Paintings from Sunset Series by Spence Munsinger, Color Field + Blank White Canvas + Realism + Contemporary Abstract Art, original paintings for sale

“Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.”
― Pablo Picasso

Archives for February 2010

away from California

I took a lot of photographs during the six weeks in California. Of sunsets…

sunset in Manhattan Beach

…and bike trails and sand in that unique light…

bike trail

I’m going back to winter in Boston in a couple of days. I live there, I have ties there, but I don’t feel in place there.


opens her eyes and smiles…

This morning I got into the ICU – a normal thing, now. I get up, I get coffee, I drive or walk the 2.3 miles to the hospital. Bright clear cool dawn, or grey cloudy wet dawn, California winter. I come into the hospital through the EMERGENCY entrance. The main entrances aren’t opened until after 7 AM. There are always groups of people in the emergency waiting room. They look up, looking for a doctor or a nurse or someone to help them, and I’m none of those, but obviously not a patient. I go through some sort of sort I can see in their eyes. I pass through to the hall beyond. I check in with security and I walk down a long corridor, up one flight of stairs to the second floor and through motorized doors into the ICU/Critical Care Unit.

That’s become normal. Amazing what becomes normal. Racks of IVs – we are down to four active drips, from a high of 16. Chest tubes – three now, two on the left side, one on the right. The ventilator.

Critical but stable.

I walked in this morning and my daughter’s face lit up. She was breathlessly talking – breathlessly, literally – she cannot pass air through her throat to vocalize. I tried to read her lips and failed completely. But I was ecstatic in the attempt. She is awake, aware, frustrated, angry, recovering, healing.



visual bone marrow…

My daughter had a bone marrow aspiration this morning. Surgical, invasive as hell, painful-but-for-the-level-of-sedation. The surgeon had to work out the logistics of turning over a patient on a ventilator and five IV’s, with three chest tubes.

In an visual off-the-cuff observation, the pathologist saw healthy new bone marrow.

Not something you hope to have to hope for… But a very good thing.

She has at least managed to knock the leukemia back. A much more microscopic, detailed and clinical look at the smears of marrow will be done over the next day. But that first approximation, without detail, that is heaven. The first step for both of us toward life outside of a hospital room.


daughter in the hospital, paintings of trees of IVs…

I tend to think in terms of visuals. One of the more stunning visuals for me is a wall of IV’s next to an oscillating ventilator next to the dialysis machine that is currently keeping my daughter alive. This is day, hold on, let me count – day 24 for my 23 year old daughter in an ICU in California.

My instinct is to paint it. Just to get it out there. Maybe an abstracted hospital room, the blur and rush of equipment.

I’ve been in California since 14th January. Every day is in the ICU from 6:30 AM until about 3 PM, then I find my way down to the beach and a long walk and a camera and a sunset. Then back to make sure she is still breathing.

I remember just after she was born. I remember going to her crib every evening as she slept. Just watching her breath, in and out, slowly, over and over. I just wanted to be sure it kept going. During those first weeks after she came home and became part of my life I fell so thoroughly in love with her. I also realized how vulnerable I had made myself. To vagaries of life and chance as they involved her.

She crawled up and fell out of her crib at a year old. I heard a thump as she hit the carpet. I saw a dazed but triumphant little girl crawl out of her bedroom – and there was that lurch at my heart, but it passed. This one, this one now, doesn’t pass. This is a hard one. Watching for her breath in a hospital is very hard.

The sunsets were begun for her. They’ll continue for me and for her – I hope to be able to give her the 40th one, and then the 80th one as they grow and evolve. Many photographs of California and sunsets and street corners and hospital roof lines, and palm trees, and waves and piers extending out to the ocean. I can’t paint here but I can dream for and of her, and for and of the paintings to come.