Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays

I hope everyone has a great 2014!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hugo Boss Factory

This is the old Hugo Boss garment factory by W.53rd street. There's more graffiti on the building than I indicated. While I was sketching a guy drove up to where I was sitting in my car and I asked him about the building. He said it's changed hands twice in the last five years to be turned into live/work space, but it might be beyond help. Here's more information on the building, which is also known as the Joseph and Feiss Co. building and the Clothcraft building.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Here's a couple from around the ballpark downtown.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Warehouse District

Here's a sketch of the Warehouse District created Saturday.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Eric held that smile all night (three hours with breaks!)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Another Still LIfe

Here's another still life from class on Arches rough paper.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Still Life

Here's a dual still life from a class demo. I painted the right square after the left square had dried.

The dark blue/purple cloth is made up of a mixture of Ultramarine Blue, Raw Umber, Alizarin Crimson. Maybe some other colors thrown in here and there. For the shadows of the white cloth, cerulean blue, raw umber, alizarin crimson was used. Maybe some opera rose or cobalt blue too.

By using some of the same colors throughout both the dark and light cloth, a color harmony is achieved.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Huzzah Huzzah!!

 At the recent Berea Arts Fest I was honored with the 'Best of Show' award. What a great thrill!
Also, the above piece has been accepted into the Ohio Watercolor Society's annual show for 2013. It was accepted to be a part of the traveling exhibit as well!

It's been a long summer and I hope to start posting more often now that the kids are back to school and a routine can be brought back into play. I have lots to show you from all of the plein air painting over at Gardenview this summer! Here's a study of hanging baskets done during one of our class sessions.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Sorry for not posting very often this summer. I was really busy for a while with work and have been busy with the family, so there hasn't been a lot of time to be sketching so much.

Here's a step by step of a painting I did at Gardenview the other week. I brought a vase of sunflowers with me and set it up in Henry's parking lot.

Here's the loose pencil sketch. Remember, you don't have to follow the pencil lines exactly! The drawing doesn't have to be perfect.

The initial wash. I started with the yellow, painting beyond the sunflowers themselves. I then added the greens around the flowers, knowing that they would start bleeding into the yellow. I wish I would've taken a photo of just the initial yellow wash, but I was in the moment and forgot.

There was quite a bit of paint in that initial yellow wash, because those sunflowers are intense! I used a combination of Hansa Yellow (Daniel Smith Watercolors) and some New Gamboge (Winsor Newton) and Azo Orange (M Graham brand).

You can see that I've created a sort of "base" for the vase and left a large horizontal band of white paper in the middle. I thought that the flowers had a nice horizontal feel to them, and wanted to repeat the horizontal direction in spots so as to give the painting some rhythm. I've also added darker greens around the flowers. It's all loosey goosey at this point. Some of the darker greens started flowing into the left sunflower and I had to dab it with a moist paper towel to keep it from destroying the flower shape. This is where the super powerful initial yellow wash comes into play. It's still intense enough to not be diluted by that paper towel action, and it's still moist enough to not start drying out yet.
Now we're getting down to business! Some of the yellow has dried enough so that crisp edges can be applied to indicate edges of individual petals.
And now it really starts taking shape with additional darks being put in.
Some tiny darks put in to and around the vase edges and it's done.
 Here's the setup at Gardenview.

Don't forget to visit the new site suntalawatercolors.com !!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Medina Gazebo

Here's a step by step showing the progression of a sketch from last Saturday at the Medina Farmers Market. What a gorgeous day it was! Medina town square on farmers market days is an incredible experience. A world class small town square just buzzing with a terrific vibe. Kevin Leamer at Por-Bar farms helped me dip my toe into the cooking waters by providing me with fantastic recipes with which to prepare his incredible veggies.

Beginning with the initial pencil... I wanted to show just the super rough initial pencil lines... none of them are accurate. They're drawn very lightly. Then I started to work my around, getting them a little closer to reality. Unfortunately, this shot is blurry, but I was in a hurry, as I realized I hadn't gotten a shot of the pencil work and I didn't want the start of the wash to dry.

Here's the initial wash work. Think of it as a series of layers or planes.  When confronted with complex subject matter, simplify! So here's the first wash of the gazebo, which will end up representing all of the front parts of it.

Here's the next wash, which will represent the back inner parts of the gazebo. I made sure that initial wash was dry, because all of those little gingerbread details have to be crisp.
And here's the final. I wanted to keep it as a simple sketch. Sometimes I go overboard and try to include every little thing. I could have kept going, putting in the folds of the bunting and more, but it's best left simple.

Make sure you check out my new suntalawatercolors.com website! Lots of sketches and paintings and I'll be going through my backlog of all types of sketches, pencil and watercolor and posting them up there as days and months go by. I added a Value Study section too.

Monday, June 3, 2013

New Website

I've put up a new website, suntalawatercolors.com which features a lot of my watercolors and pencil sketches, all categorized and easily sorted. I hope to put up a lot of preliminary value sketches as well. There's eCommerce capabilities too, so that will be set up in the future.

This blog will continue for the time being until I figure out how best to fold the two together.

Hope you stop by the site, as it has lots of pencil drawings I've been doing that I haven't included on this blog.


These are from this past Friday night. The one in the spiral bound notebook was more accurate.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Here's the demo from the Berea Art Walk. A good time was had by all!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Berea Art Walk

I'll be up at the Berea Art Walk this Saturday, from 12 to 4pm, in front of Rosander's Ice Cream Shop. Look forward to seeing a bunch of friends there while I demo the afternoon away!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Here's a sketchbook portrait from last Friday night.

Friday, April 5, 2013

2 Sketchbook Still Lifes

Here's two still life sketches from the Stillman and Birn sketchbook. A nice surface to work on.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

W. 65th Street Rapid Transit Sation

Here's a photo of the Cleveland RTA Red Line train W. 65th Street Station taken a couple years ago on a bike ride through the near west side. My friend Greg Aliberti has a beautiful tile mural in the station. He's a terrific talent and also a big fan of streetcars and light rail.

The photo has some very strong vertical, horizontal and diagonal thrusts to it, and that's what I'd like to emphasize in the painting. The first step is sketching in the main elements. This is all done rather loosely. If you're not exact with the pencil, that's fine. You want your final decisions to be made with the brush. It makes for a much fresher painting when you're not filling in the lines, but making the definitive shapes with the paint.

Now we place the initial washes. The paper's dry and the brush is wet. Where ever you stop painting you get a hard edge. Start at the top and work your way down. That way you have a leading edge of wetness at the bottom as you add to the wash. Think overall shape. A vignette was in the back of my mind the whole time, and that helped me with the design of the shape. Burnt sienna and cobalt blue are a magic combination that when mixed just right make a perfectly neutral grey. The key is to not mix it just right, but have some parts dominated by the burnt sienna and some by the cobalt blue. The brown streak in the front of the train is one of those happy accidents that you leave alone that shouts "rust". This is Cleveland after all! And make sure you leave anything that needs to white dry. You can see I left the strong highlight on the train and some of the crossbar of the power line support white.

The over all shape is defined, but the washes within are all soft and murky. It adds to the mystery.
The overall wash is mostly dry now (at least the upper parts of it are. The easel is set at about a 20ยบ degree angle, allowing the wash to drip down. This allows the moisture to collect where ever there's a hard edge at the bottom of the wash). Darker colors are added. Since the top was dry, I added the background wash against the station and the one facet of the building. You can see that the strong vertical, horizontal and diagonal thrusts are being played up. Then darker washes are placed in foliage area so we can see the power line supports and some wires start to take shape.
Here it's just about done. As far as looseness goes, I like the previous stage the best, but you've got to have a bit more recognizable elements in there to make it read as a scene. Try to design it. Don't make any window identical to another window. Think variety!!!! As the great watercolorist Tony Couch says, "you're job is to entertain the viewer." You do it through repetition of similar shapes, and a variety of those same shapes and the spacing of them.
And here it is finished, with just a couple more darks placed under the train and a little more definition to the shelter on the train platform.
It's mostly a study in design. Think simple shapes and minimal detail.

Happy painting!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Another Still Life

Here's another still life from class. It's on a 14" x 20" cold press Arches watercolor block.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Line and Wash

Surfing the web, I discovered Marc Taro Holmes and his Citizen Sketcher Blog.
He had created this post about the sketchbook and pen that he uses.

I tried the combo out and it's a lot of fun. I started with a couple sketches from photos as the weather's been pretty lousy here lately.

 And here's some still lifes from a demo at St. Joseph's Vinyard a couple weeks ago.

The linework from the Lamy fountain pen semi dissolves. The resulting grey wash helps unify (and dull if you're not careful) the colors.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Earlier this month I had a chance to go up to Ashtabula and take part in a sauna with my brother and his buddies. That's the sauna down by the lake in the panoramic photo. Since we couldn't jump in the lake, we just stood around for a while until we cooled off before we went back in. A great time was had by all. The sauna has a window facing west in it, so we had a terrific view of the sunset from within. Here's a couple sketches from my new Stillman and Birn sketchbooks created from the semi warmth of the cottage up the cliff. More on those new sketchbooks in the next post.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Still Life demo

 Here's a step by step from this past week's class. I use a really dark pencil (8b woodless graphite) to rough in the shapes. The super soft dark pencil enables me to draw with very slight pressure on the paper yet still leave a nice mark. As you can see, there's some searching involved and nothing is perfectly set in stone. That's IMPORTANT. You want the decisions that you make with the brush to be the first time you make the definitive statement. That keeps the artwork fresh.

You can start where ever you want. This still life had a folded white sheet and I saw lots of these colors in the shadows of the folds. Some of the colors are of course exaggerated.  What's nice about having these outer washes put in first is that when you start painting the fruit, some of the edges will bleed into the folds and give you some variety in the edges. You can also see that the paper is set at an angle, allowing gravity to do the work of helping distribute the pigment. If you allow the wash to puddle at the bottom, it will create blooms, or backruns (and you know I like those!). The wetter the wash and the greater the incline of the paper, the more the pigment collects at the bottom and the greater the chance of a back run. If you don't like back runs, work on a paper that's still inclined, just not so much. Don't work as wet, and you can also absorb some of that extra water and pigment at the bottom of the wash with a paper towel if you wish.
But it's important to work at an angle. That way, if you start a large wash at the top, the moisture will stay concentrated on the lower edge of it, enabling you to keep adding to it without any of the edges drying.

Here you see the objects roughly blocked in. The colors of the objects reflect into each other. You can see the red and green of the apples in the sugar jar, and the green of the middle apple bleeding into the left apple. You can also see that the colors of the apples have started to drift into the washes of the folds. When this happens, all the colors start to relate to each other that much better. Repeat echos of your colors throughout the painting and it will be unified!

I added some darker washes to reflect the fact that the light is coming from above and a little bit behind the objects, so the front vertical plane of the objects is darker. I also tried to unify the background washes a bit. That's it!!