Wisps of Spring

by | Jun 15, 2022

Wisps of spring egg temper painting of snowy egret in water by Daniel Ambrose

Wisps of Spring, egg tempera painting

I just shipped this new egg tempera painting, Wisps of Spring, to Lily Pad Gallery. It represents a further exploration into shimmering color and light like in this painting, Shimmer and Shine. An attempt to create movement in stillness.

I ponder this paradox of movement in stillness while gazing off into the June blue cloudless sky.  Impressions of new paintings form in my mind. How to manifest the ethereal from earthliness?

On the concrete patio outside my door, a sea breeze creates abstract patterns of dancing palm shadows. Abstractions from reality. Remey, my cat, stretches in the sun on the mat inside. His green eyes fixed on the swaying fronds.

The ocean is near and late summer hurricanes may come, destroying this placid scene. So I have been organizing my studio and archiving records.

In the back of a closet, I came across a small box of old photos and found this one of a Canada Goose I painted in 1992 when my twins were three and my hair was not white.

My dream was to be a major wildlife artist like Robert Bateman and John-Seerey-Lester, and I was doing national wildlife shows. After a painting trip to Alaska, I realized I would have to be away from my family for weeks at a time to be at the top.

Inspired by the writings of Emerson, Thoreau, the poems of Robert Frost and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, I found the universe in my own backyard.

I began painting in egg tempera the river I lived on and did more shows closer to home so I could watch my children grow. I won awards and had exhibits at Florida museums.

Museum of Arts and Sciences 2002.

Daniel painting in studio 2004.

Recently, a gallerist asked if I would paint abstract expressionist paintings to meet the demand of some collectors. That will never happen. There is no soul in that for me. It is not my path.

I find authenticity celebrating the miracles of the natural world through my work. Much contemporary art lacks the emotional, intellectual, or spiritual depth I seek.

Painting for me is more than bread on the table. I live to paint, not paint to live.

Wisps of Spring is a circling back to my origins. To take what I know married to what I imagine. Lifelong painters either plateau at some point in their careers, or keep pushing the boundaries of possibilities. It is an inner dialogue with self.

From the start of my artistic journey, my inclination was to be a conduit between my subject and my paintings. To get out of my own way and paint the glory of light, using nature as my springboard. Wisps of emotions.

Perhaps, I have that in common with abstractionists. I read somewhere, the son of abstract expressionist painter, Mark Rothko, said that his father was trying to do the impossible. To abstract something out of nothing.

“No. 61 (Rust and Blue)”, by Mark Rothko 1953. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

These day’s I have been dreaming of new paintings. Ephemeral images emerge like wisps of smoke as I gaze into the landscape. I have painted for over three decades, struggled and laid down acres of paint. And still I wonder.

How do you paint the Mystery?


  1. Barbara Hughes

    Beautifully expressed.
    Jack always loved Rothko. I still haven’t connected with his work, as I find it lazy and stifled…but I appreciate it, and further, am so Grateful you do what you do, because you do it so magically. At this point in our lives, maybe our opinions don’t matter so much as what we soldier on and do, and say, and think – how we live. Yes, expression remains an important right in this country and what we each express is singular and oftentimes wonderful – and some are singularly wonderful, like you. I’m incredibly Grateful to represent you, Dear Friend.

  2. Lora

    Your words shimmer like your paintings!

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