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

"Every good painter paints what he is."
― Jackson Pollock

giving tactile values to retinal impressions


I’ve been reading Mark Rothko’s “An Artist’s Reality”. Rothko wrote this late-thirties, early-forties. He was a teacher, and that shows. It was not published until 2004. It’s a older style of writing than even the 30’s. It’s worth reading.

The writing is a high level look at art and purpose and the goal of painting. From this launching point ten years or so later he moved to painting color fields, and you can see from this written work how inevitable that was for him.

color field

This is a high level theory brought into relation to painting as it moved from space created via color (greying to recede, muted to recede) to linear perspective to color used to create mood to impressionism, dropping linear form and using color position, to abstract. It’s fun to read. Rothko thought alot about what he was doing and where he was intending it to go. He followed his path directly out of his beliefs about art. This manuscript, rough as it is, written before he had reached what would become his classic communications, expresses those exact beliefs.

The tensions and colors in Rothko’s work through the late forties and early fifties are very deliberate. They follow incremental steps toward the classic paintings of the fifties and sixties. There is a thin-ness in the paint used, a working through of the surface, that doesn’t come across in reproductions of the work, and which I did not see or understand looking at the work in the past.

One phrase from the book: “giving tactile values to retinal impressions”. Tactile, touch, emphasized as the primary sense – the eyes interpreting space as if it were touched and anticipating physical position.

kahn colors

All of this – Wolf Kahn’s color usage as revelation traced back through Rothko’s color fields, and Hans Hofmann as well, all of this is filling in for me a more concrete wording of what it is I want to accomplish. These realizations are directly worked into the sunset series so far. They are assisting in finding ways to communicate about painting, and my painting in particular.

— spence

two new works, sunset, undergound


Two works completed.

Sunset #2, 9th Street Del Mar

sunset #2

Sunset Series

And abandoned urban #1, moscow underground

underground #1

Urban Abandoned | After Series

— spence


light reflected


“One must observe nature by means of the light reflected from objects, rather than be concerned with the tangible existence of the objects themselves.”

From “Search for the Real” a collection of writings by and about Hans Hofmann, published in 1948. This statement is a Zen koan for an artist, at least for me. A koan won’t work for every student, only for the one for whom it is truth and who needs that viewpoint or struggle for viewpoint to reach the next epiphany. You may not find this a tool for viewing color and form separately and changed. I do.

I found this book as a used copy, published by MIT Press in 1967, originally compiled and written at the occasion of Hans Hofmann’s retrospective. He taught Wolf Kahn, and I wanted to trace some of that history and get an idea of the foundations from which Kahn creates and conceives color.


hans hofmann


— spence


la jolla sunset | new work completed


la jolla sunset



This is the first sunset of a series. I grew up in a beach town north of San Diego, California. The Pacific Coast in California has a quality of light – a clarity and a moisture haze and an intensity – that washes everything in a glow and warmth. The last months of summer this year and then the encroachment of a New England darkness autumn-to-wintor made that memory of warmth and light particularly intense for me.


— spence


sections of a painting like passages in music

passages in music and paint


…sections of a painting are like passages in music.


The flows come together. The brush stroke.
The color and the pattern of paint.
Suggestions of form and line and shadow.
Forms become an aesthetic that washes over
the person who takes a moment to look.
With much luck
it becomes an experience that attunes the spirit
to beauty and creates an effect.

That’s a worthy goal.


— spence



This was on the front page of the site for quite some time. I wanted to save it.

art wet…

WordPress Stats gives me a view of what search terms cause people to find this site. That’s interesting.

For example: "art wet"


Why? With what intent?

Are we talking “wet canvas”, which is an actual issue for oil painters? One artist (who paints in thick impasto style in oils) has a note on the work that is for sale. It says “drying time may be required”. Most definitely.

I painted a couple of color studies, colors #1 and colors #2, in oils, quite thick. The surface of colors #2 was not solid enough to varnish for two full years. Two full years!

There is Wet Canvas, an online community for artists. A slightly dyslexic interpretation in search, maybe that was what the searcher was trying to find? It is one of the better art communities, and part of the inspiration for the title “nude on a wet canvas”.

With “art wet” as the search, today in google you get Sound Art- Wet Sounds: Festival of Underwater Sounds; Dance.Draw -Exquisite Interaction. Art. Dance. Underwater dance. Which leads to Wet Sounds 2008: A Festival of Underwater Sounds- I want to go!.

You have to get the context of this search string

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art wet
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This brings to mind my SPAM mailbox. It has 30 pieces in it today – here are the titles…

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There’s some balance here. It’s not all sex, just perhaps 35%.

In the 1910’s and 1920’s Picasso and other artists put “Jolie!” and “Bass” and other word strings, that seem romantic. To capture the love/lust/culture today you would need a collage with the strings from SPAM, and from sexual references, explicit piercings, to convey it.

A painting of abstract vaguely sexual forms and the words “ART” & “WET” stenciled in there somewhere. Maybe the clarity is in the forms around piercings, the rest undefined and left to the imagination. Abstract but with enough form to ask for interpetation.


— spence