Pelicans Over Bulow Marsh, 1992. Egg tempera painting by Daniel Ambrose

Pelicans Over Bulow Marsh, Inaugural egg tempera painting 1992.

I painted this egg tempera painting 23 years ago. It was my first one. Born of my love for anything coastal. Before you could Google a video, you learned by reading books and then doing. Without a formal art education, this is how I learned to paint. From ordering a book through the library to finishing this painting took me 2 years. I placed the painting in a museum benefit show and it immediately sold.

A 70 year old retired physician launched my art resolve. His name was “Doc” Hawes, and he was building a classic wooden Herreshoff sailboat from scratch. I mean from raw material. He milled and dressed rough sawn timbers and cast original bronze hardware. I was a 28 year old pup and I thought, Lordy, he’s gonna’ keel over before he finishes this thing. Last I heard, he was sailing the Caribbean.

If your still kicking, it’s not to late to pursue your dreams. I used to tell my kids, figure out what you love to do, and than figure out how to make money at it. Figuring out the former is the hard part for most folks.

When I met “Doc” Hawes, I’d pretty much finished building a house, by myself, that I started when I was 24. And the walls were bare. “Set goals, Doc said. “Set 5, 10, 20 year goals, or else your life will get off course. It’s going to anyway, that’s life. But keeping your eye on a fixed bearing will get you back on track.”

I went home and started painting pictures to put on my walls. I had just turned 28. I told myself, I’m going to set a 10 year goal and see how far I can take this painting thing.

That was another October, 30 years ago. I’m still at it, still learning and growing. If you aint’ growing, your dying. I reckon painting has taken me farther than I’ve taken it. Engaging and immersing me in every range of emotions and all levels of socio-economic class.

One morning I’m on a lobsterman’s boat talking lobsters, and that afternoon, find myself on the Port Clyde dock conversing with and eventually selling a painting to one of the highest public figures in our government. Our curious love of beauty in all it’s forms is our common ground. Life is amazing!

Three decades since I met “Doc” and I’m working on finishing another house, another October with new goals. I’ve got a saltwater soul baptized in the sea when I was 2 months old that’s restless to explore new coasts.

We are all travelers on this ship of humanity, vessels of emotions and experiences. Be a beholder of hope and doer of dreams. Get your affairs in order and get some goals. It all starts with the first one. You might even inspire a young pup.

Hmm, how about a mountaintop cottage with boundless views, or maybe a treehouse studio overlooking a treasure filled lagoon…a sailboat anchored…

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