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

The Art we look at is made by only a select few.
A small group create, promote, purchase, exhibit and decide the success of Art.
Only a few hundred people in the world have any real say.
When you go to an Art gallery
you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires…"
— BANKSY

Zion, first pass

So many images, so many decisions.

I’m working through SLRLounge’s Lightroom Course – outstanding. And I’m learning quite a bit in depth about Lightroom’s potential to truly be a darkroom for digital. This is one of the images I practiced with – it’s not quite where I hope it will be, but it is so far beyond what I would have accomplished a brief time earlier…

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—spence

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

 

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

 

Easel Panel – Three to Four Painting Surfaces At Once

 

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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):

 

 

—spence

 

Multi- and Portable Easels

I’ve been looking for a solution to traveling and painting. I tested the Craftech Sienna Porchade box – nicely finished, lightweight, but the support was one side only, and the tightening knobs very small. It wobbled. I returned it. I tried three versions of the Guerilla Painter boxes. From amazon.com, I purchased the 6″ x 8″ Pochade. It was way too small to be useful to me. I returned it. The 9″ x 12″ was very good – again only supported on one side, but way more sturdy. I purchased seconds of the 9″ x 12″ and the French Reisstance Pochade (medium) directly from Judson’s Art Outfitters. These were discounted, and still beautiful. Hard to tell they were seconds. I kept both of the seconds, giving one to my daughter. I like and will use the French Resistance Medium Pochade – it is light enough and very very stable when supporting a canvas or backed wood panel. There is support on both sides of the lid and the design for the support is very workable.

In researching what people thought of various pochade boxes and portable easel solutions, I ran across James Coulter’s Plein Air System. Beautiful pieces. I liked the idea, but some of the construction details bothered me as an engineer and furniture builder and obsessive craftsman. I took what I liked about the design and built two prototypes for myself to work through and see how they work for me. These are not “better” – we’ll see how these changes work out in practice, and they may not be practical in a product built for sale. The major changes are the tripod support is 1/4″ flat steel, 4″ long x 1-1/2″ wide, through-bolted to a maple easel head, with a tripod 1/4″-20 thread in the center. Similar to what Guerilla Painter does for their boxes, but steel instead of aluminum (heavier but way more durable). I used Jatoba for the canvas/panel supports. I through-bolted the hinges joining the sides of the palette box. The stress on the hinge screws is not across the screws, but pulls on a fulcrum leverage out and away. Through-bolting accommodates that tension. I also made the tripod supports at the back of the boxes adjustable, which is a detail that was present on the Craftech Sienna Supply Box design. I ordered luggage latches and added a bar across one of the two panel lids, so latching one side restrained the other – two latched on the side tension down the lid with the keeper bar attached. I’m cutting plexiglas to line the interior compartments, because I work in acrylic, and plexi works better for a paint palette surface (glass is even better than that, but heavy and dangerous…).

I was originally going to use these portable boxes, and the adapted plein air system pieces in my studio for working on multiple works in the same session. But along the way I had another idea, and worked through that. I kept mixing paint from my large tubs of paint, and using it and then having to discard what was left, then mix the same or similar color for another work in progress a few minutes later. I designed and built a couple of four-work easel panels – they fit stably into my Klopfenstein metal studio easel – two of them encompasses 4 works x2 for eight works in progress and actively worked in a session. I completed these Sunday, but sanding and lacquering them started last evening.

Once the lacquer is finished, I’ll photograph the results and post them.

 

—spence