Night River, egg tempera painting by Daniel Ambrose

Night River by Ambrose

During a summer of turmoil I lived in a prehistoric forest between two rivers. One night I wandered down the path to the alligator dwelling one to see the moonrise. I needed the light, needed to hold on to something larger than myself.

For 30 years I’d been on a charted course down the river of life, traveling along always trying to do the right thing.  Then, I hit a submerged log — jarred my teeth from their sockets.

Every mooring line lashed to my identity unraveled in the discord. By grace, the fragile fleeting voices of a few loved ones remained, and painting — the pounding voice of painting remained.

In the summer moonlight on a marshy shore, my thoughts mingled with the liquid light shimmering in the swirling darkness. Swim in the moonlight or drown in the darkness.

Perhaps it’s why I paint nature. Her ever-changing moods personify our primal emotions. The ancient songs of life interconnecting us that are in danger of drowning amidst the unfiltered din of modern media.

And I’m part of the media pack, an old dog howling, linking two disparate mediums to share a moment inspired by that night on the river. One, an egg tempera painting, Night River, ancient subtle and slow. The other, burgeoning social media, distracting and just as seductive as painting.

Advancements in the real world are forcing us all to adapt, even us who dream by southern moonlit rivers. It happened at the turn of the last century;  unsaddle the beloved horse and climb in the noisy car. To maintain the pace, all the young social media whippersnappers say I have to yap about my work online. They assure me that if I bare my soul and string enough of the right keywords together eventually you will stumble across my little studio here by the sea. So I’m splashing around in here trying to find a way to reach you.

In a river of many billions swimming in this attention-clogged digital stream,  I reckon I’m too small for even a minnow to see among the mighty entertaining mullet leaping out of the torrent.

I’m the quiet one, better at one on one than being the showboat in the room. So, I’ve taken a small leap here, writing about something personal, a night on a river in my life’s journey. It’s an experiment for my own amusement, just testing the waters.

Because writing begets paintings and vice versa. Blogging has become part of my creative process, like my sketchbooks — thumbnail word sketches — following idea streams. Some will cruise, many will drown. Its part of the creative stew. You can watch it stir if you want. I don’t mind.

It’s authentic, all of it. What’s the point of being an artist if you are not true to yourself? Painting, drawing and writing are all forms of creative exploration, asking questions —  what is real? What is beauty?

At this point in my life, it’s about living the questions.

I’m finally moving beyond that night river. I may dip into it for inspiration from time to time, but I don’t want to dwell there. My life’s work is about the light. I’ll try to stay out of the darkness, but I won’t make promises. It’s the shadows that show us the light.

Most likely I’ll be swimming against the current. The impractical painter who gently reminds you of the beautiful aspects of nature and humanity.

I’m traveling on faith, walking the high wire of the painters life without a safety net, the only resources I have left are my paintings and words. If you are looking for inspiration, beauty and subtle respite from the noise, you will find it here.

Night or day, the river of life is simply magnificent.

If you made it this far, thanks for floating along with me.

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