Morning Coffee, oil painting by Daniel Ambrose

Morning Coffee, oil on panel by Daniel Ambrose

Painting has never come easy to me.

My mind tends to wander.

Lately, I’ve been thinking I need to go back to the beginning.

Back to the time my voice was strong — when I was strong. When I built a house then filled it with paintings. Paintings of the places I loved growing up in Florida. Places now dead, buried under pavement.

Then I moved to the river, a wild jungle-like river. So my children would know the wild places too. My voice came from the Tomoka River. It came during silent moments in the middle of the night, floating under a starry turning sky, and in the spring calls of the red-winged blackbirds, when the osprey pair returned to their nest.  It came from the river until the river became crowded, my world crumbled, and my vision got cloudy. I left the river and floundered around for a new home. A place that inspired me. First up high, close to the clouds, and now, by the sea. I have been seeking external inspiration, listening to external voices far from the river. Voices I desperately hoped would bring me success.

I thought the river led me to her. I thought I painted nature because she inspired sublime feelings in me. I had it all wrong. I painted nature as a way to express my own often conflicting, emotions; using the external reality of nature to express an inner world of abstract feelings. Natural landscapes did not drive me to paint. My emotional terrain drove me to paint natural landscapes.

Emotion, imagination and intellect are the keys I am turning now. Its taken me 30 years of painting to get here, and I feel like I am just beginning to unlock the door that leads to understanding, leads me back home. I move slow. I hope I have my grandmother or my grandfather’s genes.

All of this wondering adds to my unease of painting. Yet, hope and wonder about the world keeps me going, and I have a radiant heart beside me.

Painting the heart is a confounding process.

Sometimes, I just want to sit on the porch, in the morning sun, and drink my coffee.

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