The inspiration for John’s paintings and drawings comes from many sources nature, poetry, toys, biblical images, and Midwest scenes. "The inspiration for the flat aspects of my paintings are based on contrast and comparison," says Hrehov. "Most of the objects I use are depicted with an emphasis on looking three dimensional. I then contrast that aspect with an environment or surrounding which is opposite or rather flat. The flat areas provide opportunities to explore using color in a more expressive and sometimes artificial manner. I'm interested in the tensions created between depicting two and three dimensions with equal importance on the same plane."
In many cases, Hrehov does a charcoal drawing before the painting. "It helps me get a sense of the shading. Then I can use color to show light and dark and to show a contrast."
He makes his initial sketch on tracing paper and then either transfers it directly onto his surface (which is usually canvas or a l/8"-thick Masonite panel) by covering the back of the drawing with graphite and retracing the lines onto the support or enlarging it on a photocopier and then transferring it in the same manner. He prepares his surface in a number of ways, including applying Winsor & Newton underpainting white over a glue size or troweling a smooth layer of acrylic gesso onto the surface with an aluminum ruler or a plastic binder from a notebook.