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

“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.”
― Pablo Picasso

too many images…

I caught up. I developed 6 rolls of black and white and two rolls of color, all medium format, by this last Sunday AM. Scanning those 80 B&W, plus another 25 color images, again, not too bad, I can keep up with that.

Keeping the images ordered and findable, that’s no longer simple. The sheer size of the storage required boggles the mind. A 6×7 medium format image file runs 296 MB. That’s a huge amount of detail. Images to print are even larger. But 296 MB is sufficient detail to only miss the original negative a little bit.

That kind of size isn’t needed for every image. Of the 105 images this past weekend, perhaps 11 were interesting enough to be true keepers. Eight of those were because I had noticed a quality of image in photographs of snow on medium format Kodak TMY 400 black and white film, the extreme contrast between the trees and branches, blacks and greys, and the blinding highlights in the snow. In most series of eight rolls of film, maybe three will be good photographs, maybe another 4 useful for form or inspiration or reference.

Most of this stuff could be scanned and saved at a much smaller size. But that only works for me if I can second guess that judgment later on, and I have preserved the original RAW file in the case of a digital photograph or the location of the negative in the case of a film image. That means I’m having to add in organization. Right now I could find the negative, eventually. Maybe. I’d like to be able to be certain.

Probably something like a thumbnail image ties into a unique index number tied into the location of the file on disk, tied into the location of the negative and/or DVD optical backups. Something like that.

— spence


20080527 Tuesday

After having thought about putting the organization of the images into a program like a wiki, or even a wordpress (this weblog) program frame, I decided that’s overkill.

Simplest would be:

A script, probably in perl. Uses ImageMajick and maybe exiv2 to read out metadata, we’ll see. In initial testing the exiv2 data was minimal, but maybe that’s a reflection of the data presented in the image.

Point it at a directory, it reads the files, renaming each to match a unique index number in the filename, then creates a thumbnail/contact print in a website directory, matching name and index number. Assembles a page that includes each contact image, plus metadata, file location, filename. The page name is the date _1 for the first, _2 for the second, etc. Each date-named page is indexed on a master sheet, where comments can be added…

Manually add the index numbers to the folders in which the negatives are stored, and add in any DVD backups and index number (separate, different dataCD database) for these. Add this information to the listing page.

All of this can be served out locally by a simple virtual webserver…

kimberly brooks, technicolor summer

There is a writer, a blogger I’ve been following. An artist. Her articles, interviews and postings are well worth finding and reading. There is a page,, which lists and promotes the articles in and of themselves.

Brooks’ personal site is She is currently doing an exhibition titled “Technicolor Summer”. Lasts until 14th June. Worth seeing.

I was struck by the work. Kimberly Brooks directly promotes other artists in her articles. If she promoted herself, I missed it.

She’s very good. The images are really extraordinary. They have a heat in color and a translucence. The forms and shapes find a feeling of an idyllic Hockney Southern California painting, but they go beyond that to hit a higher note. A bit more abstract, the forms feel less drawn, more solid, and the abstractions ring true and correct. I think they are well worth seeing. I hope she follows this vein for awhile, I’d like to see what else comes from it.

— spence

… of cameras and lenses

Photography instructors want you to develop as a photographer without falling into the trap of believing it’s the camera. True to a point.

For a rough-shod flared and grainy, unpredictably out-of-focus genre, Holga’s are the bomb.

Good equipment makes it more possible to get a consistently good result.

I have two cameras that would be favorites. Both make photographs effortless, the tools disappear and I find I’m looking for the result and not having to pay attention to limitations in the equipment.

Digital is a Canon 30D with a 24-70mm f2.8 L series, a particularly good copy of the lens. The 24-70 is just an outstanding lens, even accounting for the digital screen size moving it to 38mm-112mm. The contrast and color are extraordinary. Just a great all around shooting camera, if a bit on the heavy side. Auto focus and great controls that allow you to take as much control of the exposure as you would want to.

Medium format 6×7 is a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II with a left hand grip, 110mm f2.8 lens. In medium format that’s a normal lens. The viewfinder is a hooded plate on the top, to switch from portrait to landscape you rotate the back 90 degrees. You look down at the viewfinder. A spare back for a second roll of film, preloaded. The camera is completely manual, so on the left-hand grip goes a Sekonic 208 light meter. An OpTech strap to carry the weight and allow the camera to be hand-held comfortably. This is also heavy. And the work flow is very different. Focusing is manual. Film advance is manual. Exposure is manual. Once you get used to that it is an extraordinary tool. The results are just stunning.

Great black and white camera. And you have to see 6×7 slide film to believe it, no grain at all and the scanned files are excellent.

I use photography as a tool in workflow. The first result I’m looking for is capturing images to use in creating a painting. Texture. Combinations of colors. Forms and shapes. Things noticed quickly and captured and worked with quickly. that’s the 30D, that’s digital.

And then there is documenting paintings and producing scanned images suitable for producing prints. That’s both digital and the RZ67 6×7 slide film photographs.

Along the way I started working in black and white just for the joy of it. I needed to develop color and slide film, and the best way to start to learn to develop with consistent results is black and white. I started with Fuji Neopan, then tried Kodak TMY B&W film. Just a blast to work with, the blacks are deep, the gradation of grey very, well, gradual. There’s something about the abstraction black and white creates – you lose color, you are back to forms and shades and contrasts. The better I get at capturing images in black and white the more aware I’ve become of light and shadow and contrast – and that translates directly to more awareness and better results in color as well. Composition gets better.

I also like the character of film. The edges of the scan, which occasionally capture the “kodak” label and codes. One camera leaves a tail on the negative frame, just a slight imperfection that I think adds to the character of the final scan. Where possible I’ll leave those edges, and print them.

— spence

weathervane in progress


This painting is close – I love the gestural leaves and the colors. The bottom of the foliage, the reds look a bit too flat, but the flow of the whole painting is close…

— spence

about easels and tools

I paint the edges of canvases. I buy only gallery-wrapped 1-1/2″ depth canvases, and if I stretch a canvas, it is with the same stretchers and wrap style. I don’t like a frame on most paintings. Painting the edges persuades an owner to place the canvas in a museum-style frame with the edges of the canvas revealed. The easel pictured on the front of this site is one I used for many years, until the bottom tray would no longer lock under any substantive weight. I stopped using it and started using a Klopfenstein metal easel. I screw in support boards at top and bottom, on the inside of the stretcher bars. These clamp nicely in the pegs of the Klopfenstein easel, allowing full access to all sides at once.

I have been looking at the rotating easels – but they barely handle the larger canvases I’m using, and if the work can go larger or needs to go larger they won’t be able to handle it. On the other hand a second Klopfenstein will allow me to handle a canvas as big as I would plan to use right now.

I love good tools, whether painting or woodworking or those for plumbing, it doesn’t matter. I had always used wood easels, and I originally ordered a larger, fancier wood artisan easel. Unfortunately it shipped in a badly engineered carton, and broke through the middle. I started rethinking wood furniture style easels. My canvases keep getting larger. The easels made to handle those larger sizes in wood are extremely heavy and not easily moved. Each time I would have to move them I would take this same risk of shattering or scratching them. Looking at utility I started looking at metal. The Klopfenstein is heavy-duty, but doesn’t weigh much over 60 lbs. I was leery of working with a metal support – I like the feel of wood in the environment around me. But this easel is more versatile and way more useful than any wood easel I’ve ever used. Not furniture. A very good tool.

Klopfenstein easel

— spence 20080503 Saturday