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

"Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence."
― Henri Matisse

two boards by the path – in-progress

This painting is at the stage where I am watching for things to add/change and not yet changing it – very close to done.

It is from a moment on Hendry’s Beach just down from the restaurant, walking down the path toward the sand to photograph a classic sunset in Santa Barbara, and spotting these two surfboards just catching the light and just off the path.

two boards by the path


In Progress | Sunset #13 palm trees

Colors as they mix at the surface of the mind.

Intensities that change in relation to each others – hues that in a perception over time add and subtract and interact, changing what you are seeing.


Mark Rothko hid his process to the extent that he could, working on large canvases. He was secretive, and he did succeed in creating a mystery about what he did. Jackson Pollock was overt and demonstrative in his painting – filmed stepping on the canvas, feeling the paint as it left the brush to form pattern.

I think the secret in the art is not in the process – dripping paint on a canvas doesn’t get a Pollock, there was a control, an intuitive resonance between what he was doing physically and how he perceived it. I think the secret is in that intuitive vision.

I look at the underpainting and I see the next steps, not what’s there right now.

— spence

In Progress | Sunset #12

This is the underpainting for Sunset #12. Two routes this will end up going – I’m thinking that working with the texture of the canvas I might be able to scrape away and get the translucent canvas feel of the umbrella, the changes in light behind it. The other alternative would be to layer on the thread texture on top of thicker paint bringing through the sunset.

sunset #12 IP

Each painting presents its own problems – this one is communicating the coolness of shade, the heat just beyond in the sun, the sand and reflected light, and a sense of space despite the fabric in the way.

— spence

just do it, really, and a flyer

I followed an art newsgroup four or five years ago for about three weeks. This would be Usenet gathered by (which was purchased by google and morphed into google groups). I stopped following it. There was a HUGE amount of thought going into relatively little actual art. One girl was asking for opinions on a piece, and from her originations and replies, it sounded like she might produce three works in a year if she was extraordinarily productive. She had unbelievable angst and worry about this single piece, in which she had sold out for nudity, and was concerned about commercialism in it and the selling out in general.

I read newsgroups for writers and I find some of the same. Circle around the painting, the blank canvas long enough and it’s mimicking circling a drain. Circle around writing words on the page and there are no words on the page. Pro’s do stuff. They write or they paint. Angst and struggle and emotional terror, all of that is process, what comes up from the doing of, from placing paint on a surface, or words on a page, anyway. Wait to feel the urge or think and don’t do, nothing happens or much less happens.

I stopped following the artist group in fairly short order, because it concentrated on solving problems surrounding making art, rather than solving actual artistic creations, directions. There are distractions. They exist. I mostly paint or write anyway. If I produce art I am an artist. If I think about producing art, waiting for inspiration, that’s time that could have been more usefully spent putting paint on canvas.

I have one canvas in progress right now, three more set up to work, all three are blank canvases, but a commitment is made to what each will be. I’ll work Sunset #11, then once I reach a point where paint needs to dry, or where I feel like I have totally ruined the painting, go to Sunset #12, which is a sunset seen through and around an umbrella. That will be pastel drawing and fixative to airbrush undercoat to paint on canvas, and then sequences of problems to solve to get the painting through to done. Each painting is a refuge from the one before it, in case that one before stalls either from process (drying) or from process (discovering that it is NOT the worst thing I’ve ever committed to canvas, and actually works out well…).

One instructor, a pro painter, recommended not working on anything longer than a couple of hours, and to stay productive as an artist, painting many canvases in a process like this. I’ve altered that a bit – some sessions run hours longer, but only up to that moment of where the next actions are not obvious, and the painting needs to dry, and/or I need to step away. It works.

One of the-step-away-from-the-painting-before-you-get-hurt cycles I’ve been working through is a flyer to send out to galleries. Here’s the first draft…

flyer page one

flyer page two

The next problems to solve are paper stock – I used to have a custom paper house nearby, owned by a printer who dearly loved paper and rag content and linens and glossy stock were his passions. Staples somehow doesn’t match that, but I have a clear picture of the finish, surface, color, and quality of the stock that this should be on to make an effect.

Go forth and paint and solve other artistic issues. Make life and emotions solve themselves.

— spence

In Progress | Sunset 11

airbrush underpainting. moon in the last vestiges of sunset.

sunset 11 IP

— spence

works In Progress


A painting is very different from a photograph. I’ve read artists complaining that the images of their work don’t impact in the same way as the original painting. Nature of the medium. A photograph is a different view of the work.

I take promotional and documentary photographs on film of pieces as I complete them. Film give a resolution that when scanned allows prints at actual size without stretching the image capture. The roll holds ten shots. Two paintings only use 6 to eight of those. I usually try and take In Progress shots of some of the other works as possible.

Sometimes this changes how I see the work – the urban/abandoned moscow #3 below – that is much closer to done than I had realized.

And Venice (Sunset #8) – a photograph of that shows me what I have, and several areas that don’t work as yet. But in some ways better than I had in mind.

Some artists seem to think that only the final product should ever be seen and HOW should remain a complete mystery – I think the decisions are more mysterious – ANY of the decision points could go any direction – different color, different texture, different feel for it – and those are the mysteries.

sunset #8


moscow #3