One for Sorrow, Eight for a Wish

One for Sorrow, Eight for a Wish

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

One for Sorrow, egg tempera

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.

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Nine for a Kiss

Nine for a Kiss

Egg tempera painting of nine birds

Nine For a Kiss, painting by Daniel Ambrose

Sunday morning sun is rejuvenating after the cold rains. Palm leaves rustle overhead and the sea breeze brings a scent of flowers—brings luminous memories of faraway faces and places.

I open the house to the balmy air—to purify—dispel the sleepless ghosts of predawn dreams.

The salty breeze that licks my soul brings the ocean. The ocean carries the rivers and rains that replenish her. Waters remember the clouds that fill them. One thing becomes another.

The ashes of my sweet cat Puppy rest in a white box. In time I’ll know how to consecrate them to honor his life for the abiding comfort he gave me daily.

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches there is no birth, no death, only a continuation. Matter becomes another form, we do not disappear. I find comfort in a celestial continuum.

The birds moving about shallow waters in my painting, Nine for a Kiss, are long gone. Their bones nourish the earth. The beauty of their memory continues as Art.

“Memory is the place where our vanished days secretly gather.” – John O’Donohue 

I bask in the warmth beside tropical green life planted in hope several Springs ago and gaze upon the sky’s reflection in my coffee.  Clouds tremor in the tannin depths and I sink into their spell. Circling. Each day renews the circle of hope.

Hope is a threshold, a continuation.

Somewhere on a distant shore she is longing too, or maybe she is reading by a winter fire. Are you rocking on your porch cradling a cup of coffee or tea in early sunshine? Do you hear the primal song of life’s wonder?

Yesterday, there was always talk of Someday. There is no someday, only today. Gratitude, peace and joy are in this moment, not someday. Only Love now.

Still, in the long gaze across time, I once strove to build a house of love upon a summit of dreams. Yearning’s embers never die. Dreamers are destined to wander eternal the valley’s of beautiful longing.

In the dawning of each moment a new hope is born.

A flower of peace unfolds.

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Puppy, My Sweet Cat

Puppy, My Sweet Cat


Puppy came as the best things do, by fortune or divine guidance. His rescuer was her then husband. Her father went to the Humane Society with him and described seeing the cat for the first time. He had just arrived. His hair matted and caked with mud. Full grown but young, maybe a year or two old.

His new owner took him to live in their home by the sea. In 2004, while they were out of town a hurricane struck the east coast. The roof blew off the house and when they returned Puppy was under the rubble scared and wet.

They divorced and in 2006 Puppy entered my life. He came with a kitty name but he behaved like a dog. So we called him Puppy for fun. Soon he ran to us whenever we hollered Puppy. I taught him to sit, lay down, rollover and come when I whistled.

Our first Easter I bought her white lilies not knowing they were toxic to cats. I’ve had cats all my life and none of them ever ate the house foliage. Puppy loved to eat plants and plastic. He almost died and spent 2 weeks in intensive care at the cat hospital.

When we lived in the mountains of North Carolina, I brought in some fall leaves to study their color and placed them on the hardwood floor. A streak of fur shot out from underneath the couch and rocketed across the room. In an instant Puppy swallowed the leaves.

She had Randy the groomer trim his hair in a lion cut. I thought he looked silly. His body shaved except for the tip of tail, a mane wrapped his head and his feet resembled boots. But he liked it and strutted through the house with his tail held high like a royal scepter.

My daughter and I tried to give him a haircut once. I was barefoot, and he dug his back claws deep into my foot. A few days afterward my toes turned bright red then purple. About a week later my foot swelled, and the redness had run up my shin. I went to the emergency clinic and the P.A. said it could be MRSA and told horrifying stories about people having toes and fingers amputated. She sent me to a podiatrist who cured me with massive doses of antibiotics. Dang cat! I continued taking him to Randy the groomer for his lion cut.

In springtime he loved to sit at the screen door and watch lizards and birds. In winter when sunlight fell on the floor or furniture he would find it and stretch out in its warmth.

After breakfast each morning he would dash about the house sliding on the floors. At times he was annoying. When you were most focused on something, he would climb around you crying for attention.

Every time the front door opened he tried to escape. He was quick. When we lived in a condo, he got out several times and scampered along the walkway to the stairs then stop and sit not knowing which way to go. We’d call him and he’d slink back inside.

During a drizzly November after we moved to the current studio, he slipped out and was lost for more than a week. I made signs and posted them everywhere, offering a reward. The city was laying utility pipes and stored them in a vacant lot near the house. One night in desperation we searched around them and found him huddled deep inside a pipe.

When she left in 2014, she said she’d find a home for him. I said no, I will take care of him.

He was always by my easel or following me into a room. When I came home, he trotted out to see me. In the evenings, upstairs, we would relax in my chair before bed. In the morning when he heard me stirring he would bound up the stairs and greet me with a little meow as he padded into my bedroom.

In 2016 a hurricane hit and we had to evacuate. He and I camped out in the bedroom of friends home. When I went to Maine the following year, I hired a pet sitter to take care of him. Another hurricane hit and she and her family had to evacuate and could not take Puppy. I worried until my good friend Wally picked him up and took him to his house until I returned.

So I started taking him on trips.

Puppy traveling to Maine, August 2018

And when I traveled to Maine this past August; he came with. He was the best traveling companion. Sleeping or laying in my lap for hours in the car. At night in a hotel or wherever we stayed it was a great comfort to have him in the room with me. He was my little buddy. He made friends with everyone he met.

As he aged he had trouble leaping up on the couch or chair and would sometimes fall back. Two years ago he started having seizures. My veterinarian put him on phenobarbital. He stopped having seizures, but he slept more. This year I noticed changes in his behavior and he lost weight. He acted confused and some days he did not greet me when I came through the door. Some nights he didn’t come upstairs and I didn’t hear his little feet thumping up the wood stairs when I woke.

The week of Thanksgiving he stopped eating and slept all the time in his little basket house. I took him to the vet.

I don’t know his birth date. But I will always remember my face pressed against his the moment his heart stopped beating at 3:08 p.m. November 26, 2018.

With tears streaming down my cheeks I looked up at the window high in the vet’s wall and saw an oppressive gray clouded sky. Twelve years he had been with me. Memories flickered across my mind. All the places, his antics, his presence. His tie with the past.

He was my sweet boy. It’s only now Puppy is gone do I realize the bond we shared, and I believe in his feline way he loved me.

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A Summer Conversation

A Summer Conversation

A Summer Conversation, seascape oil painting by Daniel Ambrose

A Summer Conversation. Oil painting by Daniel Ambrose.

In early summer I took my painting, A Summer Conversation to work on at my friend Mary’s studio on Venice Island. Each day I went to the beach to make sketchbook studies of clouds and sky. Recently I delivered the finished painting to Hughes Gallery.  It was good to see it hanging on the wall, good to see the tangible completion of an idea.

Stepping back to view it a thought struck me. How it still amazes that a painting, how any inspiring artwork materializes from an invisible idea in the mind of an artist.

This idea can be anything abstract or concrete. External or internally motivated. Any emotion, sensation, scene or theme can inspire a work of art.

Realizing that idea is the struggle of wonder that keeps artists going. This innate compulsive desire has driven humans to make art since our beginnings. The primal need to understand and express the miracles and mysteries, the unfathomable joys and sorrows of our existence keeps art alive.

For artists hope that our next creation will be better, truer to our ideal. The ongoing dialogue with ourselves seeking the truth of what we are trying to communicate. Now and then we release a contented sigh when we know we hit bone. We have burrowed deep in the marrow of authenticity of our being.

This knowing propels artists to keep forging ahead. Artists inspire others to create, to see nature and their neighbor anew, to appreciate the wonders of the world, to think in different ways and uplift our spirits. Our creative urge can inspire or destroy us, used to celebrate love or incite hate. The duality of our traits run in accord with nature. There is no right without the left, no light without the dark. We choose to live in winter darkness or summer light, yet each we recognize. Hurricane waves become again the placid ocean.

There is an eventual balance in all things.

Early this summer I had been feeling the weight of solitude, the weight of divisiveness not the light of divineness. I needed a summer sky. I carried my solitude and sketchbook to the sea and had a summer conversation with my soul.

Art keeps hope alive in our hearts.

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American Art Collector Ad – Upcoming Events

American Art Collector Ad – Upcoming Events

American Art Collector magazine featuirng artist Daniel Ambrose in Cheryl Newby Gallery ad.While I was on my way back from Maine, I got a wonderful phone call from Cheryl Newby Gallery. They featured my egg tempera painting April in a full-page ad in the October issue of American Art Collector. I should send them flowers!

Summary of Upcoming Events

I’ve updated my Events page here. Following is a summary of what’s coming up in the next few months.

I’m neck deep in painting for my solo show at Hughes Gallery in Boca Grande in January. One for Sorrow and Eight for a Wish, two egg tempera’s from my series of ten paintings titled One for Sorrow, will be on exhibit. Also, a major seascape oil painting which I’ve had the idea for over fourteen years. It’s exhilarating to get it out of my head and see it come to life on canvas. I’ll post images of these and other paintings in future posts.

The American Tonalist Society founded by my great and talented friends Don Demers, Mary Erickson, Eleinne Basa and I is gathering steam. Our inaugural exhibition will be at the prestigious Salmagundi Club in New York city next May. Participation is by invitation only and we will have a tremendous group of painters from around the country. We are looking forward to a fabulous show! The enthusiastic response we’ve been receiving from other artists about our artistic endeavor is also exciting. Here is link to the American Tonalist Society website.

I recently hired a part time assistant, Suzanne, who has been helping me catalog all my paintings and studies I’ve created over the years. I’ll be posting some of them on my website as special offerings for the holiday season.

And last but not least, Cheryl Newby Gallery is having their 35th Anniversary Gallery Exhibit in November. I will have new three egg tempera paintings available and April, the painting featured in the magazine ad.

Be sure to check out my Events page and stay tuned for more new paintings!

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A Blue Day in August

A Blue Day in August

I aimed to leave for Maine on the 8th of August. The car packed and the studio clean. I had a long road ahead of me. The day came, and I wandered over to the beach with my coffee and sat in the sand to steep in the sunrise.

Intent on trying to decipher the blueish shadow color of the waves my visual memory ran through every blue I have known. Associations emerged from the ocean of my imagination.

In my mind as summer unwound, I’ve been musing on ideas for new paintings. And my thinking is nonlinear. It ropes through a constellation of images exploding through time. A swirling concoction of experiences tumble like seaweed through saltwater memories.

This is how paintings are born…. This is how inspiration unfolds…

“Do you want to live by the sea?” A voice rises from the blue bringing forgotten words discarded like broken seashells along the shore. One by one I pick them up and study them in memories light. Now I understand.

Ideas for paintings come like shooting stars. The best ones do. You got to net them when they pass. So I slip on my Bose, Mazzy Star on repeat, slide up the volume, and ride Fade Into You to abstraction.

Like a hammerhead shark chasing a tarpon, I’m gonna trail this arousing scent and see what comes from my unconscious.

Dreamlike images emerge. Liquid blue surrounds her in an island sea, painting her body against a blue mountain haze. Daylight fades. She burns her candles and closes her eyes and begins to sway to a rhythm only she feels. And evening becomes magic.

“I just want to be alone.” She says. “I have had a good life,” and gives me a white feather stolen from the shore. “I found this for you.”

Blue rides a roan horse on a plantation trail, turns and smiles in the jungle sunshine, bathes in a valley stream, and curls in white cashmere beside a wood fire. Blue swirls and hangs in memory like smoke suspended in icy winter air.

I’m standing on the lawn of a dead man’s mansion in the oldest mountains. A full moon rises above a famous bluesman’s head. The music is hot, the air smoking blue. We walk home through a forest of flowers, lanterns like fireflies guide our way.

Have I forgotten all I know about painting? Why do the rivers of my native home no longer hold their allure as subjects in themselves? Now I seek truth among celestial veils of secret places.

I hear the humming of a deeper music. No adjective or noun can define land or seascape. A body of unnamed colors marry a tribe of emotions. I see beyond coasts and clouds, forms resound from a distant consciousness, seductive like a Sirens call. I’ve got my ear to the wind, trying to decipher an ancient code.

Sandoval you sing, “I want to take a breath that’s true”. Please tell me, Hope. How do you paint the memory of blue?

Memories color the walls in the corridors of dreams, “colors your eyes with what’s not there.”

Each morning and evening I return to the sea.

Somewhere in the shadows of those waves,

I’ll find and paint a blue that’s true.

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