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…"

Venice CA, Sunset No. 8

sunset 08

30″ x 24″, acrylic on gallery-wrap canvas
©2011 spence munsinger

The original painting is 30″ x 24″ x 1.5″, acrylic on gallery-wrap canvas.

Fine Art Print, 30″ x 24″, “Sunset 8 | Venice”.    See About Prints

$172.99Add to cart

Two photos were references for the painting

Sunset 8 | Venice, original painting by Spence Munsinger, photo reference

Venice, photo #1

Sunset 8 | Venice, original painting by Spence Munsinger, photo reference

Venice, photo #2

Several people who have lived in Los Angeles and know this beach have spotted this as Venice, even with the artistic changes in the view. There’s a point in the painting process where whatever the photographs have to give, they have given, and the painting proceeds beyond any reference to the photographs at all. This painting did that fairly early on. Most of the painting was in making the path and trees and sky work together.

This painting is the only one I’ve placed on new supports, new stretchers – one of the original supports broke in an accident in the studio. I replaced the stretcher frame with a new one, but handling a painting with a gallery-wrap canvas, painted through the edges, and getting it onto new supports without damage was careful work.


More Fisheye – Lensbaby Fisheye Element

I love the curves of this kind of perspective, and this comes from way back. I had two art books in my 17th year. One was the Ballantine Frank Frazetta book. I found that book on eBay and recovered it. I still love it, it introduced me to an artist I grew up with, reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars series. There was a second book, with a title something like “Visionaries”. I can’t recall the exact title, but I remember the curved lines of the circular painting on the cover, a view of the sky up through a ring of trees extending from around the viewer.

When you search for “visionaries” or “visionary artist” you get:

Search for "Visionary Artist" images on google

“Visionary Artist”

That captures some of it, that bright color and curved perspective. I’m going to work more with the Lensbaby Fisheye element. I think I’ll try both polarized light and intentional glare. Some of the test shots I made of Sunset paintings have a light from a skylight of nearby window that enhanced the sense of curve, of roundness…

Sunset 4 | Patio Solana Beach, original painting by Spence Munsinger, fisheye photograph

Patio, Solana Beach, Fisheye




Fisheye lens…

Sunset 15 | Laughing Buddha, original painting by Spence Munsinger, fisheye photo

Laughing Buddha | Fisheye

I love fisheye curves. This is using a Lensbaby Fisheye lens on a full frame Canon DLSR.

Sunset 1 | La Jolla, original painting by Spence Munsinger, fisheye photo

La Jolla | Fisheye

I took these photos to scale down for use in webpages. I’m going to try and take some more carefully with a tripod and more exact focussing to put on the front page as an alternate to the full-width banner. Maybe with some high intensity light on one side to add to the marble effect…

Original Painting, “Laughing Buddha”.  See How To Buy Art

$929.00Add to cart

Fine Art Print, 24″ x 30″, “Laughing Buddha”.    See About Prints

$172.99Add to cart

Fine Art Print, 30″ x 24″, “Sunset 1 | La Jolla”.    See About Prints

$172.99Add to cart

Sunset #24 | Butterfly Beach

Sunset 24 | Butterfly Beach, painting by Spence Munsinger

Sunset 24 | Butterfly Beach

Original Painting, Butterfly Beach.  See How To Buy Art

$929.00Add to cart

Fine Art Print, 30″ x 24″, Butterfly Beach.    See About Prints

$172.99Add to cart

This is acrylic on gallery-wrap canvas, 30″ x 24″ x 1.5″. This is a view of Hendry’s Beach, in Santa Barbara, which actually faces south rather than west. This brings the sunset off the ocean and closer to the cliffs that extend at high tide out to the breaking surf.

Butterfly Beach, Sunset Series, painting by Spence Munsinger, in situ

ButterFly Beach

I took a series of almost-lost-light photographs as the sun dropped, looking for lens flare and silhouettes of people and dogs that might be interesting. This painting was from several different photographs.

photograph, Hendry's Beach below the Butterfly Preserve

photograph, Hendry’s Beach below the Butterfly Preserve

The process was to sketch in the masses from the photographs, then airbrush a bright primary undercoat to match the tones and basic colors, then layer acrylic paint over that…

Butterfly Beach, painting by Spence Munsinger, airbrush process shot

Pastel sketch at start

Butterfly Beach, painting by Spence Munsinger, airbrush process shot


Butterfly Beach, painting by Spence Munsinger, initial color masses

Initial Color Masses

Butterfly Beach, painting by Spence Munsinger, More Color

More color…


How I Paint a Chair in the Sun…












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.


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


wolf kahn and color, rothko


I was searching for something about color and I ran across a statement in a forum, something like “if you want to see how to paints trees find a book by Wolf Kahn”. Further down in that newsgroup, someone else agreed that the was the path to follow.

I wasn’t researching trees, but I was curious – who? Wolf Kahn? Never heard of him. I looked for an example of his work and I was floored. His color work is just enlightening. Transcendent. Bright. Brilliant, and a little mad. His website is a microscopic flash presentation, done through his gallery. Despite that the images are extraordinary. I found a book of his work, ordered it, and when it arrived, I was struck by the evolution of this artist from the fifties through to his recent work. His color theory and the presence and tone of the colors used to create a warm feel or a cold feel, the evolution as you watch his work change and progress – a great colorist, hell, a great painter.


wolf kahn


The change over time in how Wolf Kahn approaches color and the origins of that sense of color and creation of abstraction shows me some methods of using color and of thinking about color that are very close to the conclusions I was reaching for already. And that is just very very cool. It jumpstarts the progression a couple of years or more for me forward.

Wolf Kahn is directly compared with the harmonies ( Sections of a Painting Like Passages in Music) of color in Mark Rothko’s painting. I had never connected with Rothko’s paintings – they didn’t click for me. Bring the color work from Kahn which works for me, subject and form and color, back from his ethereal landscapes to the simpler pure color work Rothko achieved and I see the genius I had not seen before. All of this is along the same path I was already following with color and form and perception of color.

marl rothko

Color as temperature, perception, emotional reaction alone, separate from form.

My first love in painting is color. Bright, brilliant color, color at the edge of what’s real. Stark raving color, actually. Color beyond the pale.


— spence