What is Spirit Art? Portraits of loved one from beyond the grave

What is Spirit Art? Portraits of loved one from beyond the grave
19th June 2024 Richard Stuttle

What is Spirit Art? Portraits of loved one from beyond the grave

The modern-day term ‘Spirit Art’ has meaning within the religion of Spiritualism, it is linked with Mediumship. A medium is someone who through the unseen senses (Clair-senses) is able to communicate with energies/worlds around the physical realm including the spirit world (the afterlife according to Spiritualism). Mediumship is usually delivered in either a public setting (Divine Service or Spiritual Service) or within a private setting (Private Sitting or Private Reading). Spirit Art is delivered by a medium and artist (Spirit Artist) who has developed the ability to drawing portraits and bring forward verbal evidence from the spirit world of people who have passed over from this life.

We can understand this more deeply by looking at different ways artists and creative people work with inspiration and energy.

Inspired Art

Many artists work with inspiration, moving their conscious mind aside to allow energy and thoughts that aren’t their own to come into their awareness and influence their paintings.

Georgia Houghton

Georgiana Houghton was born in Spain in 1841 and moved to the United Kingdom then to Australia. She grew up as a Christian in Victorian England but moved to become a Spiritualist and medium who worked with her art and creativity creating amazing abstract ‘spirit drawings’. She was largely unknown until more recent years, she worked with watercolours and started with inspired art later moving into automatic drawing. She mainly took inspiration from nature and depicted the natural world but also used her mediumship to channel art from the spirit world. Over 150 of her drawings are available to view in the British Library in London.

She is quoted in saying “What I have striven to prove is that Spiritualism does not come in place of Christianity; for where would have been the gain in casting off that great joy and happiness, only to receive something else in exchange. What I maintain is that it is bestowed as the Crown to all previous knowledge.”

Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint was born in Sweden in 1862 and worked manly with abstract art in her later career which became her signature style. She was admitted to the Royal College of Fine Art where she studied landscape and portrait painting. After leaving the Royal College she belonged to a group called ‘The Five’ who were a circle of women who believed in Theosophy, and all held shared belief in the importance of contacting higher masters from the spiritual realms.

After meeting Rudolf Steiner, he went to visit her in Stockholm but was unimpressed with her work. He felt that working with mediumship was akin to the occult and inappropriate for a Theosophist.

Her later works used various inspired artistic methods taking inspiration from Mother Nature and using automatic drawing. Her artwork is on display in Stockholm where over 1200 paintings were left to be managed by the Hilma af Klint Foundation.


This form of art was adopted by many artists within the Surrealist movement and involves the artist removing the conscious mind as much as possible and allowing their hand or brush to move freely over a canvas or paper in a way that is not directed by the conscious mind.

Andre Masson

Andre Masson was born in 1896 and was interested in Surrealism and Cubism but was a great advocate of Automatism. Making many drawings and working in the altered states of consciousness. This is where his art started to take on different meanings and a new direction. He produced a number of pen and ink drawings but in later years moved into his own style of art as he said painting in a particular style was too restrictive.

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali was born in Spain in 1904, his work is world renowned, and he was a pioneer of Surrealist movement. He moved to Madrid and studied at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Dali experimented with many styles of art including Cubism and Automatism. He said that ideas for his paintings often came to him in the semiconscious dream state, it was then his job to bring them to life though artistic talent on canvas.

Psychic Art

Psychic art started to really develop in the United Kingdom at the turn of the 20th century. It was thought at the time that a psychic artist would work with a medium. The artist would link in on a psychic level (Psychic or Psychism: a mind-to-mind connection between living people) to bring forward a portrait of someone who has died, and the medium would use their mediumship (Mediumship: a mind-to-mind connection between a living person and a dead person) to bring forward evidence and information from their life on earth.

Frank Leah

Frank Leah was born in 1886, he moved to Ireland and made Dublin his home. He had a successful career as an illustrator and portrait artist. In the 1930’s he started to draw portraits of people he saw in this minds eye. Friends and customers who visited his studio started to recognise the drawings as their loved ones who had died. He began to realise he was working with his clairvoyance (French for Clear seeing). He worked on his art and started to develop his mediumship becoming well known for the accurate drawings of people who had past to the spirit world.

Coral Polge

Coral Polge was born in 1924 and had a career as a portrait artist. She explored an interest in Spiritualism and developed her attunement with the altered states of consciousness to become a successful Psychic Artist. In the 1980’s Coral Polge was working with a gentleman called Gordon Higginson and the pair would demonstrate psychic art and mediumship in Spiritualist Churches around the United Kingdom. They were known for accurate portraits and irrefutable evidence of people’s lives who had died and were related to members of the audience or congregation.

Precipitated Art

This form of art was created entirely from the spirit world or from energy/matter from the unseen world. A group of mediums would sit in a séance with a blank canvas and dimmed light. An image would materialise directly onto the canvas or paper without any physical contact from the mediums. This form or art was predominantly in the United States in the 19th Century. The art would have no brush strokes, be incredibly detailed look similar to pastel portraits. Many examples of this type of art can be found in Lily Dale, New York State.

The Bangs sisters

Mary and Elizabeth Bangs were born in 1827 and 1832 respectively in Kansas, their mother was a medium, so they were brought up understanding the spirit world and mediumship. In the 1870’s they were in Chicago and performing seances which included physical mediumship like slate writing and moving objects. They became famous for precipitated portraits where they would sit in séance with a number of other sitters and the spirit portraits would appear on the canvas within minutes. They paintings were incredibly detailed, and no brush stokes featured in any of the work. A curious point is that there were no eye lashes on any of the people in featured in the portraits. They lived and worked for many seasons from a house in Lily Dale, New York State.

The Campbell brothers

Allen B Campbell and Charles Shrouds weren’t brothers but worked together for many years in the early 19th century. They had a similar method as the Bangs sisters where the pair would sit in a darkened room with a number of other sisters and the portraits would appear on the canvas. The material which created the paintings came from the etheric world and was likened to the dust from a butterfly’s wing. The portraits were very similar in style and again no brush strokes were present in the work. One of their more famous works was a manifested a painting of Abraham Lincoln, when the painting was analysed traits were found in the portrait that related to ailments that Lincoln had which wasn’t common knowledge.

Spirit Art in today’s world

In today’s world artists have developed their mediumship and mediums have developed their portrait painting. Spirit Artists can work with their mediumship to deliver accurate information about someone who has died as well as a portrait that resembles the person.

Mediumship and art is always developing and will continue to do so, for any spirit artist it is an exciting journey of discovery and development connecting with energy from the unseen and spirit worlds.

Written by Richard Stuttle