Steve Sens, New Member

Steve SensSteve Sens has painted watercolor for as long as he can remember. He graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art with a BFA, majoring in Illustration and a Minor in Drawing. As a production artist at Phil Vedda and Sons Printing, his focus is on computer graphic design. The desire to step away from the computer has fueled his return to traditional materials and called him back to watercolor painting. Steve is also an active member of the Crooked River Gang, West Side Markers and Pretentious Cleveland Portrait Artists.

As a new member to the Whiskey Painters of America, Steve is all-in, participating in every show, Paint-Out and Painting Exchange. His painting style runs from non-representational abstract to loose interpretations and tight renderings. Giving a visual presence to feelings and senses is part of his painting philosophy, exposing the hidden and the small. As well as watercolor, Steve works in metal point, acrylics, oil, graphite, and pastel.

Steve and his wife Trish live in North Royalton with their two cats Kali and Ba.

An Interview with Steve:

WPA: How old were you when you started painting?

Steve: I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t doing art. I’m sure my father had a brush in my hand as soon as he realized I wouldn’t try and eat the paint!

WPA: What is your favorite medium?

Steve: My favorite painting medium is watercolor, it is the medium of the unexpected, it is free-flowing, and it is luscious. A close second is the early renaissance drawing medium, silverpoint. I am in a constant pursuit to join the two in a free-flowing, direct way.

WPA: What is the funniest incident you can remember while completing a painting?

Funny now, not funny then. Kitty footprints on a painting I walked away from for a minute. They always want to see what I’m doing.

WPA: Name your absolute favorite place to paint.

My favorite place to paint is in the public’s eye. I think I find a charge in the danger of complete and utter failure and embarrassment!

WPA: Favorite subject?

Old trees, tractors, trucks, trains, basically anything beginning with a “T”.

WPA: Award that you are most proud of?

STEVE: I haven’t entered any shows where I have won anything besides college scholarships. But the recognition of my peers and a sale makes me feel good.

WPA: Who influenced your work most, and how?

Steve: My father is my main influence; his love of watercolor is what rekindled mine.

WPA: Who is your favorite painter or painting?

Steve: I can’t name one! Franz Kline and Albrecht Durer for old masters, and seeing the modern works of Richard Stephens, Jeff Suntala and Sterling Edwards in my Facebook feed keeps me motivated to work harder.

WPA: Do you have a signature color that is in every painting? Or favorite color?

Steve: Hands down, PG50 Cobalt Teal, if I can squeak it in there, it will find a place!

WPA: What was the hardest technique for you in watercolor?

Steve: Not a technique per se, but an approach of painting tighter. I find it difficult to paint in a tight manner and still stay in a dynamic flow.

WPA: Do you listen to music while you paint, and if so what kind of music?

Steve: I like hard rock and instrumental rock to keep my busy mind occupied! Lately, it has been Marty Friedman, Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen. I keep Rammstein on the playlist, just so I don’t take myself too seriously.

WPA: Do you have a particular ritual or habit you follow when you start a painting?

Steve: I do. I stare at the sheet until I can see what I want to paint. Once my mind sees it, I start making marks.

WPA: When you do a whiskey painting, which whiskey or other alcohol do you use?

Steve: I have been using Agavero Tequila lately. I believe that honoring the work with the good stuff, will keep the muses happy.

WPA: Can you share a technique or painting tip that really made a big difference to your work?

Steve: Play! Those happy accidents and brush handling that one learns by playing is where one finds their voice.

WPA: Name the best pub/cocktail lounge/bar/restaurant you have ever painted in?

Steve: Forest City Brewery in Cleveland, Ohio. The Pretentious Cleveland Portrait Artists meet there on occasion, and it feels like my home base when I paint there.

WPA: Do you have many works by other whiskey painters in your personal collection?

Steve: I own three at the moment. Paint-outs are the best because we swap paintings with our peers.