The Beckoning

The Beckoning

The Beckoning

The beckoning, oil painting of beach path to rising sun by Daniel Ambrose

The Beckoning. Oil painting by Daniel Ambrose

Forty years, three months and twenty-one days ago, I sobered up. I got off the dead-end road I was headed down, and took the beckoning one — as the poet Robert Frost penned, the one less traveled.

As 2019 comes to a close, I look back in wonder on it and the preceding years with gratitude. Grace has brought me here today.

From the earliest time I can remember, when I was four, I have been filled with a yearning. A yearning to be outdoors, under an open sky, among marshes, birds, beaches and sun. My joy and sense of well-being frolicking amid my primal friends grew into a desire to express the wonders, appreciation and miraculous things I experienced in nature. But I did not know how.

Highly sensitive, my inability to articulate the ineffable grew into an anger and frustration directed inward. This combined with tragedy and adversity brewed a wildness and self-destructiveness that almost overtook me. I came to a fork in my life road and made a decision.

Life’s major decisions are the turning points. The moments that you can’t relive. Once decided, irreplaceable days of your life are invested. You make a choice, commit with all your heart and live out your decision. That day all those years ago, I chose life.

I began to express myself in creative, constructive ways. I built a house, started a sign business, made furniture, stained-glass, grew flowers and embarked on a spiritual journey.

On the 6th year anniversary of that day, I took up painting. It took 10 years of self training to paint soulfully, with intellect and experience.  I believe I learned more about myself than I have about painting.

I know for certain that my spiritual and art quest saved my life.

Art has given me adventure and the best of friends. As I look back on 2019 my heart is filled with gratitude for everyone who has walked my road with me, if only for a few moments. You are all so dear to me. Thank you.

In those dark days many years ago, I could never imagine that art would bring me three greatest, talented friends. Mary Erickson, Don Demers and Eleinne Basa. Together we founded the American Tonalist Society and in the spring of 2019 held our inaugural show in New York City.

Who knows what 2020 and the next decade will bring. I have no resolutions. Personally and professionally I am at peace. I only desire to live each day mindfully, doing meaningful work, learning to be kinder, loving more…

… while the beckoning continues.

Happy New Year, my friend.
Peace, Love & Light
Daniel

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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Shelter

Shelter

Shelter

Shelter, egg tempera painting of bird resting in a dune shadow, by Daniel AmbroseShelter, egg tempera painting. Private collection.

A distant train horn penetrates the shelter of predawn silence. A nocturnal bird chirps, chasing the receding echo of the train. Familiar companions passing in the night. Bird and train. Their voices whisk me back to a childhood memory.

When I was eleven I delivered the newspaper, morning and evening. Seven days a week the alarm woke me at 4:30. Pulling on clothes, I’d stumble outside to the front porch where a large bundle of newspapers, dropped off earlier, were waiting for me.

Sitting cross-legged under the front porch light, I would fold each paper, slip a green rubber band over it and stuff it upright in the canvas bag tied to the handlebars of my sting-ray bike.

Sunday’s, the bag was so heavy that it rubbed on my fenderless front tire and wore a hole through the canvas. I had to keep one hand in the bag to stop the papers from falling out and tried not to crash as I weaved and bumped over the washboard dirt roads of my neighborhood.

It was still dark when I pedaled off. The sky lightened halfway through my route after I crossed the wooden bridge over Nova road canal at 3rd street. There I headed north to deliver to three houses on a half mile dirt track that paralleled the canal’s eastern side.

The last house deep in the woods was McGregor’s. A colorful man who dressed as a clown and pedaled a wonky scooter in the annual Christmas parade. A miniature scale train, large enough to ride, circled the family’s front yard.

Between the three houses were a horse pasture and woods.

In early winter, mist rose from the canal, blanketed the road and drifted through the pasture. As I emerged from the woods, the sunrise saturated the mist in an orange-red glow, bathing the pasture and grazing horses in an ethereal light.

I would pause and note the sublime moment. Birds sang in the cathedral-like trees and in the distance rumbled the muffled wail of a southbound freight train.

I was a Catholic kid and Friday afternoons went to Confession and Sunday’s fidgeted through remote Latin masses. But it was only during my dawn ritual watching those horses on that dirt road beside slow moving southern waters that I felt exalted, and the stirrings of a holy presence.

And so began a lifelong spiritual quest, searching for meaning through extremes. I traveled through dark forests, thorough addiction, the death of many loved ones, heartbreak and homelessness.

Gradually, through my art, at the sanctuary of my easel I discovered a threshold to the divine.

I found a sacred place of serenity and beauty to share with you through my paintings.

In my art I found shelter.

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Family Renew Fundraiser

Family Renew Fundraiser

Family Renew Fundraiser

Painting of birds flying over Thompsons creek, Ormond Beach

New Beginnings by Daniel Ambrose

ARTISTS WITH HEARTS OF GOLD

My friend and local Ormond Beach artist, Karlene McConnell is coordinating a fundraising event for Family Renew Community. A worthwhile cause that helps families get back on their feet and equip them with skills and resources to stay self-sufficient.

Family Renew Community is a faith-based organization that provides a safe, stable home for homeless families with children. Celebrating 30 years, Family Renew Community has been restoring hope to struggling families throughout Volusia County since 1989. You can learn more on their website Family Renew or visit their Facebook page.

Karlene describes the art event as, “a classy-casual evening with local artists exhibiting and selling their artwork, along with a silent auction, live music, heavy hors d’oeuvres and beverages.”

I donated a signed, framed giclee print titled New Beginnings that features egrets flying over Thompson’s Creek in Ormond Beach. The scene was inspired near my home on the Tomoka River where I lived for many years.

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to support many families, educational and environmental institutions with my art. I believe in using my art as a way of serving.

By purchasing a work such as New Beginnings, you support the Family Renew Community and take home art you love, knowing you helped a family in a time of  great need.

Family Renew Community Art Event, Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 5:30 PM–8 PM.

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Travelin’ Through

Travelin’ Through

Travelin’ Through

Travelin' Through. Egg tempera painting of the South Toe River by Daniel Ambrose

Travelin’ Through. Egg tempera painting

The sound of water running over rocks through hot summer days in the Appalachian mountains inspired this egg tempera painting, Travelin’ Through.

Cardinals, Crows and Scarlet Tanagers sing and call to one another in the tree canopy as deer pass silent along shore. I perch on a rock in the middle of the South Toe river and paint small studies. Bringing them back to my studio, I lean them around my easel for reference and begin painting Travelin’ Through.

That was the summer of 2008. Over the years, I worked on the painting through times as turbulent as that mountain stream. Eventually, I set it aside unfinished.

This spring, I pulled the painting off the wall and once again set it on the easel.

I crack open and prepare an egg. With a palette knife, I mix white, ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson and raw umber in egg and water on a porcelain plate.

Swirling my brush in this ancient alchemy of colors, luminous hues flow, summoning memories of birdsong and cool river breezes. Remembered laughter of mountain friends and warm sunshine comes while I paint… blissfully travelin’ through the blue haze of time.

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Coastal Bird Series 8 x 8 Paintings

Coastal Bird Series 8 x 8 Paintings

Coastal Bird Series 8 x 8 Paintings

Oil painting of Royal Tern by Daniel Ambrose

Royal Tern, oil on panel

Throughout summer, I have been working on a new Coastal Bird series of small oil paintings for Cheryl Newby Gallery.

Here are three of them out of nine in the series so far.

Royal Tern, oil painting by Florida artist Daniel Ambrose

Oil painting of gull by Florida artist Daniel Ambrose

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A Summer Song

A Summer Song

A Summer Song

A Summer Song, egg tempera painting

After our American Tonalist Society inaugural show in New York City in May, we have been working on publishing our Shades of Gray catalog. However, I painted this egg tempera, Summer Song, and started a new Coastal Bird series I will share in a later post.

I began my art career painting light falling on birds. These creatures who inhabit land and air enthrall me, as does the wonder of all nature. Decades ago I donated to many conservation causes and served on a few boards until becoming overwhelmed by all our vital environmental issues.

The struggles of raising a family and running a business took precedent over global matters. Sometimes it was all I could do to keep our own heads above water. My children are now the age I was then. The intervening years brought forth an increasing amount of new evidence based environmental data.

In my studio are shelves of books by men and women who have shaped my thoughts and inspired me over the years. Artists, prophets, scientists and spiritual leaders. Each one contributing to the artist and man I became. Their ideas planted seeds that rooted and grew into beneficial forests of hope and beauty for humankind. One individual influences many.

On my easel now is a large oil painting of a scene I sketched over twenty-five years ago and birthed an idea. Like so many other beloved wild places in my native Florida, that setting is now another subdivision. Homes built so quick and cheap that major appliances need replacing in 5 years. The stately old moss-draped oxygen giving trees that would have shaded the transient arrivals homes, and provided food and cover for dozens of species, bulldozed into mountains and burned.

I did not have the knowledge to do this painting back then. It represents a circling back to my artistic roots. It’s destined for my show at Hughes Gallery next year. I will share it in the coming months. Follow me on Instagram to see works in progress.

The exhibition hall in our American Tonalist Society show was adorned with grand paintings testifying to the beautiful and spiritual embodiment’s of nature. Art students from a nearby atelier visited and spent reflective moments in front of each painting. They spoke of the spiritual void among their peers, and how these tonal landscape paintings evoked a quiet spiritual truth and beauty lacking in much contemporary art.  “They told us this was dead art,” a young student exclaimed.

To see the enthusiasm on their young faces for landscape paintings was heart warming and inspiring. I am thinking my new work will be a path to help heal the planet. A journey to wholeness.

My painting Summer Song, is available at Crossnore Gallery in North Carolina. Sale proceeds benefit the children’s Stepping Stones program.

One individual makes a difference.

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