The Art of Daniel Ambrose

Hauntingly Beautiful Paintings

Love Comes Softly

Gathered in the Light. Egg tempera painting of birds at the seashore by Daniel Ambrose

Gathered in the Light. Egg tempera painting by Daniel Ambrose

The falling sun spills a liquid ribbon of pink fire along the bronze shore. I walk for miles into evenfall. Walk beside the sea until the rising moon spreads my shadow before me.

Then I walk farther still.

I follow my shadow to see where it will lead.

It leads me along exotic shores of inspiration. It takes me into the luminous ocean of my imagination.

Incandescent ideas for paintings percolate from the void. They swirl in the penumbra region of my mind where indistinct yet intoxicating pictures incubate. Too fragile for the light of day, too intriguing to let slip back into the shadows.

Inspiration can strike like a massive tidal wave. And sometimes it comes as love comes, softly. Full of hope, full of uncertainty.

Great possibilities dwell in these nebulous spheres of early love or inspiration.

An array of golden light flashes in the water. Glittering shards strewn like golden jewels scattered across the bed of a regal queen. I trace its tantalizing path up to the heavens. High above the rising moon, a brilliant lone star shines. Jupiter. Nine birds scatter at my approach.

I have been here before.

After a successful solo show, I have been walking the beach. Walking to keep things in perspective, walking to stay close to my source. Walking out the questions in my life.

Alone, these days and nights, I walk for miles, opening myself to the sea and stars, embracing the saline, celestial air. Seeking a gateway to the Divine, an open channel to the sublime. How alike are the stirrings of love and inspiration.

This morning at sunrise, I was here with the birds, and we gathered in the light.

For where two or three gather in my name. . .

Inspiration will not be forced, like love. It will find you. Be ready with an open heart and receptive mind, ready to work. Ready to commit . . . to nurture. The sputtering inaugural fuse attached to the explosive forces of Art and Love is quite tenuous to ignite passion.

In my travels I listen to the stories of broken and beautiful people. Stories that stir my soul, inspire me. Fill my heart with empathy, fill my mind with pictures of color and light. I know this way too. We are not the same, but we are alike.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Commit your heart and soul to what you love. Be whole. Bring out the fire that is within and miracles will happen. Start walking towards your destiny and the universe will align to light your path. Be fearless.

Find what you love, and love what you find.

And let us gather in the Light.

Where Love comes, softly.

When We Dream, Life Becomes Amazing

When We Dream, oil painting by Daniel Ambrose of two birds on beach at sunrise

When We Dream, oil painting by Daniel Ambrose

After delivering my new painting, When We Dream, to Hughes Gallery in Boca Grande, I stopped in Venice at sunset for an enlightening dinner on the beach with a friend. It was late when the meal ended, and I eased my weary body into my van for the middle of the night run across my native state of Florida.

It had been a long, bittersweet day.

Now it was after midnight and I was processing the day’s reel of images and conversations rumbling through my mind along these dark highway miles. More ideas for paintings.

My mind was turning like my tires on the asphalt. Spinning over the day, turning back the pages of my life. The blue clock numbers taunt me with their time, 1:28 a.m. Still an hour to go before I see my bed.

“I have promise to keep, and I have miles to go before I sleep” Robert Frost

How did I come to be on this dark empty highway running ninety miles an hour at this moment in my life?

It all began with a thought thirty-two years ago. I will paint, and see where it leads.

It all began with a dream of color and light.

My dinner companion later told me my paintings radiate qualities of love and light. Visitors to my solo show this year, said there was something deeply soulful about my paintings.

I agree. These past few years, I have been digging deep, scraping the bone for inspiration. Yoga teaches us to open up and let go. I have let go of a lot of things in my life. Things that tried to kill me, and maybe a few good things I should have held on too. I’ve swam the oceans of highest love and deepest loss.

And I have learned as Bob Dylan sings in Trying to Get to Heaven, “When you think that you’ve lost everything, You find out you can always lose a little more.”

I have had a good run in life.

Coming from a dirt back road, in cutoff blue jeans and barefoot, I’ve had an amazing journey. An almost Forrest Gump like experience. With no formal art training, painting has taken me places beyond my wildest dreams. The people I’ve met, from winos in the gutter in San Francisco at 4 a.m., to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court one afternoon on a dock in Maine. All have enriched my life.

Decades ago that dream began with a simple desire to express the beautiful feeling I knew growing up outdoors in Florida.

Just learning how to paint, to draw and match what I saw around me took the first frustrating ten years. As my skills grew, I expanded my subject matter. Eventually, settling into a confident feeling of power that I could express what I saw, which freed me up to paint what I saw in my mind and felt in my heart too.

But it was always about the Light.

Now I understand how to paint. But I don’t think I understand anything about life anymore.

Life passed, and now my heart is scarred like a Florida manatee’s back cut by careless propellers.

But I’ve never stopped dreaming, never given up hope. Now I try to fill each moment with color and light. Now I fill my paintings with the love and light of all who I have deeply connected with. Now it is the memory of their beauty that radiates from my art.

Now it is always about Love and Light.

So dream my daughter, son, brother, sister friend. Your dreams are your original art. It’s in the darkness dreams begin, like a seed planted beyond the light of day. Your dreams are flower seeds. Do not be discouraged, never give up. Just as a plant must struggle up through the soil to reach the sun, so must you. Gratitude grows out of struggle. All that is good, worthy and beautiful in life comes when we dream. Hope is alive when we dream. Never fear to follow your dreams. They will take you on a wondrous journey.

Life becomes a beautiful mystery when we dream.

When Time Stood Still

When Time Stood Still. Oil painting of a bird resting on beach at sunrise by Daniel Ambrose

When Time Stood Still. Oil painting by Daniel Ambrose

Dressed in white, tall and regal, she quietly stands alone in the center of the gallery. Cupping her hands together, she raises them to her heart, and releases a contented sigh . . .

They had found each other. She and her painting miraculously connected. The circle was complete.

A moment when time stood still. When love appears unannounced—wondrous, like a shooting star.

That happened on an island two weeks ago.

Today, I am on another island, on the beach at sunrise. An Easter service is in progress. The pastor’s voice proclaiming of the Holy Ghost while screaming gulls circle above him proclaiming their own primal needs.

The sun ascends and the clouds spread apart. A shape appears. Is it a bird or an angel? Four strong women in eight months. Was it just few years ago when four souls departed my life. There was a time I did not believe in angels. But that was before I needed them—before they became Angels.

I watch the soft bodies of birds float in the slice of sky reflected at my bare feet. Behind me in the dunes, the pastor calls to his flock to accept Salvation. The Mystery of salted sea wind and eternal light are calling to me.

Love is not “out there” somewhere. It is all around us, breathing in the bodies of birds, in the kindness of strangers, in water and wind, darkness and light. Love is in Beauty and Beauty is in Love.

Lord knows I am flawed and scarred and walk a crooked path. In and out I go, like tidal water weaving along the shore.

So to cover my tracks, I put on my shoes and go to Mass. A beautiful soloist in a red dress is singing and sunlight streams through the stained glass window and makes a wing on the carpet. The priest stands and speaks and a tall white candle burns high above his head. I trace it from its brass base up to the flame and see Jesus hanging on a wooden cross with his bare feet above the fire.

Once, I was certain I knew it all, had it all figured out. Now, the questions outnumber my answers. Is this it?

I imagine I am like a scratched mirror, imperfectly reflecting all the amazing beauty and love I witness. Knowing I will never never match, never fully express the wonder of life—the yearning of my soul.

I leave Mass when the congregation rises to sing just before communion. I hear other music. Slipping money into the poor box, I push open the doors and catch the scent of the ocean just across the road. This is my blood. This is my soul.

She was here from the beginning . . .

. . .darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1

I am thankful, I am grateful, I am humbled and I am awed.

I don’t know what it all means, but I’ll call it God. I’ll call it Love.

And I’ll paint it and share it with you.

Capturing those moments.

When time stood still.

And on this Easter Sunday, I’ll leave you with this song by Louis Armstrong.

With Love.

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