, ink, painting with red wine on raw canvas and my favourite at the moment is using old typewriters to type portraits. But I am still in love with oil paint.

As for subject matter, moving to Sydney has definitely proved to influence what I paint and how I paint it. My portraits have become more dynamic and fluid while still drawing inspiration from the renaissance masters and surrealism. More than ever, I’m wanting to create purity and let the sub-conscious take over, so that in my portraits, I can intercommunicate something truthful.

Jean Luc-Goddard said: “Art attracts us only by what it reveals of our most secret self”. And this is how I feel also. I want to reflect my own secrets of self, I want to reflect the secrets of the person I am painting, and I want the viewer to be able to find themselves within the work, whether they know they are finding it or not.

What/who inspired the paintings depicted in the photos you’ve supplied, and what processes did you use to create them?

The portrait of the girl is my little sister, Indianna. For me, this painting is very personal, because I see so much of myself in her. I am also attracted to and inspired by the innocence and beauty that she exudes. When she isn’t being a pest, she is quite a majestic creature.

In my paintings, I often strive to have something ancient present … something a little bit eerie and old world.

Another important part of my paintings is the poetry and words that I display with them. They are often like short, surreal, symbolic stories of what could be happening in the image. As I pointed out in my last interview, I rely on art-ing at night and in the wee hours of the morning. I always do my best work when everyone is asleep.

When you’re creating a portrait, do you generally work from memory, imagination, or do you use photographs to assist with the creative process?

It is a combination of all those things. A painting starts out as either an observation or a dream. I then design the way it should look in my head − take the photographs if needed − and then add anything that is lacking.

I also find that the brush strokes and mood I’m in will steer a painting in a completely different direction than I intended; and I really enjoy watching that process of transformation. So, instead of thinking too logically, I let the painting take on its own agenda.

Some artists struggle to understand when a painting is ‘finished’ – often striving to create a piece that is ‘perfect’. How can you tell when a piece you’re working on is complete?

I am a terrible perfectionist! If I start a painting, work all night and finish it by morning, it is usually my best work.

Because I’m excited about it, I have enough spontaneity and physical and mental energy to create the piece as a whole, as opposed to coming back to a painting each day and having a mosaic of scattered emotions and thoughts as the finished product.

To be honest, I don’t end up finishing a lot of my paintings. If I lose the spark for it, then there is no point wasting my time with it, because it never comes out as good as I thought. I’m better off starting a new one that I’m passionate about, which can be a bit of a strain financially, but it’s just how I am. I think I immediately stop painting when I start to get a flutter in my stomach or when I start feeling like the person I am painting is actually staring back at me.

What’s next on the artistic agenda for you? 

My short term goals include entering the Archibald Prize and Sulman Prize next year and working on exhibitions in Newcastle and Sydney soon.

In the long run, I would love to make my mark in the art world, as long as I go about it the right way, stay true to myself and keep being a perfectionist. From my perspective, the art world today is overflowing with art that has been strained, processed, materialised and controlled. I am happy that the art I create is coming from a good place.

Where can people find out more details about your art?

You can contact me by email: or phone: 0479 182 777.

And if you would like to have a glimpse at my work, go to

Keep an eye out for my paintings to be shown at The Secret Gallery in Forster during December and January, along with artist Donna Rankin.

Thanks Tarryn. Interview by Jo Atkins.


This interview was found in issue 70 of Manning Great Lakes Focus

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