From the book Dawn of the Awakened Mind
John S. King, M.D.
Founder and President of the Canadian Society of Psychical Research

THE PROCESS OF SPIRIT PAINTING

WILLIAM T. STEAD
Painting by Spirit Artists through the Bangs sisters for the Author

The day was fine and beautiful, that is the sun shone bright, the time between one and two pm., the 27th April, 1912. The twin houses of the Bangs sisters had undergone artistic renovation; and paper, paint and varnish of human selection, had been employed by skilled renovators and decorators. The room, a southern one, had but a single window, but it was bare of blinds and curtains, no pictures on the wall, no bric-a-brac about, no chair or seat or furniture at all; the room contained but odor, light and air, as we entered in; and as the sisters worked at replenishing, I watched, to learn just what was necessary, before vie settled down. A light and empty table was first brought in, and placed near the only window, at the southern side of the room; and next were placed three common chairs, on three sides of the table, the east and west for them and the northern one for me. The pastelles, cards, or canvasses, or whatsoe'er their name, which were prepared, or stretched or mounted on wooden frame or rack, were next brought in, some six or eight; and placed at western side, and northern end of room. There were no spirits in sight, nor smiling angel forms, and no other articles in view, save a dark colored curtain, and its purpose will be made known soon. So the work of preparation was now nearly through; and as there was no darkness, and therefore vision clear, I was permitted to make my own selection of the necessary two canvasses, out of the group before alluded to; and such I brought as I selected them; and the bright light of day was shining in on them, and also through them, for they were not opaque. The position in which they were placed may be thus specialized.

The two blank canvasses, clean and pure white, which I had selected from all that were in the group before alluded to, were next placed on the table, back to back, the two frames together meeting in their whole circumference; thus with the canvasses completing the walls of a cavity, like with the two slates for spirit writing is produced a cabinet of small degree, on the same principle as is the larger cabinet at Jonson's, in which the spirit forces act; and so by aid of this unique cabinet, Hermes is able, as ruler of the power of levitation, to utilize the elements, which may be rightly called the pigments, or coloring of clay, in accord with the design of the spirit-picture artist, architect or designer Rembrandt.

The canvasses, as I have described them above, were placed between the window, and myself, about the center of the little table. The upper corners East and West were held in close apposition, after the bottom margins had been so placed by the sisters. The upper corner of the canvasses on my right, at the Western end, first placed in close juxtaposition, was so held by the thumb and finger of the one sister's dexter hand; while the other used her left, and did the same at corner nearest her, while she sat at the eastern end; so that each of them had one hand free, but in my sight were both of them quite constantly.

The question arises in the mind, as to why this is done. I may answer briefly there are but three reasons which occurred to me, the one as I have explained was to keep the two frames in apposition, thus to create a cavity or cabinet; another to keep them both erect, for it was evident they would not stand alone; and as to the second hand of each, it was constantly within the angle of my vision. By some it is asserted, that there is a reason third, which is claimed to be important, and is said to be no less than a psychic current force, running from the living mediums to the inorganic base, on which appears the picture. As to the curtain I referred to, I have this to say, the window did need it not, and with it was made a border at the top and sides, to help to concentrate the light and power upon the base, which was fitted to the frames; so that the various colors of the pigments, as they came in waves from the bottom towards the top, were made by contrast so much more clear or visible. I hope the reader will comprehend the true situation of the sitting psychics to the small improvised cabinet; and I wish such to be assured, that my description is a truthful delineation so far as I am concerned.

I learned from one of the sisters, that the spirit artist was alleged to be no less an one than the famous Rembrandt, at least most generally; though at rare intervals, some special pictures were said to be the work of Raphael.

I was and am satisfied, that 'twere quite impossible for skilful conjuror, or artist in legerdemain, to work a chance to deceive my experienced eye on this occasion, for I may enlighten readers by telling them, that I have been a confidential guest, right on the stage with the best of them, to witness the wizard acts devised by them and am not therefore a gullible. But to resume as there appeared to be no more to do, we took our seats in the positions I have specified. The room was light, as I have said, and my sight was clear, and believe me true, that I always was a critic most skeptical, and never credulous, and harbored doubt, until I could no longer entertain it, for I had a mind my own, and quality of great activity; and now was my supreme opportunity to detect a fraud, if such existed.

I have in mind the one I want, I said, for such can read my thoughts; and if the work be done by spirit true, 'twill come just as I now desire; and so I looked upon these two sisters, and quiet sat, with watch in hand to note the time, which was halfway 'tween one and two; and gave my strict attention alternately to hands and arms of sisters both, and canvas before my face; and all within the area of the angle of my central fixed vision; while I felt a glow of subconscious knowledge elevating, which seemed to indicate, as if by intuition, that he, my friend Stead, was now coming; and I gazed most critically upon the pure white canvas, with full light of day on front and back of it, and watching from my favored position each change, however slight, in motion or position of the psychic sisters; and I was as well extremely quiet, and motionless and listening, and could have almost heard the flappings of the wings of a butterfly in air, or the breathing of a humming bird, as I was constantly on the qui-vive of great expectancy; and so anxiously watched for the slightest indication of the work of spirit artist, no matter what moment, nor in what position it might appear.

Very presently just two feet in front of me, I noticed beginning change, from clear white light on surface of the canvas, to that less clear, and on from that to faint shadow, slight evidence of waves of color, mixing with the shadow, and all in motion, like small wavelets, or ripples on an almost placid lake; and creeping, or rather rolling upwards, one after another, in orderly succession, as if striving slowly to attain the top; and then a portion in one place would deepen in shade, making form; and this with other delineations came into view, and slowly filling in with light, or darkness here or there, and colors more and more in evidence, along with apparent movement, and eyes forming, as if closed in sleep; and as the picture finished, the eyes were widely open, as in wake from sleep, or to emphasize Dawn of (his) Awakened Mind, and before me, as natural as he could be, I saw and recognized the face of William T. Stead, who wrote through the Human-Psychic-Telephone, near Buffalo, at 4.30 pm., 18th April, that he would try and show himself to me; and who that same night at 10 pm. came from the cabinet at Jonson's in Toledo, western side of Ohio State; in transient body, clothed as he is in this spirit picture of him, and crossed the room to me, to prove as he has once more done, that he, my friend and co-worker, in human life, still lives and returns, and thus proves continuity. He surely fulfilled his promise to meet me in Chicago.

On the following day another message came from the same source, hundreds of miles distant, and from it I also quote.

Well brother King be sure I'll bring you every proof I can (prediction). I am glad the artist of Bangs sisters pictured me (prediction fulfilled) . . . . and the whole of us together decided that my picture would be of use to your book, as it would go to show that it is true that I, a discarnate spirit, known through press to many men, may so come back in touch with life, and show my face to them. More dreadful than the wave that struck my life from me with final blow, is that great hatred of this truth, that we dear brother King are trying hard to make the living see . . . . but smiles of God's approving son will be with us who suffer most; and we are both of us upheld as by an angel host; and naught can conquer us who are upheld by truth's great majesty. In all thy work, I am with thee.

Hypatia, whose form, voice, and personality have been observed by many hundreds of people in America, as well as by a well-known author in England, gave me her views regarding the spirit picture of Mr. Stead, by utilizing the Human-Psychic-Telephone, and those views are recorded here.

Beloved one, I'll try to tell how it was done. Rembrandt in spirit paints the picture here, and it is held aloft in psychic ray, and on the canvas is repeated, so the colors come to stay. Hermes the levitation ruler, of the earthly powers to do, repeats exactly on the canvas, what Rembrandt tells him to. It is done by a repeating from light to heavy tone. The short waves become long waves Hermes like a town clock, keeps time exact in key with Rembrandt like a Swiss watch held, so it shows to him. Hermes like a set picture of fireworks, does so attune himself, that he can be repeater of the thing that he in Rembrandt's picture sees. It is like clay-moulder, copying a picture shown to him. Rembrandt the composer, and levitation key ruled by this being Hermes, at once responds to him. 'Tis process very beautiful, and much admired by me, and I encourage you to say 'twas free from fraud in every way. Let critics talk, I look on with pride, and aid you through to prove to men that it was true.

From Hermes (a levitation spirit).

Hermes I am, the Bangs sisters did not do it. The artist could not do it, though wise he be. I Hermes help the labor, I do it with a tone of heavier octave than is now Rembrandt's own. Light is a wave of substance, and I from nature's own great kingdom of the clay kinds, make pigments of my own. I do it, as Marconi tower I make myself to be, and what Rembrandt suggests as best, I answer real to him, or in the tone of painting that is preserved by thee.

At 2:15 pm., 10th June, 1912, a spirit intelligence who signed his name as Rev. Theodore Parker wrote : I wish to give this word to you that I believe that it is true all you have said; and if I can, I'll aid to so enlighten man, that men abroad in every land shall look at it, and understand what had been as mist before, will come out clear and plain; and you will be successful in trying to explain. Bangs sisters are not fraudulent, I stood where I could see, and I approve of what you've done in every degree. For all eternity the men of enlightened thought will proudly speak of thee; and as I feel great love for you, receive this word from me.

A CRITICISM OF WILLIAM T. STEAD'S SPIRIT PICTURE BY E. J. B. DUNCAN, A RELATIVE OF HIM.

Toronto, 23rd February, 1913
To John S. King, M.D.
Elliott House, Toronto.

DEAR SIR: You are authorized to use my letter of 18th December, 1912, to you, in your coming book, in connection with the picture of William T. Stead, giving it, or rather a truthful copy of it, and without making any change in its wording.

Yours very sincerely,
E. J. B. DUNCAN.

Toronto, 18th December, 1912
Dr. John S. King,
Toronto

MY DEAR SIR :  I have now before me a large picture, purporting to be one of my cousin, the late W. T. Stead; and a photograph, said to be taken from same. I do not consider either the picture or photograph to be a faithful likeness of my late cousin, although there is a very strong suggestion of his face, in both of them, particularly in the expression about the eyes, and in the firm set of the mouth. I may further say that the moment I saw the large picture, I knew at once it was, or at least was intended to be, one of my late cousin. It is five years since I last saw him; and I further understand, the picture referred to is alleged to be a spirit picture, and not one of a living human.

Yours very sincerely,
E. J. B. DUNCAN

[NOTE: On the occasion of Mr. Duncan's view of the spirit painting of Stead, he exhibited a photograph of Stead procured some five years previously which served him in his critique. When Stead came to me accompanied by Julia Ames, his guide, in the séance held by Mrs. Wells, he appeared with features more nearly resembling the photograph than the spirit painting; while elsewhere in the book he (Stead) especially calls my attention to the fact that he so appeared to illustrate that his features at that time were correct on the photograph, just as at the present time his features are equally true to the complete spirit painting. JSK]

JULIA AMES, STEAD'S ALLEGED GUIDE

It was not long after the foregoing letter, and our conversation, that Stead's alleged guide, Julia Ames, was heard from as follows 2 pm. 21st Feby. 1913. From Julia Ames. I am Julia Ames.

I write today to Dr. King. It is not a very desirable work to be an author. It is like a soldier baring his breast to his enemy's lance. He must do his best, and wait for the smile or frown of a fickle public. I approve of the remarks you have made regarding the spirit picture of Mr. Stead. It is true to his appearance, as he is. I was there when it was painted. There are many living mortals with psychic gifts, so it is foolish for any sensitive to say I am the only one through whom this individual communicates. It would be like a pen saying I am the only instrument so used. Psychics are to us instruments, and we use them according to their capacity to serve us, be they black or white, be they ignorant or wise. Wisdom in a psychic, especially a conscious one, is often a disadvantage, because their wishes interfere with what the spirits may desire to do. I'd not use a psychic at all if I had my choice. I would instead communicate directly to the individual addressed by me; but we are limited in our capacity, and all we do, is aided or withheld by acts of men, when we make instruments of them. You will do much to aid humanity to grasp, and understand this truth, that we the souls departed come again to be, by aid of sensitives in touch with thee.

Health and good mental power is to be granted to you, and angels near will guide you through to what you really wish to do. Displeasure may be aroused in small degree, but most of it will come from jealousy. I'd have written when Mr. Stead did, but the medium was too ill and tired to write more that day.

May peace and joy attend thee, all the way, is wish of me, guide of thy friend, stranger to thee.

[A few selections from messages, from over seventy received from Stead, will be found in Chapter XXXI; while some direct communicating will be found recorded in Chapter XXXIV.]

Regarding Mr. Stead's picture, each reader will form his or her own opinion, and will be entitled to know mine. Had he in mortal life selected the best two artists in Europe or America to paint his portrait and bust, I think it will be conceded that, even with the same pose for each of them, and working from the same point of view, they would neither of them be an exact duplicate of the man, nor yet a perfect duplicate the one of the other.

I think it will likewise be granted, that no artist whosoever could produce his second picture of either the mortal subject, or the original painting of him, doing it entirely from memory. So too it will be readily conceded that no two photographers can produce under similar circumstances, a picture which will duplicate the other photograph in every detail. But the similarity of picture, and its original, constantly undergoes change, so that if we were, a year or two later, to make the comparison, this difference would be more apparent, even strikingly so with the constantly changing original, as the years pass away; so that it is in ordinary experience, often changed to so marked a degree, as to cause doubt to arise in the observer's mind as to whether two pictures represent the same original.

In the absence of two such pictures of the late Mr. Stead, while a mortal, I have illustrated this assertion by giving a photograph picture of myself at the age of 65 years, which will be found at the end of this chapter; and another one at the age of 70 years, at the beginning of the book. But supposing the spirit picture in all its natural coloring—from which this half-tone photo-engraving is made—to be a copy of another painting, or an original, then challenge its production, and prove my statements wrong. Until that is done, I rely on Stead's statement that no such picture is in existence. The pictures everywhere recognized as Stead's, were pictures of him in mortal life, at different times. Nor am I aware that spirit artists ever make pictures of men in earth life; or if so I have not knowledge of it as a fact. Stead's picture had not prior existence; but it was produced in conformity with a promise made to me by himself as a spirit, and its production was complete in my presence a fortnight after he passed to spirit life, in a manner already described by me. He has confirmed this as fact through the trumpet and in the hearing of others.

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