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      A Sunday look at process and product.

october 18

      A lovely, mostly sunny week, getting colder at night slowly, the leaves around here are beginning to turn and fall but are still mostly green. The toad lily in the backyard is in bloom again, my favorite. The guys arrived to do the gutters, three skinny guys from Eastern Europe with a very big ladder. After all the fracas about this, and all the water damage in the basement, it took them less than two hours to clean them out, and adjust the ones that were out of whack. Good grief! Last week of the moon, felt generally positive but low key, like rest was in order before the next step. New moon yesterday afternoon, a sense of more positive energy arrived right away, that's always fun. Mercury also went retrograde this week, can feel this in words becoming weightier, harder to find or arrange. It has made me feel sort of isolated this year to be so alone in what I believe is going on, that the reality of the ongoing change is spiritual, but, as a kid I decided early on that the grown-ups were crazy, so it's really just a step or two further in what has always been the case. Have been working on another level of peace with this, which is coming, getting more stable week by week. It's exciting to see progress in training my mind to be more disciplined and positive. It is logical that, since expecting the worst tends to attract the worst, expecting the best would tend to attract the best, and intriguing to see the results of this in day to day life. It can be something little, like today, a violin maker in Italy wrote a very nice email thanking me for the PDF about refining linseed oil, but this is a year where little things mean a lot. This week also led to some thoughts about the way there are levels of awareness to everything. Just because there's been one a-ha! moment about a particular situation doesn't mean there won't be more. Felt this a few days ago about the tension between doing and being, could see another level into the ways early circumstances set me up to focus on doing at the expense of being. A common enough lesson, of course, but that doesn't make it any less individually relevant. It's been interesting this year to feel the relevance of being return now and then. It seems to predate doing, and be a more evolved, though far less technological, civilization. One of the fruits of re-doing the book this last time was the realization that, no matter how much I did, there could always be more to do. I felt this especially in relation to the chemistry of the oil, the incredibly complex substance Roland has been able to research at increasingly detailed levels this year. In the past I used to feel a kind of background panic about missing something, but now this feels inevitable, just part of life that each person makes what appears to be a finite contribution. Well, that's the opinion of doing anyway. But I'm not sure that, in larger terms, that's true. And it feels like larger terms are still on their way. Well, when you turn off the TV, it may be easier to feel this. You know, the infinite universe, of which we are all a part. And that, as inherent parts of this infinite universe, we are all in fact infinite, and therefore making an infinite contribution. What if we all turned off the TV, where huge fragments of the sky have been falling on a daily basis now for the better part of a year, and became aware of that as a collective? Wouldn't that make us infinitely powerful to define our own reality? What could stop us from evolving infinitely then? Nothing. Ha-ha, what a ridiculous dream that is, you may well quietly say! And yet, that's the short version of why the next few months are going to be so interesting.

expected 10-21

      Living Craft Edition 14 features:

  • Over15 years of research based on technical art history
  • Clear explanations refined through 14 editions over 9 years
  • 108 unique formulas, 568 pages, 6x9 inch format, 392,583 words
  • 11 page bibliography, 5 appendices, 10 page index
  • Heavy weight paper and binding
  • An integrated, holistic approach to the craft: the old made new, with heart
  • Studio-tested creative methods and materials in unprecedented detail
  • Emphasis on both historical and solvent-free, non-toxic methods
  • The most functional, detailed explanation of colour ever written
  • To view or download the Table of Contents and text selections, click here


      Okay. The iron oxide refined oil clouded again. So I froze it again. It has now been frozen six times. This is getting like Ground Hog Day! Can't wait to see what this oil is like, but it has to stay clear more than a few days first...


      The other metal besides iron that is helpful for oxygenating the oil in the refining process is copper. The pre-1983 pennies are 95% copper, did a test with ten of these buried in salt, creating copper chloride.


      The salt and the pennies went into the oil with some distilled water. The other test was a second carpet tack test, the tacks, the iron oxide water, and, this time, salt. Gave these only half a minute with the immersion blender (without the pennies and tacks!), then started to reshake them a few times daily. So far, the copper version appears to be doing more, but this may not mean anything once all is said and done. Will let these go for a week, then begin to rinse them. Will probably set up just copper and water next, soaking some pennies or copper tacks in distilled water for a week and then using this water to refine the oil.


      My friend Roland has been doing an elegant experiment with varying proportions of salt on the one hand, salt and iron on the other. The salt variations are shown here. He has established that, in this system, more salt (12%) is best at removing the mucilage, but, interestingly, 1% salt creates the quickest drying oil. The original salt and sand method I published was 24% salt, and it did remove the mucilage quickly, but it also had the additional pro-oxidant effect of silica on the oil, to say nothing of the possible synergy between salt and silica in the molecular soup. Anyway, it will be interesting to try to factor these findings into a refining system and see what happens.


      Did more fiddling with modified acrylic paint, some very different things happened, but didn't feel like any of them were headed where I wanted to go. Can see how something like this one could become a style based on energy coming first, with organization coming in a second layer, but, for now at least, it feels better to let this develop further by remaining fallow. Painting is my favorite form of doing, so I find this difficult to accept, but there's no choice. It makes sense for a state of transition to create work that mirrors it, and this has some interesting aspects, but the pace of the process ended up making me feel a little dizzy. This is also due to the way the acrylics dry quickly, making new concepts possible one after the other. The past has shown that I can always think up something that appears to be interesting, but that doesn't mean it wants to happen. It is a question of oomph, which is subterranean, not from the mind. This year the oomph has mostly been with the book, and that is now complete. I'd like it to return to painting but the answer is clearly, 'be patient, not yet.' Okay, okay!




      It is hard to do things for Lily besides feed her, play with her, or remove the occasional flea. I mean, she is so perfect at being who she is. But as she's gotten older, I've noticed she's more interested in staying warm when as it gets colder. She is so much happier when she can go outside, so last year I tried a few things to extend her outside time. These didn't work out that well, but I learned a few things, so yesterday I put an old fleece blanket folded up several times behind and under her favorite chair on the porch, with a couple old flannel pillowcases folded on top of it, the idea being that the thick layer of fleece would compress enough under her weight to make it more of a nest. Also, all the items involved were freshly laundered! She's still going out at night, that will change to daytime only when it regularly gets below freezing. Anyway, this morning, when I went to bring her in, it was great to see that she liked it, and that it worked. Doesn't that look cozy?

october 11

      A week of perfect weather, slightly warm sunny days and cool nights, giving way now to some rain from the system that was a hurricane a few days ago in Louisiana. Waning moon, new moon on the 16th. This one has a lot of intense aspects, and may feature more in the way of change, especially over the weekend; convergence here from a some very different sources, that usually means something. In larger terms, I've always felt that the upheaval of 2020 is about the old giving way to the new. The old is patriarchy, abuse of power, materialism, social and economic injustice. The new is a sacred paradigm in which every living being is seen as an equal. So, this is quite a process for our old buddy, the reluctant human collective, to engage in. The old is cornered, it knows it, but does not necessarily want to give way gracefully, is resorting to telling bigger and bigger lies. Also as part of the transition, it is important for everyone to understand how the old got to be what it was, and how so much imbalance in every area of life came to be viewed as 'normal.' Are people waking up to what is really going on? Or are they slouching around wearing masks to take out the trash or mow the lawn, hoping conspicuous servile compliance to their angry deity, the mainstream media, will somehow save them? Implementing the new is actually going to be easy compared to saying good-bye to the old, because so much skulduggery and malfeasance still has to come to light, and it's not going to play well with the people who have been so fully manipulated by their twisted yet beloved system. Astrologically, there is a pretty clear line in the sand around the Winter Solstice. With the planet itself firmly in the very high energy of the photon belt, and both Saturn and Jupiter moving into Aquarius, organized darkness is simply no longer going to be possible here. But there are a lot of planes with specific pieces of information circling the field, and the sooner they start landing, the better.


      The third proof of the book came on Wednesday, and I decided to go with it. There were no technical errors, and the overall look is definitely another level beyond the last edition with the heading structure in a different font. I love simplicity, but with so much information to organize, using one font was just too simple. It was the first time I've seen this heading structure in print, where everything is lighter with digital, so there are a few small things I'd fiddle with given time. But it would take a while to explore them, typography is not necessarily better just because it is more logical. All things considered, it just seemed like a good idea to get them here. So, they ship on the 21st, and should be here either Friday the 23rd, or more likely, Monday the 26th.


      When I looked at the autoxidized linseed oil that I heated last week it had formed a skin. That was quick! The rheology is interesting: mobile but dense, a combination of both autoxidized and heat-polymerized behaviors not possible by either method alone. It was only heated for half an hour, but the previous autoxidation makes it feel like more.


      Let the carpet tack emulsion go for five total days, then froze it. It was a little stubborn, cleared some but not much, so froze it again. Each time it snowed a little bit inside as it thawed. This is after the fourth freeze, huge flakes, have never seen anything like this in oil before. It will be interesting to see how quickly this dries, and what it's relative yellowing potential is. This method takes a while but is straightforward in terms of the process, and is very little labor. Will try it again and let the emulsion go a whole week this time: the research that Roland has sent from the food science sector on lipid oxidation all suggests that a week is the time period needed for oxidation to take off.


      Acrylic that I put some slightly coarse marble dust into, along with matte medium. This paint does some funky things.


      Detail here of a test study made with it. This paint dries quickly, and very brightly. Layers dry down a little bit, but not that much. This particular image went around in circles, don't quite know what it wants to do, nothing I know about yet. In a way this is confusing, but, well, what isn't at this point? I mean, it sort of fits. Will keep going further with this paint, probably with a new image, and see what wants to happen.


      Another tack. Something in oil from last fall that, over time, began to bother me. I didn't get enough opaque paint on it in the timeframe, and though it took a good photo when new, that predominant translucent midtone paint began to seem like it could use more. Ground it back thoroughly before beginning.


      Hadn't tried to re-do something in a while, but what happened illustrated a familiar process. It was interesting to revisit this paint and system after a long break, but, although the original painting seemed less complete than most of them from that period, I like it better. With this one, I let a lot of things change in as relatively tame version of the paint, but kept the strong central rose ellipse, mostly because it had been such a defining element of the first version. But, in a way, it interferes with the second version. Yet, without it, the second version has too many mid-size pieces. So, it's still unresolved, but in another way. Which is fine, another example that coming back to these really doesn't work after their original time frame. As in several well-known old stories, looking back doesn't work. To improve it, make a new version in the present. I get fascinated by the puzzle of these, but really have yet to design a paint system that allows this concept to be explored effectively. But, given how focal this issue is becoming, that may be what's on the way. A typical waning moon situation: something is ending, something new hasn't yet begun, but the questions motivating its birth are slowly becoming more well-defined. I used to get bugged by this type of thing as a waste of precious creative time. But now it seems like it's all part of the same process. And it makes sense for there to be a relatively large change in progress now. 10.75x11.25 inches, oil on gessoed paper.



october 4

      Mainly sunny and cooler, week of the full moon, sort of a quiet one, no revelations or upheavals. Not much has been quiet around here, the patio construction ended, but now there are not one, not two, but three separate construction projects close-by. Not at the level of the patio, but a lot of concentrated activity on a usually quiet street. Lily responded to this by coming in during the day and sleeping, then going out at night. Got the third proof off to the printer, had my first glitch this time with the PDF, the fonts didn't embed and I was too tired to notice. Ha-ha, just when you start to trust your system! Lost some time there, but the proof will be here Tuesday. If I okay it, they can have books here in two weeks. Hopefully it will be that simple.


      Was tired after finishing the last proof, but still had lots of nervous energy. Decided to just segue into making a painting the next day and see what would happen. Didn't do anything too ambitious, just tried out a formula idea at a very small scale. Mercifully short version: it wasn't a success. The paint worked quickly, which was what I'd expected, but there was nothing in the well with which to work. Could feel this, but didn't want to give up. Yet, the further I got into this little study, the more deranged I felt. Paddling upstream in a leaky boat loaded with elephants. So I stopped, relieved that I'd rejected any more ambitious plans. Did end up liking part of it over time, this is about 3/4s of a square inch!


      Three immersion blender emulsions, one made with very high salt, one with just a little glycerin, and the one in the middle combined the two approaches. These were frozen twice to help clear them, this is a feature of the immersion blender approach with these ingredients: an initial process without as much effort, but slower clearing of the oil due to the degree to which it's been invaded by water. The glycerin only approach did clear quickly, a precipitate of fine snow fell out to the bottom, but I'm not sure that makes it a better approach. The other two have cleared a bigger precipitate, and are now clearing a smaller one. It might be interesting to go back to the high salt emulsion and tweak the proportions, but something happened using the carpet tacks that might be simpler because of the way the iron oxide affects the mucilage.


      Heated some autoxidized linseed oil this week, this is one that yellowed more in a test over the summer than I liked. The procedure changes because of the spinner, it gets going really fast because the oil ends up with so much less viscosity, the foam of last week just becomes a phase of tiny bubbles that makes the oil appear opaque. At about 150C it begins to darken, I'm not sure what this pigmentation represents, but whatever it is it is fugitive. I kept it there for half an hour, very little time relatively. As with all these oils, this now has a unique rheology that is slightly tight, but also quite gelatinous. This oil does not run, but it is also no longer resinous or sticky. It went onto the test panel yellow, but has mostly cleared in drying. It will be interesting to see what happens to these in the next six months, also in the more humid six months following. This procedure is interesting because of the way autoxidation lowers the threshold of thermal polymerization. It is not possible to make an oil with a rheology like this with heat alone, or with autoxidation alone. 4 hours at 200C makes an oil about half as thick as this, with much more tendency to level or flow. So, just as linseed oil was a very different thing in 1620 than it usually is today, 'heat-polymerized linseed oil' may also have been something entirely different than what we purchase as heat-polymerized oil now.


      Thanks to Roland for this chart, and for explaining this simply! This gives you some idea of the molecular mayhem that occurs when a giant fatty acid molecule oxidizes. This alphabet soup of VOCs is in an autoxidized oil, the ring molecules are the ones with yellowing potential. Heating the oil drives these compounds off one by one as the temperature rises.


      So, I'm still looking for a simpler way to do an extended emulsion. Made an emulsion with the carpet tack rust water and linseed oil using the immersion blender for a minute. Then added the carpet tacks back again in the hopes of getting some free FE ions that will help create a faster drying oil. It would probably be better for drying speed to grind some iron powder into the oil or use a different form of iron, but wanted to keep this first version as simple as possible. The iron oxide created a situation where the mucilage sort of curdled finely, then fell out. With salt, the mucilage comes out, but remains more adhesive. So, this makes me hopeful that this oil will process further very simply, which would be a huge plus. Began with 100 ml water and 500 ml oil, have been adding 50ml water each day and shaking it. This is after day one.


      Added a little plain distilled water on Saturday morning, photo on left, wanted to see if it would separate with oil from the mucilage. So, the mucilage is more adhesive than I thought, but this step will still help when freezing it. The amount of loss remained low, this suggested that more could occur, so I shook it up again, photo on right. The character of the mucilage could be changed with a vinegar prewash first, this sort of coagulates it. That might be a logical next step with this approach, but it also might interfere with the mucilage being able to act as a surfactant and create a finer interface between the oil and the water, which helps it to dry faster. I know people would appreciate something really simple, with less fiddling, that dried fast, so those are the basic goals here. Given the amount of time it's been emulsified, this will probably dry pretty quickly, but we'll see.


      Two examples of walnut oil heated for 4 hours to 200C. The one above was open to the air on the windowsill all summer, has begun to thicken a little more. The one below has been closed, I put chunks of limestone in it to keep it from autoxidizing.


      Lily ignoring the mayhem outside one afternoon this week. A good plan for the next month or so.

september 27

      Waxing moon, full moon next Thursday. Lovely softer sunny days followed by a few overcast and humid ones with a little rain. A few trees beginning to change colour, the clarity in the atmosphere just keeps increasing, feels like the interactions of light and nature are just getting more beautiful. Too early to celebrate still, but can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the book. Have been editing the PDF at the molecular level for total consistency, it's so therapeutic to actually be able to make something, anything, better. Will get the third proof out tomorrow and possibly have the printed version back by the end of the week. Conceivably, this will be fine to print from. Just like writing the book could go on forever, editing it could too. My goal for each edition was always the next level: the last edition was two more levels, which felt good, and this one is three: more clarity, more depth, and, biggest bonus for the reader, a better looking and easier to navigate format. This is exciting on the one hand, but on the other its important to keep it in perspective: truth is always the daughter of time. In larger terms, I keep waiting for the shift to hit the fan, but have given up predicting anything about when. I do feel that the election will be stolen, but that this will backfire, as evidence of the theft will be overwhelming. This is just Art of War 101: let them attack, use the attack to encircle them. I also feel that it is not possible for organized negative energy to withstand the entry of both Saturn and Jupiter into Aquarius just before the winter solstice. So, this means an awful lot is going to happen to increase collective awareness in the next few months. What will be the final straw? What will be revealed, and proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, that will finally unify America irrevocably? Not what is the most heinous crime that was covered up necessarily, but what will strike the deepest, most visceral chord in the American psyche? Yes, that narrows it down a bit.


      I love this time of year!


      A feature of the last few weeks has been the construction of this industrial strength patio on the next door diagonal. Small yards on this block, it's about 100 feet away from where I live. Four guys, a small front end loader, a motorized thingy that tamped the macadam they poured, then they put cement over that, then they started cutting the huge slates to fit with a massive saw. A slow and very loud operation, amplified by the way the sound is trapped by the walls of the surrounding houses. These are people we don't know, their house faces the other way, so we never see them. But my downstairs neighbor finally complained early in the week, knocked on their door and told them it was driving her nuts. This impressed me, I could not have done that. I mean, if I had been motivated enough to knock on their door, I would started yelling at them at the top of my voice, and it would have gone on until the cops arrived. She told me they apologized, I get the feeling the residents of the house are the younger generation, complete with newborn, and that the father owns the construction company that is doing the patio. So, the noise is worst for them. Anyway, she said she felt bad about complaining, since, as is so often the case, those responsible were not in evidence, and bought them a pumpkin, presenting it with a thank you for listening note. Later in the week, they reciprocated by sending her a large bouquet of flowers. She decided to break the bouquet down and gave some of it to everyone who has been affected by this incredible noise. Given that this situation represents exactly the thing that makes me viscerally angry about the changes in this neighborhood since I grew up, specifically, the total proliferation of murderous, mindless, unnecessary mechanical noise, I have done pretty well with this. I mean, it is possible to make a patio without a sound, so, all questions of aesthetics aside, this seems like madness incarnate to me. I did get mad once, but that was transference due to trying too hard to finish the book cover during a few hours when the saw was on constantly. And it's interesting how the situation has brought a group of isolated neighbors closer together. The crew didn't work on Saturday, so it's been two days in a row of absolute blissful peace and quiet. Yet, from the look of the stones, this will cease at about 8:15 on Monday morning, and possibly go on as far as Wednesday. Making a patio that can withstand an artillery bombardment is slow work. But this week, I'm in a different position. Not only do I have my mini-bouquet, replete with imitation autumn leaves and ears of wheat, but, even more importantly, I've realized that this is a test. It is my test. Designed by me, just for me. And I know what I have to do to pass it. The answer is obvious, the same as it's been for all the other tests this year, just far more visceral because I feel this as such a personal, and physical, attack. Ah yes, there's the biggest clue to the solution. Also funny how it's like the book at this point: just a few more days to go before graduation.


      Finally got to the point with the next version of the book where the index just happened. I thought I was going to have to erase the old one and start again, not that big a deal, it self-generates, but Word now has an index update button, so I pushed that. At first this looked like a good choice, but the end, it would have been the same either way. I quickly began to feel that the index was both overly large and less than complete, the sort of functional paradox I've come to appreciate in Word, and, starting to do some searches by hand, this turned out to be true. So a lot of manual stuff had to be done anyway. Then there are entries like 'linseed oil' where cutting about half of them out is the only logical solution. The last time I had some goofy things like 'transparent,' an important concept in older painting, but or produced tons of meaningless entries. This time I just did an entry on 'transparent, translucent, and opaque' which takes the reader to the relevant place. For materials, put the most relevant place to look in bold, duh. Doing the index did reveal one fairly larger hidden error, a reference to a medium that I'd taken out. And I almost forgot to finish fixing something in the fray. I'd changed the order of some headings to make them more logical, but they all also had cross-references in the text, so had to change those, but hadn't. It was a little confusing, because no matter what I changed first, some of the new entries were going to need to be left alone during the next change. But where the references wanted to point was logical from the context, so it wasn't hard to see what to do. Like everything, there's a craft to an index, so it was interesting to get a little more into that. But the time has come to get this one printed and see what it really looks like.




      Part of a yellowing test. This Spring I made some heat polymerized walnut oil using the Jedwards walnut oil from Italy, heating it twice for two hours to 200C. That's the test on the right, it's about half as thick as regular stand oil. Over the summer it yellowed slightly less than the Blockx stand oil, on the left, which is actually a burnt plate oil. This yellowed slightly less than the Kremer regular stand oil, 45 poise, which is not in the picture. These commercial oils are the best ones I have, wanted to see a comparison under the relatively high stress conditions of summer humidity.


      This is a type of oil that Daniel Graves told me about many years ago, so I named it for him in the book. It's taken me a long time to begin to see the potential of it fully. 1) The fabled Jedwards refined walnut oil from Italy, autoxidized on a windowsill for a year, 9-19 to 9-20. 2) Took the oil out, you can see the thick skin with very little colour. 3) Began to heat the oil on very low heat, some bubbles come up at around 100C. 4) The oil begins to foam liberally as the byproducts of oxidation, water at first at 100C, then Roland said hexanal at 129C, emerge. There's more chemistry to this, but this is not exactly something that food oil science is going to be investigating much. 5) Oil slowly begins to stop foaming, temperature begins to limb rapidly at this point. 6) Removed the oil at about 150C, this happened very quickly after the foam stopped with no increase in heat. 7) The oil is still somewhat thick, but less sticky, far more mobile, than before heating. Put it back in the jar to continue autoxidizing. This makes it increasingly gelatinous. 8) Put out a before and after test of the oils. Have a feeling that, over time, the heated oil will yellow less. The next step in this might be to take a heavily autoxidized oil through this procedure, then heat it for an hour to 150C with mechanical stirring. Have this would lighten it again. The wet colour, of course, doesn't matter unless the oil has literally been burnt. I'm more interested in the change in rheology, and the potential to make an autoxidized oil less yellowing. In terms of older practice, and the way autoxidized oil was to some extent inevitable for them, more relevant with linseed oil than walnut oil, so that would be the next thing to try.



september 20

      Week of the new moon, sunny and cooler, some really beautiful days. Worked on the book and the oil, both of these are full of details, but in different ways. Hoped to be onto the index by now, but ended up replacing the heading font, I like the new way better, but in spite of the automated nature of the program, it took a few days to reorganize things again. Need a rest from this, it's beginning to sort of hurt. Well, at least I know it this time. I'd really like to get it done and printed before Mercury goes retrograde in October, but am beginning to feel that's not going to happen. Which is too bad, but can't be helped. Don't have any illusions about October, the effort to create paralyzing chaos here will amp up, fail, and continue to amp up. At some point, there will be a moment where the scales fall away from the collective's eyes, like what happened in The Wizard of Oz when Toto pulled back the curtain. But when this is going to happen, and how, I have no idea. I thought it had to be soon, because of how obvious the subterfuge is, and how obvious the pile is that's been swept under the carpet, but that doesn't mean other people consider it obvious. There are small groups pulling at either end of the spectrum of change, but the majority of the collective is stuck, as in cement: on the one hand, it doesn't want violence, on the other hand, it's in a hypnotic feedback loop of confusion and fear that keeps amplifying both of them. This means the larger collective is getting increasingly uncomfortable and disoriented as it waits patiently for non-change, the so-called 'return to normal,' that is not going to happen. As long as turmoil is perceived as 'coming from without,' and 'out of control,' it has no choice but to manifest that way. But the opposite is also true. We have been schooled to be either the hammer or the nail, but in reality we are neither. In larger terms the point is for the hypnotized collective to take responsibility, and bring its own hypnosis to an end. But the solution is totally, completely, irrevocably counter-intuitive for the vast majority of people because of how we were all trained to navigate the Labyrinth by consensus culture from the moment we got here. For more on this, for how a specific cosmic lesson has been built into the fabric of human consciousness, see the end of this post.


      The information in the book came out of the notebooks I've kept over the years, and I always wanted to integrate the notebooks into the book somehow. But the visual quality of the information involved is too different, it seemed awkward no matter what I tried. And of course, this is not one of those sketchbooks full of graphic pizazz, it's just the bare minimum I can get myself to do while it's happening. So, on the surface, a book is about what's in it, but this week I thought about how a book is also about what's not in it.


      The next proof came on Wednesday. It was a step forward in general, but then on Thursday, the day before the new moon, something odd happened. I went on a search for a new heading font. There was no rhyme, reason, or discontent behind this, it just needed to happen. Well, I had noticed that the old heading font didn't print totally clearly, and thought it was because I had made it bold in Word, because the font only had two weights, and the actual bold version of the font, which would have printed more crisply, was way too bold. Oy! Heading font weight is tricky, especially if there are a lot of headings. The headings are like signs, but do they need to be giant blinking neon signs to be effective? It's sort of a battle of balance between the function of the headings as a map, and the unity or integrity of the page. Anyway, after the now standard mayhem, this is where I ended up yesterday. I like it better, the new heading font isn't as artistic, but it's both nice and round and helps the page be more organized. On a lot of pages more organized doesn't matter, but on a page like this, it does, and there are plenty of these. This looks relatively balanced here, but the oomph I build into it, the oomph I see when I print a page, gets a little washed out by the digital printing process. I asked the bindery if they could print it heavier, and they said yes, but didn't get into details. I mean, how much heavier is heavier? The large headings may need to be heavier, but this font comes in a lot of weights. Anyway, the bindery is very good at what they do, so I'll try heavier on the next proof and see what happens. In some ways this gets obsessive, but the book is full of organized details, so it feels like the typography needs to be consistent with this.


      This is from a PDF that Roland sent, a graph from a paper that he sent me long ago discussing the way preheating both generates, then eliminates, the hydroperoxides in the oil, which can be a major source of yellowing. This helps explain why so many of the older paintings that are examined are made with 'heat-bodied' or 'heat-polymerized' oil, and was the origin of the 4:150 oil concept in the book. By heating the oil to 150C for 4 hours, all the hydroperoxides that are generated are eliminated. Roland has been researching historical double and triple boiled oil methods lately. This is interesting from a chemistry point of view, because the technique of these oils uses the hydroperoxides as a kind of ramp to alter the oil. Th oil is heated to a low temperature first, then cooled before the hydroperoxides have been depleted. Then, this is done again at a slightly higher temperature, generating even more hydroperoxides. Finally, a temperature is chosen at which the oil actually polymerizes, and it is heated long enough to eliminate all the hydroperoxides. Triple boiled oil is still made, and it has quite an amazing rheology, kind of like very old rubber cement, if you recall that from being a kid. But this oil is heated to three relatively high temperatures, and is in fact sort of brittle, although it's used industrially as a turbine sealant. What would be interesting would be to create a somewhat less dense version of this oil. It would still have to be heated a long time, the process would take a few days at least, but using a lower temperature curve overall would mean a more generally useful saturating oil for painting.


      The Jedwards Italian walnut oil, a little bit better than most commercial walnut oil for some reason. This has been sitting on the windowsill in a glass jar with cheesecloth over it for about six months, is pretty thick and beginning to get a skin. That polymerized oil embroidery is absolutely colourless, pretty nice.


      An experiment with commercially refined linseed oil and a bi-continuous emulsion, something my friend Roland explained to me. This was 120 ml (4 ounces) of linseed oil, 7.5 ml (1.5t) glycerin, 10 ml (2t) of 152 proof alcohol, and 10 ml (2t) distilled water. I shook it off and on for a few weeks in the winter of 2018, then forgot about it. When I found it again a few months ago, it seemed kind of different: very thin, very pale and clear. The commercial linseed oil I used yellows a reasonable amount, but I'm not sure this is going to, the drying test is invisible so far. Something interesting that could use a lot more tests.


      Autoxidized oil gets thicker because of the water that is created in it as a byproduct of oxidation. So, if the oil is heated gently, it releases this water at 100C, and becomes looser again. This is useful to avoid solvent, or make an oil flow more, but it also seems, especially with linseed oil, to make the oil yellow less. This is a tricky procedure, because, as soon as the water is gone, the oil darkens, boom. It's not because it suddenly burns, but it's a little disconcerting. Even though I know the wet colour and the dry colour have no relation to one another, and that, if anything, the heated oil dries lighter than the unheated oil, I'd rather keep the oil light. But, especially with linseed oil, the wet colour doesn't mean anything. What happens after it dries is what's important.


      This is the oil I heated above, before on the right, after on the left. They both dried very quickly, the heated sample is thicker, which is going to skew this test, and has a touch of colour left right now compared to the unheated sample. I did this because an earlier sample of the unheated version yellowed a lot this summer. Admittedly, it was often insanely humid, but still, not everything yellowed a lot, in fact, almost nothing did, which is why I noticed this. So, it will be interesting to see if the procedure above makes a difference as these age: I half expect the heated oil (internal water driven off) to lighten, and the unheated oil (internal water still internal) to darken. Of course, they're aging into the winter, the relatively dry time here inside, so, we'll see.


      Made a test with a high-salt emulsion, and then one with glycerin and high-salt, using the immersion blender. The emulsions aren't stable because of the salt, but the mucilage came out readily and I shook them periodically for three days to let the mucilage act as a surfactant on the oil, something I learned recently from Roland. Then I added some distilled water gently to the top, and it separated the oil from the heavier salt water, a fun chemistry trick. That's a lot to come out in one wash, and I thought this might lead somewhere interesting.


      Which it might. But, as is often the case, simplicity leads to complexity. Photos here of the next stage of the salt emulsion, and the glycerin-only emulsion from last week, shaking them with plain distilled water. The salt emulsion recipe needs some work, I'd hoped to produce a very simple way to refine the oil with little effort and just salt but the first rinse stayed emulsified, had to be frozen to clear it, so procedure with this one is getting more complex. I'll be able to finish this oil but will have to rethink the approach, wanted something fool-proof, not challenging. The glycerin only approach is longer but simpler by comparison, possibly because I didn't try to push the glycerin amount the way I pushed the salt amount in the other one.


      Roland sent me a few papers investigating the role of other metals besides lead in initiating oil oxidation. One of the ones that does it readily is iron. I tried this years ago, there's a recipe for this in the Church book from early in the 20th century: the iron is placed in water, so it will release Fe ions without rusting, then the water is shaken with the oil. It worked, but I was in too much of a hurry to appreciate it at the time. Anyway, some carpet tacks in distilled water, I'll let this sit for a week or two then use it to refine some oil. Roland has already made an oil refined with iron that dries very quickly because of the amount of oxygen from the water the iron makes available to the triglycerides. So I'm behind, can't have that!


      Early morning Lily. She got pretty skinny over the summer but it's getting cooler at night and she's starting to eat again. We're working on a new ritual. I realized she likes it when I'm not bigger than her, or taller. So I sit on the steps, just below the landing, when she's on her way out. Sometimes she's on a mission to get out there, but sometimes she pauses and even hops into my lap. She's sort of tentative about this, puts out a paw first to say what she'd like, is this okay, and I always say yes, hop up. Sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn't. She's too big for my lap, which means I end up holding either her head or her rear legs when she's up there, she chooses, which is part of the ritual. Even if she doesn't do that, she'll spend some time circling me up and down the stairs before deciding to go out. It's like she's asking me what the hurry is.

in the labyrinth

      Once upon a time, there was a Labyrinth. It was not a traditional labyrinth, constructed of stone in one plane, but a Labyrinth made up of ideas and beliefs, and it had many dimensions. Two people were given the task of solving the Labyrinth. One of them was called Left Brain, the other was called Right Brain. They were, in one sense, related, a team, but in another sense, they were very different. As they stood before the massive Labyrinth, Left Brain rook charge and said, 'Okay, leave this to me. This is exactly what I'm good at. You'll only get lost and slow us down.' Right Brain thought a second, then asked, 'Are you sure you know what this is?' Left Brain said, 'What do you mean? Use your eyes, it's a giant Labyrinth!' 'Do you remember when we…' Right brain began. 'We don't have time for this!' Left Brain interrupted importantly. 'Look, we've got a job to do, and I'm going to do it. Just follow me and we’ll be in and out in no time.'

       And so, Left Brain set off boldly into the Labyrinth, with Right Brain following a little way behind. The complexity of the Labyrinth was staggering. It went up, down, sideways, diagonally. It was full of signs pointing out where to go, and how long it would take to get there. But these were clearly not accurate. In the Labyrinth, things were often topsy-turvy. Up was down, and dark was light. 'Wow,' said Left Brain, 'Whoever built this was a genius!' 'I'm not sure we're getting anywhere,' Right Brain said. 'We're doing just fine!' Left Brain responded, 'This thing is complicated! Just follow me and we'll be out of here in no time.' 'Do you remember when we…' Right brain began. 'FOLLOW ME!' Left Brain shouted, and started running down a new corridor.

       And so, on it went in the Labyrinth, year after year. Left Brain made diagrams and kept copious notes, which were comforting, but didn’t seem to actually be helpful. Finally one day Left Brain stopped, looked around and said quietly, 'You know, I think we've been here before.' 'Yes, we have,' Right Brain agreed, 'Twenty-seven times.' Left Brain took a deep breath and said 'We haven't tried this way, that must be it.' 'You said that last time,' Right Brain said, 'And we have tried that way.' 'Okay, okay,' Left Brain said, 'Just give me a second here, I'll figure this out.' Right Brain waited patiently. Left Brain began to pound on the walls of the Labyrinth. 'Get me out of here! Get me out of here! I can't figure this out!' Right Brain now took a deep breath, and then asked, 'Is it okay if I show you something?' 'How can you show me anything?' Left Brain retorted. 'You don't think, you just feel.'

       Right Brain raised an eyebrow, then walked right through the wall that Left Brain had just been pounding on. 'What?!?' Left Brain said, 'You can't do that! Why, that's cheating! You have to play by the rules!' Left Brain thought a moment, then added, 'Wait, HOW did you do that?' Right Brain walked calmly back through the wall. 'You believe what you see is real,' Right Brain explained, 'So the Labyrinth is real to you. I could feel that the Labyrinth wasn't real as soon as we got in here. It's made up of lies in costume, so they look like the truth. The key to the Labyrinth is not to believe what it’s telling us, but to look beneath the surface.' 'You knew this all along?' Left Brain asked. 'I felt it all along,' Right brain said. 'Why didn't you tell me?' Left Brain asked. 'I learned a long time ago that I can't tell you anything until you're ready to hear it,' Right Brain said. 'So, you can get us out of here?' Left Brain asked hopefully. 'Follow me," Right Brain said.

      And so, with Right Brain leading, and Left Brain following, they emerged from the Labyrinth a few seconds later. The sun was shining. Birds were singing. It was an unusually beautiful day. ‘I can’t believe we wasted so much time in there,’ Left Brain said, looking around distractedly. ‘We have forever,’ Right Brain explained. ‘There was something we had to learn in there.’ ‘Who would build such a thing?’ Left Brain asked. ‘It wasn’t a Labyrinth, it was a Trap.’ ‘It was a teaching tool,’ Right Brain said. ‘The important thing is what we learned from it.’ ‘Well, I learned that you’re a lot smarter than I thought you were!’ Left Brain said admiringly. Right Brain laughed. ‘That’s one way of looking at it,’ she said.

september 13

      Waning moon, the heat and humidity are slowly dissipating here, a cool afternoon for a walk yesterday, how focal the simple things have become this year. Mundanely, mostly worked on the book, details below, and did some work on a way of refining the oil based on being more patient and some information Roland sent. In larger terms, the important thing is to stay focused on positivity. On the one hand, this seems like a muscle that gets stronger the more it is exercised. On the other hand, anything that's still a source of negativity from the past, anything that hasn't been worked with, acknowledged, processed, is going to come up. It's like, as an individual, I have a range of vibration from high to low, and the universe helps this evolve upward by gently pointing out where the low part is so I'll work on it. At this point, events designed to drag me down don't occur that often, and when they occur, they're more obvious. A really simple one, but constant here: loud noises used to really bother me, especially conspicuously angry machines like chain saws or leaf blowers, but that hasn't been such an issue lately. This week at one point there was kind of a symphony of these going on very close to the house for a while involving two forms of construction, and a large dog that started barking in response, all amplified by the closely set stone buildings, and it was actually kind of funny. So, there's been more perspective about this developing over time, which is a relief. On a good day, I can see that the positive-negative split is a kind of program we signed up to go through here, because we learn more about being light through experiencing the dark. That unity is where we came from, and where we are going, and that unity, not duality, is real. Seeing conclusively through the appearance of duality is how we graduate from earth school. But meanwhile, being here, the key to more genuine unity is not to push duality away, but to work honestly on what's left of duality. This involves looking into anything that's left as an uncomfortable feeling, instead of pushing it back down when it comes up. Something that really helps with this is conscious deep breathing, it's like it initiates a cosmic pause and reset. When I acknowledge that the negative experience is not one to judge myself or anyone else about, but one through which I learned something important, there's a sense of release and expansion again. It often feels like the end is in sight at this point, like I can reach out and touch a brand new world where we are all equal, and there are no more systemic lies. And I'd so much rather the familiar machinations of duality were all finally over. But so far, they're not. Yet, because we are the architects of this reality, this is all about humanity's collective definition of itself. The day humanity collectively realizes it is (we are) inherently sacred magical, and infinite, is the day the chaos ends. This day can be postponed, as we see, but it cannot be stopped. And the longer it is postponed, the darker it is before the dawn, the more profound the transition will be for those who have found it difficult to believe in a new beginning.


      Mostly worked on re-formatting the book this week, it became forty pages shorter by changing the font from 11.5 to 11 point, but this also meant that the pages configured themselves differently than before. So, it took a few days to shake this out into a new configuration that worked, a lot of patience with a few sections such as the one pictured here, where I wanted to make some additions and amendments with very little wiggle room in the text, but I'm much happier with it now overall. We'll see how the second proof turns out next week, hopefully I can move on to the index. Roland looked it over this week, and very kindly made a number of astute technical comments. I went over those in the last few days, and adjusted the text where I could, some of them asked larger systemic questions that could only be addressed in another version -- and probably, at this point, by another author -- but that's understandable, we all have our own version of the craft.


      Random sample of the new page, it now has 47 lines, five more than before, which, at this stage, is a lot of change. It surprised me that this worked visually, I had been addicted to the concept that light and airy was better, but the text needed to be tighter in order to withstand the breaks made by all the formatting: seven levels of headings. The tables were kind of a hurdle, both physically in terms of causing roadblocks and in terms of making them look decent. There's actually a typo here, haha, near the bottom: Table 22 is now above, not below, as you can clearly see! Went over that possible issue once, but looks like I need to do it again!


      Roland has sent me a lot of information recently about recent advances in lipid chemistry. This is mostly in papers where they are explaining things that cause oxidation in water-oil emulsions, and are therefore to be avoided. This is of course what is of interest: Roland recently made a test oil using organic iron and ascorbic acid, a pro-oxidant combination to be avoided in the food industry, which dried really quickly. They are able to see much further into the structure of the oil now, two full levels of smaller colloids past the triglycerides, worlds with all kinds of complex emulsion chemistry going on. The acutal chemistry of this makes my head spin right now, haven't had time to even try to do it justice, but I've been able to gather four practical things from this lively primordial soup. First, that even though water and oil don't mix well at a larger level, there's water in raw oil all the time, at every level. Which begins to explain why high humidity is such an enemy of oil paintings. Second, because the interface between the oil and the water gets very fine, using the immersion blender to make a finer emulsion -- 0.001 mm range compared to 0.1 to 0.01 mm for shaking by hand -- is a very good idea. Third, that, while the idea is to remove the mucilage, it functions as a surfactant in the process, so can be used as such over time, then removed totally in the end. So, fourth, this means returning to the older model of longer washes, but using the immersion blender to make them 10 to 100 times finer.


      Microscopy from Roland of his iron-ascorbic acid refined oil: a water-in-oil emulsion in the oil layer. Looks like a universe to me!


      Let the emulsion with glycerin from last week go a full week, shaking it a few times each day. Then added distilled water to 1500 ml in the jar and shook this. It looked like this about four hours later. Would possibly do this first part of the second stage with the immersion blender next time. Anyway, this is what I had hoped for, it is all ready to come out. Decided to let this wash go for a week as well, this will clean the oil more and pre-oxygenate it further. More time, but not much effort. The more I shake it, the more quickly it separates, a good sign too. There are some other possibilities on the table for quick-drying oils that use metals besides lead, but I thought it would be interesting to try something simple first. I knew glycerin worked from using it in the last round of emulsions, and it was on the hot list of items to avoid in emulsions because they cause oxidation. The interface between the oil and water is made quite fine by the immersion blender at first, the glycerin is a surfactant that also changes the mucilage to being more granular, less cohesive, the mucilage itself functions as a surfactant over two weeks time, allowing a great deal of interaction between the oxygen-containing water, and the oil. But, the big question is, will this dry really really really fast? Probably not, I think a metal would have to be involved for that. Will it dry faster than the chlorophyll refined oil, the former champion? We'll be able to find out soon..


      Received this photo from a Living Craft reader who made a few different versions of hand-refined oil, then preheated them in various ways. Very nice to see this level of comprehension and organization. Congratulations, oh puissant painter! This set of options is going to be very fun to explore.


      Lily early in the morning in her late summer domain. It's gotten a little cooler, so now she comes in, eats, then goes out again for more. A creature who totally loves their life, may we all become so lucky. Well, it's not really luck, is it, it's more that she doesn't accept anything else.



september 6

      Very changeable weather, things have slowly begun to get cooler, nice to have no AC and open windows. Week of the full moon, a lot of intensity there, keep hoping for change I can believe in on all possible fronts. The first hard proof of the book arrived, things always look very different on the page they print than the page I print, so this made it easy to see what to do next. On the one hand, it's hugely evolved from the last edition. Gotta give it that. But, on the other hand, it was clear that 11.5 point type was just too big for what has to happen with the formatting on the size of the page. A nice size type for a novel, but I had edition 12 in 11 point type and the more I looked at it, the more it seemed like going back to it would be the solution. Just inherently more organized on the page overall. So, in a way this was easy, change the size of the text sytyle and the whole book changes. But then a lot of the other fonts have to get smaller to read right with the text being smaller, the line spacing has to be adjusted, the whole book has to be fit to the pages again, and the Table of Contents re-paginated. Anyway, have been doing that since Monday, and feel a little pushed, it takes a while for wholesale changes like this to kind of calm down, but good in general about it as a change. Had hoped to be done today, to get the next proof off tomorrow, but there's too much more to go. Just have to go slowly, make sure I see it well enough to do it right, not let myself get stampeded by wanting it to be finally finished. Enjoy the process.


      I keep wondering how the universe is going to wake everybody up. I mean, the way it works, they're all being given non-stop news full of violence and fear, and they believe it, so they reinforce its existence, creating the opportunity for more violence and fear. A simple equation. a feedback loop, it goes on and on. The universe, love incarnate, has been very patient, very gentle, with this endless self-fulfilling prophecy of doom stuff. After all, we have free will, to the extent of being free to concentrate on maintaining a dark illusion. Except, most people have no idea that our collective subconscious is the actual network. So, is that our collective responsibility, or is it okay for us to have help seeing the truth since it's become so convoluted? It's been a dark vs. light stand-off for months now. The linchpin of course is the media: they lie non-stop but most people believe them. So, if I were the universe, and I wanted things to get a move on, that's where I'd focus. What if one of those oh-so-popular hard-hitting reporters got on the air one day and said, 'Well folks, actually, my job isn't the news, it's manipulating popular opinion so you guys don't have a clue about what's really going on and continue to generate your own vibrational dungeon. The truth is, I've been lying to you every night for years now, about everything. And I'm not exactly the only one, there are dozens of us hard-hitting reporters all over the networks, well trained to keep you as much as possible in the dark.' What if that happened soon, like, this week? Say, on Wednesday? Just have this funny feeling that soon the streets will be paved with a higher frequency.


      Roland sent me lots of very interesting information this week about what is going on with plant oil chemistry. I wasn't really able to do it justice, but it seems like the ability to look into the structure of the oil more closely is generating a model of how the oxidation process works that is much more detailed. This research is mostly about how to avoid oxidation in edible oils, the reverse of what you want for painting. There are several different possible directions to pursue involving metals other than lead, and something fascinating too about oil refining using magnetism, though those iron nanoparticles look a little too expensive to be practical! There was mention of glycerin being pro-oxidant in water, and this was something I had, so I started an experiment with that, a small amount of water and glycerin emulsified into a large amount of oil. Thought this would stay emulsified, but it didn't. So, I've been shaking it a few times a day for three days now, the amount of mucilage has been relatively constant from the beginning, far more than would be removed with water only at this stage. This could go any number of directions from here, but I think I'll let it go a week before deciding. It's hard to be patient, I'd much rather see what might happen next than wait, so that's the larger lesson in this: enjoy the process.


      Made a panel test with a frame, fiddled around with the outer colour a lot, and it's texture, more to learn there but it was a fun alternative to editing.


      It occurred to me this might look good as a way to frame some of the ones on paper. Just put the painting on the panel, didn't attach it. Like this as a general idea, not sure if the space around it is large enough, but it's close.


      Made a sound like a squirrel chirping and she turned right around. Of course, it only works once. Lily and I had sort of a fleacentric week. She only had a few on her each morning, and let me comb them out, and she's been good about eating food with DT earth in it now and then. But since they only go away at the first frost, and who knows when that will be, decided to get proactive about it and put some of that anti-flea stuff at the back of her neck. This slowed things down, then seemed to stop them. Well, we'll see, fewer is at least better. Sprayed the stairwell and house a few times with a mix of eucalyptus, rosemary, and spike lavender essential oils. We'll see on that too, but so far so good. I think she's okay, her coat feels smooth, not rough, that rougher fur seems to be the first sign that something's amiss. She did throw up some grass on the porch, but it seemed clean. Last year she got worms as a result of fleas, and this was how she let me know. It became a vet incident, not critical but she doesn't exactly enjoy the process, so I'd like to head off a repeat of that if possible.

august 30

      Waxing moon, new moon early on the 2nd. An ugly hot and humid week in general, capped by the remnants of Hurricane Laura, a big system. We were lucky with this one, a very dark afternoon but not too much rain. Yes, the gutters still need to be fixed! But the plumbing did get fixed, that was a pretty nutty day, and yes, the gross black water went all over the basement when he cut into the pipe, but I got the ungodly smell mostly under control with vinegar and borax. There's more to do, a few places that are hard to get at, want to research something in the way of an enzyme cleaner for it too. But I need a break from that smell right now. Basements, yikes. Nice to be able to do dishes again, one of those things that get taken for granted. Cooled down overnight finally, 65 at 8 am this morning for the first time since the middle of June. Sunny, a light breeze, makes it easy to move on. Into September! What an amazing joyous sound that word always has! In larger terms, I keep wondering when the shift is going to hit the fan. It feels like the issue has been to make sure the cure isn't worse than the disease: the ultimate irony. Billions of humans determined to remain asleep. A Universe determined to wake them up. Who ya got?


      Mercury in Virgo, a good time for endless written details. Thought I had ordered a hard proof but they sent me a digital one, well, I was a little casual about it. Nice to see that nothing went haywire, with this much formatting a great deal could. But there's no substitute for seeing the ink on the page, that explains everything instantly. So I'm still waiting for the hard proof before doing the index, want to make sure there are no larger changes that would affect the pagination. Could the text weight still be too light? Could the line spacing still be a little much? Hopefully not, because tweaking these changes the whole book. I dreaded the index before but it's not that bad, just have to give it the time it needs to be more than a giant useless list. Went over the most complex section this week, basically the second half, zoomed it very large so it doesn't really feel like reading anymore, more like wandering around in alphabet sculpture. A great way to see little things that are easy to miss otherwise. Re-wrote a few bumpy places, at least these are very obvious now, but mostly corrected tiny formatting inconsistencies, typos that are words so spellcheck doesn't catch them, omissions, and leftovers from the sentence before it was rewritten. I always thought there would be a logical end point to this book but can now see that each time the material gets redone, it shifts into a new orbital, gets born again, and starts looking around and making new connections, asking new questions. I've often objected to the giant economy size explanation brush in recent books, this is where technical art history was helpful: a place where the details mattered! The details are so crucial, yet can bog an explanation down in branching if-then statements. Still, I get fascinated by not leaving the details behind, by figuring out a way to say it simply but completely. This version is in a place I couldn't have conceived of even a few years ago, let alone when it first came out. At the same time, I'll be so-oh glad to put this part of my brain on the backburner again. Permanently? About six more weeks, I think, until new books arrive. Well, okay, that's the best case scenario. Lots of other possible scenarios at this point, best to accept that. Might need to be flexible about this, so to speak.


      It's interesting how much more I appreciate what I've been able to do now that doing it is out of the question. Hopefully that will change later this Fall.


      Lily in her beloved front window, even better when it's open. It's flea season, for the first time I'm not in denial about this, have gotten three so far. She lets me know by scratching the area, and is a lot more patient with the comb than she used to be. They're not that easy to find, it's always a surprise when there's one on it, sort of a parental triumph. I'm live and let live in general, but not in this case. I put some diatomaceous earth in her food too, this is so she won't get worms from licking a flea egg off her. It's all better than a trip to the vet.


      My buddy!

august 23

      Slow return to summer this week, but it looks like the week to come is the last one before at least the nights get cooler again, yahoo! New moon this week on the 18th, some real oomph and tension to this one, it will be interesting to see how it plays out on the Great Stage. My crystal ball says that much more is yet to be revealed! My researches suggest the Universe knew how determined humanity would be to remain asleep, but has formulated a plan. This plan contains a surprise. Okay, a big surprise. And it needs to stay that way. Sometimes there is a story that everyone thinks is over, when that story -- that truly incredible and inspiring story -- has only been waiting patiently for the right time to begin. Very mundanely, I've been fighting a clogged kitchen sink for about a week, finally took it apart last Monday to be able to put a snake in it, but that didn't get very far, so had to push the landlord button and he pushed the plumber button. The system begins with the first plumber who is semi-retired, but he quickly called in the second plumber, who spent about an hour and a half later in the day trying to get it clear with first a small motorized snake, then a pretty large one that made the whole house shake. Nothing. But at that point he knew through the mysteries of the plumber's art that it was clogged in the basement. So the landlord came over and we looked at that situation, all of us politely ignoring the water damage from the gutter situation. This is one of those houses that was converted to three apartments about a century ago from a single family dwelling, so there's just one main drainline, which is galvanized, explaining all the rust in the water I'd been plunging out of the drain. The plumber said that the clog is often a rustball in one of the 90 degree turns in the line. But because of where the pipes are, and where the clog is, he has to cut into the wall of the first floor apartment to get at the clog. At that point the clog doesn't matter, because the iron pipe will get replaced with PVC. But, it's going to be kind of messy in the basement with all that gross black water, have to see what I can do to make that situation easier with tubs and sacrificial rags. But if there's a lot of water still above where he cuts, look out! Though, I'm sure he's thought of that. So, that's slated to happen next week. One kind of long and wacky day, but not that much chaos all things considered, just let it happen. I don't love it when I can't fix something myself, but was relieved that it was something even a professional couldn't solve easily. It was interesting to think about how the pipe situation was the collective result of all the people who've lived here, combined with the pipe itself becoming more vulnerable over time. This felt like the lesson: that I wasn't wholly responsible for the problem, and that it was fine to ask for help in fixing it. Only eight more days to go, I just might make it through yet another August!


      It's strange how you become attached to these little aesthetic things. Almost sent the first proof in this week, it's just to see how it prints after all, but held back. And then, right on schedule, a lot of new things happened. A fascinating part of the recent process, I just show up and manage all the changes that come in out of the blue. I'd been really happy with using Lithos for the headings in the book, it was designed by a woman and has a really nice blend of something Greek and something feminine, felt like Athena would approve. But, after looking at the PDFs for a while, had to admit that it wasn't strong enough. A perennial issue for me, too much unity, not enough accentuation. So, reluctantly gave up on straight Lithos and went to using it bold. This of course, was instantly way too loud, and way too male, like some talk radio guy shouting on the page. Great. But I toned it down by reducing the font weight, stretched it out, and finally dropped the size of the larger headings half a point. I'm still sort of mourning the elegance of the normal font, what I was used to, but it just didn't provide enough navigational aid, the basic point. Tried looking for an alternative font, the typographical equivalent of total desperation, but ran into exactly what what I did the last time I did this: everything else is too angular or too goofy compared to Lithos. So, this made where things ended up seem good again. PDF production is now at the stage where odd little glitches are beginning to happen. They are a familiar feature of this process but were a little delayed this time. So, that's good, always due to some little inconsistency in formatting, though there aren't many of these left now. Word also made some nutty decisions for me, again familiar. When I made the headings bold, it assumed I wanted all the smaller fonts bold, so this created some chaos for a while. Of course, the guys responsible for this program are going to be publishing The Daily Inferno with it for untold millennia to come, but it gets to the point where even a vision this satisfying is small consolation. So, time for a deep breath or two here, because I'm actually not anywhere near done. But there were so many changes to the formatting from the last edition it seemed like a good idea to get a proof made without the index first. This creates the possibility of substantive changes to the formatting, therefore the pagination, without having to do the index over. And nobody wants to do the index over. Nobody, truth be told, wants to do the index at all. So, it will be interesting to see how this process plays out, have tried to build more options in up front in order to have a simpler and speedier conclusion.


      The weekly oil report. Number one is a chlorophyllin refined oil from last year, have had these oils lose all their colour, but this one's still green. Number two is the recent natural chlorophyll oil, darker for now. Number three is the commercially refined oil from 2013 that I rewashed, am letting this one clear naturally in the light, can't stand the idea of heating anything right now. Number 4 is the Ottosson Swedish linseed oil from last summer, not as readily available here as the Allback oil, but the nicest commercial brown seed oil I've refined and relatively non-yellowing already.


      Tried out some tests of using oil as a temporary final coating earlier this year. Had done this before, but wanted to get further into it. Was interested to see how it would saturate this one, which was made with a leaner medium and had dried matte. It didn't sit on top of the paint, but became one with the paint, which is what I had thought would happen, and was good. This one had a pretty active surface, so I tried a somewhat thicker oil rubbed out finely. It worked, but, because it was hemp oil, remained a little soft. Not tacky exactly, but not really hard enough for a final coating. So, never say die, deglossed the surface with alcohol on a rag, then put on a coat of Regalrez with a little beeswax in it. This went on well, and dried hard, but did leave a little striation pattern because the wax interferes with the resin's ability to level. Not an issue with this relatively active surface, but something to be aware of moving forward: make the varnish a little thinner. The larger point of using oil as a final coating is that the painting can be made on the lean side, meaning the colour will remain brighter over time. The idea for this comes from something Rubens told DeMayerne, so it's not exactly new. But you do need to be pretty sure about the oil.


      One of the interesting possibilities of the harder Punic type of beeswax is as a a final wax coating on a panel. So, made a paste out of some of the wax with odorless mineral spirits. would recommend something like Shellsol T for this, which is pure, rather than something from the hardware store, which can have all kinds of other junk in it, including water of all things. Anyway, used this on this small study, rubbed it on, let it set over night, then buffed it to a soft shine, as they say. Simple to make, definitely harder than beeswax.


      Lily has been on kind of an outside tear lately, it's still Leo season, and not quite as hot. She just comes in to eat, maybe sleep on her beloved windowsill here, then goes out again for more. Usually she spends time with me going up the stairs, we go up just a few steps at a time, then stop and fraternize, it's absolutely goofy, one of her innovations. But this morning she wanted to go out the same way, which is rare. She almost got into my lap as I sat at the top of the stairs, put a paw up a couple times. I told her it was okay but could tell she didn't like it that I was wearing shorts. I try to give her a break from taking pictures because I know she doesn't like that either. I explained to her this week that people get to see her pictures, and she gets to help them too that way, but I'm not sure she believed me. She's the center of the universe in some ways, but very humble in others.


      Hey, you said just one!

august 16

      Some days of truly ugly humidity this week, then a few days that were rainy and mercifully cooler. Amazing what this does for my outlook. Very nice to turn the AC off for the first time since late June. Waning moon, new moon on the 18th, this should be interesting since it's the end of the sun in the 12th house for me, always a somewhat constricting time, sometimes like being imprisoned outright. The new moon chart has several strongly positive aspects with my birthchart, and September is definitely the start of lots of activity in the solar return chart for 2020. This is logical since the book is now in a pretty good place, and, with luck, a lot could happen in the next four weeks in terms of the next edition. So, a little glimmer of hope there. It's okay to soldier on endlessly if you like what you're doing, but it's also nice to see some tangible progress after a long haul like this. In larger terms, the process of learning to meditate on a battlefield continues. Disengaging from fighting for the right, or the light, has been really slow for me, but I'm getting there. What I've realized, at various levels throughout life, is that fighting itself is inherently negative, because, win or lose in the short run, the conflict is only perpetuated in the long run. Another way of saying this is that there's enough space for everyone, and for everyone's opinions, no matter how much I may disagree with them. This also means that it is not my responsibility to help or enlighten anyone unless they specifically ask. Which is a great relief at this point! The cultural movie is about duality, and in the movie there are only two choices, light or dark. But, reality exists beyond the movie, and in reality there are many more choices. So, it's interesting to step back, and watch the battle unfold as the movie it is. This movie has gone on for 26,000 years, the length of the Hindu Yuga, so it seems like this is just how human life is, but it's now ending. Not this month, and not this year, but within the next decade. There is only one outcome: the elimination of negativity, and the establishment of a non-denominational global sacred context for humanity in which everyone is equal, and everyone works together for the common good. Before this can happen, the massive lies that have been told over the last few decades, and especially in the last few years, have to come to the surface. The media is still working overtime to both keep those lies from becoming more widely known, and to manufacture other ones that cause multiple levels of panic, guilt, fear, and distraction. To keep duality alive as long as possible. On the one hand, I hope people wake up to this situation sooner rather than later, but on the other hand, very few people have any idea about the extent to which they've been hypnotized and lied to. And, most ironically of all, it's because these people see themselves as so well-educated and so well-informed by, wait for it, Tell-Lie-Vision. The great awakening is also going to be the rude awakening. But everything negative that has tried to happen in the last few years has been met with something more positive, and this will continue ramping up until all the negativity is finally exposed. All of it. We have to know it. This is the only way to own it, forgive it, and honour it as the unprecedented teaching tool it has been.


      Sold the last book from the current edition this week. The next text itself is pretty much done, am just tweaking the PDF for details. Lots of these, have to go slow. Last time I did the index, then had the first proof made, but because the formatting has changed a lot, I think I'll get a proof before making the index this time. Because once the index is made, any changes have to be within the same page. Which gets tricky in a hurry, you can have changes occur for the next six pages just by inserting a few words. The proof comes with a cover, and started to make those this week. Know I want something strong and simple, more oriented towards the feeling of the book than the technical or older painting aspects, but beyond that it can change and change. The nice thing about strong and simple is, either it works of it doesn't, if it doesn't I just do another one. So it generates a lot of ideas, and growth of the ideas by cross-fertilization, which is really fun. Except, this process is endless, and because there's a deadline, it has to be declared done at some point. So, photo here of some cover sketches, this was green week, safe and unsafe, it seems best to make a lot of these before honing in and doing the necessary tweaking. The top left one is based on the current cover, and is conceptually the most complete, but of course I like elements of the other ones as well. The bottom right one was really fun, but the flower somehow became a bug. This also feels sort of Japanese, which I like graphically, but which has nothing to do with the book. The bottom two also get into what I call colour weirdness, but this can easily be tweaked out. A little colour weirdness is okay, but too much gets into lots of proofs to get it to read right. So, in a way some of this stuff just has to come out, whether or not it's relevant, it's part of the process. Overall, it's interesting to work with the message of an image that is very simple, and a lot more quantized, than a painting. I miss painting, but it's been removed for a reason, have to complete this first.


      Photo of the chlorophyll refined oil from this week. This is after a salt and sand wash. The mucilage is hardened by the vinegar, and made light green by the chlorophyll. The specific gravities are such that, when you pour plain water gently into the oil, it falls to the salt water but not further, taking the hardened mucilage with it. The jar can then be frozen, with the lid loosened so it doesn't crack, and the oil poured off the top. There have been some issues with versions of this technique using organic chlorophyll, both chlorella and spirulina produced emulsions that would not break. I thought maybe this version would be simpler because there wasn't much vegetable matter involved, the chlorophyll was extracted with alcohol, but the third rinse still emulsified and looked like it was going to stay that way indefinitely. So that's now in the freezer, hopefully that will break it when it thaws. This type of oil dries very quickly, and has very little tendency to yellow, so it would be nice to get a simple method of making it to work.


      Okay, this is an example of how a door remains invisible until you ask the right question, then the door appears and you walk through into another world. A small example, not a gigantic cosmic revelation, but the process is such that it's still interesting. Can't even remember now what started this. Anyway, years ago I got some organic cold-pressed refined linseed oil from Jedwards. It was okay, not great, used it for classes, sometimes preheated it and made paint with it, it kept longer in the tube than paint made with oil I refined. But I liked the behavior of the paint made with hand-refined oil better, it dried faster and had much more personality. So there's been some refined cold-pressed organic linseed oil from Jedwards aging in the light for the last seven years, and I started wondering what would happen if I washed it. Oh, now I remember, last year I washed some of the very nice Italian walnut oil from Jedwards for a week to see if this would improve it, and it did. So the idea here was along the same lines, because this oil was okay, not great, has always had a tendency to yellow more than I thought it should. The interesting thing was that as soon as I shook the oil with the distilled water, the water turned white. Now, with a new oil, washing with water only, it only does that in week three. So there was definitely some stuff in this oil, very fine, almost granular stuff, that was very ready to come out. I've done a shaking cycle with it a few times, it always emulsifies, then slowly returns to the way it looks here, with a thin line of yellow powder sitting on the water. If I spin the jar, the powder detaches somewhat into the water. So, is this oil going to be improved by this process? Yes, I think so. Not sure how much, since it was refined commercially to begin with, but we'll see. The next logical thing was to ask what would happen if I washed an older oil that I had refined. So I took a jar of oil from the first large batch I did with an electric drill and a five gallon bucket in 2011. It always felt to me somehow that this oil could have been cleaner, mostly because I wasn't that sure of the process. When I started to wash it, something similar happened, instant white water, and a long slow clearing from being totally cloudy. The picture is a little deceiving, it looks like more has come out, but that line compressed over time until it looks like the smaller jar. Will let this process go a week, then dry these and do a test with the washed and unwashed versions of both, see which one dries faster, and which one yellows less over time. The larger question of course, is, could these oils have been cleaner to begin with, or is the extra stuff to remove a byproduct of aging in the light?



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.






      '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.'

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