The fifth process of Putrefaction is also called The Black Stage. During Putrefaction, the supporting surface is prepared.

   The term ‘supporting surface’ refers to the foundation on which the art will exist. This can be viewed in a physical sense as the actual surface on which imagery will be produced. Metaphorically it represents a mental attitude of accomplishment in which the artist realizes that he is knowledgeable of his craft and thereby ready to begin the actual realization of the desire. In this latter sense, the Black Stage constitutes a process of maturation in the artist’s craft. It is the product of the processes preceding it; as such it is the first major object of the total scheme. It represents the ‘death’ of ignorance; but as such it is not to be inferred that an end has been reached, rather there exists the implication that a new entity must emerge.

   To the artist, the Black Stage involves the assimilation of the knowledge he has acquired in art. The understandings and perceptual insights accumulated in the preceding processes must be left to mature into a gestalt of knowledge. The supporting surface, whether it be the artist’s visual acuity or the actual medium on which art will grow, should not be arrived at by haphazard action; deliberate rationale, of whatever . sort the artist is attuned to, must be employed to congeal insight into knowledge.

   The spark of vital force can be translated as the particular inspiration the artist must acquire to produce a particular artwork. After. the artist has accumulated a wealth of knowledge of the basic elements and composition elements, experimentation with the elements generates the existence ofmotivation. This motivation differs from the motivation of the process of Calcination in that it is charged with the energy of knowledge; knowledge of possibilities and limitations; whereas the motivation referred to in the process of Calcination comes from the desire to know the possibilities and limitations. There is a vital’ difference between the two.

   The moderate heat of Calcination functioned to release the external qualities of the base metal, those which embodied the Sulphur. The motivation derived from these Sulphurous qualities encompassed desires ruled by the emotions and soul of the artist.

   The moist heat of Putrefaction functions to release the internal qualities of the base metal, those which embody the Mercury. This motivation derives from the Mercuric qualities which encompass aspiration ruled by the intellect and spirit of the artist.

   This spark of inspiration can only be released when the supporting surface is prepared. This is readily apparent in the physical sense because any form of tangible art requires a supporting surface. A painting must have some sort of support whether it be canvas, paper, plaster or whatever. A sculpture must possess a support whether it be clay, wood, metal or whatever. On the other hand, in terms of the mental state of the artist, the spark of inspiration requires a supporting surface of the consummation of experiential knowledge.