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

"You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea..."
― Pablo Picasso

Archives for March 2013

Renaissance-Art Leather Work – bags and moleskine covers…

Renaissance-Art makes heavy leather goods by hand in New Mexico, U.S.A.. The stuff is very much like you would get if you had a saddlemaker just down the road and asked him for a bag or a journal cover. The studio produces fine finished colored leather, but I love the heavy tanned hides the original moleskine covers and laptop messenger bags come in.

These are made to be used. The leather distresses over time, as good leather should. A scratch on the moleskine cover rubs out easily, same with the laptop bags, and as they age and wear they assume a character and an age and presence. There are no zippers or fabric liners. The thread and sewing is careful. Think a dusty rider slinging his bag over the chair at the table at the end and ordering a drink to cut his thirst. Spurs and brimmed hats. Sante Fe, New Mexico.

Here’s my bag on the work table in Santa Fe…

Renaissance-Art bag

Renaissance-Art bag

When my daughter was 19 years old she gave me a Renaissance-Art journal for Father’s Day. It was so beautiful I could never find the exact words to write in it.

It is still blank.

I pick it up every once in a while and think about what to write in it, and then don’t.

Moleskine covers are easy – the moleskine notebook is an ok paper in a durable cover, and I write lists and thoughts and plans and ideas in each of the three moleskines I use daily. The Renaissance-Art journal-work-of-art is much harder and hits me like a stark blank page in a stark blank book.

What could I write in a unique one-of-a-kind journal given to me by a daughter who no longer lives? What would be important enough? I put it back, still blank. I treasure it.




Dust of Everyday Living…

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
—Pablo Picasso


picasso at window





Seek the strongest color effect possible… the content is of no importance.

Henri Matisse


The Desert Harmony in Red (Red Room)

The Desert Harmony in Red (Red Room) by Henri Matisse












Portable Easel and Palette, On a Tripod




I completed an adaptation of James Coulter’s Plein Air System. I liked the pattern James Coulter had used, and I loved the idea of employing a tripod. I build stuff for fun, doodling in wood, and I had some Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) and maple around from another project.

I made some changes from the original concept. Or – maybe these are already part of the system and hard to see from the photos of the original system. There aren’t detail shots of the hinge attachment for instance, nor of the suspension of the lids…

  • I made the attachment to the tripod using a 1/4″ steek plate with 1/4″-20 thread holes for the tripod attachment, and also used four through-bolts to attach the plate to the maple easel bar.
  • I used Jatoba in a “T” shape on the tripod easel, to hold painting surfaces that can be painted around the edges (wood or gallery-wrapped canvas).
  • I through-bolted attachment of hinges – the two lids when open exert force directly outward to the hinge attachments, screws are designed to resist a perpendicular force to their axis much greater than a pull out along the axis – through-bolts move that stress to the washer, lockwasher and nut on the other side of the surface.
  • I used a block of Jatoba to hold the lids parallel to the palette box. These keep the hinges from dropping the lids down lower than the palette box.
  • I put a keeper bar on one lid, and latched both sides of that using solid brass latches through-bolted.
  • I added rubber feet.
  • I added D rings at the top opposite the rubber feet to hold a shoulder strap.
  • I made the tripod holder blocks adjustable so there is height adjustment up and down and accomodation to different tubular tripods.
  • I put plexiglas plastic inside all three pieces of the palette box.
  • The finish is clear lacquer – very nice, but requires a sealed environment, the fumes are pervasive.

This would need dove-tail joinery and a surface 1/4″ maple or birch (instead of luaun underlayment ply) to bring it up to fine woodworking standards. It would also likely cost – well, it would cost LOTS. A reasonable exchange would be $660 – $720 with these additions. And that would be making at least 5 of ’em at a time. Or you could of course build your own.




Easel Panel – Three to Four Painting Surfaces At Once




I wanted a way to efficiently work with multiple canvases at the same time. After thinking about it and sketching several versions and measurements, I defined requirements…

    I wanted:


  • able to handle 12″ x 16″ canvases or panels in either vertical or horizontal placement
  • able to handle 9″ x 12″ canvases or panels in either vertical or horizontal placement
  • remove the need to add wood struts to inside of top and bottom of canvases or panels to elevate and paint edges
  • handle seven canvases or more at the same time
  • hangable on the wall in the space I have (better painting handling for smaller canvases)
  • sufficient space around each individual canvas on the panel to work with edges and top and bottom without feeling cramped


I love wood, and I have some Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) wood scraps left over from a furniture project. I build and built cabinetry and furniture and I have tools… To do this I used a Porter-Cable plunge base router, a 1/4″ straight carbide bit, a Ryobi cabinet table saw system for dimensioning lumber, a Dewalt 12″ Surfacing Planer to smooth and clean and dimension hardwood, a Porter-Cable pancake compressor and a Porter-Cable 18 guage pin nail gun and hose, 5/8″ nails, Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue, spray clear satin lacquer, a paint respirator (lacquer is EXTREMELY toxic), a Milwaukee Cordless 3/8 drill and batteries, Milwaukee drill bits, a General Drill Guide. That last drill guide is often useful – I build a block jig that holds the material in place, screw the guide onto that block jig, and can drill consistent centered holes over and over, in this case through the blocks that hold the canvases in place.

The panel itself was pre-cut 1/2″ birch 24″ x 48″ panel. Pre-cut because I didn’t want to handle a full sheet, I thought it would be faster to do it pre-cut this time, it probably would have been about the same in hindsight.

Here’s the easel panel (Klopfenstein easel NOT built from scratch for this project):