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

"What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house."
― Edward Hopper

Quality of Light…

I’m photographing in Santa Barbara through this coming week. Lots of sunsets, strip malls at sunset, bluffs above the beach late afternoon. I’m looking for the quality of light and color and photos that capture what’s different about both California and about the quality of light and color there.

it seems with a quality of light and a palm tree in it, almost anything becomes obviously and only California. The brilliance and sheer brightness of light is just awesome after the subdued light of New England in the winter.

I had tested a Fuji X-Pro 1 camera with 35mm f1.4 Fujinon lens in November 2012. After a couple of weeks of using the camera, I decided to return it. I am used to working with RAW image files, and the support for the Fuji RAW files in Adobe Lightroom was present but not working all that well. I took a few test shots and decided the camera was just not worth working with.

I was going through images last week, marking photos for use in paintings, and I ran across an image with an ethereal quality to the light, that quality that only a very special lens and camera can produce.


diningroom with Fuji


When I looked at the photograph’s data and saw which camera and lens had create it, I said “Of course.” It was the Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm Fujinon lens. I realized the camera I had returned had a very special quality in the way that it handled light and color, something very rare. I had not seen that in the test shots in November, but it was clear now. . That quality trumps the difficulty of workflow with its images. So… I found a deal on the Fuji X-E1 camera, same sensor as the Fuji X-Pro 1, at $700 less that the X-Pro 1, and the deal added the same Fujinon 35mm f1.4 lens I had before at half price. Better pricing, same quality imaging system. Done. I’ll be using that camera almost exclusively for awhile.

Here’s another image:


diningroom wide aperture






los angeles…


a windy venice beach


…and he walked into a great sandstone building. “oooooffff. My nose…” Nick Danger, 3rd Eye


Many years in Los Angeles – I can still hear freeway traffic as a background noise. An hallucinated, auditory presence, recovered with the memory of half my life.

I sit on the porch in the evening here in the Northeast, and compare East to West – to Los Angeles. I recall the light at the end of the day, the gradual deepening blue and then azure and grey. The color of the sky at last light over the ocean, a cloudy grey-pink . The desert wind. The dry heat. The smell of rain falling on oil-soaked parched streets, hard and fast and steaming as the drops hit the pavement. The brightness at night, 470 square miles of streetlight-after-streetlight-after-streetlight banishing the stars and giving the evening sky a glow like distorted and twisted moonlight.

I saw stars in Los Angeles once. The 1994 earthquake woke me up and threw me out of bed at 4:30 AM in the morning. It cut off all the power through the Los Angeles basin, the only lights were from cars on the road. Unable to go back to sleep, I lay in the bed of my pickup truck, watching a depth of stars in the heavens usually only seen in the desert, far away from the city. They are always there but never seen, blocked.

hitchiker's guide


…Los Angeles, which is described in the new edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… as ‘being like several thousand square miles of American Express junk mail, but without the same sense of moral depth. Plus the air is, for some reason, yellow.’

~Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish


I’m working through an ocean/sunset painting. The quality of light is interesting to bring into a painting. Hollywood HAD to be in this area – the light is so different from anywhere else. There is more of it. It is whiter, more intense. This is added to at the beach by the reflection back of light from sand and water. And the colors in a sunset – enhanced by the haze of particles in the air – looks like it couldn’t actually be in anything but an imagined world.

Last trip out to L.A., I took pictures, but not with the good cameras, with a small digital. The days were hazy, cloudy in the morning and never that spectacular light California is capable of. I’m working from memories and from impressions and from snapshots here and there.

to the beach postcardbeach and dunes postcard

Nothing IS California like the long pathways along the beach and the beach communities. Laguna Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, and further south, La Jolla, DelMar, Solana Beach, Oceanside, Carlsbad. The proximity of the ocean becomes an integral part of your world. I oriented things based on the direction to the Pacific, it was an enormous presence always there in the back of my mind. That direction is the ocean, the sea, a huge expanse of space to the horizon. Even on the other side of the country, that’s still where I feel the ocean in my mind.

East vs. West – much of the California Beaches are public access. Few are private. The broad swatches of sand – not available on the East coast – much of the beach in the North East is a place where the bitterly cold Atlantic reaches a rocky shore and broad expanses of sand aren’t available. Broad expanses of mud flats. But not the soft white surface of a Pacific beach.


If the first paintiing creates a path for a series of images, maybe I can paint the recall of warmth and sun through a New England winter.



— munsinger





…this is from “The Further Adventures of Nick Danger”, Firesign Theatre’s brilliant spoof of private eye radio programs.

Here’s the whole scene:


“NARRATOR: Los An-ge-les, he walks again by night.

Out of the fog, into the smog. (cough)
(NICK: I wonder where Ruth is),
(woof woof),
toward his weekly meeting with…
the unknown.

At Fourth and Drucker he turns left.
At Drucker and Fourth he turns right.
He crosses MacArthur Park and walks into a great sandstone building
(NICK: ooh – my

Groping for the door (ring)
he steps inside (ring)
climbs the thirteen steps to his office (ring).
He walks in (ring). He’s ready for mystery (ring).
He’s ready for excitement (ring).
He’s ready for anything (ring).
He’s… (answers phone)

“NICK: ‘Nick Danger, third eye.’

“CALLER: ‘I want to order a pizza to go and no anchovies.’

“NICK: ‘No anchovies? You’ve got the wrong man. I spell my name Danger!’

“CALLER: ‘What?'”


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