In counterpoint, two distinct but harmonious themes (in the auditory) or sets of images (in the visual) are run alongside each other simultaneously. If a concordant connection between them is managed, the psychological effect is that they both merge and clash in the mind at the same time (Stanley on one occasion used the adjective coincident to describe the process.). From this conflict-fusion, an entirely new entity is brought into existence. This entity will possess some characteristics of one of the originating elements, and some of the other, but it emerges as a thing in its own right, with its own identity. A parallel with sexual procreation was to influence much of Stanley's metaphysical thinking and artistic outlook.

The principle of counterpoint was familiar to Stanley from his family musical background. He had a musical ear, played the piano well if methodically, and had a lifelong admiration for Bach. His memoirs frequently recount his delight at hearing Pa or his accomplished musician brothers Will or Harold play from the 48 Preludes and Fugues, and he once whimsically proposed finding himself in Heaven sitting on the left hand of God, and on the right hand - J S Bach. From an art standpoint, Stanley's counterpoint approach can be seen to echo the dualities of feeling united in the triptychs of the altarpieces which so fascinated him in his admiration of mediaeval painting. 

In some of his more profound paintings Stanley made use of the specific form of musical counterpointing called a fugue, in which a main theme or subject is repeated in variant forms at intervals, and against which a series of associated themes or episodes is then played or counterpointed. In Stanley's use, the up-in-heaven theme of his painting becomes the fugue subject, against which the down-to-earth details or circumstances he depicts as his imagery are introduced as the episodes. By this process the pair are then married (to use Stanley's verb) to form a unity (his term for the new entity made magically to appear.) This entity is the crux of the painting. It is seldom a visual item as such, but rather a mental or emotional sensation to which the viewer responds, one of Jung's 'synchronicities of significance'. It encapsulates the intangible concept Stanley was trying to convey.

By this process Stanley was not simply making a connection between two themes. He was joining the whole of himself to the new concept, entering into it, coming joyously to an understanding of it, and hopefully taking us with him. He likened the event to a parcel-opening experience. One unexpected consequence was that when in later life he looked back at one of his past paintings, he would sometimes be found re-interpreting it as though it were a new object. So we find him occasionally offering a description which related to his then current preoccupations rather than one in terms of its original conception, a measure of the breadth of its concept.