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

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
― Pablo Picasso

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

This is a brilliant book. It nails the barriers to becoming the best, most productive artist you could hope to be.

Steven Pressfield wrote the epic golf saga, a metaphor for all struggles through the ages. The Legend of Bagger Vance echoes the stories of all battles.

I heard in Bagger Vance the same scale of time as we get in George C. Scott’s portrayal of Patton.

In the movie, Patton takes a side trip in Sicily, stops the Jeep and gets out. He describes the ancient Battle of Zama, stating to his second in command, General Omar Bradley, that he was there.

Pressfield grabs and writes a story around that same cosmic sense of timeless struggle in “Bagger Vance”. He handles the ongoing and eternal struggle of an artist against the artist’s and the universe’s barriers to creativity in The War of Art.

There are some books I come back to, because as I grow and change they are growing and changing with me – this is one of those.

Bright, brilliant stark raving color…

 

Bright, brilliant, stark-raving color, "Paper" app on iPad, by spence munsinger

 

What I love about painting is color. Brilliant, bright, stark raving color, and for me, painting has always been that dimension.

In 7th grade I took a photography class. We were tasked with working with black & white film. The development and printing for black & white film are simpler than color, the equipment is less expensive. The demands in creating images are to work with shape and tone and composition, and learn the mechanics of exposure. I had a feeling of dismay, a visceral sinking deep in my stomach, at dropping away the medium of color.

It was anathema.

In painting classes, I took solace in the burnt umber shades and tones in under-paintings. At least they had that much soft warm brown, almost sepia, color left. Black and white and greys would have been much harder and harsher…

Black & white film was a huge adjustment, one it took more than the entire class semester to get over. I now love black and white photography.

 

B&W Photograph of glass vase by Spence Munsinger

B&W Photograph of glass vase

 

I love the dropping away of everything but tone and shadow and light and dark. It is the essentials of form. And it has a softness, like seeing in shadows, in the twilight. There’s a nostalgia to it now that was not there in my younger self. I saw the small 3″x4″ photographs of my family and childhood as a primitive graphic representation of a life lived, and I had the arrogant assumption of eternity and timelessness, the embrace of the vivid ethereal color available in color film.

But in painting – God I love color.

 

— spence

 

How I Painted “Veldt Sunset”

I’m trying to organize my Lightroom catalog – I think ultimately it gets divided. I’ve tried to diligently add key words and create collections, but ultimately too aften I guess and hunt and peck through images to find what I’m looking for.

I think divided into “Art and Related”, Photography, and Personal, something like that…

I have just over 31 thousand images. That’s after using a duplicate finding plugin and delting about 6500 images. I have found this photograph series, turning to capture the horizon and clouds, and then narrowing down to the sunset and trees that became this painting. I also found the process photos as each painting session was completed. Combined is a pretty complete process slideshow.

These weren’t taken with this kind of presentation in mind, and as I move forward, I’ll capture more time slices. The landscape photos were taken on a walk on the bluffs over Butterfly Beach, on a trail that runs through the Butterfly Preserve in Santa Barbara, California. The painting is both a sunset and a daily painting.

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— spence

 

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

 

[responsive_youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkMdonuFaQU?rel=0]

 

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