People living in the afterlife are able to create portraits of themselves as they are now in the presence of a medium with the ability to facilitate the artwork. When the portrait appears by itself, with no assistance from the medium, it is called “precipitated art.” Precipitated art is a work of art, usually a portrait, that appears on canvas without the use of human hands or brushes. When the painting is examined, there are no brushstrokes, only a fine, powerdery substance described as being like the coating on a butterfly’s wings. Two examples are in the left column.
Other spirit portrait artists are able to produce drawings of people in spirit that match photographs of the people exactly.
The following video explains the procedures by which the portraits are produced and includes a number of examples.
A transcript of the video follows the video controls below.
Portrait Artists in Spirit Precipitate Portraits on Canvas
For most spirit paintings, a new, clean canvas or paper is stretched over a 24-inch by 36-inch or a 24-inch by 30-inch wood frame. “Pots” of paint with all the colors of the spectrum are placed nearby. No brushes are used or are in the room or area where the seance is taking place. Often, the person coming to receive a portrait of their loved bring brings their own canvas. The mediums may hold the canvas on either side of it, but have no control over what happens. The images of the person in spirit appear on the canvas over a period of 15 or 20 minutes.
In most instances no similar photo likeness was ever taken of the person in spirit, precluding the possibility of pre-painting and switching the canvas. Also, color photography had not then been invented in the examples I will show, but the eye and hair colors were accurate.
Art experts have examined the portraits and cannot explain the medium used. It is not paint, ink, pastel, or any known substance. It looks as though it has been applied with a modern airbrush and has the consistency of the powder on a butterfly’s wings.
Following is an example of Lizzie Bangs’ precipitated art. In August 1911, a large audience filled to capacity the auditorium at Chesterfield Spiritualist Camp in Indiana. A large plain canvas was placed on an easel in the center of the stage. A committee set up to oversee the event examined the canvas to be sure there were no markings, paint, or chemical treatments. The Bangs sisters sat on either side of the easel, four to five feet from it. They never touched the canvas throughout the entire demonstration.
Tickets had been given out to the audience before the event started to select an audience member at random to have a precipitated portrait of a loved one in spirit and a ticket was drawn for an Alice Alford. Mrs. Alford and her husband took seats on the stage. The Bangs sisters slowly bowed their heads and closed their eyes as if in prayer and deep concentration for five minutes. Then a thin, vapor-like cloud or shadow swept across the canvas, pulsating and then flickering out. After a few more moments, shades of color began to appear in successive layers of fine dust to form a cloudy background that seemed to pulsate and flicker and then quickly disappear. The background slowly and steadily precipitated into view. Three pairs of eyes appeared on different parts of the canvas, two of which were open and one pair in the center of the canvas was closed.
The two open pairs disappeared and the closed eyes remained, then disappeared. With each successive phase of the unfolding phenomena, the background became clearer and clearer. Then a faint outline of a face and bust slowly precipitated into view, disappearing and reappearing several times before remaining in focus on the canvas. It was the likeness of a girl 14 to 15 years old. Her eyes were closed.
When the portrait was completely precipitated onto the canvas, the eyes suddenly opened, and the audience applauded. The actual precipitated portrait is to the left.
Mr. Alford said the portrait was an exact likeness of their deceased daughter, Audrey. Mrs. Alford wore around her neck, hidden from sight, a locket containing a photograph of her daughter. The portrait was a duplicate in likeness of their daughter, but different in poise and position. The mediums had not seen the locket picture or any photo of the child, and had never met the Alfords before the session.
The finished Spirit portrait was precipitated onto the canvas in twenty-two minutes.
In another example, Dr. Daughtery, a physician in Richmond, Indiana, in the early 1920s, sat with Lizzie Bangs for a portrait of his deceased wife. His wife precipitated onto the canvas. He then asked the spirit operators why his twin children, Mary and Christina, who were also deceased were not in the picture. The twins appeared on the canvas in front of their mother. Dr. Daughtery himself then appeared on the canvas standing behind them all, making a family portrait.
There are now 22 such portraits at the Chesterfield camp and a great number are still in the hands of the families who received them.
There are also many precipitated paintings from the Campbell brothers’ medium activity, such as these of Napoleon Boneparte and Abraham Lincoln.