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

"Things are beautiful if you love them."
― Jean Anouilh

Amaryllis

This amaryllis stayed mostly dormant for almost three months before finally sending forth blooms. The flowers finally arrived in late January. I saw them in the dim light in the kitchen, isolated on the black granite countertop, grabbed my Fuji 35mm f1.4 – still better I think than the newer f2 version – and took the photograph above and the one below. The next day the flowers were fully opened and the photograph no longer possible. Such a fleeting moment, but the delicacy of the petals and the edge dramatically in focus works I think.

—spence

Orchid

This orchid came about from bare-bones rescued orchid plants recovered from a dumpster over a year ago. This one out of 7 is the only one to come back to flower. It’s small, but intensely beautiful, with two runners out carrying flowers and crossing each other and by that supporting each other as it flowers.

Video | How I Painted "A Chair in the Sun"

 

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There isn’t any audio in this, just the progression from photographs I made of the painting at the end of each session. Each progression shows for six seconds. This starts with the photograph I took to capture the light across the chair.

I’m curious as hell about process, especially my own. I document my painting as a matter of course. I photograph each evening after finishing a session on a painting. I watch the process and the ritual I use to get painting to occur and to find the Flow and the Zone that makes art not just a workmanlike activity for me, but magical and wondrous. It’s very much conscious, the process and the ritual, but the decisions made as a painting comes together are so quick and sure and unseen entirely at a conscious level, that to me, even under my hands, it’s extraordinary magic.

Whether it’s great or good or not is separate. It’s that the painting is right first, that it’s an accurate bringing into being of the concept and the emotion and the moment I had in my mind. Once it translates into the world, those other criterion and judgements are separate and apart.

 

— spence

 

How I Paint a Chair in the Sun…

 

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I am fascinated by the artistic process. I know for myself how much of it is not conscious deliberate decision, and how much is. The ritual, the placing of the canvas, the decisions about tools and easel and materials, the ordering of paints and canvas and panel, the music and the care and feeding of an iTunes library, and the server it runs on, the wireless network that supports AirPlay, and the Remote app on iPhone or iPad, all of that physical care and process is present. All of that is visible.

You can look at an artist and see the acquired skill set, the tools to judge visual distance against how that works on a surface, the color mixing, the application of paint, techniques mastered and brought into creative tension. That’s at least partially visible and can be implied.

Inspiration, vision, ideas, that also has some ritual and process involved. I go through and mark photos or take photographs to capture ideas and visions that I know I intend to cull and use for painting. The care and feeding of digital cameras is a joy, it satisfies an engineering and creative flow.

But…

In the process itself there is a Zone and a Flow where all of this process and ritual comes together and decisions begin to be made and discovered and followed through without, for me, any consciousness of them as specific and distinct. It’s a moment and a period where all is so still for me, no thought, just motion and process and a flow of observation and finding tools to find in the paint and the surface the painting. Like a sculptor carving away that which is not a face, or a body, the painting comes toward a vision. I have a sense of guiding and of struggle, but no moment I can point to where I decided that blue or that pruple or that purple-green-grey and that line.

Flow and Zone.

 

— spence

 

Painting-a-Day: concept and scale and execution

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One way to price paintings for sale consistently is to find a cost per square inch. That works, up to a certain point, and then fails. You can get only so small until the strategy breaks down…

A painting can be small in area, and in that uses less paint, less canvas, less acrylic medium or turpentine or linseed oil, less archival varnish. Less airbrush paint, less pastel. A painting can be less complicated, simpler in detail and execution. All of that makes less the investment in materials and actual motion and construction by the artist.

Two things are missing.

The first is time. Time to resolve the problems of composition, balance, aesthetic intension, color, form, directing attention. That may be standing in front of the painting and learning to see what’s not there yet, what the next steps are. That seeing is the key to artistic practice. Finding the rituals that push that into being is learning to produce as a professional artist.

The second is concept. My experience is that I feel an emotional hit from an inspiration for a painting, from photograph or memory or color, usually all at once. That’s my individual whole, my intention for what the painting will communicate when it is done, and the measure for when it is done. Getting a painting there is not measurable in motion or materials. Maybe it’s measurable in what it gives you as an artist or what it takes away from your soul…

This article came about because I was thinking about that square footage as a measure for pricing work, and circling around how to produce work that has impact and satisfies me as true and authentic, and that can find a market. A painting can only be so small to lessen the material cost, and that does bring the form and concept to a simpler place, just because of the focus needed to execute it in a smaller space. But doesn’t necessarily mean fewer problems to resolve to get the damn thing complete.

Painting-a-Day, or “A Painting, A Day”, is a brilliant professional drill. It forces a whole survey of method, material, concept of work, and ritual. I think an art school that made this the drill for a year or four would be the school I wish I had had, and had to knock around to find for myself.

 

— spence

 

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

 

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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.

 

—spence