Egg Tempera Painting of a Brown Pelican

Egg Tempera Painting of a Brown Pelican

Egg Tempera Painting of a Brown Pelican

egg tempera painting of a brown pelican by Daniel Ambrose

Brown Pelican, egg tempera painting

This sweet little egg tempera painting of a brown pelican just makes me smile. It is resting on my easel now along with other birds that I am painting for a show. It measures 7 by 5 inches wide.

I think it looks nice, unframed… perhaps perched on a mini easel. It feels like an old friend that I enjoy having around my studio. It needs a name.

The first egg tempera painting I did twenty-eight years ago was of these flying Brown pelicans over Bulow marsh.

I was moving away from paintings that featured birds in their biological habitat as the principal subject.

Birds became smaller and began flying in my paintings, becoming fireflies flying out of the picture.

My work evolved into literal landscapes before becoming memories of beloved places.

Then merging memories and birds in new ways, like in this painting, Shelter.

And dreamlike settings as in this egg tempera, To Sleep, To Dream.

It is spring now, and the birds are returning.

Reminders that seasons change.

We are healing in Nesting.

We will triumph.

Be strong.

Be safe.

Bright April Days Will Come Again

Bright April Days Will Come Again

Bright April Days Will Come Again

Brightwater, oil painting of Bulow creek with trees and egrets by Daniel Ambrose

Brightwater, oil on linen, 2004. Private collection.

The aroma of a backyard grill blends with salty air and takes me back to southern April afternoons when cares were few. Childhood days on my grandma Dewey’s beach-side back patio. Apricot sunlight bathes her fragrant magnolia blooms. Easter lamb grilling on the rotisserie over a charcoal fire. Ice tinkling in a cool glass. Laughter bounces in the spring air.

Memories of days like these made me a painter of peace, beauty and light.

Both my grandparents lived a block apart. Both from immigrant ancestors. The English Dewey’s descended from the Puritans on my mom’s side and the D’Ambrosio’s sailed from southern Italy on my dad’s. Grandma Dewey and grandpa D’Ambrosio lived the longest. I was fortunate to spend most of my life with each of them almost daily.

My studio is a mile from both their homes and just across the road from the ocean. Their stoic humor and saltwater hours define my being.

Brightwater is a large oil painting I did in 2004. I painted it from the place my Italian grandparents, parents and siblings would go crabbing on Sunday’s in the spring when blue crabs were coming out of the mud after winter. We would stop at Johns Market on the way to pick up chicken backs and necks then drive along the river under a canopy of moss draped live oak trees to our crabbing spot on Bulow creek.

Tying the chicken to a length of string wrapped around a stick,  we’d toss it into the shallow water and hammer the stick into the riverbank and wait for the crabs to latch on. I learned patience. Gently, ever so gently, we’d ease the crab in, hand over line until it was close enough to snatch with a net on the end of pole. Sometimes the crab was quicker than us.

Afterwards, we took them back to my grandparents’ house and steamed them until they turned bright red. Spread them out on newspaper and pick the meat out. Grandpa made homemade pasta and tomato sauce. He would simmer the crabmeat in the sauce until it infused it with an aroma that makes my mouth water just thinking about it fifty years later. He taught me that simple ingredients can make the best meals.

Grandpa died in 1997 just shy of his 100th birthday, and my dad died 2 years later. One Sunday morning, I went down to the place we used to crab when I was a child. I painted a little study, and from this Brightwater was born.

Bright April days will come again. I look forward to the afternoons we will gather around a grill with families and friends and tell each other our stories.

How about you? Do you have a favorite outdoor memory to share?

Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon, egg tempera painting, moonrise over dunes

Wolf Moon, egg tempera painting by Daniel Ambrose.

Wolf Moon sold during my show at Hughes Gallery in January, along with nine other paintings. We were off to a roaring season. Then Covid19 arrived and the island gallery shuttered their doors. Perhaps for the rest of the season.

And even though I have a solo show scheduled in late June at Cheryl Newby gallery in South Carolina, I paint little, maybe a few hours a day.

A silence hovers over our land. A candle burns and I pray.

For months I have a shoulder pain that keeps me up most of the night. In between, I dream of summer songs and sunny days and hold conversations with people here and gone. My appointment with the orthopedic surgeon like others not urgent keeps being pushed back. I understand. All things in their own time.

For most of my of my life I painted, journaled and asked questions of God. In the solitude of my studio I return to the solace of books; the Bible, I Ching, Rumi, Emerson, Thoreau and Thich Nhat Hanh. I no longer ask questions. Only observe the Light, and remember Grace and Gratitude.

My spiritual practice, manifested in my art, connects me to all natural things. Awe and respect of nature swing my muse in a merry dance. I hear the spring birds singing, and hope stirs in birdsong and greening leaves. The divine perfume of beloved white lilies envelopes my studio. The full moon draws the tide high, is drawing my soul out of the deep. New paintings are coming. Celestial and true.

Wolf moon rose again this past January. I was there at the edge of the sea, marking its arrival in my sketchbook.

Inspiring life is birthing in the silence. Indeed, the resurrection of Hope.

But for now, I ain’t going nowhere.

Happy Easter, my friend.

Stay safe.