One for Sorrow, Eight for a Wish

by | Jan 19, 2019

One for Sorrow, egg tempera paintings of great egret by Daniel Ambrose

One for Joy, egg tempera

Update January 2020: This bird looked so joyful that I decided to rename it One for Joy.

One for Sorrow continues the series of ten egg tempera paintings I began several years ago after the death of my Grandma Dewey.

Inspired by an old English nursery rhyme, I painted them not in numerical but inspirational sequence. Each one coming when a sudden image appeared in my mind for a certain number.

Five for Silver was one of the first paintings. I shared it in the post, things we leave behind.

I don’t know why I chose birds. Perhaps because they fascinate me, such ethereal creatures. Maybe through them I am trying to convey my grandma’s lively spirit.

Who knows!? I over think everything except the source of inspiration. I don’t wanna kill that buzz.

For my solo show now on exhibit at Hughes Gallery in Boca Grande, Florida, I’ve completed One for Sorrow and Eight for a Wish.

A large egg tempera at 24 x 36 inches, Eight for a Wish sings in myriad luminous hues. As light moves through a room, a fascinating movement occurs in the painting as its colors change and float like in a slow sensual dance. Created from memory and imagination, Eight for a Wish is a liberating leap forward in my lifelong quest for authentic artistic expression.

Eight for a Wish, egg tempera painting of 8 birds in moonlight by Daniel Ambrose

Eight for a Wish, egg tempera. 24 x 36 in.

I struggled with the idea for One for Sorrow. My original thoughts were of a dark and downcast bird. Somehow that did not feel right. I did not want the painting to be singularly about sorrow.

Then the Parkland shootings happened here in my native Florida. When those kids, that girl, stood resolute on the podium speaking out of anguish, I heard in their collective voices hope. Hope out of sorrow. Hope for change.

In yoga, we do a pose where we stand tall, sweep our arms over our head and clasp our hands behind us and lean way back. The teacher says open your chest, open your heart, let your heart shine. Out of utter darkness, those Parkland children were courageously shining their hearts to the world.

My painting One for Sorrow is a poor tribute to the indomitable spirit of those children. And maybe it’s not even about any of that at all. Maybe I am only addressing inspiration. How we all can be inspired to create a more beautiful world. We can all let our hearts shine.

Inspiration like hope arises out of love or sorrow.


  1. Jane

    Out of Sorrow looks like a dance to me….it’s beautiful!!!! There may be a bit of resolute dismay in the eye, but the head held high and the ruffled feathers showing a flare of sass suggests resilience and strength. I’d love to see the Eight for a Wish in the moving light. You are just so good at producing that anomaly. It is a gift!!!

  2. Daniel Ambrose

    Jane, thank you for your wonderful insights and beautiful comments. I appreciate it very much. The tempera’s are evolving into a whole new level!

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