The Renowned Paintings of Artist Thandrai Sunitha
The Museum of History and Art in Ontario, operated by the City of Ontario, California, served as the site where I was unknowingly about to meet one of the greatest artists of our time. This building actually served as Ontario’s second City Hall from 1937 to 1979.
Upon entering the building one can just feel of the texture of the walls, which feel as hard as rock. and leaning against them tells a story about the quality of the architecture of the time.
Down the right corridor as you enter the museum is a variety of rooms displaying lots of pieces of art in a wide-variety of mediums. A certain piece struck my fancy that was entitled: “Flowers and Branches Hang over the Cliff’ by artist Thandrai Sunitha.
The piece was painted with watercolor on rice paper. It was a branch of flowers in a stem falling over a cliff, a most beautiful piece. The attention to detail was outstanding. The flowers had soft pink pedals with black charcoal color for the stem and leaf. The rice paper had been crumpled just so tenderly for effect.
What happened next is nothing short of wonderful. Suddenly, a rather beautiful dark-complected woman, possibly of Indian decent, came by with her husband and two children. She asked me to take a picture of the piece with her husband and little son and daughter.
I agreed and she soon explained that she was the artist of the piece: Thandrai Sunitha. Thandrai went on to explain that the piece had won a state art competition in Ohio and had been prominently displayed in that state’s museum. She then went on to explain that this piece was her third attempt at perfection to the piece and she was very proud of it.
Thandrai then explained that each stroke had to be purposeful and perfect, and that she was very proud of herself for the perfection attained on the third attempt. Thandrai said the entire painting took her only twenty minutes to complete with no mistakes.
Mrs. Sunitha then went on to explain how this work was completed with fine tip brushes, not wide, and that each stroke had to be purposeful and essentially the same. She smiled frequently as she expressed her pleasure with the piece. She also informed me of the possibility of her making art more of a full time effort, and she said that she was basically just “having fun” with this one.
Her mind was more on her strokes than on how the picture was coming out, and yet she said when she was finished that she was delighted at how it had come out.
Mrs. Sunitha had a lot of joy in her person, and she expressed great delight in her work. She also listened very well as I asked her about the making of the work and she reminded me often that the piece was very methodical and mechanical at heart, but I knew better. . . it was also beautiful because of the soft movement of the hand of Thandrai Sunitha.
The first element I noticed about the painting was the value. Upon squinting my eyes the darkest value came in the stems and leaves, which were drawn in black. Also around the top and bottom of the piece the more crumpled part of the rice paper was very shadowy as well. The lightest value came in the un-crumpled rice paper and in the white and pink strokes of the leaves.
The leaves were drawn straight but also had a nice texture to them, making them seem more flowing to the eye. The second visual element was focus: the stem and black parts were very focused and defined. The flower petals seemed to crawl around the paper more. The flower itself came out from the cliff, making it more focused.
The cliff, however, was a key part of the piece. and the space between the flower and the cliff just connected the two, but left enough space to distinguish them as well. The fact that the flower and cliff were both drawn on the left, made you think that the space to the right of the cliff could be almost bottomless, giving the painting both a beautiful and strong tone.
There were a lot of straight lines in the painting, but the flowers utilized a lot of curvy ones as well. The straight lines of the leaves were awesome. Thandrai Sunitha put those straight lines around the circular pistil of the flower for visual effect. The thick black lines of the stem really made the pink flowers stand out.
Thandrai Sunitha uses tiny black dots to simulate texture on the flowers, which is altogether effective as well. The black and pink colors work together wonderfully. It’s the kind of piece any home would be proud to adorn. The texture of the rice paper really made the colors stand out boldly.
My first reaction to the piece was: “Wow, how pretty.” I couldn’t help but stop and adore it’s subtle beauty. After describing the piece I feel as though it is simple beauty but drawn to perfection with purposeful strokes.
Thandrai Sunitha demonstrated the brush stroke for me, which was about a six-inch stroke like the bottom part of a circle, that she said she did “over and over again.”
I really believe after meeting Thandrai that this painting may indeed be a reflection of her beauty. After meeting her and listening to her, she is nothing short of beautiful, and if you’re ever in the metropolitan Los Angeles area, please be sure and look up her studio, it’ll be more than worth your while.
Don Alexander, Published Writer & Online Business Mentor
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