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

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

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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.


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

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

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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…


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






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

new works | Sunset #6 Esplanade






new work – sunset #5 off PCH



sunset series (paintings)