Something About That Day

by | Nov 11, 2022

Something About that Day, oil painting of a marsh with billowing clouds by Daniel Ambrose

Something About That Day, oil on linen.

The wind has subsided, and the sky is clearing over a calmed sea. Birds are returning to feeders and grasslands after tropical storm Nicole tore through Florida, weeks after Hurricane Ian.

I filed away my impressions of the storms in my visual memory bank. Ideas to be summoned for future paintings. Now I am back in the studio working on Something About That Day. It’s a large oil painting based on memories of the verdant marshes and great skies near my home.

In my younger years, when I roamed the marshes and estuaries of my native Florida, I carried John Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting in my paint kit. Decades later, I still have the tattered copy marked with underlined passages, scribbled notes and sketches in the margins. It was an invaluable aid in teaching myself how to paint.

The last chapter of Carlson’s book he devoted to memory work. In it, he writes.

In memory work, we relive our experiences and the effect they produced on us…. The mind is dealing with expression of thought… and we now enter the realm of true art.

Almost forty years ago, as a beginning painter, I could not imagine painting from memory. Now my visual memory bank brims with decades of field paintings and notes, paying dividends in recent work that flows from memory and imagination.

Many of my paintings change radically from my initial idea, so I rarely show my process. But I’m starting to share short videos and pics on my Instagram page.

Long ago, I quit fighting my paintings and just let them go where they want to go. It may seem odd to non-artists, but I think it is comparable to a writer talking about their characters coming to life. They let them lead, taking their authors to places they otherwise would not have gone. A painting becomes more interesting when I let intuition precede intellect. I’ve heard the same from other artists.

Trust the process.

And mine is a tortuous process. The inspiration for Something About That Day came from an amalgam of sources. This is the first appearance of my thinking, arranged in colors and tones.

I may be close to done, or I may set it aside. Many of my paintings are months and years in the making. This large painting, Live by the Moon, Love by the Sea, was fourteen years in the making. It too, was based on memories.

Each day is a gift, whatever it brings in your own life try to note something beautiful about that day.

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