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

"What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house."
― Edward Hopper

Archives for April 2013

Artist Statement (16 April 2013)



I keep going through this process, to find a description that covers the work I’m doing as an artist. Each time I get closer…

I paint in ritual and in process.

This ritual and process I’ve created to force me away from precise line and form. I colored strictly within lines as a child. I respected line and form and exactness and detail and perfection. I tended toward order and symmetry and the unflawed. My early training as an artist was in drawing and form and tone and tone painting and then color wash and still life and a very careful and complete and controlled result.

Part of that training was figure drawing. In the class we had a drill to sketch the figure posing for 30 seconds, re-pose, sketch again for 30 seconds, capturing as much of the life and form of the figure as you could. This was a revelation. There was no time for strict lines or proportion or form, there was flow and gesture and the development of trust of artistic decision and judgement. I became acutely aware of the value of “not perfect”, and of not thinking, of flowing with perception. And that has become a focus of my painting.

I believe in intuitive gestures in creating form and line.

I work toward an abstract that creates a contribution from the person looking at my painting. There aren’t clear objects, there are impressions and gestures and colors that suggest but don’t nail down the image. The person viewing has to add what they hold as experience and from that emotion.

I start with a blank canvas or surface.

I draw in the outlines of forms for the painting using pastels, one or more colors, but at this point it is about perception of general form, and line and flows between forms, not precise line.

From there I airbrush an underpainting in bright glowing colors, colors intended to flow through the translucent acrylics above it. That underpainting has line and form and color and it peeks through in some parts of the painting that follows, grounding the image in primary color.

From that I work with painting knives and thick pure paint, adding form and color. I paint to music, always. I use the music to find a flow of gesture, a feeling of flow, recovering that instinctive 30-second time window from figure drawing over much longer and intense periods. The painting knives force an inexactness, they force a suggestion of detail but prevent entirely nailing that detail down with precision. That forces me to trust that this process will work out, forces me to trust my own artistic judgement.

The painting holds that distance between abstract and realism. If you move close, the paint dissolves into motion and texture and gesture. Life, held close dissolves into motion and chaos, in distance there appears a sense of the whole.

The painting should NOT be a literal presentation of reality – certainly not photographic. A photograph is a drawing-by-light, drawing by controlled-and-engineered-reflection-of-light. It is an abstraction of reality, missing motion and limited in scope by frame of view.

A painting is an abstraction of light, movement, color, perspective and emotional and aesthetic impact. It can add an intangible and intuitive motion/emotion, an aesthetic harmony. It can communicate to a depth a straight representation misses.




Painting-a-Day… Or not. 365 Paintings.




The game would be to complete, write about and offer for auction one painting each day. That’s the concept.

<p.It's been valuable as hell to look at painting from the viewpoint of targeting a specific production. It has meant focus, streamlining the time spent making art to result in more work completed. It forced me to look in detail at the ritual and process I follow right now to produce paintings that work for me as art. To make faster where possible, but also to dig in in my own mind and refuse to change that which is important to making the art I want to make.

I could certainly produce a painting a day each and every day, but if I measure only against that, and not also against the quality of communication and emotion that is why art has impact and importance, none of those paintings-in-a-day matter.

I looked at tools and process and I found some changes that work. The multiple easel panel works. So does the single tripod easel for working through an individual painting where more isolated attention and focus is needed to bring a painting through to the other side and completion.

I also looked at Painting-a-Day practitioners, for style and content and consistency. There is some beautiful work being done daily. It’s direct, it’s detailed and it follows process that fits within Painting A Day.

What am I doing as a painter, and what is part of that ritual and process and what is not? Where can I make streamlined and efficient without affecting that, and where does it break for me if changed at all?

If Painting-A-Day is the intention to produce a painting a day but not necessarily the actuality, or if Painting-A-Day is painting every day, but not necessarily a completed painting each and every day, cool. But, I don’t think it is, really. That’s not what it says it is. Both measure a day against a clock and not against the work itself, and if the work takes longer, then it fails to meet that test. So… Instead of making time the delimiting power, and falling short with paintings NOT showing up against that external measure, how about counting a year as 365 paintings… Outside of the time click of the clock.

My next “year” will be 365 paintings long. Each “day”, at the end, I will have a painting. Period. The day does not end without that. Thus, a Painting, a Day.