Tad Spurgeon oil paintings

Images
home
galleries
process
color

Words
news
about me
the work
the book
links
contact

Techniques
overview
sound practice
formulas
color
black & white
painters
putty medium
just oil
putty tutorial

news
      

      A Sunday look at process and product.



august 9
      

      Waning moon, a little less hot overall after a large rainstorm. Very intense week, the evolve or die energy of August out in full force. Once upon a time, I was a painter, and maybe I will be again one day. As a painter, I became involved with the concept of finer increments, because this enables a finer balance of the elements involved. A recipe might say a pinch of salt, but there's a big pinch, a little pinch, and a medium pinch too. But there are finer increments still. Gave the book a rest recently after getting it to a pretty finished place. Then got back into it the other night, and solved a problem it had always had for me, the spacing of the text itself. I had set this up to be 12.75, but it was a little too much, the page needed to be tighter because of all the formatting it might contain. But when I dropped it down to 12.5, that was clearly too tight, looked like it couldn't breathe. So, I had just accepted that 12.75 was the best I could do. Because I thought of these increments as small, it never occurred to me that there might be increments between them. Never! But there are, four of them. Last night I started fiddling with this, which is somewhat daunting because it's making a global change to a text that is 600 pages long and theoretically microns away from being complete. But, lo and behold, each of these increments -- 12.55, 12.60, 12.65, 12.70 -- all had a specific feeling, it was amazing. So, I set up the text at 12.65, which boils down to gaining about half a page every two dozen pages. Which means redoing the book, the table of contents, etc., but this is nothing compared to finally solving the problem. So this is sort of a geeky or abstract example; this week was about developing awareness of the smaller increments that lead to a finer balance in larger terms as well.



      

      We actually did not get much of a hit from Isaias compared to a lot of places, but it still rained about three inches on Tuesday, most of it between 10 and 11am. After some success with the bucket system in the last rain, we lined up all the buckets and tubs we could find right below the roofline to catch the sheets of water from the busted gutter system above, and I pressed some plastic wastepaper baskets into service as well, which turned out to be important. About 116 gallons of capacity in all, and at 10:30 everything looked possible: a lot of rain, I'd dumped some of the tubs already, the well at the base of the cellar steps was beginning to fill with water, but I emptied the tub of the wet-dry vac, hooked it up, and was able to suck up all the water in the well quickly. Mua-ha-ha! But then, such is life, two things happened. The first was that to power went off. The second was that it started raining much harder, meaning that exponentially more water started coming off the roof. I started bailing with the rectangular wastepaper basket in the well, the first floor tenant took a five gallon bucket when it was full and dumped it, then tended to the other tubs while I bailed into the five gallon bucket again. We did this for about an hour, and I was able to discover a lot of surprising ways that water made its way into the well. It's also surprising how light five gallons of water becomes when it needs to. In spite of bailing and dumping as much as we could, all the tubs were overwhelmed by the water, and some water did get into the basement. But not as much as the last rainstorm, and no water in the further part that the first floor tenant rents. So, all in all, we did okay. I was polite to the landlord when he arrived two days later, apologizing profusely and saying that he thought the gutter situation had been taken care of. A long story here, what else, which I won't get into. The innocent act did not sit well, but I wanted to see what else would happen. Later in the day, on a return trip, the subject of August rent came up, and I was less polite. Not officially impolite, and not a fraction of what I had on my mind to say on Wednesday, for example. But not exactly the ever gracious tenant. And I sensed that no rent in August for either of us was more of a fallback position for him, not where negotiations were designed to begin, and end. The landlord and his son arrived on Saturday with a contractor who does gutters, so that was a good sign. We had a decent talk, not exactly chummy on their part, but I was able to thank them sincerely for getting someone to look at it so quickly. Of course, 'actual' quickly would have been when the water in the basement really started, which was months ago at this point. Okay, he's older, not in the best heath now, has always been penny wise and pound foolish, and has tried to segue out of his role here, but hasn't really been able to. So, in a way I flet badly for him and wanted to be helpful. But it just kept going on and on. Another instance of bad father syndrome, something I've experienced in endless ways throughout my life. I always try to be nice, but being nice doesn't work. They only learn when you upset their little authoritarian apple cart. On the other hand, the larger answer is always forgiveness. I'm not there yet, but at least I know it's the answer.



      

      There's always something going on with the oil, but it's a slow process. I made some walnut oil early this Spring that was heated twice for two hours to 200C, that's number 1. This is plenty thick enough to substitute for stand oil, which is beginning to get some caveats from conservation due to the way its free fatty acid content generates metal soaps in the paint film. I put some of it in a jar with cheesecloth on the lid, that's number 2, to see how it would thicken. It's gotten a little lighter from being open to the air and light, which I hadn't expected. Number 3 is Number 1 mixed 1:1 with a particularly non-yellowing linseed oil, this is on the thinner side, will be interesting to see how much is darkens, should be minimal. Then number 4 is the refined Italian walnut oil from Jedwards, autoxidizing in the light and air. This oil is inexpensive and a better oil for painting than the American walnut oils such as Spectrum Naturals.



      

      Also put out a sample of a thick leaded oil, number one on the left. This had a very red colour, which often happens with any heavily autoxidized oil that has been in a closed jar for a while. I thought it would dry brightly because of the way it was made, but also that the thickness might pull it back some. In photo 2, you can see that it dried brightly, but with a little colour. This is just short term, would need at least six months to know for sure. The oil sample to the left in photo 2 is something I found this week from last summer, more on this one below.



      

      Well, you can't really see what's going on that well in this photo but this oil was pretty different than I thought it would be after a year in that jar, and good different, rather than bad different. The jar was relatively full, but the oil became pretty dense anyway, and formed a thin skin. So, even for a hand-refined oil, this is a fast drying oil. So it seemed like a good idea to try it again with a few variations, and see if the same thing happened.



      

      This meant returning to chlorophyll. When I refined oil with chlorophyll before, it was usually something called chlorophyllin. This is sold as chlorophyll in the USA, used as an 'internal deodorant,' but is modified to make it more stable over time by replacing the central zinc ion with copper. In Europe they have issues with this stuff taken internally, but it worked fine for the oil. Still, I thought it would be a good idea to make some chlorophyll from scratch and see what that was like, since the chlorophyllin also contained glycerin. Again, nothing wrong with glycerin in this process, but it seemed like a good idea to make it a simpler way. Instructions for making chlorophyll are all over the internet. Spinach leaves on top, then wilting them for a minute next, then drying them in paper towels, a few rounds of this, then chopping them in a mini-blender, then adding isopropyl alcohol, it sits for half an hour, then pouring it off, squeezing the leftover spinach in the muslin to get it all, and, finally, the glorious green colour itself in a baking dish, set to evaporate the alcohol. Takes a while, but not hard to do, sort of therapeutic.



      

      So, this one will be a little different than the model. First, its a different oil, not as high quality. Then, actual chlorophyll from a plant instead of chlorophyllin, and no glycerin. I did try this last year with both chlorella and spirulina, and they made an emulsion that really couldn't be broken. There's far less plant matter in this, so hopefully it will be a different story. Finally, I reversed the order of the vinegar and chlorophyll washes, the vinegar came second in the first oil. Will these nutty things make a substantive difference in any way? Well, possibly. The original oil quality is likely to be the biggest one, but it will take a while to know! I'm going to let this one go a full day with the chlorophyll emulsion before breaking it. Will have more on this oil next week. And yes, it will be bright green for a while. But that's a big part of why it dries so quickly, and why it is relatively non-yellowing.



      

      Some intense channeled stuff this week as well, really focused and to the point. I find this stuff really helpful, there are a couple people who are really consistent in having great content. This one is from Source, which is always large! It tells the story of how the Universe decided to experience itself more deeply by setting up a kind of amnesia, and how we fit into that plan. This is a story that has been told a great many ways in terms of the interaction of the opposites of Light and Dark, but it is interesting to hear it from this place. This one is from God, who is really pulling out all the stops these days to make a couple points about who we really are, as opposed to who we've been told we are. Another quite powerful one from God, addressing some common human complaints from a larger perspective. These are getting more intense all the time. I mean, in a good way. This one is about the energies of this week itself, called the Lion's Gate, and what they mean for us. Finally, someone from Australia who is astonishingly evolved, this was a little bit surprising, talking about this week's focal issue for me, forgiveness.



      

      The local lion.



august 2
      

      Waxing moon, full moon on the 3rd, lots of energy but hard to focus, typical of this time of year for me. Very intense heat this week, but not that humid. Lily really liked Thursday, only came in to eat, then went right back out in it to bake some more. We had a meeting with the rapidly aging landlord and his old buddy carpenter about the basement water situation, the carpenter figured out right away that the gutters on the roof were in the process of falling off, I had thought it was tree debris clogging them, but once he said it I could see it. Said he'd get in touch with a roofer buddy who did that work. So, the gutters will get repaired, stopping the water getting into the basement, channeling it as originally planned. But, well, there really isn't a plan: the carpenter's about the go on vacation, no roofer or call, it all feels sort of up in the air. The inmates, of course, are being told to be patient, when are they not? But, decided to get inspired by this instead of grumpy, and did more cleaning in the basement. It is, after all, the space I inhabit, not the landlord or the carpenter, and that decision felt like a step forward. Then realized that I might be able to take the front door fix to another level. It's old, two inches of oak with a front facing that's three-quarters, this had come loose due to the water situation on that porch and that made two of the screws in the hinge not have a place to hold. So I reattached the front to the extent that all four screws on the bottom hinge have some degree of hold in the frame. It's interesting how I'm beginning to look at the house the way I used to look at paintings, ha-ha, remember that life, because then I noticed that the concrete threshold in the basement well was cracked in half, the crack was simply full of mud. So, cleaning this out, found two one inch holes in the concrete itself that led straight under the threshold block into the basement. Duh! So, this explains how so much water flowed into the basement from the holding tank of the drainless concrete well with the cellar steps. I didn't have any cement but had some stucco patch that had proven pretty resilient on the house so used that in the well. Not ideal, but it will probably hold if any water gets into the well in the next rainstorm, slated for Monday and Tuesday, between two and four inches from Isaias. This is potentially more than it rained the last time, but the inmates are ready this time, so this will be interesting. We've gotten together about fifty gallons worth of tubs and lined them up strategically where the water comes down in sheets from the roof near the cellar well. This system kept most of the second day of the last rainfall from getting into the basement, but could be improved on. I keep thinking about putting a blue tarp up to at an angle to cover the well itself, there's a small back porch roof it could be attached to, but, not sure where else it could be attached. I've also got a hollow core door that could be sacrificed, maybe over the well itself, we'll see. Water, the great purifier, the great dissolver.

      Other than that, have been working on another edition of Living Craft. Really thought it was done, but, after about six months rest, started working it again. Bit by bit it's become a large upgrade in terms of what might be called the systemic cohesion of the book. This has to do with knowing the material well enough to see how it can be shaped into a more coherent whole. The transformation from mass of information to puissant teaching tool. The book has gotten better through this process in ways that I could not have anticipated at all, which is sort of miraculous, one of the many the underappreciated joys of not giving up. Each edition of the book has been better than the preceding one, but this one is something I never could have imagined. Have to admit it has been great fun to be surprised by what I could learn. Is this enough? Oh yes, it definitely is. Not sure that anyone will care about this shift into the next orbital but me. I mean, it will sell, but it's supposed to be a reference book, not a transformative experience. Am at the point now where all the page numbers are set, am going over it day by day for small errors and fixes before starting to do the index again. This sort of takes a deep breath. It's easy to have the program make the index from a concordance, but then it has to be made functional, not just a mechanical list of references, and this takes some time. Almost out of the current edition, will hopefully have this edition in print later in the Fall.



      

      There's a great quote by Einstein to the effect that problems can't be solved with the same mindset that created them. The problem came into being from the limitations of a certain frame of reference, solving it means getting outside of that set of limitations. But we tend to take the frame of reference for granted, to call it 'reality' even. And this makes it pretty hard to understand how it can be changed. But what if the whole reality concept is much more fluid than we had been brought up to believe? What if someone who really had our best interests at heart decided that it was high time we realized we have complete control over what manifests in our world as reality? How long would it take before people stopped watching Tell-Lie-Vision, and began to notice they were a lot more magic, a lot more genuinely powerful, than they had been led to believe? Well, a long time, I'm afraid, it is so much easier to be told what to do, or feel that a 'return to normal' must be immanent. So, it's interesting to watch how the Universe handles this. We're talking about some incredibly wise and evolved beings at work here. Only they've never had a job like this one. A reluctant, somnolent collective that needs to awaken from a spell, take back its power, and move up into its larger potential. But this has to be done gently, because the various illusions to which this collective has purposely been addicted can't be destroyed without something being ready, and acceptable, to take their place. It will be easier to cope with having been lied to for centuries, and more recently having been put under a spell by the AI-EMF programming within technology that basically jams our organic connection to the Universe, if the alternative is simply to step forward into a new version of life on earth that is literally Paradise. This concept of course would just make my high school classmates roll their educated eyes. And yes, the media's toxic programming demands unquestioning belief in the reality of the society that is diseased, and this precludes the conception of a cure. The collective is guilty, the collective must be punished for its sins, the collective must obediently wear masks in silent complicity with those behind the scenes who REALLY have something to hide. Ta-da! The collective is trapped in a mindset that can't solve the problems it thinks it has created, but have actually been created for it. Diabolical, wouldn't you say? At the same time, you have a Universe that is dedicated to releasing the collective. A very large number of very evolved beings, really dedicated to releasing it. So, the war for the soul of humanity continues. It will be interesting to see how this increasing tension plays out in the month to come. A variety of issues are ready to come to light, when they are ready to be seen, but it can't be rushed. The programming is an addictive drug that shuts out the truth like white sugar shuts out nutrition. People come to depend on it without realizing it and get very uncomfortable if their supply is threatened in any way. It's hard to watch people being so confused, but no one can be rescued, everyone has to do it for themselves. Tough love in a way, given the extent of the manipulation we've been subjected to, but at least release is finally a possibility.

      Links to some channeled messages I liked this week. I know that, for many people, this type of information will be perceived as too 'far out' or as 'unreliable,' 'without proof,' etcetera. So please feel free to ignore what follows if you find it at all uncomfortable. Overview of the energies of August from the thoughtful Arcturians, they are hopeful about the changes they see but gently point out that we have to do the work ourselves. As always, strongly positive messages this week from the Creator, many of these are on the gentle and loving side these days, example here of the Creator without the usual patriarchal overlay. Who would do such a thing to the Creator? Not organized religion, surely? Oh, incidentally, "The Pope is a hologram" is an interesting search. Then this one gets into some of the cosmic structure and details of what's going on. The Blue Avians get channeled now and then, but not that often. They are intensely direct, and sort of philosophically elegant, in English. I guess I just really like it when words aren't used to lie. A lot of beings are warning openly now about the media not telling us the truth, creating a lot of distortion about what's going on, but that's only the beginning of this one, which is very positive about the progress we've been making from their perspective. I find that always helpful to hear, since it often does not appear to be that way from my perspective. This next one is not channeled, but is specifically about the use of information warfare by the mainstream and social media. A video made by a group of doctors about the use of hydroxychloroquine and zinc became very popular but is being systematically removed from social media. CNN is at the forefront of sternly exposing this as fake. Ha-ha, Operation Mockingbird, who is finally going to expose the stern exposers? Is the media's faith in the stupidity of their audience just slightly overconfident? At what point do the lies become so obvious and flagrant that people finally begin to see what they are designed to cover up? Will this be the beginning of the next step? Or would it make more sense to just start building an Ark?



      

      This air conditioned table on the front porch is a daytime favorite in the summer. Lily used to just shred me when we did this, sheer professional enthusiasm, but now it has more nuances, a language of gestures that wasn't there before.



july 26
      

      First crescent of the moon, this is often when the new arrives for a given cycle, producing its own type of change, even chaos. Not necessarily bad, but stuff to deal with. Consistently hot, less densely humid on a few days. We've been having water issues in the basement during heavy rains, had two of them this week, so I spent a lot of time down there cleaning up. Somehow this is fine, maybe because I love that ancient wet-dry vacuum so much! The house itself is undergoing a change in active management from father to son, the father is a very nice guy, but tried to do everything himself. Since he couldn't do the roof gutters, they didn't get done. Simple! Over time, this has ended up with massive quantities of water pouring off the roof directly into the well where the cellar steps are. This well has no drain. I knew this was turning into a problem but had given up trying to deal with the father, who has developed dementia and is increasingly concerned about money spent on repairs here for some unknown reason. The son is also a nice guy, but is employed, so naturally has resisted taking this house over, and to complicate matters further they were both having problems getting in touch with the carpenter, also a very nice guy, who has worked on this house for years. So, one of those situations where ownership and responsibility slowly became two different things. This impacts the first floor tenant, my ex-significant other, much more than me, she rents a finished part of the basement and that gets water in it, and then there's the mold potential with repeated soakings of sheetrock, etc. The landlord did buy us a dehumidifier, which has been helpful. We did some mold prevention stuff, banged out the lower sheetrock that has been soaked so it could air, borax and tea tree oil, well, who knows about all that but it still doesn't smell and I lowered the dehumidifier to 40%, which basically means it's on all the time, pulling moisture out of the walls. The basement of a house like this gets full of detritus, things other people left, things we've demoted but haven't tossed, anyway, spent yesterday cleaning all that up, and that made a big difference psychologically, like this no-man's land where we did laundry is now part of the house again. Who knows when the trash will be collected again but it's out there. On my walk yesterday I could see we weren't the only ones who had water issues in the basement, a lot of ex-basement stuff on the sidewalk. It's funny how easy it is to clean stuff up once the energy that was being used to resist the problem is let loose on the problem. Have placed all the big plastic tubs we could find around the perimeter of the cellar steps well, this helped during the last rain, they collected about 40 gallons of water, yikes. Hopefully the gutters will get cleaned soon, this is of course the most important thing. Anyway, a great example of how little things lead to bigger things when there's neglect. A person, a house, a culture -- ahem -- it's all the same process. So, nothing else happened this week, but maybe next week will lead back to some painting. Well, probably not, who am I kidding? What an amazing peacetime luxury making paintings seems like right now.



      

      Before and after photo of the lamb in the central panel of the restored Ghent Altarpiece. After centuries of progressive obfuscation, is the original intent of van Eyck finally apparent once again, or is this just a guy who didn't know how to paint sheep? Is the Restoration of the Lamb a coincidence? Are there any coincidences, ever?



      

      



july 19
      

      Waning moon, new moon tomorrow, uniformly hot week but not that humid, unusual for here, and much nicer. Sometimes the quality of the energy that has been coming in, and been ramping up regularly this year, is overwhelming. Usually this is just for a day or so, but this week it went on and on. So, decided to lower expectations, just have a peaceful week, and mostly succeeded. It's odd, because a great many things want to happen in painting, some clear dreams featuring imagery, and a set of clear specific ideas during the day this past week, but the energy to do the work is simply unplugged right now. Am beyond being frustrated at this point, but I mean, in a good way, have my hands too full of other on a daily basis, and that is creating a level of perspective on the work I've never had, hard to even describe it, it all looks so different. Out in the world that looks so much more clear and bright on sunny days now, the renewed emphasis on the virtuous citizenship of wearing masks is interesting, as are the continually inflated virus statistics. Lies at this level seem sort of desperate, but with lies and the media, in for a penny, in for a pound. As a distraction campaign from the much larger, slowly surfacing issues of pedophilia and human trafficking, this has a lot of potential to backfire on those promoting it, but the plan at this point may be to simply create as much chaos as possible, as long as possible, and wholesale lying is cheap chaos. So, in one way, 2020 is half over, but in another way, it feels like it hasn't even begun. Look where they don't want you to look, that's what's really going on. 800,000 kids a year go missing in America, that's more than the population of Denver. Why has the mainstream media been so invested for years in not reporting anything about pedophilia and human trafficking? Shut down, in lock-step. And this brings us back to the symbolism of the masks, historically worn by people with something to hide. Who has something to hide? Who is trying to make us all complicit? What is really going on, that all the distractions are designed to conceal?



      

      Some people see what's going on as a health crisis. Some people see what's going on as a political crisis. Some people see what's going on as a racial crisis. Some people see whats going on as a cultural crisis. I see what's going on as a spiritual opportunity. Which, no surprise, tends to offend pretty much everybody. Now, the basic spiritual approach is to stay positive and unreactive, so it's the approach that's also a formidable teaching tool! A win-win, so to speak, but, hey, what did you expect? The easiest way to be positive is to stay aware of the bigger picture, of which we are all fractals. As without, so within. Very easy to get tunnel vision here day to day, root for the good guys, or dig in the extensive dirt and wonder why I end up feeling so dirty. Duh. So, I've been getting a lot of support from channeled material all my life -- too long a story for now, favorites in print being The Ra Material and the Explorer Race series -- but this situation has also really blossomed online in the last few years. As with anything, of course, some people are more reliable sources than others, but it's easy to just gravitate to what works. Sometimes people channel their higher selves, sometimes one of the positive ET collectives, and they all tend to have different takes on the same theme: that our evolution has been held back for centuries by negative programming, the well-known war between the forces of dark and light, but that that situation is now in the process of ending. As part of this process, we will learn everything that has been done, everything that has been hidden, and learn how to heal it all. A tall order, but apparently all part of our larger mission statement, which is to learn enough to become the next Creator in this universe. Now, on the one hand, you could say that we have a long way to go, but on the other hand, no one has ever done this before, so what's happening here gets a lot of attention. In this context, it's interesting that God has become really active in communicating over the last few months. It's like the time has come to make a statement outside of the conventional religious context that has alienated so many people, at least in the west. God changes a little depending on who the channeler is, but is always gently brilliant and resourceful, the power thing being simply in the soundness and logic of the advice. And God, of course, is really positive about what's going on now -- whose plan is it, after all? -- and increasingly clear about this as an amazing opportunity for us. But God is also getting a little, well, proactive. This may be because such a large part of humanity is simply waiting for heartless materialism to return, to be told what to do next, etc. instead of taking the reins of a situation that sure could use a more creative solution. Can we transform this? Of course we can, we have infinite creative power. If we didn't, why would there be such an ongoing attempt to dumb us down and keep us unaware of it? I know that a lot of people aren't interested in God, religion could certainly dim one's view of the concept, but utilizing our infinite creative power collectively to make a new world might get more takers. Of course, I admit like the plan of everyone working together for a new world with peace and justice for everyone. The process has just begun, and needs to keep going; in fact, go much further. This is echoed here by the Sirians, these guys are quite lovely in print and very subtle, I found this one really nurturing. But this week's favorites came from the Arcturians, who are really on a tear these days in terms of producing helpful commentary, and from the Divine Mother, another personal favorite who is always gently, powerfully, simple and soothing. Some things I found interesting and helpful to read this week; light in the dark, an antidote to the poison of the media. We have all been trained to have tunnel vision, to feel abandoned by the unjust God so often featured by religion, to blame someone, something, anything. But at heart we also know we are part of an infinite Universe, how could we not be? And right now folks, the Universe is pulling out all the stops to guide us out of the maze as the cheap suit, and cheap story, of consensus culture slowly but surely unravels around us all. We are being told exactly how to do it, how to create paradise on earth together. But who is listening, who is willing to step up and claim their cosmic birthright to be a creator? Who sees this as the extraordinary opportunity it really is? I know that almost everyone who even starts this paragraph will think it's contents are absolutely crazy, believe me, I know. But I feel there's no choice now except to try to explain what I see as happening. Otherwise, I'm just someone else wearing a mask.



      

      Lily only weighs 12.5 pounds, but sometimes her inherent moral or ethical weight makes her seem much larger.



july 12
      

      Pretty hot and humid week, then about two and a half inches of rain on Friday from a storm coming up the coast, not that windy but some water in the basement, spent some time cleaning that up but sometimes it's fun to do something simple and direct. There's an old wet-dry vac down there that actually worked, it was amazing. It's funny how you feel for a house even if it isn't yours. The landlord has been in progressive denial about the maintenance situation here, getting backed into the expensive later fix rather than the simpler earlier fix, and getting crankier about it over time. It's been interesting to observe. He's actually a decent person but is older, and not long for this world, although getting nicer in the process. In general I like the idea of conventional reality falling apart like a cheap suit, but sometimes the energy coming through just knocks me out, and this was definitely one of those weeks. I guess the basic challenge is to let go of doing, and simply be, until through being I be-come someone else. This is logical, and nothing new in terms of what's been happening progressively since last year, but this week I resisted and wanted to do more. And, to make a long story short, this didn't work. Did get one study done of a new medium, this was both odd and interesting and may have some promise. But if things in general are not going to go back to 'normal,' it make sense that that includes my personal definition of normal. So, a little frustrating, mostly because, having hoped for change I could believe in for so long, it's now occurring so fast that it's hard to keep up with it on the one hand, and eclipsing my personal therapy program on the other. But also have more faith now that I can find answers. The problems are self-generated, the solutions are too. Before, there was a subtle way I blamed an outside agency for problems. I used to be mad at my school. But it's clear now that I'm both the student and the school, which makes it a circle, a self-contained system. It's hard to stop blaming and ask, 'How did I manage to do this to myself ?' But that level of responsibility generates positive change really fast, because I'm finally dealing with the actual problem instead of a projection. Well, giving advice to myself, I guess.



      

      Once upon a time, there was a people that had been lied to for a long time. For so long, and in so many ways, that they didn't really know who they were anymore. On the one hand, they dimly remembered that they were all children of God, spirits having a physical experience as a school: specifically, as a way to learn consequences. On the other hand, they distrusted religion as one of the many things that had betrayed them, and didn't understand that God came before religion -- way before -- and might just feel the same way about it. They tried to be good materialists, but this left them feeling empty. They overate, but this left them feeling starved. They tried to be good citizens, but their societies seemed to be degrading before their eyes. They tried to believe in progress, but each step forward seemed to be accompanied by two steps back. It was as though some hidden hand was pulling the strings. But wait, don't want to be a conspiracy theorist! You can imagine how much confusion this caused these poor people over time. What were they all doing on this planet? There must be a reason. Or was it all meaningless? Why was everything so beautiful, and so seamlessly functional, except for their societies? If they were so smart, why were they constantly in crisis? Meanwhile, unbeknownst to most of them, the planet itself hurtled further and further into the photon belt, absorbing unprecedented amounts of very high frequency radiation that made everything in their lives and societies more transparent. It slowly began to become clear to this people that their societies were so unstable because they were riddled with lies. Nothing was really as it seemed, but what had been hidden away was not particularly pleasant, and they didn't want to face it. Even worse, it made them feel that they had been cheated, or fooled, by the very institutions they had trusted the most. Who was lying? Who was telling the truth? It was a full time job to puzzle it out: and who had that kind of time? In the midst of this situation came the pandemic. Or was it the plandemic? What was going on? Why were they wearing masks? Why were they being told to stay at home? Were people dying from a virus, or something else? They suddenly had lots of time, and questions had a chance to proliferate. Coming to terms with who they really were, as opposed to who they had tried to be for so many years to fit into their societies, was not the easiest process, because they had no idea who they really were. In larger terms, they had forgotten where they had come from, who had sent them, and why. Some of them became disillusioned, and just wanted things to go back to normal, meaning the stacked deck struggle for survival. But because they had more time and their lives has quieted down considerably, some of them began to realize their lives had never been normal in the first place. They had been in a prison of competition to be first and greed to have the most. Slowly, these people also began to remember their original purpose. They realized that, as a people, they were one big giant family, and that it was time to stop fighting each other and act as one. What were they fighting about anyway? It seemed so obvious suddenly, that the time had come to stop destroying and start preserving. They suddenly knew that everything and everyone was precious, and deserved equality and respect just for being. That was enough, because that was all there was! It surprised them how easy it suddenly was, and how happy it made them when they acted from this new concept of their basic unity. They began to envision an amazingly bright future for themselves as a people based on how they felt together, and what they knew they could accomplish together. Still, there were a few very wealthy people on this planet who remained committed to causing as much division and strife as possible. They still wanted to subject everyone on the planet to their will, and even tried to bribe governments to poison their populations with vaccines. When this didn't work, they staged hate crimes in big cities, committed by phony police, then staged mobs of paid protestors to loot and burn. Lights, camera, action. Meanwhile, the plucky planet hurtled further and further into the photon belt, absorbing unprecedented amounts of very high frequency radiation. And suddenly, one late summer day, lo and behold! The intensity of the energy inundating their planet had helped so many people recall their true identity and purpose that their group consciousness reached critical mass. Suddenly, it was impossible to fool anyone anymore about anything, and no one even wanted to. As a result, they learned the complex truth about who they had been as a people, and how and why it had happened. But they realized that they had all always been in it together, so it wasn't a time of retribution, it was a time of forgiveness. So they went forward, undivided for the first time ever in their history, as one. They now understood that forgetting their identity had been part of the plan. Remembering, as a result, became a collective miracle that they all shared. Becoming less had offered them an opportunity to become more than they had ever dreamed of. Which was who they had been all along. Only now they were more.



      

      Just in case you're tired of the mainstream media telling you the sky is falling -- endlessly, still, again, today, as we speak, huge chunks everywhere -- the level of the channeled information available to us has really skyrocketed in the last few months. The whole of which we are a part is making an incredible effort on our behalf, typically enough because they believe in our mission so much. I'm fascinated by the variety of ways that these beings find to be helpful. Here's one that came out this week that seemed, appropriately, just huge. Then, this one, which is from someone with more of a personality like ours, but who still has a much larger perspective. One of my favorites over the years has been the Arcturian Council, they are incredibly positive and post every day. One about their ninth-dimensional perspective perspective on what is going on now is here, and one about where they see us headed in the years to come is here.



      

      Couldn't resist and made a fairly dense wax medium from the hardened beeswax from last week, see below for that process. It turned into a solid in the tube, but was made with fused damar and oil, with just a little chalk, so there was no tack. At one part medium to 4 parts paint the paint film ended up being about 10% wax, more than I'd like with untreated wax, but possibly okay with this type of wax. This is of course part of the issue with this type of experiment, it will take decades to really see how this paint film ages.



      

      One of those impossible situations that occasionally happened outside in Vermont, usually early in the morning. This was one of my favorite places, an orchard that was semi-abandoned, so the trees were not being pruned, but were all over the place. This time in May was always very iffy as far as weather, so this morning was especially fun as the light arrived and the fog slowly cleared. Spent a lot of time making a large version of this years ago that got close a few times but never quite worked out. Still, I learned a lot from that experience. The big question with the medium was how sticky it was going to be. It was a little different in that it was dense but also slid around pretty well once the gesso was covered. This was still unresolved by the time it had too much paint on it so I removed where it wasn't working, mostly in the blossom areas. Wanted to work on it again the next day but that was the day that Fay came up the coast from the Carolinas, and it was twilight all day long. This ended up going in a direction that I like, but it's a little too messy still. This might be interesting to work on one more time in a bit, want just a little more subliminal organization and detail. About 6x12.25 inches, oil on gessoed paper.



july 5
      

       A lot of studio chaos this week, it was fun. I had read about Punic wax for many years, but nobody really explained it very well, or gave an actual recipe. But finally I knew enough about wax to realize that it could be hardened without being emulsified, and that appears to be what Punic wax was. I know encaustic people are calling emulsified wax Punic wax, and it's tricky because, if you change the ingredients just a little, you can turn this procedure into a water-soluble wax. Lots of scholarly dispute about this over the years, but it could be that both versions were used historically. It all comes back to Pliny, who, like DeMayerne, wasn't a painter anyway. So what are we looking for, and what does the guide know? Doerner, Wehlte, and National Gallery researcher Raymond White are all enthusiastic about Punic Wax, but they are all also sort of reticent about the details of making it. This is when you know there's something interesting behind a particular door. Then my friend Roland sent me an actual formula from a scientific paper exploring various types of modified beeswax. In this paper, they call a wax that is boiled in salt water and sodium bicarbonate Punic wax. So, I started there, and made it two different ways, to see if the amount of boiling time and sodium bicarbonate mattered, but they came out about the same.



      

      Boiled the wax in seawater made with sea salt and a little added sodium bicarbonate. This is where this recipe is really interesting. Sodium bicarbonate alone will emulsify the wax, so the salt seems to actually inhibit hydrolysis. The wax turned into a plastic foam quickly. Added cold water to it to solidify it and it looked like this. Used the bleached R&F encaustic wax for this, this is white to start with, but still smells like flowers, very nice.



      

       Boiled the wax again in plain water to get rid of the sodium, this was interesting because it had a lot of plastic body even when it melted. It wasn't normal wax anymore, but wasn't a water-soluble wax either. Can see how this type of wax could have been used in a hot encaustic technique, it's density when molten would allow tremendous control. Washed it a few more times, this time in cold water, breaking it up and letting it settle through a filter paper. This wax has a higher melting point than normal beeswax, and might be a little harder, but not that much. So, this might be called proto-Punic wax, would become actual Punic wax if the boiling and washing process were repeated a few more times, making it even harder.



      

       Melted some into heat-polymerized oil, 1 part wax to 2 parts oil. If this had been regular wax, it would have been a soft solid, but this was quite mobile and very articulate. Made a version of the fused damar medium using it instead of plain wax. The medium was less dense on the surface, but more resilient internally. Or something, hard to describe it, but the rheology was new, see last painting below.



      

       When I first got back here, made a couple of trips to the beach my family used to go to as a kid. O always loved it there. The area itself was very different in some ways, but the beach was still the beach. This was one of my favorite images, but it required a level of chromatic discipline that was sort of beyond me. I knew how to do it in theory, but couldn't get it to physically happen. But, after giving it a rest last year, was able to bring this one forward this week. Didn't try to finish it, just did what I could see clearly and stopped. About 8.75x15.75 inches, oil on gessoed paper over panel.



      

       The goofy carnation bouquet from the co-op, Lily loves the smell of these, sticks her nose right into them. Something I'd tried to muscle through with a lot of colour, but it had never really worked for me. In a way I couldn't see more, in a way I didn't want to bother. Ever the hare, never the tortoise. Ground it back lightly and put a more focused layer on it with a hint of a neutral structure. Could see what was really there better. More to go, but like where this is headed. The obvious comes first, but moderating or recasting the obvious is more likely to turn it into art. About 9x12 inches oil on gessoed linen over panel.



      

      Put a thin layer on this one using a fused damar medium made with a little of the hardened wax. This was far more adhesive than I'd expected, possibly because of the hardened wax inhibiting glide, possibly because there was little paint on this and the glue gesso surface was still sort of dry and grippy. Need to try this medium out in some different circumstances. Tried adding a little bone ash to loosen it up, this usually reduces surface tension but didn't. Still adjusting things in this layer, especially in the middle distance, and keeping the colour brighter than it will be. This is not the look I want, but the look that goes under what I want on top: softer colour, more painterly paint. It makes me appreciate the choices of the first study, below, more. The current one is more accurate, but that feels like a necessary evil at this point. More paint and unity next, or one more thin layer? Once these thin layers get started, it's hard to stop them! About 9x16.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.



      

      Have enjoyed cheese over the years, there's something sort of funny about it to me, archaic and endearing. This one had some errors that needed to be fixed so ground it back and brought it forward without trying for too much in the way of detail. Like the colour balance. About 9.25x12 inches, oil on gessoed linen over panel.



      

      Small older landscape study in progress, an image I painted from life long ago so there's something specific I'd like to find. I got discouraged with this body of work because it wasn't responding to my agenda, but now it feels like it has had an agenda of its own all along, which is not so much to be a product, as a teaching tool. This seems sort of obvious in retrospect, but it has taken me a long time to learn it. About 8x12 inches, oil on gessoed paper over panel.



      

       I used to sand intermediate layers down but even without a block it was often a little heavy-handed, kind of had that newly mowed lawn look at first. So now I do it with marble dust and oil on a rag, then wipe it well, and rub it with isopropyl alcohol in a rag. It makes sense with the way they're made now.



      

      This one had a few thin underpaint type layers on it, wanted to make them more precise. I don't want detail, as such, just want a sense of it being finished. Improved, but more to go. About 8x13 inches, oil on gessoed linen over panel.



      

       There are several of these, the bigger they get, the easier they are to work on, but I wanted to see if the paint I had would do details at this scale, so tried this smaller one. It got a little finicky and a little repetitive, and I didn't think anything had really happened when I called it quits, but the next morning I liked it. More to go but in that place where the colour itself is less of an issue. About 11x12 inches, oil on gessoed linen over panel.



june 21
      

      This is something older that I liked, but had some issues figuring out how to translate. It was sort of frustrating, which made me want to finish it, instead of taking the time to analyze why it wasn't working. Come to think of it, this was happening a lot before I took a break from realism! Still, it didn't have that many layers of paint on it. Decided to reduce the chroma a little, and get more lavender into it. The underpaint is warmer and darker, so it will be interesting to see what this looks like in a week. It was nice to work with somewhat thicker paint again realistically after starting several of the thin underpaintings. Not done, but the best it's been. Can see now how the intrinsic hurry short-circuited the process. Some people turn from caterpillars into butterflies, I am turning from the hare into the tortoise. The old moral is that slow and steady win the race, but it seems truer to say that when the journey becomes the destination, the race as a frame of reference is over. About 9.25x12 inches, oil on gessoed linen over panel.



june 7
      

      There are lots of ways to degrade and alter images digitally, I get interested in this process now and then but don't really have a plan, just fool around, save what I like, duplicate it, then fool around some more. Sometimes there's progress, sometimes not. With these, I numbered them, so this one is sixteen iterations from the original, which had almost no colour at all. I liked this enough to experiment with painting it, but it needs to be done with a different method than the one I tried. I may come back to it, but in a way it's complete already. Not sure how to alter it, don't really want to copy it. Can something digital be art? I sort of have a hard time with that, but maybe that's also what this is about.



      

       Fooled around with various realistic images this week, but nothing happened that I liked. There was no sense of being exactly where I should be, if anything, the process felt like going backwards in an uncomfortable way. One thing I wanted to do was do another version of a landscape study from 2007 that I liked. But I felt that at this point a great deal more could be done with the concept in much more evolved paint. Decided to do it a little bigger, and put a thin underpainting layer on it. This was watercolour after the drawing, and a very thin layer of oil paint thinned with solvent. The idea was to get everything clearly established first, paving the way for a conclusive alla prima layer with lots of paint. In the past I've enjoyed all aspects of the process, but this time I wasn't that into mapping the image carefully. But felt like it was necessary, and soldiered on. Took a break towards the end of the process, just felt too constrained and thought that looking at it from a distance would help. As I walked away from the easel, I saw something strange: there was a tail sticking out of the paper shelf unit. What? But, lo and behold, Lily had climbed in there. The shelf she was in was five inches high, but it had about two inches of paper on it. I looked in and she looked at me, a somewhat distraught look with her mouth a little open, but she didn't meow. She tends to reserve this for emergencies, like being marooned on the neighbor's front porch roof. Still, it looked like she could use some help so I slowly pulled the pile of paper beneath her out, and she hopped back down on the table. It was so strange, what on earth was she doing in there? It bothered me, but there was no immediate solution. Later that night I realized that she was mirroring me, explaining to me what I had been doing, i.e., putting myself into too small a space, by doing it herself.



may 24
      

      Had to make some lead white this week, ran out and that turned out to not be okay. I've been mixing my white with the Blockx white, the Blockx is a little whiter but is modern pigment from China and needs more opacity and body. Made this one with all preheated walnut oil and an older American pigment, the oil absorbed a great deal of pigment and made long string, dense or fine. Wanted to overstate density as much as possible and still be able to tube it: that is one heavy tube! This paint got mixed with the medium and the Blockx white, the mix was more fudgey, not as ropey, and worked well. I wear a mask to do this, one of those gray ones from 3M with the 7093 particulate filters.



      

       This week's medium, I made a new version of the fused damar and beeswax putty with a thicker oil mix that dried faster, and added more marble dust so it would be physically denser. Also used starch gel instead of methyl cellulose to seize it.



      

      Starch gel always adds density but also glide, the mashed potato effect. This medium is very grippy and elastic but the starch gel did give it more movement. As usual with a new moon, got into a few too many new things, but they were all familiar, just hadn't been playing together in a while. It felt like the medium needed a larger increment, had to go somewhere new. The painting made with this medium is at the end.



      

       This one used the medium above and the new white lead paint. Also decided to return to strong and flatter colour first in the larger background fields. This part has been a little tricky lately. Would like to sort of animate everything, this is how life is, but if everything is animated there's no contrast: no differentiation between broad and detailed. But if the colour gets too flat this bugs me too. So, there's been sort of a battle going on here. Too. The most recent ones have had translucent layers in the fields, but this has seemed to be more distracting than anything, want to go over them all and simplify them. This is also what a denser white is about, being able to take a field that is too jumpy and smooth it out. So, this one moved away from subtle field layering built up in increments to a strong first layer of colour that was then attenuated. As is often the case when the pendulum swings the other way, it goes a little too far. But that movement establishes the next goal. In this case, we have fields that were too animated before, and fields that aren't quite animated enough in this one. So I'll be working on developing a midpoint there in the next one. This probably sounds critical, but I like this one overall. The colours, the shapes, the way the space moves, the assortment of glitches, are all fine in terms of moving this project forward a notch. But there's always more to learn, and that makes the mistakes or errors the most interesting part of the process. About 10.5 x 9.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.



april 19
      

      Made up a medium for this based on the test above but it looked a little loose. Didn't want to add any resin to it, but it occurred to me that a little beeswax in solvent might tighten it. I ignored the little voice in my head that said, 'You are winging it, there will be consequences.' You know how it's easy to ignore that little voice? I mean, it's so quiet, what could it know? The wax in solvent did tighten the medium's rheology, but when I started working with the paint I didn't like the way it looked or behaved. Didn't put that much beeswax in it, but I could still see it in the results, and that always bothers me. Still I liked the way everything about the painting became simpler as a result of the preceding one. So, nothing is for naught, it all adds up to learning more about the process. About 10.5 x 9.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.



      

       Used a similar composition, this version isn't quite as organic as the first one, which I like better, but like the way this developed. I tend to be hyper-critical of these for the first few days after they've been made, wanting to 'correct' anything that sticks out. But I'm not sure that doesn't also 'correct' some of the personality out of the image as well. As someone who was subjected to this procedure a great deal growing up by pretty much every adult I came in contact with -- with the of best intentions, of course, since it was exactly what was done to them! -- I'm getting more interested in leaving these in a somewhat more 'imperfect' state. In terms of the medium itself, I need to replace the methyl cellulose chalk and ewax component with something denser. This could be the same thing made with a denser version of methyl cellulose, but it could also be made with hide glue as the binder instead. Although I abandoned the wax and glue medium experiments from one of the LeBegue manuscripts in Merrifield, they did keep well in the refrigerator. Am looking forward to the next iteration of this. Will it be perfect, imperfect, or somehow manage to transcend duality entirely? Maybe should I just spend the week paralyzed with fear instead? About 10.5 x 9.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.



      

      



      

      



april 12
      

      Was able to start working in the studio this week. It was like the door was unlocked, and I could go in again. It felt like a good idea to make some studies first. Decided to make these in acrylic, a medium I used a lot years and years ago. Thought maybe it would be more spontaneous than returning to the system that had come together for oil. The first day was pretty spontaneous, but I didn't really like what came out that much. Which was fine, after a long hiatus, it was nice to be doing anything again.



      

      The next day, did a version of the old oil system, but in acrylic. Made the paint matte with marble dust and matte medium, ended up liking the look of this. Because it dries so fast compared to oil, it's a little more primitive, the fine adjustments in wet paint aren't available for hours the way are are in oil, had a very small window in which to carve things back. At the same time, it was fun to be able to cover things up several times. There are some things about this I like, but some other things that might be changed. Ha-ha, new medium, same old story. Not sure about this: I tend to look for simplicity and perfect balance, both in terms of colour and composition, and feel that defines finished. And sometimes it does. But finished moves around, and there's something to be said for banging it out and not cleaning it up too much as well. Would like more brightness on the right to balance the brightness on the left. Or, the mid blue of the upper right could be used in the lower left. Maybe it's as simple as making the magenta element below the mid blue bright yellow. Or, some combination of those. In any event, I would start the changes on the lower left. Of course, once one element changes, the relationship of all the elements changes. This used to drive me crazy but now it's fun. Might fiddle with this digitally and see what happens. Although, in larger terms, issues like this tend to be solved bit by bit through the process. Will keep going with this matte acrylic approach for a while and see where that takes things. Spring is in high gear here, seems logical to have the process become more spontaneous as well. 10.5 x 9.375 inches, acrylic on paper.



      

      'The details generated by experience with a given set of materials create a system that is more than the sum of its parts. This happens most simply with a system based on becoming oneself through the materials in the present moment, however this naturally comes into being. The system may use handmade materials, or it may use commercial materials, but, to succeed, it needs to be based on the details of practice, not the bravado of theory. This means acknowledging that things are not quite as they seem, ever, and being willing to investigate, always. But, in the hall of mirrors that we blithely refer to as visual reality, looking more closely is also not quite what it seems. We base our conclusions on what we know. How can we know what is there unless we see it? Until we understand that our vision is limited, that there is always more to see, this possibility is not within our frame of reference. This deceptively simple process is grounded in creative uncertainty, the awareness that, in an infinite universe, frames of reference must expand to remain viable. Our knowledge – however high our opinion may be of it – must be considered partial to have an opportunity to grow. This approach sets the stage for resolving the compelling paradox of representational painting: the creation of an illusion that tells the truth.'










For further information on technique or a specific painting please contact tadspurgeon@gmail.com
copyright © 2002-2020 by Tad Spurgeon. All rights reserved.
web site design by Axis Web Design.