You can’t make this stuff up! Artists who created paintings from the spirit world!
It was called the “Second Great Awakening “. The American Spiritualism Movement originated in Lily Dale and Rochester New York in the early 19th century teaching communion with the dead. Reflecting on “Romanticism ” it was based on enthusiasm, emotion and an appeal to the “Supernatural “. The clergy were mediums – lay folk who believed they had the ability to speak for loved ones who had passed.
I have known about seances, table-rapping, ghost photos,etc. However, I just learned there were mediums capable of creating paintings through the spirits of the dead. This group of artists deserve to have their stories told. I will be posting a series on these artists. Today the Campbell brothers.
CAMPBELL BROTHERS – 1898 – 1926
In the spiritualist community of Lily Dale, New York the Campbell brothers Allan and Charles found their calling as mediums. Not truly brothers, Charles was born Charles Shourds, it was believed by many they were a gay couple. But the Spiritualist Movement of Enlightenment accepted all especially the psychically gifted.
The brothers talents included spirit portraits created in pastel or oils. Allan acquired a spiritual guide called Azur. In 1898 during a session Allan channeled Azur’s spirit on a 40″ x 60″ oil painting. He never touched the canvas. The room was dark with a minimum light enough for those present to witness the portrait emerging. To ensure there was no fraud each guest was encouraged to place personal marks on the back of the canvas. Allan, in a trance, commanded Azur’s portrait and during this time it gradually developed as the guests watched in awe. I have to say Allan/Azur were fast. The portrait appeared in great detail in 90 minutes! I thought I was fast working in 2 hours. Here is the portrait.
The Campbells were never arrested for fraud as some other mediums were. The paintings are in the Lily Dale museum. Was it a hoax??? I kind of like believing it is not. Oh well.
Can I conjure up a spirit painting???
The book “Precipitated Spirit Paintings ” by Ron Nagy goes in depth on spiritual painters. Check it out on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Precipitated-Spirit-Paintings-Ron-Nagy/dp/1931942277/ref=pd_sim_14_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=417YDJAY66BXTZ5M9V6K
When I started to answer calls for artists I was given an opportunity to have a solo show on the Lower East hip lounge the Sapphire Lounge. You know when you are new to all this you jump at anything. My first solo show!!!
Challenge #1 – transporting a lot of paintings from Queens to NYC. Trying to save money I ended up with a small van and a very interesting driver who was able to fit all the paintings in the van. Challenge #1 no problem.
Challenge #2 – unloading paintings as the rain started to come down. Oh no the manager is not in the lounge now…got to wait. After a half hour the manager’s assistant showed and helped unload. Challenge #2 no problem.
Challenge #3 – Hang paintings. PROBLEM! Okay the manager’s assistant was not really willing to help me. I was alone and frustrated and always relied on my son. Now the assistant is an old man from another country that I don’t remember. He comes look at my work. He stares quietly. Then says “I have to get my tools to help you”. Turns out he is a traditional painter. He told me he liked my work and my clouds were beautiful. I guess he was happy to see art that he could understand. Challenge #3 revised to no problem.
So we hung it all and I stood back to admire the walls. The manager walks in and says great. This is my opening night of my first solo show. Things are good. Then the manager tells me that tonight is a special night at the lounge:
IT’S GOING TO BE A RAPPER CONTEST!
My heart sunk as I thought this is really going clash with my landscapes and rap music. I learned the lesson of match your venue to your art. But a miracle happened.
I saw the back of a very large man and he was looking at my paintings in silence. I went up to him. He was a rapper and he was the organizer of the contest. We looked at each other and he smiled and said “did you do these paintings”. I timidly said “yes”. His smile got larger as he pointed to the big cloud. “These are beautiful!” I could not believe my ears. He was emotional looking at my work.
I left the lounge that night with the rappers thanking me for the beautiful art for their show. MY WORK TRANSCENDED CULTURES! WOW!
today I was journaling about the brick wall I hit when I tell a person that they don’t have to be good to do art. People think art is not important. People think art is meaningless to them. People rather rack up credit card debt shopping for things that end up in their closets.
I believe coloring books should be banned!! Kids who struggle coloring in the lines think they are failures in art. The fact is true art is done outside the lines. That is true creativity.
My mission is to get people to see that creativity needs to be part of their lives. It is not just for the talented. Art is necessary for the brain. Creativity works the brain by stimulating ideas. Ideas keep the brain youthful.
America wake up! Art and culture are what makes us civilized. Kids in rural America turn to destructive forms of behavior because they have no opportunity to be creative or look at beautiful art. They end up on the internet or shooting up schools. Art can help people with mental illness.
We need to stop treating art as a subject that has no importance to our lives. Creativity needs to be seen as a valuable part of everyone’s life. It has to be seen as vital to the human experience. It is not a frivolous activity to be ignored.
And please don’t tell me you can’t draw a straight line. Creativity is not about straight lines.
ART IS IMPORTANT FOR EVERYONE!!!
The picture below is my first show at the Art Students League. My son was proud of his mother.
While working as a legal secretary I made sure I got to the Art Students League after work. I was still new at portrait painting. The 3 paintings here were sold to people at my office! I never promoted them or said they were for sale. These were just beginner paintings I thought. But it was a great sign that they spoke to those people.
Don’t paint to sell. Don’t paint to be famous. Don’t try to paint to fit into the art world. Don’t do art that says look at me. Be humble and do what you want to do.
The block is about being dishonest and not speaking your truth. No one liked my work at the League because they were not skilled realist works. WHO CARED WHETHER THEY LIKED THEM. COMPARE AND DISPARE. When the artist block broke I stopped caring what people thought.
Someone will love your work.
After 30 years of art deprivation I needed to work on changing my mind and how I viewed doing art. I realized it was about a selfish need to be the best. I was operating on a self seeking ideal of I am so special. But I’m not or never will be special. I was in a sick competition with myself. I would not do anything that did not come out perfect. So I did nothing.
When I was a child I never judged myself. I loved doing it. I was in my happy world of creating. I needed to get back there now.
I was scared to go back to the Art Students League after so many years. I took the easiest beginners drawing class on Sunday morning when it was not crowded. I wanted to learn and I got rid of the my arrogance. The instructor was a very old woman who had a great career as an artist. I focused on every drawing and just let myself go.
The result is the marker drawing of Evita the League’s infamous model. I captured her big personality in a few strokes of ink.
Come back to art as a beginner and learn not to be special.