Artist Story Tellers

Artist Story Tellers

Artist Story Tellers

Roseate Spoonbills standing in water. Egg tempera painting by Daniel Ambrose

Roseate Spoonbill egg tempera painting

During this pandemic, I’ve been riffling through my 30 year collection of sketchbooks for bird inspiration and found stories and spoonbills.

This Roseate Spoonbill egg tempera painting is a pair I observed and sketched in a quiet southern estuary decades ago. Shy by nature, I eased near them to make several drawings.

It was a winter morning, cloudless sky, a blameless blue. I nestled in the marsh grass with my sketchbook and waited for the wildlife to settle down. The sun burned bright and warm in the cool air.

Whether drawing a childhood place, or reflecting on a Maine Moonrise at Sunset, my habit is to acquaint myself with my surroundings. I note the time of day, sun position, air attributes and observe any movement. Engaging all my senses, primed to absorb the ways and whiffs of my environs.

Engaged and aware. All living organisms are in a state of almost imperceptible transformation.

I shut out twirling clocks and twisted news and tune in to the texture of sanctuary sounds. The murmur of tidal flow, bubbling oysters, warbling birds — the smack of a leaping silver mullet falling back into the shallow waters of this primal nursery.

I come in peace and absent pretense, to observe, learn and record. Not to disrupt, but to discover.

Friends near and far drift through my mind, sparkling like the ebb and flow of these waters. My cherished family of collectors. The brother and sisterhood of painters I know and respect. Each paying tribute and honoring the land in their own unique works of art.

Each of us traveling an artistic path tracing back thousands of years. Artist story-tellers. We are all story-tellers sharing our enchanting discoveries with the world.

Thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you.

The Peace of Wild Things

The Peace of Wild Things

The Peace of Wild Things

egg tempera painting of gull by Daniel Ambrose

I’m With Him, egg tempera painting.

In January 2020, my solo show opened at Hughes Gallery and I was swinging my brush for a summer show at Cheryl Newby Gallery, that included these 2 egg tempera paintings, I’m With Him, and I’m With Her.

Then the world upended.

Among the artist tribe, daily battling our inner demons of doubt, procrastination and envy is difficult enough without external pressures of economic uncertainty, gallery closings and travel restrictions amidst a pandemic. The intrinsic qualities of original art must be experienced in person.

Over the summer, in phone and social media conversations with my artist peers, we took a collective sigh. We acknowledged the sense of helplessness, divisiveness and global heartbreak.

We encouraged each other to just keep painting. Get out in nature and go inward in our studios.

Seek the commonalities in our humanity. Celebrate the beauty of our higher natures and shun the ugliness of our baseness. Encourage faith not fear, inclusion not exclusion and love not hate.

Throughout my life, in times of unease, I return to my source. I walk the beach, finding inspiration in the energy of the waves, the colors of changing water and the feathered grace of birds. The ocean assures me of continuity. Even the most ferocious wave dissipates when it meets the placid shore. This too shall pass and the rebuilding begins.

I’m With Her.

And I wander passages of scripture and poetry in my library of books and find comfort in words like these by Wendell Berry in his poem, The Peace of Wild Things.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

The Beckoning Sea

The Beckoning Sea

The Beckoning Sea

The beckoning sea. Oil painting of dune path and sky

The Beckoning Sea, oil painting

The beckoning sea wind assures me that this too shall pass. Grand friends will gather on porches of seaside houses and around sizzling grills, making happy memories. Our cares cast aside for another day.

If we only knew when.

Whether I accept or deny it, the reality of personal stories, data and deaths detail the truth of Covid-19.  No cure, vaccine, or long-term health results known. I wonder how you are faring, how you are affected during this strange time?

Like many creatives, I am fortunate to work from home. For most of last year and the beginning of this one, I have hunkered down out of choice, painting for shows. This large oil painting, Beckoning Sea, is one I delivered to a gallery in South Carolina last month.

Now I am on pause.

Morning sunlight slants across green meadows, yellow flowers stir beneath an unending blue sky. July dreams drift in the sultry haze of time. Wistful memories of painting beside fine friends on rocky coasts and quiet coves call me to my easel. Imagination and memory are my summer muses.

I return to earlier themes of serenity and simplicity. Stripping the superfluous from the chaos of the world. Bearing down on the essence of beauty and harmony.

Wherever you are, my painting companions, I am with you in spirit and deed.

Dreaming beside the beckoning sea.