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

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

 

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

 

Painting-a-Day…

 

door into summer

 

I read about the painting-a-day movement several years ago when I found work by an artist named Tricia Lamoreaux. More recently I found work by Abbey Ryan, also working on a daily painting practice. I looked at this (painting-a-day). I evaluated painting ritual and artistic process and logistics. What would it take to consistently produce? It’s a very professional view, and it brings up professional problems, I think good ones.

What size surface?
The agreement seems to be less than 14″ in any direction. But – some artists are painting 6″ x 8″…

How thick?
I have an aversion to cheap canvas support wrapped barely around the sides and roughly stapled onto the edge. This comes from the canvas supports I used in art school. I prefer edges I can run the image off onto – gallery-wrapped canvas. I love the distortion as the line changes physical direction while following the internal logic of the painting. I found 9″ x 12″ premium canvases, which still have the 1-1/4″ edge I’m accustomed to, and 9″ x 12″ wood panels, with kiln-dried frames, bringing the edges to 7/8″. I order several weeks worth of each.

How much paint? Tubes or tubs?
I’ve noticed that the 16 ounce tubs I have worked with for the last 7 or 8 years are workable in my home studio, but much more difficult to use on the road – and with a smaller surface to paint in, I have extra paint I end up throwing away if I’m only painting with one easel setup at a time. So… Multiple easels… And tubes of paint – ok, 4.65 ounce instead of 2 ounce, because I am not willing to use less paint. A painting should be made of paint, not a light glazing over canvas.

Oils? Or stay with airbrush and acrylics and palette/painting knives?
I evolved medium and style over many years of practice. I studied in oil and I love the quality of light and the smooth richness of the paint. I could see evolving back to oils at some point, but not as an abrupt change. Acrylic is thickness and texture and stability of form and medium. I’ve managed to recover the richness of color by underpainting in airbrush with primaries, and I love the quickness, the trueness of color and the consistent translucence of light even in very dense color application. So – no abrupt change and I stick with the language of painting I have evolved to now.

What to provide images/inspiration/flow of ideas?
I work from images, photos or drawings. I have printed these out on photo paper in the past. Printing and then keeping track of those images, hanging them next to the canvas, all of that is cumbersome and takes time. Better to organize the images on an iPad, starting out with possibly useful images in a folder synced into the Photos app on the iPad, then in a form that I can organize and tag – I use FolioBook Photo for iPad. OK – ipad on the easel? Or can I hang the iPad next to the canvas on the easel – I found Arkon iPad 2 Holder, which works very well.

All of this is a more professional viewpoint of the practice of doing art.

“What one does is what counts and not what one had the intention of doing.
–Pablo Picasso

I worked as a finish and trim carpenter for 18 years. At about five years experience, I worked on a hotel in Los Angeles hanging doors. I did several hundreds of doors in three weeks, placing and nailing off door after door after door. One morning I hung 27 doors. The pace made it interesting and kept it challenging, both physically and mentally. I was in awe over how simple the complex plane of a door swinging in an opening became. It was a drill, door-after-door-after-door.

I found that it took a view of the whole task in its completeness to organize and make effective three finish carpenters and six helpers. It took that conceptual understanding of task and process to get all of us working as efficiently as possible and producing a high level of quality at high speed. It was a revelation. That was carpentry at a professional level. A lot of thought and expertise and experience up front, in organizing and envisioning the whole task, and then a very simple and effective and efficient doing. Not a lot of thought at that point, just action toward a clearly defined result.

I think the Painting-a-Day flow can create the same kind of professional viewpoint and look at an artistic practice. In defining it for myself, I looked at what kind of work I could consistently produce, how big, how to allow it to flow as a consistent and coherent style of work, how it could develop, what kind of packaging would keep it safe, what shipping costs would be and overall, what would work. It’s not just making art, it’s creating a painting and studio practice, a set of rituals and an envisioned end. It’s a point where the distracted creative being all artists can manifest is channelled and takes a professional viewpoint as an artist. I’ve always worked on a flow of motion, almost a dance with paint and visual cues. I’ve always painted with music. The flow of decisions and determinations in a painting is Zen when it works, like water and like stillness at your core. This creates a framework for making that Zen flow become.

Not dissimilar to the conditions of flow and professionalism in very fast very professional high end carpentry and cabinetry work.

 

—spence