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

"We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth..."
― Pablo Picasso

No Words At First, Just Images and Adab…

Adab…

“The demanding memory that comes to you of itself…”
from Frank Herbert’s Dune

dunes


I bought a book by a father who lost his eighteen-year-old daughter to cancer.  The concept I had of the book from reviews of it was a collection of memories of the girl, a relating of the process of searching for a cure and a log of how the two on them approached and handled the idea of her dying and how they dealt ultimately with knowing she was going to pass away.  There was mention of artwork and poetry and healing, at least in my imagination.

It was not the book I thought it would be, when it arrived, not the book I needed.  Not a bad book.  I am just in a state where I had very explicite expectations and the desperate need for a particular book, a book this was not.  And I’m not in a place to accept the difference, to accept a book that isn’t pretty much exactly that.   That book, I think I may have to write for myself.

That’s how I started painting.

I always had the need to draw on paper, to capture visual memory and visual creation.  tBut these drawings were small drawings, not ambitious works.  I started painting when I began making things that I would want to hang on my wall.  I was in high school, had no money, couldn’t afford posters.  I painted images I wanted to see, visions that would inspire, enliven my world, create a sense of wonder and awe and that ethereal sense of beauty.

Now we come to writing.  I’m trying to capture what I was hoping to find, what I had expectations to find,  and then write that book.

Part of that capture is “ADAB”, the memory that comes of itself and demands attention and cognizance.

Finding the memories that are important to write about, that capture a word picture of who this woman, my daughter, was.  Why she was who she was. The stubbornness and strength of purpose and character that both helped her live beyond where the disease should have managed to kill her and ultimately helped her reach a place of peace when that life was no longer possible.

Part of that is working through images.

My images, the pictures I took of the “wall of IVs” when she was 42 days in ICU and induced coma and survived.  The memory images of her gaining strength through March and April and May.  Pictures, photographs of her at her birthday in 2010, 24 years old and beginning to look like a survivor, a cancer survivor.  Memories of November, when one side of her face was paralyzed and she was wearing a headband to cover the frightening shunt scar in her scalp.  The shunt that allowed chemo drugs to be dosed three times a week to kill leukemic cells hiding in her brain…  That was when the darkness started to climb back in, I can feel the shadows.  The frailty in December, the unbelievable surgical incision, literally opened up across the belly and ravaged to get a couple more weeks of life (which we did not know, she did not yet know… There was still hope there…).

Other’s images, especially Picasso – at nineteen his best friend kills himself in despair over a woman, and Picasso is devastated.  He works it out in the Blue Period, in images that are timeless.   Picasso’s “Evocation” , “La Vie”

burial of Casagemas La Vie


I want to paint my daughter as she was in my memory as baby, as that small chest rising and falling in a crib, as that child exultant,  riding without training wheels.

I want to paint her as she flowered into a vibrant young woman, learning to dream and to love.  I want to paint the devastation and joy of those first 42 days in ICU hell.  The ravaging leukemia created on her body, the frailness and fragility come on her suddenly.  The life force beneath forcing healing despite impossible adversary. Capture the paralysis on one side of her face, contrasted with the brilliant beauty that was there just before, and was still there, if you knew how to look.

That knowing how to look, that’s essential – showing that in a painting, giving that awareness to the person seeing it, someone who didn’t know Ash.  Knowing both what you see in the result of disease, what changes in the nature of the person physically, and seeing beneath that to the person within.  To both the qualities that are beauty and the pattern that is/was there in beauty, physical beauty, before.

People ARE beautiful in the forms that result from their lives – they lose that un-formed-ness I see in models – they are beautiful, but no character, no life in face or body.  These paintings should show both that outer form, the beauty hit by an adversary, but still there, and the inner strength and struggle of life to stay.  If I could find that, that would be something. Something to treasure.  I can feel the tears streaming blurring already.

I saw that.  That frailness and ethereal release in the last few days, when she knew she would not survive this.  A calm acceptance and treasure of each moment.

I promised Ashley I would paint sunsets from the pictures she took off the Redondo Beach Pier, and I will do that too.  But these images, that’s important too.


—spence


art as focus, art as tool

I have an app on my iPhone called doodlebug. It’s perfect for exactly that, doodling, idling playing with color and line and form. I found the constriction of space (small screen…) and the limits of the touchscreen pushed for a kind of abstraction that I love.

house on hill

My daughter went into hospital and into the ICU and onto a ventilator and then onto an oscillating ventilator and then continuous dialysis and complete crisis with Acute Myelomonocytic Leukemia. For several days she was going deeper into shock. At the deepest point she was:

…which became, as I erased dead spaces:

shock erased

Like sand paintings – discovering process and focus through drawing. Did it bring about change? She lived.

— spence

nude on a wet canvas…

I seriously thought about naming this weblog “nude on a wet canvas”. Mostly for traffic purposes. And, I love painting women. Representations of women on canvas, anyway. One of the joys of revisiting human anatomy, even in just the skeleton, is to realize the visual cues that communicate female versus male form. The ribcage is smaller, the bottom of the ribs farther from the top of the pelvic girdle, the sacrum, the bone at the back of the pelvis, is relatively wider, the hipbones thus are set further apart, and shoulders only slightly wider than the breadth of pelvis. All of that combines into a very different stance and musculature.

Art is an excuse for artists to communicate and bring into view the beauty and sensuality possible in human form. For instance, Juan Francisco Casas, “I love art”:

I Love Art

There are more subtle visions…

the table

Sex is search on the internet, and the title alone guarantees this post an audience. A weblog titled “nude on a wet canvas” wouldn’t communicate all the emotions I’d like to communicate in painting, though. Painting nudes is not always an asset, hanging them on the wall isn’t always polite. Some people are shocked or put off rather easily. They look at you funny, they miss the compelling beauty and just see you as… Somehow wrong for finding and creating beauty. Any communication on the internet has potential to hang around a very very long time, and should be made with some care.

I met an artist in Los Angeles. She had recently married a professor. I looked around her house, now their house, a 1930’s hillside bungalow with a turquoise iron tube railing on the balconies. The walls were covered with her work, very beautiful and very explicit line drawings in large scale on canvas, of oral sex and copulating figures. They were a flourish of lines over muted color, simple, picasso. They were subtle in that you had to look to perceive the subject was sex. Without looking with intensity and careful perception they were background.

She was stopping that kind of art, she said. Her husband’s career would not be furthered by her painting and drawing along this vein. You could see in her voice and in her eyes though that she was feeling it as a loss. She would do it for him. But she would regret it, and I’m not sure a civilian, a non-artist, will understand what a sacrifice that is. Any creative line needs to be nurtured, and for the spirit of the artist to survive he/she need to follow it as far as it goes. Stop it, change it, and the total creative output of that artist is permanently less.

Artists and nudity. Artists and a relationship with their models. Picasso. A lifetime of tension between an artist and the women he painted. Which came first, the penis or the paintbrush? Several years ago I read an article about some famous actor’s son who was painting women in Hollywood, he would have been in his mid-twenties – and a quote from one of the women who had him paint her – “He understands how a woman wants to be perceived…” Yeah, sure. That’s sex, or the whisper of sensuality that is potential sexual tension.

Le rêve, Pablo Picasso, 1934

Picasso painted portraits and images of women. Many other images too, but a constant thread was the female form. Some clothed, some unclothed, some in between.

Andrew Wyeth – a secret relationship with a model, for fourteen years (fourteen years!), his wife doesn’t know he’s painted her, her husband doesn’t know – that shared secret alone is an intimacy. The expression and sensuality in those paintings – doesn’t matter whether Andrew did or didn’t boink the woman, spiritually, in the images he created of her, he loved and cherished her, and I’m pretty sure his wife took quite a while to reconcile this. If she ever did.

The girl:

On Her Knees

and the wife:

Magas Daughter

I love painting women. There is something truly wonderful about how they are put together and how they move. Any tribute to art and women must include Frank Frazetta… He produces the most wonderfully sexual, powerful, compelling fantasy women.

Frazetta woman Frazetta woman too

Edward Hopper married an artist – Jo Hopper, also an artist. She never allowed him to use another woman as a model. She was the only one. Smart woman.


— spence

artist@spencemunsinger.com
spencemunsinger.com

 


from Moonlighting:

David: You’re repressed or obsessed or one of those “essed” words. Every time something comes up that involves men or sex or…

Maddie: “Boinking?” Is that the word you’re looking for?

David: See what I mean? That’s not normal.

Maddie: I’m supposed to sit here and discuss my mental health with a man who refers to the act of human procreation as boinking?

Go back…