<Sum This Up>
I do color. I paint with painting knives in thick color over bright airbrushed primary color fields on canvas. In painting I reach for and hold still moments in time that are about to pass away into the dust of memory. That moment of exhilaration and that sense of almost-gone-forever, that emotional hit in memory is what I’m shooting for.
I am Spence Munsinger. I am a painter. I was born in California, in 1958. I live in Lexington, Massachusetts. I do color. I paint using painting knives and thick acrylic paints on canvas. I airbrush broad Color Fields on the white blank canvas to start bouncing light around. From that start, I layer paint with painting knives, adding to and sculpting the color and light and dark through the space of the painting. I paint bright color, brilliant, stark raving color.
My art can be seen on my website and during open studios.
Color is emotion to me. In a painting, it’s exhilaration, excitement, adventure and speed and motion. It’s reaching for and holding a moment in time, about to pass forever away into the dust of memory. I love the visual impact, that over-the-top visual hit, all the way to cartoon simplicity. The color really doesn’t have to go much beyond muted shades to pop, it’s also the contrast with colors right next to it.
I paint with painting knives, shaped painting spatulas, and mostly stay away from brushes for this work. This forces me to not work with precise line and to drop any obsession with precision, with realism and detail. It pushes me into less exact abstract line and form and shape.
I was born in California,
have lived in Oregon, Connecticut,
Illinois, Colorado, Florida, Texas, and Massachusetts.
I grew up in a sleepy beach town north of San Diego,
then cut my early teeth on Los Angeles and UCLA art school.
I started painting to have interesting stuff to hang on my walls.
I was not able to buy printed posters or frames, but I could draw and paint
and I could afford watercolor paper and dry paints and india ink.
I would start a painting on an afternoon
and paint until it was complete, usually far into the night.
After UCLA, I studied drawing and painting in an art school with an oil painter who had settled in Los Angeles to teach. I went back to basics, to line and form and tone and dimension. I worked with oil paints in underpainting and glazing, painting as drawing with a brush.
I learned to paint in classic renaissance style, and from that worked to develop a language in paint and color.
I painted in oils until age 23. I then stopped creating paintings for 21 years.
Through that 21 years I learned woodworking and cabinetry, carved benches and mantles,
soldered copper pipe together, doodled with table saw and pin nailer and glue,
building custom furniture and cabinets. I drew plans and I learned architectural form and elements.
I took photographs of ant tracks in piles of sawdust, and I took photographs of projects. I learned to tint and mix colors and to work with lacquer. I painted a set of lacquer doors and a bench with 21 coats of paint, working to get to a perfection that satisfied me and would match what I had described to the client. I scattered deep green lacquer dust through that shop. I was still finding and vacuuming that dust two years later. I learned 20 ways not to perfect a surface.
I learned spray and texture and paint consistency.I learned perfection and craft.
picture of cherry cabinet
All of this contributed to what I paint now.
A sense of space and form and function.
The bright high color of Color Field painting, plus the concrete discipline of Realism and the texture of painting knives and thick paint, creating a contemporary abstract art.
Balance, architectural sense, a feel for perspective in both drafting and photography.
I use photographic framing and distortion to draw the eye within the canvas.
I use airbrush to define primary color fields in the underpainting.
In 2003 I began painting again.
I painted in oils.
I learned airbrush and acrylic.
I rediscovered Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Camille Pizarro, Vincent Van Gogh,
Edward Hopper, David Hockney, Mark Rothko, Hans Hoffman and Wolf Kahn.
I found a language of line and symbol and color and texture
that started to say what I needed to say as an artist.
I brought into my painting the light and color that I grew up with and that I learned to see with in California.
I found a language and a patterning of color and shape. I stopped using brushes
except for a rare definitive line and began painting with painting knives.