Tad Spurgeon oil paintings


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A Sunday look at process and product.
A chronological look at the best work from the last few years is now here.

september 19

       Waxing moon, more summery week. strong but scattered energy, the work went awry, revamping the studio worked better. One cooler afternoon I made the gum animé varnish, it was fun to see that through. In larger terms, the scary movie continues to be projected in the darkened theater. The sky is falling, the sky is falling! And the audience is hypnotized with terror: expecting, and therefore getting, the worst. But, strangely enough, it's still a gorgeous day outside. When will the audience realize they can just walk out of the dark, and into the light? That a happy ending is theirs for the asking?


      Continued with small panel production, this was fun but created the usual impenetrable mess. Surprisingly, this led to a general overhaul of the middle island in the room, setting up the easel differently with the idea of starting to work there again, and culminated in cleaning the tabletop itself. Lily is always interested in renovations, especially when they generate spacious surfaces, and lost no time in leaping onto it.


      Became interested in hymenaea courbaril earlier in the summer, there are many new world copal resins, mostly now marketed as incense, with botanical information not always easy to come by or that accurate. But this is the only one that seems to have been used in European easel painting, called gum animé and possibly exported from Brazil as early as the 16th century. It's mentioned a varnish resin to test by De Mayerne, who calls it Gum Animae. Meaning he knows about it, but hasn't tried it. Similarly, it's mentioned in Trade in Artist's Materials, but there are no period references. I was looking for a resin that fused at a higher temperature than damar, but lower than Manila copal, making it possible to make a hard-resin type varnish without a lot of smoke. Got as far as finding the resin and dissolving some in isopropyl alcohol, then precipitating it out, before the summer heat set in. But my friend Roland also got some resin, and has done thorough experiments making it into varnish in the last few weeks.


      A species of locust, not a pine, called jatopa in Brazil, resin from this tree was used to make commercial varnish there in the 20th century. This tree has lots of uses, the fruit is edible, many parts of it are used in traditional medicine, and it produces copious amounts of resin that may be the source of South American amber. But the resin was never popularized for painting, unless it was used in the copal varnish marketed by Taubes, which seems doubtful. Copal itself developed a reputation for excess darkening that was based on the varnish made for carriages, from low quality linseed oil, heated to high temperatures for 6-8 hours in an open kettle with added driers, etcetera, but the Taubes material was made by a painter for painters, and was popular: Dali even refers to it in Fifty Secrets of Magical Craftmanship. I liked the extra-thixotropic behavior of Manila copal very much, and used all that I had made in Vermont. Which led to looking for a resin that could be made onto varnish without as much smoke. Preferably, given the neighborhood, with none! The first version of this was fused damar, but, given the dedication of the planet to variety, it seemed that there might be a resin that fused somewhere between damar and Manila copal. And added thixotropy in the paint, which fused damar doesn't.


      Roland tried this a number of ways, including dissolving the resin in ethanol and then boiling the ethanol off, pictured here, but he reports that simply heating the resin itself into the oil works just as well. I eventually made some of this varnish later in the week, details three photos down.


      Realized that the medium I've been using is a kind of gelatin stabilized mayonnaise. This type of emulsion is familiar to those who grew up in the culinary wilderness of the 1960s from the jello salad mold, but mayonnaise collée seems to have had its origin long ago as a way to keep banquet food from drying out. Had been mashing gelled glue into the medium, because mixing liquid glue and egg yolk didn't produce the same strong set, but decided to try mixing liquid glue into the whole medium. Made a double batch and added a drop of oil of rosemary to see how long that would help it keep in the fridge. Liked the consistency of this when it was cool. Dense, but tender, mobile.


      The medium worked well, but what I made with it became too rigid, too much like a mosaic. Kept animating the paint, but the whole became ornate, not complete. Scraped back some areas on the second day, always fun, but then realized the chances of it gelling without a truly major overhaul were small, and stopped. Something fundamental went missing. Too many trees, not enough forest. It could also be that, with the recent adjustments to the ground, this system now sets too quickly, helping it to layer and remove cleanly, but also making it potentially more static. As always, a fine line between too much movement in the paint and not enough. Lots to learn from what doesn't work, detail here, about six inches across.


      This led to some drawings loosely based on the third one from August 29 below. It occurred to me that these could be colourized digitally, but I'm not sure that would be helpful, would end up copying the model instead of making something new. When something works, it often seems easy, and it's also easy to take that for granted. Then it disappears, and it's time to go looking for it.


      Then it was finally cool enough to consider generating some additional heat, and made a small batch of varnish with the hymenaea courbaril resin later in the week. This was a very simple process, largely due to the fact that Roland explored it first. Having worked with copal, amber, and sandarac, I would have been confused by the larger amount of resin needed to make this one. The process generated no smoke, ha-ha, and the varnish itself actually smells good. This was fun also because my original intuition was that this was the resin that would work. But the only reference to actually using it I found in the literature that was in Mérimée, who said it fused at the same temperature as Manila copal. While the information in older books on resins should always be taken with a grain of salt, Roland also pointed out that Mérimée may well have had an older version of the resin, whereas ours is relatively fresh. Relatively, given that the resin as it comes from the tree is clear, and the resin we are using is orange, with a notable oxidation crust on the exterior. So, this is not the soft jatopa discussed in the paper above, nor the harder, 'fossilized' resin that Mérimée may have had, but the hard jatopa in between.


      Had some paint and extender left over and made a small test on Saturday using the animé varnish in the new version of the studio. A test is always good, you never know what's going to happen, and can learn what the material wants to do without being invested in making it do a specific thing. Added about 10%, maybe less, to the extender after using it as a couch, meaning the couch layer was leaner and still set strongly. 10% is too much, but wanted to make the effect of the varnish clear. And the extender didn't set noticeably from the varnish, but relaxed. Yet, though thin, the paint was quite bouncy and saturated. But, at that proportion in the extender, the varnish overwhelmed the set of the paint in the short run. Still, it was completely set after a few hours. Decided to just let this be animated, and it went through several cycles of adding and removing. Learned that it works incredibly thinly, and sets reasonably quickly when used this way. This could be due to the large amount of resin used to make the varnish. As usual with this type of varnish, less would be enough. If the extender itself were a little thicker, this larger proportion of animé might work in an additive way on the first day. Or it could be used at a larger scale for extended alla prima over a few days. The paint I had would work really well for lively alla prima realism with fine brushes. So, several forks in the road appearing with this material. Always wondered why it was called animé, most probably a reference to a medicinal use, but static this is not.


      On Sunday did a version of the medium using the same amount of the animé as the various other richer elements like the amber oil or protocopal. So, that's the only difference between this one and the previous dozen or so of these. It didn't look that different, but it was more mobile for the same density, and it set in a different way. It was still layerable, but the set was slower and less strong, and the paint was also easier to remove. It must be much more saturated when wet as well, as it felt like this had too much colour very quickly, but this will diminish somewhat when it's dry. New territory is always fun but full of surprises: Oh, it will do that, but uh-oh, not this, etc. The strength of this so far is how it artifacts. It removes cleanly, but because the animé makes the whole system finer and more tender, there's much more refined evidence of what was there before. The corresponding weakness is that the edges are now much more literal by default, and it's more difficult to smear them. So, a fork in the road: whether to proceed this way, or to shift the formula so that it resembles the former system more. There's more freedom in this approach, which felt really positive, but it's version of everything -- shape, colour, edges, set, removal, saturation, layering -- is more different than I thought it would be. This may be a bug, but is more probably a feature. Something new wanted to happen, I just don't know how to use it yet. 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Lily loves to attack from the high ground, this is one of her favorite post-prandial activities in the evening. She zooms up there, there's a pause full of dramatic tension when those foolhardy fingers begin to sneak up on her, then the festivities begin.

september 12

      Generally sunny and cooler, still more summer than fall but not by much. Week of the new moon, sort of an odd one so far, demanding another level of excavation. The work came forward a little bit, wanted more but it wasn't there. Feels like something new needs to happen again, I get distracted by wanting to develop a specific approach but the process just seems to want the next one. In larger terms, it still seems better to focus on the birth of the new way, than to detail the slow but certain death of the old way. If it's organic, naturally alive, I pay attention to its message. Which is always positive. If it's inorganic, man-made, a machine pretending to be alive, I ignore it.


      Want to shift the current work from paper to panels at some point. Am getting a greater understanding of how to keep the surface alive if the painting isn't completed in the first layer, so this transition is getting closer. Started cannibalizing old panels a while back to make a variety of new ones, this is fun in moderation. Keep making the gesso a little coarser, used some fine aquarium sand and some of the fine calcium carbonate grit that is sold for terrariums in this batch. It looks heinously coarse when it's put on but calms down when it's burnished over parchment paper, the grains become more embedded.


      Only one new one this week, it took an odd photo, some closer colour shifts, had a hard time getting it even close. Like the sense of syncopation, of a composition of small pieces over the larger ones underneath. Want to develop this further. Not enough movement in the larger pieces, and it got busy from the smaller pieces trying to fix this. Too much vertical emphasis in the top half, too much horizontal emphasis in the bottom half. And still got waylaid by the grid in spite of consciously working to subvert it. I think I don't have plans, but I do, secret plans to over-organize all the chaos. Which is understandable, but doesn't lead to what the process wants now. It's not that this doesn't work, it semi-works, but it's on the road to mannerism. Used to get grouchy about this, like, I should have known. But each definition of what works is like the top of the pyramid. Oops, what now? There might be a few variations on a given definition, but it's a fine line between development and imitation. At this point the process just wants to start over and build another one, a different one. The new one will still be based on what has come before, but turning it inside out more than agreeing with it. It's also 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Second layer on one from two weeks ago. It didn't quite work out, did lots of removal at the end. Obsessed about how to develop it for a few days after doing it, then let it go. Am becoming more okay with the limitations of this next layer. Can only do so much without losing what's underneath. This makes the paint appear flat, which somehow is absolutely not okay. It felt like removing paint at the end of it hasn't worked out was a good idea, the area it doesn't really go back to pure white but has far more options for the next layer. 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Wanted to see what could happen with this one from last week. Keeping the first layer relatively translucent it helpful for the feeling of the second layer. It's fun to noodle around, some compartments became livelier, but need to alter the horizontal bar across the lower half even further. Too much of an implied grid, the scale too even, don't like the colour. Yikes, is there a way to fix this? Possibly one for the bone pile, but always good to get a more clarity about what doesn't work. 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Getting ready to go out for the night.

september 5

      The remnants of Hurricane Ida came through here this week, the storm tracked just a little north of what was predicted and we got less rain. Still, lots of flooding downtown, and a few tornadoes in the area, one in a neighboring county. People around here are not used to tornadoes, one house leveled, large trees tossed around on the lawn like matchsticks, the houses on either side untouched. This seems to be the end of the sultry summer weather, days in the 70s now, with lows in the upper 50s, a great relief. Waning moon, new moon in Virgo on Monday evening, did decently with the work but got excited by it and tried to run on empty for a day, an old familiar feeling. Time to regroup for a few days, let it all coalesce. I used to try to plan the next thing, but it never really worked. Following the energy is much simpler. I don't to understand what's going on while its happening, just that it wants to happen. But then it's interesting to look at a new painting each day for the next few days. It changes physically somewhat as it dries, but I also just start seeing it differently; it explains its inner logic bit by bit. It can't be pushed, but after about a week or so the message of a given image becomes more apparent. What worked, what didn't, and why. At the end of the moon, this often happens from a larger perspective, the work of that moon comes into focus at the next level. It's always about realizing: Oh, I didn't see that before! It's like waking up in a slightly different version of reality: some of it is the same, but some of it is brand new. How did this happen? Again? It feels like the less I know, the less I take anything about the process for granted, the more fuel this generates for the process to grow. September is such an amazing month, this gentle lull in nature after the crescendo of August. Although this September is probably not going to be remembered as a lull. A process each of us is about to experience in our own unique way.


      Fun with recycling. Had a few older panels that were very long and narrow, decided to peel the linen off them and make them smaller. The gesso cracks in this procedure, sometimes flakes, sometimes stays on. Thought the gesso would come off the linen globally if I washed it, but it did and it didn't. Then thought, okay, let's just work with this the way it wants to be. This is what it looked like with a coat of glue on top to consolidate the older gesso. There's probably someone out there who would sign these and turn this technique into a career, but I decided to just put more gesso on top, the texture still shows through, but is sort of submerged.


      Well, ran into something a little tricky with the system this week. If a painting doesn't use too many thin layers, the colour dries true to the wet colour. But if a painting uses lots of thin layers that have lots of medium, the colour dries up, and not quite consistently since the number of layers isn't consistent. The major downside of this is having to guess about final value relationships. Haven't had only minor issues with this so far, but decided to try making the whole system a little fatter. Not much, just a little. The paint's behavior was pretty similar, the colour did have more saturation but didn't dry with a gloss. It still set quickly, and the uneven ground meant that edges and areas of removal were less precise. Still, this painting ended up being a more civilized or developed version of the third painting from last week. Similar elements, more colour, organization, and extemporaneous changes. I like the overall softer colour and edges of this, and the blue diagonal at the bottom. It was sort of peaceful or meditative to make, it felt like I'd just continue to change it until I liked it, then stop. This feeling is not always the case, but I could get used to it. So both an evolution of last week's painting, and a way to appreciate the more casual cohesion of first one more. The process wants to use organization, and subvert it at the same time. A pretty basic paradox in terms of generating creative tension. 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Can I blame it on the waning moon? No, it was being in too much of a hurry in the beginning. Overconfidence, didn't wait until the composition gelled at that stage, producing more irresolute panoptical chaos. Yes, you have heard this story before. Worked on it a second day, it is at least better than it was. The left half vertically now works pretty well, as does the top half horizontally. The problem in once again the locked right angles of the lower right. Also became too involved in the goofy horizontal traffic jam effect across the lower half, this concept has potential but needs to breathe more, be less linear. More of a sense of theater: if you write about boredom in a boring way it's going to be boring. Similarly, can't comment effectively on the lunacy of the monkey mind from within the monkey mind. Still, as close as one of these busy ones has come, am learning a lot from looking at this one. 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      For the last few years flea season has started with the beginning of wet and cooler weather in September, so that's what I expected. So, when Lily began scratching early this week the internal alarm didn't go off right away. And when it did, a day or two later, I couldn't find the flea comb, our traditional first line of defense. It's funny, I had a vial of the flea medicine that goes on the back of her neck from last year, but it didn't occur to me to just use it. Anyway, I looked all over the place for the comb, stopped and calmed down, then finally semi-remembered where I'd put it, and realized it must have fallen, meaning it was behind the radiator in the kitchen. So got out the broom and started hunting under there, and it wasn't long before I heard the unique sound of the flea comb as it emerged. The pure joy of this moment would seem way out of proportion unless you have had to deal with fleas being somewhat out of control in your environment. And it got me thinking about how many things about life are this way. I.e., the problem creates the element of stress, which creates action and, eventually the joy of solving the problem. It's over, things can go back to normal. But wait, wasn't normal sort of boring? Not anymore! Anyway, when Lily came inside I got three fleas, then tried again later and got three more. I'm generally friendly to insects, have learned to talk to the wasps trapped on the wrong side of the window gently and they just walk right into the glass jar and I put them outside. But fleas are a different story, a potential source of all kinds of mayhem. Anyway, put the medicine on her the next day with the help of my downstairs neighbor. Put some DT earth in her food today just in case, but hopefully that's the end of fleas this season.

august 29

      Seriously hot and humid week, zowie, finally a little cooler yesterday after a rainy night, and a notably cooler week ahead. Yahoo, only two more days of August. For me, it's certainly been worse, but there's always a sense of celebration on September 1. Waning moon, but was able to follow the process as it moved me along. In larger terms, I still wonder what on earth it's going to take to wake people up, but it seems better to focus on the birth of the new way, than to detail the death of the old way.


      It's been interesting to see how pretty small shifts the ingredient proportions affects the way the paint looks and behaves. Made the medium two ways this week. The first version just had the amber oil, the second version had the 2:2:200 walnut oil as well, 1/16 of a teaspoon. The first version was used for the first two paintings below, . The second version was used for the other two paintings below. The first version was borderline too tight on the current gesso. The second version moved too much on an earlier gesso that was smoother and less absorbent. 1/16 of a teaspoon is 0.625 milliliters, about 2.5% of the total medium volume.


      Started here this week. Sometimes just after the full moon, it's still possible to make one that feels, well, full. A good example of the kind of simplicity that seems easy when it happens, like following the treasure map, it all seems laid out, one thing just follows another. This is always a positive experience, but have learned not to try to emulate one like this right away, but to do a different type of image next, study something like this until the next step in its evolution is ready to occur in a similar way. About 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Began this one differently, though still in a way that had worked in the past. But it ran into the board game issue, something that used to happen years ago. Fixed it somewhat, but not totally, then decided to put another layer on it at some point. Can see several ways to go further, they all involve changing things in the bottom third. Sometimes these need a rest to see further into what might happen, there are just so many possibilities. Am making the first layer of these without using white. Logical in one way, just want to see what happens if I keep learning it. But it also means the next layer can have white, and make a different type of colour with the same palette. About 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Decided to make something simpler, based this on one of the small ones from a few weeks ago that I liked. And it's always interesting what happens when a small study is expanded. Added a little white in a thin adjustment layer the next day, some of these dried to the original value, but some of them dried up. So, still some issues there, though they're small. Learned a great deal from this, one of those paintings that claw their way bit by bit through to another dimension. Am really interested in developing this approach further, but the process is kind of on a tear, who knows what's up next? About 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Wanted to work on solving the board game composition issue, seemed like it would be good to do some small ones and just keep changing them quickly until something happened that felt right. Found some small older pieces of gessoed paper, this one had a smoother ground and was not nearly as absorbent as the current ground. But that seemed fine, since the idea was to change things. Same medium, it was a little goopy at this scale, on this ground, but did change well! Ended up liking the colours better than the composition, learned something about the board game issue, and it felt like the scale was too small to go further with the paint sliding so much. And the more obvious knifework and edges on this ground really bugged me. Studies at this scale might be helpful in the week to come, though: the last week of the moon is usually a good time for humble expectations. About 6x6.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      When you go through a pandemic with someone, you really learn a lot about who they are.

august 22

      Another warm and very humid week, lots of intermittent rain and thunderstorms. Waxing moon, decent energy for the work all things considered. Did have one of those automotive warning dreams later in the week, where my car couldn't get up the hills it was trying to and kept sliding backwards. Decided at this point to take a break. This is still not exactly my strong suit, it's so nice to ignore the unfolding insanity in tangible shapes and colours. Full moon this morning, this features the end of the Sun in Leo, less drama and more precision to come with Virgo. Also Mercury opposite Neptune, an indicator of illusions mistaken for reality, or of highly confused communications. Which seems about right. How does anyone know what is really happening in Afghanistan when it is reported by the MSM? This is like prestidigitation: watch out for the AZ audit, that's what they don't want you to see. The media is still trying desperately to generate fear, but there is nothing real to be afraid of. The current government and it's ludicrous narratives are falling apart in slow motion, producing an extended Toto moment for anyone who might be interested. The old way has to fall apart fully, and become clearly understood, before the new way can begin.

       So okay, one more week of the media cuttlefish scurrying madly about, then a high vibration tsunami in September. An overview of our situation with a larger perspective, these guys are always really balanced and clear. If you're interested in doing something positive on your own, this has worked well for me. There are some people who speak in light language online, but here is a very clear explanation of what it is, what it does, and a complete library of healing transmissions. The first time I tried listening to some of these, I thought, okay, well, nothing happened the first time. Then I started laughing. And finally, there are lots of versions of this song, but this is the one I like best. It stops time, which is exactly right. People get ready. We are being given the most amazing opportunity human beings have ever had.


      First one, really liked how it began but it ended up illustrating the danger of the strong beginning in strong colour. It got to a certain point and then sort of froze, didn't know what to do next, and couldn't bear guessing. So, accidentally ran into perfectionism in the technique and that was that. Can see some options now, either animate the large warm yellow area more with curves and diagonals, or echo it more in the bottom right corner. But it also seems like the key is a more organic, less architectural set of shapes to begin with. Some nice lyrical colour in this one, but maybe too lyrical. This one was mostly smooth and additive, an approach that's also conducive to shrinking the options. At this scale, best to just learn what went awry and do the next one. As the week went on, began removing more, and making things more textural or distressed as I went along. Learning how to use the technique instead of being used by it. Don't dislike this, being able to do anything at this point is a distinct blessing, but it does seem kind of like the cover of a fantasy novel. About 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      On this morning I was feeling sort of crabby, it's something I associate with August here growing up, the relentless thick humidity, day after day would produce energy that was sort of aggravated. And we've had relentless humidity here day after day. So, just started working with this energy in the painting, and first found it made it better, then made it comical. So, this sort of redeemed it, which has never happened to that energy before. I like it when the next image is a response to the preceding one but didn't expected a shift this complete. I like that it's sort of edgy, but playful about that as well. About 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      This one was also a surprise, I thought it might be more efficient to mix the whole egg yolk with an equal amount of hide glue when the hide glue was liquid, then refrigerate that, but didn't really like the way it set as well as mixing them separately. So kept waiting for this to set more, something it didn't do until much later in the process. It was also a surprise because it started out similar to the one above, but them morphed into a version of the pinwheel with curves and triangles. This one seems to be in compartments that are too separate, though that may be an approach to develop as well. Some parts I like, but decided to just remove things I didn't with the idea of putting a second layer on it at some point. About 8.85x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Lily and I share this table in the kitchen, she'll often sleep here in the afternoon because it's just outside the stream of AC from the studio. I thought she had left and I could fold and tear a piece of gessoed paper. But then she came back and sat right on it. Lily likes hide glue, and I do give her high-quality gelatin in her food when it gets hot. Anyway, tried to gently pull it out from under her, but this is a game we play with the rugs, and she pounced on it like it was alive. Which was pretty funny. She didn't use her claws on it, though, whew. It was like she wanted to know what the boundaries were with this new material. I picked her up gently and folded the paper in the studio. Later that evening, I was getting ready for bed and she followed me into the bathroom and hopped up into the small window, poking her head around the curtain to see outside. Then I saw that I should clean her box. She pees right against the edge of the box, and, though it clumps cleanly, it often needs a piece of damp toilet paper to remove a film off the plastic. I've learned to do this because otherwise, she might just decide not to use the box. I was really tired, it sometimes seems to creep up and pounce in the heat. And here was one more thing, could feel the camel's back creaking. The toilet paper is mounted just under the windowsill, and I went over to get some. As I arrived, she spun around, emerged from behind the curtain and whacked my hand with her paw. Well, all I saw was the paw, a bullseye, and I started laughing like mad. She does things like this all the time, fun things that work for both of us.


It's great when she yawns, it looks like a roar on film and you can see all those teeth! Was a little late with this one.

august 15

      Whew! Very warm week again, Lily started spending the night outside and most of the day in. Waxing moon, some good energy at first in spite of the heat, then the heat won. Made some fresh aloe vera gel, that was fun and helpful for cooling off temporarily, but eventually had to give up on doing and just be hot. Still hard to accept that, but better than fighting it when there's nothing left to fight with. Cooler today finally, and have paint plans again. Am not asking for a whole lot, just letting it change and enjoying that. This provides a way of remaining me in spite of everything that conspires otherwise. In August, that often feels like more than usual. Have been avoiding all forms of news for months, but let some in this week. It made me feel vaguely soiled, couldn't suspend disbelief, the whole situation seemed scripted, a giant Good Guys vs. Bad Guys movie, to the point that it wasn't possible to take it seriously. The mainstream media is trying, pretty desperately now, with ever more stern parental authority, to maintain a version of reality we have outgrown. This reality is disintegrating so that a new system can emerge. One of the things that is disintegrating is the mockingbird media game as an effective form of propaganda. They have run the same play too relentlessly. Doesn't feel like peak chaos yet, but things are ramping up more quickly. The Toto moment, when a large chunk of people wake up and realize the extent of the manipulation, is slowly getting closer. ,Some large resignations this week, gotta love Schwarzenegger as the latest vaccine bully, a lot came out in independent media about the Dominion vote altering technique, and it feels inevitable that the election results in Arizona will be decertified soon. This is a bigger domino than may appear, because, once this happens, all states are legally required to investigate their elections. Which opens a Pandora's box of questions: Who controlled (paid) Dominion? Was the Dominion fraud an attack by a foreign power? If so, the election turns legally into an act of war. So far, all of this has taken place within the government and the media, but these are not the people who fight wars. Who is the legal President? Who will be making all those really important mask and vaccine rules? Or will there be no rules suddenly because there was no pandemic in the first place? Have a feeling a lot is going to happen pretty quickly when Arizona is decertified: some pretty nutty things may be trotted out, some unusually big lies about the other guy may suddenly become front page news. Haven't heard much about the phony alien invasion lately, maybe they gave up on that one. The plot has to be revealed before it can thicken. Still, for 18 months now, all of this has taken much longer than I thought it would. We inhabit a Universe that is both purposeful and patient to the Nth degree. And when things do finally happen, it's somehow right on cue. But, looking ahead, are you okay with the new capital being in Texas? Have yet to figure out how JFK Jr. fits into this, but he's wearing cowboy boots pretty conspicuously these days.


      Second one this week. With the first one, I tried to pick up with the last one from last week, but that didn't work. As usual. Still, I learned a lot from it about how much can be removed, and for how long. And to just abandon any form of reference. Look within, not back. I like this one because it is both simple and not so simple. That is, it started out simply, then got just complex enough. This doesn't always happen. And, of course, looks simple when it does. 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      With this one, was hotter and more in a hurry than I realized, and forgot to put the couch on. This made it a lot more solid. Mistakes like this always have a message, generally that there are no mistakes, just changes, and in some ways I like this look better. It does make the colour less forgiving, but helped me realize this is an area where there could be more than two choices, something between, or besides, couch and no couch. Became hung up in this one with that piece of light blue. Does that happen to you? There's one thing that's just way more important than anything else, for no apparent reason? But couldn't get more of it, it would only happen over the pure white of the gesso. So, will now consider how to begin these smaller steps and more of them. Less resolved as a composition, the right half vertically is further along for once. The whole might be solved by one piece in that empty light orange area. Also really like removing the blue arc in the lower right. Maybe at some point, but for now, too many other things need to change, better just to make a new one with this method; the method itself is what needs the most work. On the other hand, I'm happy about the colour, the scale of the shapes, and about the way the paint looks. That feels like a lot to be happy about in the middle of August. The one above references the older type of pattern, which is fine, but I like how this one is asking for a set of shapes and colours that develop more organically or extemporaneously. So, some relatively big changes in progress, the whole system is in motion, which seems like quite a gift. The issue to solve now is the relatively unforgiving nature of the method. Too many things about it work to just let it go, want to see what happens when I do a few more. 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Lily has continued to develop the sparring game, but it's hard to get good action shots. She wants me to pay attention to what we're doing, which makes sense, is polite in the basic cat sense. But that means the photos end up all over the place.


      Yes, still here. Standing by, so to speak. No rush. Take your time. Just thought I'd say hi. Let me know if there's anything I can do. Ask me anything.

august 8

      Overtly summery but slightly cooler week, then really nice this morning, unexpected. Waning moon, usually a lower expectation time for the work, but a reasonable amount happened, especially in terms of long term changes, the next step I've been looking for. This is a purely intuitive process, gave up long ago on my own plans. This means I bump around for a while, not knowing what the process is trying to explain. But eventually I get it, and the experience means more because of the surprise involved. New moon at about 10 this morning here, also 8:8, the day of the Lionsgate, which I think was originally about the reappearance of Sirius, the brightest star, in Leo on the horizon, and can definitely be a high energy time.


       Looked at the new moon chart with the conjunct asteroid technique, this tends to give pretty specific details. The asteroid Chaos (19521) is conjunct the Midheaven, Narcissus (37117) is conjunct Pandora (55) just below the Ascendant, and Karma (3511) is conjunct Venus in the 12th house, Damocles (5335) is conjunct Jupiter in the 5th. So, a sense that disclosure is going to keep building, accompanied with the tensions it creates. A really detailed Universe, playing out a really detailed story with unparalleled patience. Except, who wants to hear it? And will they be happy about it when they do? No, not at all! Many channeled messages this week concentrated on a specific theme: that something overdue, and unexpected in general, was about to happen. That this event would cause difficulty at first, but quickly lead to an unexpected new level of both freedom and awareness. Learning the hidden truth hurts, but also sets us free. Well, if we want it. Free will means we can stay imprisoned if that's more comfortable. This message has been consistent for a long time now, the question has only been when the precipitating event, the Toto moment, would take place. Examples of this message from this week here, and here. People tend to see this situation as medical, or political, but it is so much larger and more positive than that. Well, if you want it to be.


      Have had good luck with a mix of hibiscus flowers and rose hips for the heat, great in the afternoon. Over time it's becomes stronger, cold-brewed overnight in the fridge, the hibiscus is tangy and earthy, the rose hips give it a little sweetness and a nice body.


      Started here, pure experiment, a long time since I've done multiples like this. Liked the palette, and wasn't sure about anything else. But it definitely opened a door. A nice experiment size, more than a drawing, but sacrificial, easy to make wholesale changes. Thought about doing more of these, but the process had other ideas. Total size is 5.5x15 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Somewhat larger, but very different to work on, possibly also due to the day having a different mood. Same palette more or less, but a medium that worked more tightly and thinly. Didn't quite know how I wanted these to relate to one another but it was fun to bounce back and forth between them with translucent, quick-setting paint. Total size is 7.5x22 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      These next three were also done together but make more sense separately. Had become obsessed with a more textured ground for these, had no idea why but it needed to happen. Needed to gesso some paper anyway and went, with some misgiving since it had caused issues before in realism, to a little bit of fine aquarium sand. This is more physically adhesive and angular than marble dust and makes things very different very quickly. When it was dry though, seemed like it was too much. Tried burnishing it, using a bone folder on a piece of parchment paper. This submerged the sharp silica somewhat, which was good because it still changed everything radically. Removal was possible but had to abandon clean or strongly graphic removal because the ground didn't allow it. This led to more lumpy geometry and softer colour layers. So, the only thing that's technically different about these from the image above is the ground itself.


      Central panel, was excited by the way the technique layered in a fuzzy, less specific way. This allowed a more incremental development, one with less pressure on the shape and colour of a given transformation. This created a different type of image, yet also one that's related to the first compositions in this series, from 2018-19.


      Third panel, I like aspects of all of them but this one seems the strongest overall. Still, it's interesting that the one change I think about is in the lower right corner: as usual! After looking for the next step pretty much for the whole moon, am excited about the potential of this. Making these felt really natural, meditative, like the elements were finally in the right key again. From the perspective of the process having a life of its own, the most interesting thing is that it all came from the ground, which happened purely as a free-form intuition. That is, just an imperative to do it, not any clue about why. And, on top of this, it felt wrong at first, needed to be burnished. Much more to learn about this but for it to happen at all at the tail end of the moon, and in August to boot, is unique and a little amazing. This month and I have a history. Could see making some of these at the old scale, about four times the current area, but the new moon may well have ideas of its own. These three are each 5.625x6.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.



august 1

      A quiet week in which not much happened. Looking forward to the new moon next week.


      An interesting message this week.


      A small painting I made that I liked. 4x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.



july 25

      Hot but not as hot, a few cool nights earlier. Week of the full moon, large and orange on Thursday night. The Day Out of Time today, last day of the year in the Mayan calendar, they had 13 lunar months of 28 days then one extra, an interesting way to highlight the arbitrary nature of measured time.


      A quieter week for channeled material, have to admit I'm not so interested in 'how to manifest,' and, as interesting as it is to get a more galactic perspective from this material, the situation itself is all about the net vibration of the human collective. But an update on last week's amazing message about the larger picture came today from Blossom Goodchild. It makes sense to me that the illusion of maximum darkness has to precede the disappearance of darkness from our lives for good. Why save ourselves from anything but complete disaster?


      One of the many things I've learned from my friend Roland is to revisit older texts, because we are in a hurry, we think in different words and concepts, and these authors knew more than we think they did. And this has proven to be true time and again: Oh, that's what he meant! This week I was checking on something in Mrs. Merrifield's amazing preface: nigh on four hundred cogent and often very entertaining pages of thoughts about older practice that precede the texts she translated. Then I came across her anecdote about Giuseppe Maria Crespi, proving that he used varnish -- that is, a hard resin varnish such as amber, copal, or sandarac -- in his paint. And I thought, Well, good story, but what does it prove, but okay I'll look at the paintings. So I did an image search, and lo and behold! It was all there in breathtaking impastoed tenebrism, a detailed explanation of everything that can go right and wrong about using hard resin varnish in the medium. So, that was interesting, but then the plot gets more thixotropic. I told Roland about this, as yet another instance of his revisting axiom proving helpful, and he went further into the chapter six footnotes and sent me a PDF that analysed the work of Gerard de Lairesse (1641-1711) in relation to his Groot Schilderboek (1707) about painting practice. Lairesse is another painter that Merrifield gives as having used varnish in their paint, and in his book, this is something he advises to do. But he has a very specific way of doing this, and it is to use the varnish in a couch layer at the end of the painting. Nota bene: nowhere else. So, the work is made with straight oil paint, then, the final layer in placed onto a mixture of 'good varnish' and thickened white oil (poppy oil) placed very thinly over the existing paint, so that the final paint layer will dry more brilliantly. In the PDF, they found what they think is one of these resin varnish couch layers, but they couldn't analyze it because, at 1 micron, it was too thin. It is interesting to do a search on his work, he was incredibly successful. It's mostly that Neo-Classical mythological stuff but it is in much better overall condition than Crespi's work. And there's an essential quality to the finish and close-ups suggest nothing so much as a little hard resin varnish in the paint. So, this ingenious method, with its acute awareness of both what can go right, and what can go wrong, with hard resin varnish in the paint film, adds another dimension to the complex resin-no resin story in older painting. It was there in Mrs. Merrifield's footnote all along!


      Shook the refined grocery store walnut oil (Signature brand) in the distilled water with copper tacks for a week. It emulsified pretty readily, and the water was full of air bubbles. Hmm, it would be nice to try this with some unrefined oil and see what happens. Anyway, put it in the freezer overnight, and poured the oil off this morning. To be continued. The oil is slow. This is why so few people have any interest in it. But also why it turns out to be so important in what differentiates older practice from modern practice.


      Both the light and dark version of the Blockx Benzimidazolone Yellow have this issue of the aluminum from the tube threads turning into a dark gray sludge that degrades the colour. I wonder if this is because of the pigment, or because they went to the more acidic linseed oil for these yellows instead of poppy oil. Anyway, I've been trying to prevent this from getting to the paint with thin plastic, but that's a mess too as you can see. May try coating the threads with shellac next.


      Went to less of the fused damar and hardened beeswax medium in the mix this week.


      Did two sessions with this one on Wednesday, then a little more on Thursday morning. Worked with elements from the two most recent paintings, but no drawing. Got involved in solving the puzzle of the colour, but didn't really solve the puzzle of the composition. Could say that the empty upper left section just needs to be more filled, or could say that the other sections are too full, or some combination of both. Could also divide it in half horizontally, and say there's one idea above, and one below, both of which need something. But really, it's about the rhythm of the initial pieces, which wasn't dynamic enough on the one hand, or cohesive enough on the other. The extra wax in the medium allowed some interesting things to happen in terms of layering the colour, but in a way this became an end in itself. Some of the pieces really work, lots of progress with animating them in more interesting ways, but the ensemble doesn't resolve itself into a simple statement. So, for now I see this as half empty, but in a few weeks I'll see it as half full, because, even if it didn't work out, it pointed the way to something that did. 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      So, Thursday morning I got the painting above to the point where letting go of it seemed best, but the paint wasn't done. It wanted to do more. This was interesting, so I did a few very small sketches that were really loose and different, just playing around. I keep all the gessoed paper odds and ends but rarely do this, so it was fun. They seemed to be explaining what to do, so made this somewhat larger sketch based on what had happened in the smaller ones. This is the I can't take my own stylistic b.s. anymore painting, which has to be made now and then around here. The exact same paint and ground, but a different way of working with it. This was interesting because I felt in it wholly, always, just doing exactly what it wanted to do, in a way I had never been in the painting above. So, this approach solves the oomph issue in theory, but what happens in practice? About 7x8 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Went back to the medium of last week. That seems like a long time ago. Took out the hardened wax medium, a good example of just because you love something doesn't mean it's going to work. Added a little bit of the dense amber oil from 2006. I'm scraping this from the bottom of a solidified mass in a small jar, so there's not a lot more of it at this density. Have been using a slower setting gum such as almond gum to balance the strong set of the hide glue in the tempera portion, but went to a weaker glue size, duh, which worked fine.


      Well, can't say it's not enthused. If you're a regular reader, you know that this type of crazy quilt happens now and then. It's because I start something without a strong graphic quality, then have to somehow find a composition, which typically means cutting everything into smaller and smaller pieces. This is where planning and drawing come into the process, to generate a strong set of initial shapes. These strong initial shapes can be boring! (I'm telling myself.) It's very easy to take boring large shapes and animate them with imbalance. But if that strong initial conception doesn't happen, this is the result. On the other hand, it feels like I should be able to get out of anything I get myself into, and it's happened enough that solving it is getting more familiar. Trying to fix something like this requires ingenuity, so there's always something learned in terms of resourcefulness, which seems to be about graciously recasting the obvious. Like the revealed ground being white, rather than stained. This challenges unity but it also makes the whole thing brighter and airier. Like the assortment of details, lots of variety and less predictability, crucial in a case like this. So, more rescued than anything like this yet. But the overall message is to start strong, with a lot of graphic oomph. 11x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      I went out on the front porch early one hot afternoon, wondering if Lily wanted to come inside. She was out in the front yard, exploring, and began to come up the walk, when the gray cat appeared at my side. Cats like to do this materializing out of nowhere trick. His goal was to get in out of the heat, and he started indicating he'd like me to open my front door. At this point Lily was on the porch steps, saw him, and gave a perfunctory hiss. You again. I realized at this point that something had to happen soon to alter this situation. Or Lily would be perfectly correct in feeling that her single rule about this cat, that he should ask permission very politely first in order to be granted porch access, was being violated flagrantly with impunity. So I said, Gray cat, how about if you go back to your own porch, picked him up, and took him next door. Lily didn't say anything, but I could feel that this action met with her wholehearted approval. That's where it rested, each cat having their own porch on another hot afternoon. I call him gray cat because of his name, which is Tiny. This might have been applicable a year ago, when the people who are now next door for a while got him, but makes no sense at this point, and who would want to be called Tiny? I thought about Tony instead. This quickly led to Anthony, or, as we say around here, Antiny. Yo, Antiny! But that seemed to be going around in circles. He's gray, so maybe he could be Earle? I'm working on it. A few days later I again came out on the porch to check up on Lily, but later in the afternoon. She was eying something intently from her perch on the old wicker couch at the other end. It was just beginning to cool off, and I gave my attention to a passing breeze. No sooner had it done so, than the porch erupted again the way it had last week with the junco. Only this time, the local squirrel was running full speed across the porch towards me, with Lily in hot pursuit. As I watched, the squirrel made it past me, and jumped up onto the railing and into the large cedar tree, where it lives up on the fourth floor. Lily wisely called it quits there, she has looked longingly into that cedar tree from the railing for years but it is impenetrable for her. But from where I was, there were no branches and, peering around a little, I had a clear view of the squirrel about two feet away at eye level and congratulated him on an amazing performance. He was still catching his breath but clearly enjoyed this, looking right at me with those merry bright eyes. Being local, I'm sure he's heard me talking to the cats, and the other day after I took the gray cat home, I had watched him expertly remove and eat the seeds from the winged pods of the small exotic maple tree by the sidewalk next door, those are some amazingly dexterous paws. So now it was nice that I was talking to him too. In retrospect, I'm not sure how much Lily wanted to catch him. I mean, she was right on his tail, so to speak. But he's a daily attraction out there, part of the family, I've seen them doing a stalking game with the squirrel up in the hedge. In theory Lily is the faster species on a short straightaway, but she's twelve and it's probably more fun to chase him now and then than catch him once. The front porch: I'm learning a lot out on the front porch.

july 18

      A hot and humid week, yikes. Though often a light breeze in the afternoon, have seen it more unbearable here, but several nights in a row with the low above 70F, a few where Lily just wouldn't go out. Have learned to get proactive with morning sunlight management in these conditions and that keeps it reasonable in here. Needed to run both AC units on high sometimes, but the system worked out pretty well, could sleep with the one in the bedroom off. Then, last night, a big old fashioned thunderstorm with intense strobe-like heat lightening, eventually gave Lily an opportunity to come in off the porch and she took it, though she was completely dry and simply seemed energized by the whole thing. The skin on my knuckle is growing back slowly, the wound has scabbed over, a few more days to go. It stopped hurting when I use my hand so I could do more this week. Worked on one experimental medium project, see below. This was fun, and even though I decided it wasn't quite the right direction, some good new things came out of it. Still about letting go of the need to understand. If I just do what wants to happen things explain themselves. Otherwise decided to be patient this week. If I let things quiet down enough, this seems to let me to see further into what wants to happen. Which turns the dreaded nothing happening into something happening. This doesn't arrive by pushing, or trying. Now, I knew that, would have said yes yes, of course. But now I can feel it, which makes it more clear. or certain. Have to pause for the next step, but it's both more calm and conclusive as a result. A lesson that has been presented in many stages over the years.


      Being raised by pragmatists has generated a long and proud history of non-compliance.


      Some channeled pieces of interest this week. Things continue to heat up here. Not politically, that isn't part of this frame of reference, but in terms of disclosure: things that have been hidden from the general populace being revealed in ways it is not possible to marginalize. This information does not work with exact timing since an event occurs or not as function of collective awareness, and, while there are plenty of other things going on, The Big Reveal seems to be the next step.

  • An explanation of the monolith phenomenon and the global awakening process they have been set up to trigger. Of course, no date, but by far the most detailed discussion yet of the process that culminates in humanity's ascension Event.
  • A website about the monolith phenomenon, itself, all of them that are known, with photos.
  • Metatron and Source via Galaxygirl, again suggesting that a notable change is about to occur, and that there may appear to be darkness before the dawn.
  • This one also has a similar message, i.e., soon, and goes into general details about the type of information that will be coming out.
  • Elegant set of suggestions for getting out of the head and into the heart by message, i.e., Jeshua, channeled by Pamela Kribbe, who has been doing this a long time.
  • Companion piece to the above featuring Mary Magdalene, focused more on the body in her wonderfully incisive style.
  • This group identifies itself as the Angels and, in spite of the dorky picture on this site, always has something thoughtful to say in a disarmingly simple way. If you have written or taught, you know that this is far from easy to achieve. This one explains how each of us, and each of our thoughts about what we want and don't want, are much more important and consequential in transforming the Universe, than we usually realize.
  • Lucid general summary of the current situation by the Arcturian Group, these guys are great at covering a lot of ground in a few simple words.


      Had good luck last summer refining oil using an emulsion that contained the copper chloride from copper mixed with salt. Put some copper tacks in distilled water a few months ago, a variation of the method discussed by Church using iron in water to increase the drying speed of the oil. They've slowly corroded, so there's at least a few copper ions in the water, just began using this to wash a new commercial walnut oil. A week of water washing can definitely help this type of oil be more non-yellowing, wanted to see what a little copper would add. This was a grocery store brand that was on sale, we'll see what happens. So far it's emulsifying pretty quickly, wonder if the copper ions are aiding this, though refined walnut emulsifies more readily than refined linseed. Not all commercial walnut oils are the same: Jedwards now has the very non-yellowing one from Italy back in stock, this is probably because of the trees themselves are a different species. This oil is noticeably different than the refined American oils: lighter, dries a little faster, very little yellowing.


      Did some tests this week of a different medium. This featured a new fused damar made with a large amount of the hardened beeswax from last week. Have been thinking about this for a while as an alternative to the cold wax mediums based on synthetic wax. Dorland's, who I think originated this type of medium commercially, has always called it ozokerite, which is a naturally occurring mineral wax. A good example of commercial sleight of hand. The wax used may be similar in terms of the chemical formula, but it is actually made from petroleum. Anyway, the first test was fun but moved way too much for the scale, so tried this combination second.


      In spite of making the new medium as tight as I could, the mixture still felt too soft for what I wanted to do with it. This is also a function of the room temperature, which affects both the wax and the oil, this medium would be tighter in the winter. Added marble dust until it was moderately elastic in the relatively warm room.


      Used 1 part of the medium to 2 parts paint for this small study. This was interesting to make, no drawing, the paint layered reasonably well and could also be removed reasonably well. Something different began to happen with both the shapes and the composition, but this quickly reached a situation where I liked what had happened but wasn't sure what to do next. Spent about an hour or so pushing against this in small ways, but could not really transform it further. Which is fine, it feels new enough. Looks sort of like a print in some ways, not sure about that, but it won't happen with the older system in any case. Okay, you want to know about circles. Ha-ha, so do I. Circles are tricky, they are inherently joyous and tend to take over. Maybe because they are so basically focal, one of them instantly needs to be balanced with more of them. I don't know how to balance the combination of squares, triangles, and circles, though it seems a lot like juggling feathers, small dogs, and bowling balls, but since it's on offer there must be a way. Liked the way this paint worked, but, surprisingly, did not like how it ended up looking. The increased translucence is a plus, but I see wax, which I don't want to see. So, wasn't sure if that would happen or not with all the wax involved having been refined in some way. But, even though the system is new, and can be tweaked, endlessly in fact, that's probably not going to go away, which seems like a deal-breaker for this approach. All fine, there's nothing I didn't like about the old approach, just wondered about this one. The American can't help but want a brand new car. Still, may try a little of the new wax medium in the old approach to see if I can get a little more translucence without seeing wax. Possibly one of those inscrutable points of balance that seem to occur when going halfway to the wall forever. Once again, I get hung up in the lower right corner, want half a yellow-green circle there. But the pluses of this for me are the different type of composition, the way this feels like it would translate well to a larger scale, and a slightly different type of red, a mixture of two different pigments. 8.75x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Lily spent a lot of time sleeping on the red chair this week: close to the AC from the other room, but out of the fan that was bringing it in. The young gray male has been back for a few weeks now, I went out later one afternoon looking for Lily and he was on the porch looking for her too. We've had a couple fun interactions since he's been back, and I said hello to him, then he went down the steps to the walk in the tiny front yard. He stopped as the large hostas next to him began to quiver. Lily emerged shortly thereafter, just about eighteen inches away from him, and gave him a moderate hiss. I felt this meant 'I'm okay with you but this is still my porch. Do I still go over to your porch, which used to be my porch too, until you arrived? No.' He has never shown any interest in challenging her, but I went down the stairs at this point with the well-worn hey let's all get along here, and he ambled off. A few days later, in the early evening, I was sitting on the front of the porch, with Lily on the cooler concrete a few steps down. There was a medium brown bird in the Korean dogwood next door that overlooks the yard, giving the sharp warning signal they give for a cat, over and over. I got up and walked toward it, saying Bird, in case you haven't noticed it's really hot and this cat has no interest in you right now, and it flew off. Lily blinked as I came back, thank you. It was just beginning to cool off a little, with an occasional breeze, no cars driving by, a really nice time to be out. I was thinking about how much more peaceful the neighborhood has become in the last year when a junco zoomed into the yard over the front hedge, and landed on the edge of the porch a few feet to my right, in the six inches or so of porch before the wooden railing begins. I was watching the bird, who was surprisingly close, and didn't see Lily move until she arrived on the porch approximately 0.000187 nanoseconds later. She did a 180 degree turn to get around the old iron post for the steps railing, then daredt into the few feet of space before the porch railing began. The bird was just beyond that, past the first post of the porch railing. Lily executed this maneuver using her claws first as brakes, then for traction to spring forward. But the turn itself took time, diminishing the element of surprise, at least for the bird. As the cat pounced, the bird took off. Lily couldn't balance in that small space after the pounce, and jumped lightly off the porch, ending up in the dense hostas on the lawn below. I said, Lily? She emerged a few seconds later, looking like that was exactly what she meant to do. It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.

july 11

      Another pretty warm and humid week overall with thunderstorms now and then but no cooler nights. Last week of the moon, new moon Friday night. I did my asteroid conjunction chart, what a detailed Universe. This chart features Icarus conjunct Saturn, Damocles conjunct Jupiter, Chaos conjunct Mercury, Narcissus conjunct Vesta, and Kassandra conjunct Uranus: disclosure tensions continue to increase. Activities in the past week were coloured by a specific incident: a beaker that I'd used for a varnish test, which broke in the sink while I was cleaning it. This beaker had been soaking for a while and had gotten bonked by a heavy ceramic cup in the process, and although it showed no chip or crack, had an intuition that I should not use it anymore. But still, after a few weeks I started to clean it last Saturday morning with a sponge. As I remembered that maybe I shouldn't be using it for anything, a piece popped off the side from the pressure of my knuckles, and the skin on the knuckle of my index finger was shaved off by the broken edge. The cut was about half an inch long by three-eighths wide, I snipped the flap of skin off, always so weird that this doesn't hurt, cleaned it with alcohol, then put a small square of muslin in alcohol, put some slash pine sap on that and placed that over it. Then I folded a muslin strip over that as a pad, and taped it down so that the knuckle could move. Later in the week I mixed the pine sap with an olive oil and beeswax salve I had made a while ago that was in the fridge, this made it less sticky to replace the next day but the pine sap wasn't that bad on it's own, the muslin just peeled right off. The slash pine sap yellowed too much to use as a damar alternative but it worked well as an antiseptic, for which it has of course been used for millennia. At this point, the knuckle has stopped being sore unless I use the hand a lot, but it looks like there are a few more days to go before the skin grows back completely. So, not that big a deal as a wound, but not much happened earlier this week that didn't have to. This could be called an accident but I see it as a suggestion, having continued to try to make 'doing' focal at a time when 'being' is clearly more important. Stop going around in circles, and step into the circle. Being, aka 'doing nothing,' has lots of levels. There's the vacation version, recharging the batteries for more doing, then there's the version that involves listening and evolving, then there's the truly creative version of exploring the inner Universe: am not exactly there yet. The old way of viewing life is dissolving now in terms of how the collective operates, but this process began personally when I returned to Philadelphia in 2014. It was pretty direct, one intense and challenging experience after another, and has only recently begun to calm down in terms of the level and intensity of change that it requires. It took me a while to figure out that the same type of trigger experience would recur until I learned how not to react with a negative emotion such as anger or fear. This is now occurring in much smaller ways, the completion or Winter phase of the cycle. There's still some work to do, but I know what the issues are only too well. It now looks like this process will enter the rebirth or Spring phase in about four or five weeks, meaning someone new will officially emerge, at long last, at some point this Fall. Who will this be? I don't know, this is sort of like an electron making a quantum leap to an orbital its never been in before, but have a feeling this person will be both familiar and a surprise. Coming to terms with letting go of the last stuff and the resulting sense of vacancy -- of not knowing anything anymore, of not being anyone anymore -- has been the most difficult to come to terms with. There's been plenty of warning that this was coming, all signs over the last seven years pointing to eventual dissolution of the conscious personality. But the last step is often a doozy. Which is what I've been avoiding, and what the beaker incident this week accelerated. So, all part of the process, and, like Lily, the process is always guiding and teaching. In any event, I'm probably not going to be doing much painting while this is going on, so the News here may be kind of lean for a while.


      As often said here in the last year or so, I see the solution to 'what is going on' as existing not on a TV screen, but in a far larger frame of reference. And I know that most people roll there eyes and reject this out of hand. But this is the only explanation that works for my data. Links below to some channeled information this week I found interesting and helpful. While the story is being told from a number of angles, it is also becoming increasingly focused in terms of what is going on.

  • The Galactic Center, huge and spacious, a great favorite.
  • Archangel Metatron on the process of moving consciously into the unknown.
  • Archangel Micheal on the upcoming Lion's Gate on August 8th, which coincides with an amazing new moon.
  • Ashian, a perennial favorite, explains the balance of what is coming and what is going.
  • This overview of our current situation from the Sirians is wise, deep, elegant, and funny at once. I love cosmic humour!
  • Have had a hard time waiting for disclosure, began thinking it had to be imminent last February. This is the firmest statement about it yet.
  • Well, Seraphin has to be the world's crabbiest angel, there's more than a whiff of brimstone in many of these. Although 453 of these messages over the last few years suggest that he means well. But he doesn't seem to get that his audience is sympathetic, that the people he keeps warning are simply not the readership. Anyway, this one predicts that the Universe will soon evaluate the state of the human collective in a vibrational way. Which may or may not be related to the Lion's Gate message above.
  • Overall, the messages this week suggest that the long waiting period involved in allowing the plandemic agenda to play out on the collective stage is now coming to an end. Here is a clear explanation of why the wait has been so important to the process.
  • 7-13: Into the new week, an explanation of the monolith phenomenon and the global awakening process they have been set up to trigger. No date, of course, but by far the most detailed discussion of the process that culminates in humanity's ascension Event.


      By Thursday I wanted to try doing something in terms of making materials. Have been using the hardened beeswax and really liking the way it is tighter than regular beeswax, so decided to make more, and try a larger amount. This is the older definition of Punic wax: beeswax which has had the fatty acids removed but is not water-soluble. The original was probably made with the complex salt natron, this is mostly sodium sesquicarbonate, which is available as a borax alternative for cleaning and works, but this can also be made with sodium bicarbonate and salt, which I explored for the book since they are easier to get. I love the proportional nature of this procedure: they figured out how to remove the fat from the wax but the wax itself remained water-proof and protective. The process is a lot like making a fresh cheese like paneer. Photo 1 is after boiling the wax briefly in the salt-bicarbonate water. Photo 2 is cleaning the wax with fresh hot water. This actually emulsified this time, which was a surprise but I think was good, cleaned it better. Photo 3 is the cleaned wax with cold water added, beginning to rise and coagulate. The wax is then removed from the water, Photo 4 is the wax in a piece of muslin, draining in a yogurt contained with a lot of holes punched into the bottom. Which worked better than I thought it would. Photo 5 is the drained wax. Photo 6 is the wax spread out to dry. This can be used instead of beeswax, I became interested in it because there are conservation objections to the fatty acids in beeswax getting saponified over time, but I didn't feel comfortable with the alternate synthetic wax made from petroleum. Punic wax operates like wax in a medium, but is much tighter, and doesn't slide in warmer weather. On panels it can also be used as a final wax coating that is harder than plain beeswax by dissolving it in a very small amount of solvent.



july 4

      Waning moon, mostly a week of intense heat, even Lily gave up on being outside. Now cooler but still humid, remnants of a storm coming up from the Caribbean later this week, going to be a wet new moon later on the ninth. Couldn't get much done in the work this week, but liked what happened, want to hold on and keep doing this. In the last few years I've been asked to let go of aspects of the former me that aren't useful anymore, and, while it didn't always happen right on cue, up until this moon it seemed pretty straightforward. But for the past few weeks I've been in a place I don't really understand. It's been sort of unsettling, I'm used to getting the next step in a few days. Then it finally occurred to me that I'm being asked to let go of something new: the urge to understand things itself. Oh no, anything but that! But can also see how this would be helpful, since each level of understanding has always had to give way to the next one anyway. There's no finish line, no trophy, no merch deal with Nike. So can begin to see how it might be more functional to let the bricks and mortar version of understanding go. But it sort of makes my brain feel extraneous. And this makes what is left of my original personality nervous. But hanging in with this, since there is no option, no planet B, has also opened the door to a new frame of reference. It seems clear that what takes the place of understanding is trust. If I trust the plan, why do I need to understand it? Especially since the plans I'm interested in understanding have been formulated by beings operating at many levels beyond this one. So, bit by bit I'm getting more acclimated to not needing to do even the usual mental gymnastics: do and think less, be and feel more. This works better, and makes the plan I used to want to understand into a conveyance, a wave of time and space I'm riding. So, the process is more immediate. And this makes sense because the plan is always evolving, always in motion: not just an orchestra of infinite instruments, but also playing in infinite dimensions at once. At this point I'm pretty sure that this is all leading somewhere new in a relatively big way. That is, when all of the old me has finally been processed and reintegrated, the new me will emerge and be both quite familiar, and quite a surprise. I don't know of course when this will happen, but it no longer seems years away. Sometimes I want it to happen more quickly, and sometimes I get nervous about losing everything that left of the old me -- not much, but all I've got! -- and want it to stop. But does the butterfly miss being a caterpillar? Or does it feel it was a caterpillar long enough?


      The frames of reference for 'what is going on' at this point are usually medical, or political, and things on the deeply pitted surface are only going to get more fractious short term as truth is both revealed and obscured with increasing intensity. Have been wondering about an announcement on the Fourth, a new declaration of independence in some way, but this may be too obvious. In general it feels like July is going to be about remaining calm, meditating on the increasingly contested consensus battlefield. Last year I kept wondering when this bizarre situation would reach peak chaos, and always thought, well, not yet. But it now feels like this will happen this Summer. Though still mostly suppressed at the mainstream level, all kinds of information continues to come out on a variety of alternate fronts, the trickle is turning into a steady stream. At some point soon, it will become a flood, there is certainly enough of it. And something will click, the scales will tip, and the collective's eyes will open to the massively evil plan. Yet, the millions who have just woken up to the highly-orchestrated attempt to scam them to death are unlikely to be in the best mood. So, it is important not to conclude that just because the truth is officially out, this is over. But once it's officially a light versus dark war for all to see, it can easily be won. This is why it all had to be hidden this time around, starting with operation paperclip (go further than the rocket scientists cover story). Yet meanwhile, back at the Universe, the energy coming to this planet continues to get higher and stronger: in addition to an increasingly active Schumann Resonance, the first X-class solar flare in four years happened yesterday, see image above and note where the energy is focused. So, in larger terms, it feels that, by the Fall, more and more people are going to start seeing that the frame of reference we have been presented, and have for the most part accepted, as the 'reality of life' here on planet Earth, has been both highly warped and way too small; that the Universe has much bigger plans for humanity than can fit on a screen, or in a cocoon.


      There is a linseed oil refining method that sometimes surfaces that involves heating the oil to 600F briefly to 'burn off' the mucilage. Simple, done, why do anything else? I've always thought this could not work, mostly because no one, from all the older refining methods, to the modern refining method, does this. All these methods involve water. Because the mucilage is water-soluble. But this came up again recently from a correspondent who simply wanted to know if it was true, and I asked my friend Roland what he thought about it. Roland is a chemist by trade and both thinks about and researches these things several levels beyond what I can. First, he found out that the 600F method has its origin in print in a 20th century industrial method to bleach oil. But he didn't find anything about using this method to refine the oil, so he decided to do it and see what happened. He heated the oil as quickly as possible on a hot plate with a stirbar to 600F, then let it cool, and washed it with water and salt. And there is the mucilage, changed, like the oil, by the heat, but present. And will therefore make the film weaker, and attract water that makes the film darker. But, gasp, note that the oil is lighter! Oh my, this must mean it is better! But the 'wet' colour of the oil and the 'dry' colour of the oil are a function of two different processes. They have nothing to do with one another. The wet colour is always fugitive unless the oil has been carbonized. (This is in fact part of the strange appeal of the leaded oil called black oil, the nefarious wet colour 'magically' disappears.) The dry colour is a function of chemical changes that can occur as the fatty acids in the oil are broken down and rearranged into smaller molecules by interacting with oxygen. Everyone thinks that the wet and dry colour are linked. Even Ralph Mayer thought this. But they are not. No, no, a thousand times no. Yet, people want to believe it, so they do. I went through this myself for many years before finally realizing that two different things were involved. Isn't it weird how easy it is to be fooled by appearances? Anyway, this procedure might be useful after the oil has been refined for a fine style, but it doesn't refine the oil.


      Microscope photo from Roland of the oil above. Round bubbles are water, wrinkled bubbles are mucilage coagulated by heat.


      Well, I liked the results of the beta damar putty, but not having to extract the resin with xylene. So I wondered what would happen if the damar were dissolved in alcohol first. I used IPA, the beta part didn't dissolve as much, but it wasn't rejected either, when I added water and removed the resin dough it was visible as more coarse particles. This dense and stretchy stuff has been solidifying very slowly over the last few weeks, really taking its time, and I wanted to see if the IPA process might have had any effect on how it behaved when fused into oil.


      So I made a small test using the same ingredient proportions I used for the beta damar test a few weeks ago. (There's a video I made about this medium on YouTube, the only thing I'd add in retrospect is to let the damar heat on low heat after it's melted into the oil for a minute or two to make sure that it doesn't un-dissolve after the medium cools.) Then I put out a small amount of four of these mediums, to see more clearly where the evolution of the medium was taking it. Usually there's a pattern, and there was. The first one used some old heat polymerized commercial burnt plate oils along with oil I'd refined, and was the most melting. The second one shifted away from any commercial oils, and used the alkali-hardened Punic-type wax instead of regular beeswax, so it's a little denser but still melted bit by bit as it sat. The third one used the beta damar, the Punic wax, and some walnut oil I'd heated for 2 hours to 200C twice along with the marble dust. Even in a relatively warm studio, it's holding a shape, consistent with the tighter way it works in the paint. The fourth one with the IPA damar isn't quite as tight as the beta damar, meaning it wasn't changed that much by the IPA bath. Which is okay, a small price to pay for life without xylene.


      This week's medium, which used a 1:1 mix of mediums 2 and 3 above. I kept going with adding a very small amount of very dense amber oil, there's not a lot if it, but it needs to be used up at this point or it will just solidify. Well, there's an ounce or so in another jar, but it's only about half as thick. Anyway, this approach created a nice increase in thixotropy and saturation last week, but with too much movement when it was fresh, so I added a small amount of marble dust this week. This still looked too mobile to me, but in thinking about staying as much on the loose side as possible, seemed like it might be about right.


      Lily has always just gone out in the heat, no matter how brutal, but now, at twelve, called it quits later in the week, which was a relief for me. The last two days were really ugly and she just stayed inside, unprecedented. But, because she stays as far away from the AC as possible, this meant we were on top of one another a lot more. She liked this spot on the table this week because it was close to the effects of the AC, but not in the same room and out of the fan. The system is solvent-free, so being close to it didn't bother her. I didn't love it when she arrived, but she went right to sleep, and, even awake, has never gone near wet oil paint.


      Sometimes I take a photo of the beginning to see how the initial shapes and colours helped or hindered the results. This had an interesting motion but wasn't that balanced, which was about how I felt, and pretty much how the painting ended up too.


       The way the paint worked in this one was really nice, fine with a strong but still elastic set. Liked the way the composition keeps developing bit by bit, and like the motion in the central column very much. It would be good to be able to diminish the sense of quadrants. Enjoyed working with these colours, but there's lots more to learn, it feels a little too nutty or ungrounded. Though this is often the case on a very hot day. If the bottom right corner were violet, and the middle violet area on the bottom were green, would this give a more resolved composition, or a more predictable one? The large yellow green area could be more integrated, feels too separate and empty now. So, need to back off more during this process to see things like that. Faced with this, part of me still thinks the solution is to plan more. Now, not to cast aspersions on anybody else's well-laid plans, but my plans only lead to paintings that look planned. So, it seems best to accept that, as this moon wanes, what it wants is finally beginning to make more sense. It's about finding another level of integration or organization for more shapes, more colours, more motion in the paint. Which means letting go of the old type of composition. Before, I would have said this was hard and been only too willing to explain why. But now it feels like it will happen because it wants to, not because it has been thought out, worked for, or understood. And that would be new. 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.



june 27

      More lovely summer for a few days, low humidity skies imported from Vermont, now back to more summery heat and humidity. Week of the full moon, the moodiness with which this moon began intensified into some outright duality this week, continue to experience issues with sudden loud noise, of which there can be plenty on a given day around here. All part of the round of excavation that began, and was much more intense for years, when I came back here in 2014. There have been some major peaceful stretches lately, I could get used to this unity stuff, but I guess it will only be over when it's over, when everything jagged is smooth once again. This certainly feels like the larger goal. So, just have to hang on and love whatever comes up. Easy! It's fascinating to feel there is a larger version of someone called me who I haven't met yet, but will in the next few years. This year? Ha-ha, I wish, but it feels like there's too much work still to do, and the increments seem to be set up to be very small. This makes sense, makes for more process, my favorite thing. In the outside world, various things that have been hidden are also slowly coming to the surface. The dominoes are beginning to be lined up for the finale called The Great Reveal; the acts of retribution from the dark side are getting more arbitrary, erratic, and obvious. I am fascinated at the way the Universe has orchestrated this so gently, as a way to give people lots of time to adjust to what is ultimately a very large change: the global introduction of truth, justice, fairness, prosperity, equality. So many things have been hidden, it is hard to figure out the order in which they will be revealed. But since there is a single source of subterfuge, it may be a matter of pointing this out in a way that finally clicks. Some relatively stressful energy in the first week of July, Mars opposite Saturn and both square Uranus most exactly on the first of the month: this could mean more scattered fear-enhancing events designed to obfuscate and delay. Then a new moon on the ninth in Cancer. This is quite a chart, sort of a cross between the writing on the wall and the Hallelujah Chorus. Impossible to predict specific events or revelations, could be political, could be medical, or could be human trafficking, secret cash cow of the dark side, and by far the largest elephant under the collective carpet. I see the Winter Solstice as the next major signpost of actual change, but impetus for the reveal is building daily. Perhaps belief in The Great Deception will not survive this moon as a majority collective position. This would make it easier for people to see that there are two sides, and which side each player is on.


      Did another test using a coat of oil after the paint has dried to saturate the painting. The first one was just the walnut oil pictured here, thinned with a little lamp oil. I liked the look, but it took a while to dry and could be harder. Somehow I didn't think this was really going to work without linseed oil. So, I tried some of the oldest linseed oil I have, from 2010. It's also still pretty thin, which is good because the walnut oil is plenty thick. So, mixed these 1:1, then added a little lamp oil and put it on a very lean, matte painting from about five weeks ago.


      This had dried a little on the parched side, so the coat of oil brought back some vivacity to the higher values and gave more depth to the lower values. Because the paint was still somewhat absorbent and the oil was relatively thin, there's no sense of the painting being coated with anything as in the first image. Also, when this gets a coat of varnish, the varnish will be on the oil, not in the paint. People will always say that oil will yellow, a knee-jerk response, but given everything I've learned about the behavior of these oils over time, I'd say it will be quite minimal. But that's part of why I'm doing it, to see if it's true.


      The medium is getting more standard again. I try a little of this, a little of that, but go back to the basic proportion here. It's like tempera grassa, only oil-phase, not water-phase. I like the beta damar putty because it's leaner, yet tighter from the beta damar, than the regular fused damar medium. This week's experiment was the amber oil: adding a very small amount of a highly polymerized thixotropic proto-varnish. The medium itself was quite mobile (middle photo), but you can see from the bottom photo that the amber oil made it more elastic. Almost put more marble dust in this, but decided that more motion would be better to explore than less. Less control is always a gamble, but it seems to lead to more interesting places.


      Working with this paint was very interesting. The ground is absorbent so the first layer or two sticks. The stick then becomes progressively less but doesn't go away. Paint that has set for a while is firmer than paint that is new, although nowhere near dry. But the fact that the medium was relatively thin means the paint layers became relatively detailed. This was made on the day before the full moon, a very high energy day, so it kind of made itself and I just watched it happen. It feels more resolved than the ones from last week in terms of integrating more motion with an organized structure, some evolutions in the way forms are made and altered, but it also feels like there's lots more that could happen there. Like that the colour took another step, have not done something like this before, but still feel like the lower right needs to be simplified, rather than going bonkers. About 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Detail of the paint above, the addition of the amber oil was so small, but it really changed the way the whole thing behaved.


      Used the same paint for this one, but it had been in the fridge for two days, so it was tighter. This meant it could be layered more, or be more detailed, which, as usual, became a double-edged sword. Then there were errors of weariness: the upper vertical echoed the lower one too much, fixed this this morning to some extent. Lots of interesting colours and details, I especially like the light yellow over dark blue thingy on the right edge. But is there final resolution or unity, or is the the chromatic separation too relentless? Seems like both might be true at once. Am intrigued by this one in life because it is related to, but different than, everything else. At this point, that has to be good. There are several general approaches to these that have produced officially finished images, but going back isn't going forward. The process is still demanding more in the way of change. 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.



june 20

      Generally lovely week of lower temperatures and cool nights, Lily has been having an excellent time outside. For me, there have been whole days without duality, could definitely get used to mind and heart as one. Then duality arrives like a cartoon villain and says, 'Leaving so soon? We still have so much to talk about!' The process has been thorough, but now each round of it gets a little less intense. During the waning moon pause in the work last week, it began to feel like a leap was necessary. Lily has often illustrated how this is done. Pretty nutty energy this week and plenty of it, a good climate for leaping. Made a series of studies that were fun, if all over the place. Learned a lot from just letting things expand. I used to get involved in analyzing what happened as infinitum but now I try to disengage more quickly and just make the next one. Just ask, What wants to be made? Understanding happens over time, but seems less important to the daily process than change. In the outside world, the strange movie of the last six months flickers on, but more of what has been hidden is coming to the surface. Why are there so many conspiracy theories? Because there is a conspiracy. And, at some point, this will click with those who have been hypnotized by the media for so long. With the results of the audit in Arizona coming, and resistance to the 'official' virus and vaccine stories building daily, there may be some fireworks before the Fourth of July. It seems like there's a sense of relief now that 'it' is finally over, and that things can begin to go back to normal. But this misses the larger point, the fact that our lives were never normal to begin with. With the solstice on Monday, full moon on Thursday, this would be a really good week for the old way to take a hit below the waterline. Yes, I still believe that the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, will finally emerge. Had some issues last year with the plan, would have liked much less tortoise, much more hare, but this year it's been growing on me. Still, at a certain point in any operation, there's a decisive moment, a leap, when all the planning and preparedness are committed to generating the next step. And recently, the impetus appears to be increasing in larger increments: the lead up to the eventual leap. So it will be interesting to see how the Universe manages the finale, basically the ultimate Hail Mary. How to awaken the sleepers fully, yet without undue stress, since suddenly being awake is going to be stressful enough. The alarm clock is the true story of humanity. It is not a simple or pleasant story, spanning centuries, and becomes especially twisted in the time since WW2 ended, but has to be told. And once people know, it will not be possible, collectively, to unknow. When everything comes to the surface, the old way will been seen for what it was, a perverted mind control program, and have no more nostalgic appeal. This will produce a large shift in the collective frame of reference very quickly. On the one hand, the ultimate rude awakening, but also the breaking of endless chains. This will set the stage for the new way -- collective safety, peace, and freedom -- to finally begin. Although, once this process actually starts, be on the lookout of a last-ditch media rollout designed to create distraction and panic. You know, something really big: alien invasion, nationwide shortage of Twinkies, etc.


      Some Angola copal, dissolved in alcohol, then precipitated out by adding water. Very rubbery stuff! There are two official types of this, one younger and softer and the other older and harder. This looked like it might be the younger one since the older one was called 'red,' but now it feels like this won't dissolve into oil at a particularly low temperature. Which is fine, all part of learning a little more about some of the many resins called copal.


      Resins dissolved in alcohol and precipitated out with water, an alternative way to 'running' to prepare them for making an oil varnish suggested by my friend Roland. And tests done with Manila copal treated this way definitely suggest it expedites the varnish process. The first one is hymenaea courbaril, the historic gum anime, the search for which started all this. This dissolved easily and completely in alcohol but is not very glutinous. Then some damar I tried in isopropyl alcohol, this will probably not be that different heated into the oil than straight damar. The pellets are the Angola copal from the photo above. It takes a while for the alcohol to evaporate. The idea here was to explore something with more oomph than fused damar that would go into solution below the 300C required for Manila copal. The beta damar works but so far requires xylene, which is a deal breaker for me. It's not that big a deal technically, I like the way the work looks right now. It's more about the way there are all these resins that have been called copal historically, only most of the ones from Mexico and South America are not involved in commerce anymore, except for use in incense. And the word copal comes from the Aztec word for incense. A long story, with lots of different trees with many different resins. As a material, copal got a bad reputation from conservation for darkening, but this was because the varnish was sourced from the carriage industry during the 19th century, was made with highly-polymerized low quality oil, and driers. Making this varnish with the parameters of painting creates a different product.


      The new moon kind of called a halt to things last week. Used to have a hard time letting go of the hard-won old way but now it's not so bad. Decided the best thing to do was make some slightly smaller ones with more freedom, fewer patterns or rules. Just play around, see what happens. Sometimes the plan has to be less plan. Changed a few colours on the palette and decided not to do a drawing. Like parts of what happened, but didn't have a clear sense of how to go further at this point and stopped. These can get into a zugzwang situation where a lot would have to be undone in order to get to the next step. It feels like the most important part was just breaking up the pattern so something new could begin to happen. 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Wanted the next one to be less red dominant, and less chaotic; was surprised that this much organization happened without a drawing. Got into something new with colour, but sometimes I can't help but try the most high-wire solution, when, in the overall context, something simpler might work better overall. Keep wanting to do something different to the bottom right corner, the recurring bête noire with these. On the other hand, it's fun to look at this and ask where else the general concept could go. 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Then went back to the palette of the first one, but kept the shapes simpler. This was fun, felt clear about what wanted to happen. Looking at it now, it kind of feels like two different paintings, top and bottom, but that's okay. Again, just interesting to ask what wants to happen next. 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Have been wanting to return to this longer format and the time seemed right. Set this up so the paint could be more completely removed back to the white of the ground, this meant it could move beyond the simplicity of the one above but also enabled some larger changes to the whole structure. Morphing away from the original concept is good, but also means creating new problems and finding new solutions. So, unexpected, and not exactly resolved, a few interesting elements suggesting things but more of an oddity as it stands. But that all seems okay when what's at issue is what resolved means. 6.5x14 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Last, but not least, an out-and-out disaster of enthusiasm, similar to the March 21 painting this year. Too small for what wanted to happen but fun to do. Removed a large section of this at the end and redid it, but it still isn't remotely unified. Too much going on, too many questions but not enough answers. Which often happens after a simpler one. But this one is really interesting to consider. I end up zooming out at the upper right corner, so darkening that green-yellow-green section would actually go pretty far towards solving the composition. I like this long rectangle, the question is how to develop the language of the initial shapes within it. A bigger scale would help, but maybe another one at this scale would be better first. Drawing always solves this type of question, so that will be the next step here. No details, just the larger shapes. Is there such a thing as joyous repose? May have to find out. 6x14 inches, oil on gessoed paper.

june 13

      Some serious heat and humidity this week, am always so grateful when this departs. The new moon here was on Wednesday morning, so it was interesting to get up and feel it happen. It felt big, but distinctly moody. I was ready to make a painting, but paused. I do not argue with Lily, or with the new moon. And so, upon further consideration, ended up cleaning the studio. There are levels of this, from casual to therapeutic to mythical. It didn't quite feel Herculean, but this cleaning definitely wanted to go deeper than usual. Not just white, bright. Can see now that this was overdue, had been coming for a while. That's the thing about the new moon, it's always new on the one hand, but logical on the other. How to reclaim the room? Many different versions of disassemble the pile, go through it, toss, repeat. But it looks much better and there's not just more physical room, but more psychological room. Lily quickly took advantage of the fact that she could jump on that table again. At the same time, it feels like there's still more of this process to go. Another level of it. So, had plans for the next two weeks of waxing moon, but am not sure how much painting this time will contain. Went through a series of relatively smooth changes there for a while, but am now encountering some that are bumpier. Of course, this is all part of the plan. Am learning to be aware of resistance earlier in the process, its like a haze of friction, a reduction in clarity. It helps to remember that all external judgements are projections. If everything is one, it's all also me. In some ways, an expansive and comforting thought. In other ways, a pretty difficult one. But it feels like this moon is asking for a larger definition of unity or oneness. Solstice in a week, followed by the full moon on the 24th. This feels like it's going to be a bad week for lies, a good week for truth. Oops, there I go, framing things in terms of duality again. I love the lies, really, I do! So much conviction, so much dedication; they're just so well-told! What's that? Now they say the virus came from a lab in Wuhan? Wow, what a surprise!


      Lily was sleeping late one hot afternoon, but I had no sooner focused the camera on her when she heard something that made her wake-up and look for it. Or at it, she often watches things I can't see. Love that quizzical look, kind of like Ringo in Hard Day's Night.

june 6

      Another changeable week, thunderstorms followed by some very summery heat, although still without major humidity. Waning moon, new moon and solar eclipse in Gemini here on the morning of the tenth. Gemini is about communication, and most basically about the story we tell ourselves is 'reality,' so, in larger terms, look for the beginning of a new story during this moon. This also involves a retrograde Mercury conjunction with the Sun and Moon, which I'm naturally interpreting to mean that prior communications will be adjusted by the disclosure or revealing of things that have been hidden. An awful lot has been hidden, so this process, once finally begun, may take a while, and have several compartments. But it feels like disclosure of medical things that have been hidden may be first. Just a guess based on the current run of play, but a topic that is certain to be a crowd-pleaser. In the work, the same pattern of the last two weeks continued: a search for the next step coupled with nothing feeling quite right yet. Cannot remember the need for change during a given moon being so complete. There's something sort of liberating about it, doing what I can but without the familiar yet limiting sense of guiding a known pattern towards the finish line. This is actually much more interesting, and already means some relatively large changes lining up for the medium, details below. The heat always brings up the tension between doing and being in a basic way, echoes of the endless frustration growing up of the sweltering summer here. Having been born with Mars in Aries, it took a while to learn how less doing short term could actually become more doing long term, I used to just fight on. But at this point, after several days above 90 degrees, it's getting simpler to let go.


      The story goes: we are all children of the Creator. To come here we underwent the veil or the forgetting, leaving our identity largely behind, in order to come here to do a service to the Universe. The overwhelming interest in love, peace, and perfection all over the Universe had created the unilateral rejection of negativity, creating a basic philosophical rift in Infinity that needed to be healed in order for the Universe to continue to grow. To redeem negativity meant showing it had a purpose, a creative use. To accomplish this, we incarnated into the free-will experiment in matter that became the long convoluted battle between Light and Dark we know simply as 'life on Earth.' After WWII, the Dark became increasingly devious in the later 20th century, manipulating human life through technology, and information-access through the media, so that nothing was really as it seemed. In this situation, it became increasingly difficult for people to access their inner voice and to believe in anything but materialism, and various hidden agendas grew. But as the Earth moved into the Photon Belt recently, the Universe decided enough was enough, and began to amplify this already high frequency energy to expose and dismantle the Dark program. This has been done bit by bit in order to create as little chaos for humanity as possible. Now, thanks to many different kinds of efforts on many different levels and dimensions, the Dark has lost this battle. Only the clean-up operation is left, which involves waking up the people who are still hypnotized by the Dark program, centered on the mainstream media's 'hard-hitting' culture of fear. This movie is becoming more obvious as America's zombie administration stumbles on, and 'authorities' who once lied with impunity become increasingly exposed. A major clean-up is coming, and may well begin later this month. Once this clean-up is complete, once we understand our true potential, and our true history -- what was done and how we were duped -- we will be able to go from one dimension to the next as a collective, to ascend, so to speak: the first time any planetary group in the Universe has done this while physical. This means we will leave all forms of conflict and duality behind in the next few years. At this point we are on the paradise timeline, and the Earth is headed towards being the paradise planet it was always designed to be. So this is a very brief version of the consistent story told in the channeled information that's out now, but sometimes someone says it with unusual grace or elegance. Here is a recent message from the same channel, explaining how close we are to the cosmic tipping point. It is difficult to be patient still, when we are so close without a definite schedule. But if you believe in this -- and you know who you are, even if no one else does -- the most important thing is to stay in the zero point field of unity consciousness, to find the paradise timeline in your own heart, and in your own life, and just stay on it no matter what is supposedly going on in the hall of mirrors of the outer world. There are going to be revelations relatively soon about what has really been happening, be wary of any last ditch efforts to delay progress by the MSM via yet another tall tale of fear and chaos. From the perspective of the Universe, this is a spiritual process through which humanity learns what is real and what is unreal, what is true and what is false, and, as infinite fractals of an infinite Source, everything we need to navigate this has been set up for us in the inner world. The more we access this place, the more the old way is deprived of energetic attention, and the faster we bring the paradise timeline into manifestation in our own lives, and for the collective. What is the 95% of out brain that we 'don't use' doing? It is creating physical reality. This means it is really as simple as accentuating the positive to minimize, and ultimately eliminate, the negative. Here is another quality summary of recent events, this time more focused on the Light-Dark endgame in America, why nothing large happened around the Inauguration, and the coming establishment of different global government, energy, financial and health care systems. This is a particularly good source, with many more recent messages of value. There is a lot to be positive about beginning soon, none of which is acknowledged by the MSM for this very reason. Sometimes, when people get away with lying for money for a very long time, they think this means they will get away with it forever.


      This is damar resin that was dissolved first in xylene, then precipitated out using alcohol. Technically, this is called the beta resene (not a typo; not 'resin,' resene) and was the basis of the Vibert varnish system. The original one, not whatever it has morphed into. Having worked with virtually no solvent for many years, didn't love the idea of using xylene, which gave me a headache instantly, but felt it was worth exploring to see if it might give a different result when heated into the oil than whole damar. This dissolved into the oil at a somewhat higher temperature than whole damar, but still well below the dissolving point of a softer copal resin. Was hoping it might have a little more rheological oomph than whole damar, but so far, this doesn't seem to be the case.


       Heated some hardened beeswax into it, an older procedure done with alkali, but it was still pretty vanilla, so tried it with some marble dust. It became tight, but not that stiff or elastic. This is probably a function if it having been made with an oil that was already pretty polymerized. So, may try this with some fumed silica as well, then tube it, very small amounts of this could augment the fused damar medium I'm working with now. But most importantly, it still smells like xylene, which may be a deal-breaker altogether. So, it would have been better to let the mass outgas outside longer: now I know. But the material may not have that much potential at this point anyway, since the system itself is moving away from richer materials. I feel like I should have resisted the urge to find something 'better' by using something toxic, but, the funny thing is, I have a good feeling about what this stuff will do. So, we'll see, it may take a while to figure out.


      I make these test panels repeatedly, they're all over the place, and sometimes one gets buried. That's what happened to this one here from 2017, it was literally in the dark for a few months. That's the photo on the left. So then I put it in the light for two weeks, that's the photo on the right. A little bit different! This test panel featured lots variations of commercial pre-polymerized oils: I wanted to see how much they darkened uncut, then cut with various other oils I knew yellowed less. It eventually became clear that these oils needed to be used in small amounts, if at all, for maximum brightness over time. At this point I'm trying the opposite approach, letting go of all commercially heat-polymerized oils, and like this better. But the point is, if linseed oil is involved, the amount of light is important: darkening can often be almost completely reversed by higher light levels. This is also why it is important to do your own tests, to be in control of the variables involved. I'm not saying a commercial interest would rig a test. Gasp! But a commercial interest just might gently, articulately, and oh-so-scientifically, misdirect your attention. Thus gently, articulately, and oh-so-scientifically allowing you to fool yourself.


      Detail of a painting from a month ago using a medium that dried matte. Decided to see what happened if I saturated it with a thin final coat of a polymerized oil. A little early, but the paint was pretty lean, and I needed to know! Did this final oil coat with a variety of oils last year, and it worked out better than I thought it would. The key is thin: keep the layer of oil thin regardless of it's natural thickness. Used aged autoxidized walnut oil for this one, thinned with a little solvent, but will go back to a decent percentage of linseed oil next as it's taking quite a while to dry. But this made the point I felt it would make: that if the colour needs to be really bright, saturating the paint after the fact works better for me because it feels visually cleaner than saturation in the paint. Well, it only took thirty-six years to figure this out. There are other considerations, such as the increased facility of a richer medium, and the way this type of medium can layer transparently. So, after getting involved with a more saturated medium and even some of the sandarac varnish from 2007, this experiment started the medium back towards being more lean again.


      Tried what seemed to make the most sense for the next lean medium, but it was a little loose, and didn't layer well, and this determined when to stop. It always seems good to come back to one or two that are as simple as possible, though this one seems to show both the strengths and limitations of that approach. 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Went back to a little sandarac in the medium for this, and it layered and carved well, but was still lean enough to dry matte. This had some fun moments in terms of both colour and form, but at first there seems to be too much above-below separation between stronger and softer colour. Now I'm not sure, this one's growing on me. Still, as is often the case, it feels like the answer is somewhere in the middle: less bright, more detail and layering than the medium above, but more bright, and not as much set or hold, as this medium created. 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed


      Went back to a leaner medium again, it felt nice and tight but was in fact still a little loose. Went back to simpler colour, a little quirky but blue-dominant is always unpredictable. Still, like how these limitations in combination help solve the composition, and it feels honest, exactly how I felt that day. So, the definition of finished is another thing that is changing quickly. I used to struggle with this during the time I sold paintings: the more a painting looked like a new car, the faster it sold, but this was hardly what always what wanted to happen. While this isn't part of the equation any longer, there are still specific expectations left over that are being challenged now. It feels like this process will inevitably end with a larger definition of creativity altogether, but that I'm being given an opportunity to explore it more personally for the time being. I'm grateful for this. For finally not having any idea what's going to happen next, for making things that surprise me. 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      So what the medium needs is more tightness or set in a way that is lean. The lean ingredient that creates the most set is glue size. But glue alone is too strong, this was shown back at the paintings of April 18. So I mixed it with some of the almond gum, this is like the old ingredient cherry gum, but the set isn't as pronounced. As a test, mashed 1 part of this into 5 parts of the beta damar and marble dust test I made, and this became much tighter and more articulate. Maybe too much so, the pendulum swinging too far the other way as usual. But it feels like the beginning of the medium's next step. In terms of the process, this feels very waning moon. Every aspect of the style is in motion, growing, yet also leaving something to be desired. But it's not going to be found by going back, it's about what comes next. So I'll be looking especially at what wants to happen later next week, when the new moon begins.

may 30

      Another odd weather week, from summer-like warmth to the third cold and rainy day now. Week of the full moon, this started early in the morning on the 26th here and the day was intense but positive. With the work, there's always more, and the more I let go of directing it, the more interesting it is to explore. Since the beginning of the year, the medium has gone from being relatively lean to about half as saturated as it was in 2019. This seems to be enough saturation, and things may return to lean again with what I've learned since departing from it. Want to try going back to the brightest matte colour and see if I can direct it better now. Also need to find out what happens -- what changes, what doesn't -- when a completed lean painting is saturated by a thin final coat of a non-yellowing oil. Yes, there's always more. And n one way this remains fascinating, an organic perpetual motion inquiry. In another, it's sort of treading water at this point, the real nature of the inquiry has moved. But if I abandon this familiar narrative, and get into what I think is really and truly happening, what is really and truly about to happen, nobody would believe it. I mean, I tried all last year, and to some extent this year, but it's clear that the shift is just too big, it's not in the collective frame of reference as a possibility. This used to be frustrating, but I can see now that it's actually good. Because it means everyone gets to experience the surprise in exactly their own way; we will all have uniquely personal versions of an incredible story: almost eight billion of them. Have I given it away? No? Okay, good. Do you think I'm absolutely nuts? Yes? Okay, good. Won't be long now.


      Sometimes I do searches on simple words to see what happens. Searching for 'chalk' always is kind of nutty, because so many very different materials are covered by this one word. Ah, English. A while back I ran into the world of edible chalk from various locations in Russia, and at first this was just too odd, and too expensive, a direction to pursue. But then it occurred to me that maybe I had no idea what real chalk was: I was buying something ground and taking the word of a company that had certainly not told the whole truth about the identity of other items in their catalogue. Recently, finding the photo of the old church on top of the chalk cliff sort of clinched it, and I got some chalk chunks from Belgorod. They are pure white, and interesting to grind: the fine soft powder compresses and sort of protects some less fine pieces from being ground. You can see this in close-ups of later Rembrandt paintings, places where he has dipped the brush in chalk but there's still a little granularity. The putty it makes is adhesive and off-white: whiter than the Kremer Champagne chalk, but less white than the Kremer stone chalk. The stone chalk is also just a little harder. Is this a game changer compared to ground limestone -- such as the Fredrix 'marble dust' -- which can be a tenth of the price per pound in bulk? Well, I don't think so. But I had to find out.


      When I clean up the studio I always find things I've forgotten about, in this case for just a year, but that was enough. This is a commercial walnut oil that was autoxidized on a windowsill a year, became moderately thick, then was heated briefly until the VOCs from autoxidation came out (about 150-175C), then allowed to thicken further on the windowsill for a year with a porous cheesecloth lid. It took me awhile to put this together from the label because the oil had no colour, and when you heat oil to remove the VOCs, it always darkens. This is fugitive, but I was surprised that it had lost all colour so fast. It was also really thick, the kind of thick where, when you stir it, the bubbles stay in place for minutes at a time. But here's why I'm writing this: in addition to being thick, it was sort of resinous, or elastic, which is much more like the rheology of hand-refined linseed oil than the famously insipid rheology of commercially refined walnut oil. And this was because it was heated, very briefly, then allowed to thicken again. Dried film from the top of the oil on the right, I'd expect more colour from oil this thick, so that too is a plus. I floated a little raw walnut oil on top of this to delay further skinning over and put a real lid on it. It might be a good oil to thin with a little solvent and try as a varnish alternative on one of the recent studies. The first series of these I did last year with a variety of older oils has turned out surprisingly well.


      When I first made amber varnish, the directions called for heating the ground resin until it swelled and floated in the oil, letting this cool, and discarding the first oil for fresh oil. This is an instruction from the carriage trade varnishes of the 19th century, allowing for a varnish that is more flowing, less 'livering' when it's applied. I did this once, but what I wanted from varnish was thixotropy, so I never changed the oil again. I didn't discard the oil, and as it thickened over time noticed that it was also very effective at creating thixotropy in small amounts in a medium. So, this oil was made in 2006. By 2015 it had become so thick that I thinned it again. Now it is arguably even thicker, with a fascinating mobile but rubbery rheology. Some people still agree with the 19th century researchers who felt that amber was the secret of the old masters, but there's no research that supports this, and research is in fact going the opposite way in terms of the relative esotericism of older ingredients. For example, look for more on egg white to surface soon as they can now finally find it in an older paint film. Anyway, I just think amber is interesting: massive ancient deposits all over the world from trees so large it's hard to even imagine them.


      So, this week's medium featured a small addition of amber oil, the same as the sandarac varnish, about 3% of the medium volume, 1% of the total paint film. It made the medium itself much more elastic and thixotropic. As with all things amber, a little goes a long way.


      Went to a really limited palette for this one, the paint was more thixotropic and layered in a thicker or more rubbery way than last week's paint. Sometimes I know what done is, but sometimes it seems like I've clearly used up my nine lives so it might be a good time to stop. The paint did some interesting things technically but this was more about exploring them than using them. Still, that's what a smaller scale is about, and it's more interesting to learn more than execute a stylistic formula. When things get too perfect, it makes me nervous, even if it just sort of happens. So, when things get a little quirky or warty, that's okay; the pendulum going the other way, the vocabulary of the style growing. 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Began this one as a development of the one above, not quite as limited a palette, and used a more dilute white first. In life I like it better, the colour especially has a nice balance, but, a few days on, can also see more things that might change. This is typical of work done in the waning moon, a sense that the Platonic ideal of the waxing moon is not really available anymore. But it's also typical of a relatively new composition. These are constructed from a 3D matrix of if-then statements: one axis is the colour, another is the shapes, the third is the sgraffito into the colour to reveal what's beneath. Because any change in any axis changes the relationship of everything to everything else, it's fun, and lots of interesting things can happen. But this also means it can be a fine line between creativity and chaos. This one solved something from the last one, but also made me more aware of things the last one solved, and asked its own set of questions. This moon began quietly, but has become pretty type A overall. 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      More studio cleaning this week, re-painted the windowsill and re-did the whole berth area, including Lily's bed. Always wondered what to do with my grandmother's damask tablecloth. The other Lily upgrade this week featured re-doing her scratching post, the center of her indoor universe. This used to be a regular scratching post, but I enlisted a tableleg that I thought she might like better and she did. The rope around the table leg was cotton clothesline, she likes this much better than the various sisal ropes, and I needed to get more. But the one I got at the local hardware store turned out to be synthetic core. Which I thought she might object to over time. So we held on for a few days while I found the right clothesline. This one really wrapped nice and tight, and I was rewarded by her trying it out within minutes of installation. If you live with a cat you know that change of any kind is guilty until proven innocent, so instant approval was very fun.

may 23

      Waxing moon, very warm but not humid week, rhododendrons fully out and peonies beginning. Last week's theme of nothing being new enough continued to gather steam this week. But I'm getting more used to being a mere toad beneath the harrow of the process, and hope to have this case solved by the upcoming full moon. There is an event I keep waiting for, that seems to be getting closer bit by bit. In the outer world, the tattered old movie of duality flickers on, yet the hypnotic delusion presented so artfully on screen is beginning to show some serious cracks. How did it become their job to lie to everyone? At what point will enough people wake up to their true potential to tip the scale? At what point will humanity shed its illusory cocoon and claim its cosmic birthright to fly? At what point does the caterpillar realize this was just the prelude, that it is in fact a butterfly?


      It happened again! Alexa, clean my studio!


      This week featured the return of hard resin varnish to the medium after a hiatus of almost fifteen years. Wanted to see if an amount that felt safe in terms of the paint remaining bright would still contribute to the rheology of the paint. My friend Roland pointed out that the amount of sandarac is actually overstated, because the varnish is only about 12.5% resin. The hard resin varnishes are certainly unique materials!


      This paint layered more cleanly, but could also be carved or removed more cleanly. It was a little surprising that the sandarac had such an influence on the way the paint operated. Slightly smaller scale, messier, some elements of colour use from realism. Most resolved image of this week, things then began to change. About 9x10 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      The first time I made amber varnish the recipe called for heating the powdered amber in oil until it swelled and floated. The first oil was then allowed to cool, and discarded for new oil. I did change the oil, but never discarded it. Over time it became quite thick, and very small amounts of it produced a strong seizing effect in the paint. I always wondered if this was something Manila copal would do as well, since this was the most thixotropic of the resins. I've been sort of frustrated by the relative complexity of making actual varnish in the double rabbit warren of this house and neighborhood, so this week I tried some ground Manila copal heated below the smoke point in some preheated oil. The copal melted, then swelled, and I stirred it now and then for maybe half an hour. Not that long, as these things go, but just wanted to see if this material was similar to what happened with amber. A lot of oil was absorbed by the resin, which smelled very nice, like a cross between an old church and the state fair, so I recovered some of that in the next few days. Small bottles of actual hard resin varnish in the background. This is my hoard of sandarac, I liked the Manila copal so much it is long gone. In art history, copal varnish was usually sourced from the carriage trade, and it's strength and ultimate darkening caused great problems when it was used as a final varnish. So, printed remarks about copal varnish tend to refer to the behavior of this specific material. But the varnish I made was not made from poor quality linseed oil that had been polymerized twelve hours, with manganese driers added, before the resin was added, and it has actually darkened relatively little in fifteen years. The key here seems to use enough of this type of material to help the paint film resist the atmospheric humidity that can cause darkening, without using so much that the varnish itself begins to contribute to darkening.


      When oil is heat-polymerized, it begins to thicken, and also becomes more slippery, or leveling. It glides. This process thickens the oil, but very slowly. Stand oil, for example, is typically heated for sixty hours, at a temperature well beyond the smoke point of the oil, but in the absence of oxygen. This oil seemed thicker than it should be just by one and a half hours of relatively low heat, and not thick in the way an oil would become anyway, more elastic. An oil with boing was what I was looking for, so had to see what it would do in the paint.


      This painting used a small amount of the proto-copal, the same amount as the sandarac. It was surprising how much this changed the behavior of the paint: it was thinner, yet also set faster. Worked on this again a second morning, the paint then made quite small details, always a double-edged sword. This painting has some interesting moments, but overall it seems that the top and bottom are in styles that are too different, and therefore too separate. Either the top needs to contain more specific elements, or the bottom needs to be painted more broadly. In larger terms, this seems to be about one part wanting to expand and explore, and one part wanting to huddle and defend. Which makes sense at this point, since the shapes and colours are always explaining something else. 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Used the same medium for this one, did more addition of layers, but more removal as well. Ran into basic issues with the composition, and worked with this until I couldn't see it anymore: always an interesting moment, a logical time to stop. The next morning, ended up changing it by first removing paint wholesale in sections. This process can produce a variety of visual effects both in terms of how the paint is removed, and how paint is applied over this, and the vocabulary of these is expanding. Would still not say this is fully resolved, but it is less determinedly bipolar than the previous one. The components of the style are changing, but are being requested to change more. Each of the gestalts or ensembles that lead to a finished image seem to then lead to a battle to the death between the old way holding on, and the new way wanting its opportunity. So, will regroup and see what the next few days leading into the full moon bring. 10x13 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      An earlier image from this winter using the layered approach that seemed pretty dorky after layer three. Ground it back and put another layer on it. Thought I'd ground the impastoed places flat but not quite, this meant more paint. But, in grinding these back, have noticed that the paint with lead white is the most resilient. It's not easy to let go of the ones that don't work out. But the next layer often seems to involve something lost and something gained. At the same time, there's a sense of freedom in something like this, like it doesn't matter, which allows things to happen that might not otherwise. This adds to the vocabulary in both positive and negative ways: yes, that worked; no, that didn't.



may 16

      Slowly getting warmer, tulips and azaleas exiting, rhododendrons beginning. Week of the new moon; nothing, but nothing, was new enough for this one. Sort of unsettling, but then again, what isn't at this point? Unsettling is my co-pilot. Made lots of paintings, which is always fun, but nothing was new enough. Sort of unsettling, but then again, what isn't at this point? Unsettling is my co-pilot. A little like Groundhog Day. Sort of unsettling, but then again, what isn't at this point? Unsettling is my co-pilot.


      A few years ago I started to explore mate, the South American drink with both caffeine and theobromine. There are lots of varieties of this depending on the country and method of processing. I liked a couple of traditional unsmoked mates from Argentina, but then found a greener one from Brazil that I liked even better. Recently found that there's another type of green mate imported now from Brazil called chimarrão, pictured, which is really green compared to the one I had before. There were a few choices on Amazon, I got one that was reviewed online as being like graham crackers because I had to find out what on earth he meant. You make this by adding a little cold water to the mate first, and when I smelled it, sure enough, it smelled like graham crackers. So next I made it cold overnight in the fridge, and this was outstanding, will be great for the summer. In theory the theobromine means there's no caffeine downside, and this seems to be true within reason. The big thing is that I like how it tastes. It doesn't taste like graham crackers, sort of reminds me of matcha's wild yet gentler cousin.


      This is one of the many different trees in Mexico and South America that produce a resin that has been sold as copal in the last few centuries. The word copal is derived from the Aztec copalli which means incense, but was appropriated by the Spanish and then by the varnish making trade, so now it covers resins of very different ages, from different trees, and many locations, but not from Mexico or South America. The Gordian Knot of nomenclature. My friend Roland sent a paper about Mexican copal this week that discussed various resins used there in 20th century painting. But it seems like the art supply track in the US has always gotten its copal from colonial sources established by the European 19th century carriage trade. The New World resins are said to be not as hard, but the needs of varnish for carriages and painting are pretty different. So, learned some things from Roland about this, then spent some time online sorting out the various trees involved. The undergrowth seems less impenetrable now, have whittled it down to two resins that might be possible to track down. In spite of a history of being used to make varnish, this group of resins appear to be available primarily as incense now, in small over-priced quantities, with little botanical information involved. We'll see, South America is of course a botanical cornucopia, and I get enthused about this kind of puzzle, but am not sure where it goes. At the same time, this is often part of the puzzle: it may go somewhere so new I haven't even considered it yet.


      First one this week, made this one with whole egg instead of egg yolk in the tempera medium. Was surprised by how tight it still was. This feels a little blocky to me, or static. Looking for what comes next, but nothing was really new enough. About 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Then switched to whole egg and egg white to get a different balance of yolk and white. Less blocky, more movement, but the colour in this one got away from me. Some very loud yardwork going on tight below from a gas powered trimmer while I made it, amplified by the stonework of the buildings. This got kind of comical when the leaf blower kicked in as well. Learned some things in trying to resolve it anyway, making for some interesting details, but overall, no fruition, still looking for what comes next. About 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Then decided to drop egg white, which was replacing methyl cellulose, which I don't have objections to except that it is a modern material, and try some almond gum, another prunus species, relative of cherry gum. It turned out to be less seizing than I thought, so in the photo here more is being added. Then the alkali-modified beeswax was mashed into it.


      Overall, this was more mobile, but I was thinking about the New World copal issue while I made the medium and reversed the proportions of tempera and oil-base putty. So, instead of 2 tempera and 1 putty, it was 1 tempera and 2 putty. Oops. Except, this made it even more mobile, and it seemed like this was what was supposed to happen. My hands know much more than my mind. The medium goes into the oil paint, the extender is a lean putty with the same proportion of the medium as the paint.


      Used a more limited palette for this one, and it was more fun to make. After the one above, set out to make a calmer one, some passages that I really like, will return to this concept, related to an earlier approach I called Japanese Miniature Golf. But in larger terms -- oh those pesky larger terms, would you like some I seem to have plenty! -- it still kind of feels like the third version of the same issue. About 10x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Same palette and medium as the one above, but shifted towards a blue emphasis and some colour harmony from realism. Somewhat smaller scale, did more addition and subtraction, let it be looser, the most fun of them all to make. But, surprise surprise, something newer still wants to happen. Sort of unsettling, but then again, what isn't at this point? Unsettling is my co-pilot. About 9.25x10.25 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Well, the battle raged tensely all week. For the first few nights it was under the bookcases, and she couldn't get her paw in there. Or behind the radiator, with the same problem. She would watch it intently even though she couldn't see it, with her tail wagging like crazy and thudding against things. Last night, she had just gotten up on an old wood chair, and when I looked again she was unusually still. Then she took off like a bullet into the closet across the room, thudding against something on the way in. Well, I have to admit I was sort of rooting for the mouse. It's hard not to if you've never even seen it. At the same time, its great to see her be so adept at being herself. This morning she was cavorting in an unusual way at dawn, hmm, I got up and saw that she had gotten another one. Went back to bed but couldn't get back to sleep. When I got up again there was nothing left but the tail, which I of course stepped on while looking for the whole thing. Life with Lily. She was in a really good mood this morning!

may 9

      Boy last week seems like eons ago. Waning moon, have become used to these being lower energy for the work, but this one made thought itself improbable. The consensus version of reality drifts further and further into something out of a South American novel. But thankfully I get my news from other sources. Spring continues in high gear in the neighborhood, azaleas peaking, peonies in bud, though still on the cool and rainy side for here. Is it my imagination, or have all the colours become clearer and brighter? Is it my imagination, or are fewer people wearing masks when they go out for a walk in the afternoon? Walking a little more briskly, with their heads held a little bit higher?


      The cosmic threshing machine of the Schumann Resonance this week made things about being, not doing. There was no choice. The Universe has this hare-brained scheme going: to wake humanity up micron by micron by constantly upping the quality of the energy coming to the earth. I've explained repeatedly that this is an exercise in futility. Humanity simply does not respond to anything subtle. The way to wake humanity up is to go biblical: scare the living bejeezus out of it, fire and brimstone, flatten this illusion like the two dollar pup tent it is. A little well-placed smiting to clear the air and show who's really in charge. But to no avail: it seems anything fear-based is too much like a dark side plan. Sadly, the Universe is too responsible to have any good old-fashioned fun. So, on it goes, the gentle genius of the Universe versus the obdurate obstinacy of humanity. Universe: You are multi-dimensional beings capable of infinite creativity. You can leave this cage, right here, right now. Humanity: Twinkies and sitcoms forever! Growth in awareness never! Because, you see, humanity doesn't need the Universe. No, humanity has the Media now. Isn't it fascinating how the Media has replaced the Universe as the final arbiter? So much more convenient! And is it any wonder that watching program after program allows one to be programmed? So simple, so painless, billions hypnotized and robotified, micron by micron. A nation of unwitting cyborgs, stone dead to their true potential. Who will ever find the hidden hand of the puppeteer when they believe every word the puppets say? Oh, what's that? Things aren't exactly going smoothly for The Media? Slowly but surely, more and more people are beginning to question the zombie government fiction, the endless pandemic fiction, the endless cover-up about whatever is actually in that syringe, the endless sowing of endless seeds of discord? That there's even a state where there are no masks now, no restrictions? That all of this is making people finally sort of wonder what's going on? Maybe even leading up to the fabled Toto Moment? Well, you know, I used to have hope for humanity, I really did. Yeah, hope, eternal hope. Wasted years and years on it. Used to think, come on, you can do it, it's not that hard, we are all truly the children of God, a sacred particle of God Consciousness in every single human being. Just turn the volume down and give your own I AM presence a chance. But you know what? Over time, the volume just got louder. Even in Vermont, and when I got back here, it became deafening, an massive chorus of chain saws and leaf-blowers. You don't have to be Masaru Emoto to figure out what that does to people. People are so scared by the programming they've been addicted to, they're even scared of their own infinite potential. It's too exhausting being permanently cut off from reality, living from one fix of phony terror to another, year after year: they just want the Universe to just leave them be. Maybe there's something more, maybe there's not, but what's the Universe ever done for us, anyway? We're not budging till we smell the Twinkies. If ya'll're so infinite, where's our free cable and 24/7 pizza delivery?

      And so, week by week, the great cosmic siege for the soul of humanity goes on. I have to admire the way the Universe will not be rushed, or fight fire with fire. It does not give up easily. Most recently, it has begun to sidestep into soft disclosure, enlisting various heavy historical hitters. Well, JFK and his notably Q-ish vocabulary have been around for a while now, but in this one he discusses 9/11. Joan of Arc tells her story bravely, as one might imagine, and encourages us to do the same. Princess Diana explains that her life didn't work out quite as planned. Mozart explains something we probably didn't know about his life. There is a pattern here. St. Germaine explains how to help humanity over the current hurdle. The Arcturian Council on the current version of the middle way, these guys are so evolved it is sometimes difficult for them to comprehend the human dilemma, but this one is really well done. I love to read the dragons, deeply noble beings, there are several of these, and everything by Galaxygirl is about expanding the consensus frame of reference. Alisheryia approves. The Galactic Fleet Command encourages the ground crew with more news that isn't on any major network.

      So, every week information and encouragement goes on. A form of media about hope, not fear. A form of media focused on the truth of our infinite potential, not lies designed to imprison us. But also a form of media about the dawn of a new world, not a return to the old one. Wake up, wake up, wake up. Wake up, wake up, wake up. As multi-dimensional children of God, we were given freewill. So, the choice of media is always ours, and ours alone. This means that, while there are choices that, individually, we would not personally make, there are no wrong choices, it's all part of the collective experience. Truth or consequences? Yes, if humanity has proven one thing, it's that consequences are a spectacular learning tool. Coming soon, to a sleepy and somewhat truculent collective near you.


      Over the years my friend Roland has come up with some genius ideas from the interface of traditional painting materials with his chemist's brain. This week he proposed the procedure here as an alternative to 'running' an alcohol soluble resin such as Manila copal or sandarac for a hard resin varnish. This features a material in the DeMayerne Manuscript as a point of reference. In this fabled old text, there is a recipe for making an amber spirit varnish by dissolving amber -- well, some amber, not that much goes into solution -- repeatedly in ethanol, then, after several weeks, precipitating this out with water. So Roland tried this same thing with Manila copal. In the first photo, water has been added to the 1 to 1 spirit copal, and it is curdling. I didn't have ethanol, used some old stove fuel alcohol, which is the better denatured alcohol, isopropyl would also work. In the second photo, the copal dough is removed from the water. Didn't know how sticky it would be, so did it in a silicone bowl, but it wasn't sticky. In the third photo, the dough is then pressed flat on a tile, then cut into small pieces in the fourth photo to let the residual water and alcohol evaporate. This is fun for me because Manila copal was my favorite hard resin varnish years ago, to the extent that I have none of it left. To be continued...


       Photo of an alla prima painting made with Manila copal varnish in 2006, it's heyday in the process. Simple, straightforward, maybe crude in some ways compared to now, but oodles of blam. About 13.5x15 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      It was a good moon for the work, felt especially happy with the last one from last week (below), some more articulated colour and the first one featuring three layers to be completed. Tried out the idea of making these indirectly this winter. Now it seems like one layer is more natural, but approaching the graphic composition, as well as the composition of the medium, more carefully for the layered approach helped to understand both of them better.


      Have gotten used to working on this table, now more tidy than usual and awaiting the new moon. Well, probably the day after, have learned that the new moon can be pretty chaotic, nothing is new enough for it.


      Lily had abandoned her berth on the windowsill, and, though I like her company at night, it occurred to me that it was because the winter blanket might now be too warm. Circumstances had just created a new old towel in our lives, and I washed that and put it over the blanket. Voila! The scrape she got a few weeks ago was actually pretty large, about an inch across though half that vertically, but it's almost all healed now. There was one warm night this week that she spent outside, this is always good for her sense of self the next day. At night after she's eaten she'll often want to play in a more spirited way for a while, or gallop full tilt the length of the apartment, or even dart up on the highest shelf and start chasing her tail. In some ways Lily has calmed down since she arrived here six years ago, and knowing her better has revealed all kinds of levels of honor and etiquette. But she still has oodles of blam.


      Lily in her impregnable fortress under the kitchen table, an evening activity. She is protected by full boxes of books, and waits impassively for someone to be foolish enough to extend their hand on top of the boxes. Then she erupts like a Jack in the Box, one paw on top of the box for stability, the other flailing away at the intruder with utter, frenetic abandon. It's just too funny, always makes me laugh.


      Occasionally Lily stops playing cat for the camera and looks more like her real self. Always interesting to see who the actual being is beneath the role, or the mask. But how do we develop the discernment to tell the difference? Have a feeling that may become focal in the next few months.


      Sometimes it's just time to spend a few quiet minutes in the pantry.

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