Softly, You Whisper

Softly, You Whisper

Softly, You Whisper

The two of us, oil painting by Daniel Ambose . 2 birds a sescape and cloud

The Two of Us

I was sitting on the steps in the April sun, following the breeze through a field of yellow, pink and white wildflowers. Or was I dreaming of a faraway sea? Wherever I am, softly, you whisper.

Inspiration is divine. A gift to cherish and not squander. It materializes like a cloud passing vaporous on an ocean horizon. Soon to disappear if not seized. A lifetime of painting proved this true.

This life of art has been a long journey of learning. More, it has been a pathway of the heart.

The seed of my art sowed in the swamps and sea of my native Florida. It sprouted when I was 17, on the edge of homelessness, traveling around the country in a 1969 Chevy van. It germinated in the February snows of Wyoming hills, misty California valley mornings, and flaming Nevada desert sunsets. Restless nights, tossing under endless stars. And later it deepened in days of terror and detox. In midlife it flourished in smoky Appalachian mountains, southern blue skies, and my children’s laughter. Building a home, a business, a family, accumulation and many deaths and divorce. Then the passing of all these things until Maine summers and a wealth of dear friends rejuvenated my soul. People ask, how do you make art? A life makes art.

Long ago, tangible things like materials, technique and subject informed my paintings. Now I explore ephemeral frontiers of concepts. How do you paint Gratitude, Respect and Reverence? How do you transform paint into Love?

The sun has carved scars on my body, and the wind has lined my eyes, but age has not dimmed desire.

Reach deep, my creative friend. Put away your screens and worldly things. The fire is growing hotter, and the ice is melting. Birds are falling from the sky.

Humanity is on the line, yet goodness will prevail. Inspiration awaits in flowers and sunlight, on the shores of beauty and silence.

I have not been the best, but I pray I will be better. I stand on the shore with the One, listening…

Softly, You whisper.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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May Twilight in the Time of Covid-19

May Twilight in the Time of Covid-19

May Twilight in the Time of Covid-19

May Twilight. Egg tempera painting of an egret on a branch above moonlight water

May Twilight. Egg tempera painting by Daniel Ambrose

May Twilight is one of 14 paintings I delivered to Cheryl Newby Gallery in South Carolina for my Summer Show. The exhibition runs from June 27 to July 25.

It was my first trip since Covid -19. I took extra precautions on the road and practiced the 3 W’s recommended by epidemiologists and virologists. Wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distances.

During this pandemic, many of us are learning we can do with less, by necessity or choice. Long ago I chose the latter. So I channeled my creativity and structured my life, as I described in this post, Our Song. I sacrificed to live to paint and not paint to live.

I do not know if current events influenced my painting, May Twilight. Perhaps unconsciously, I sought a feeling of stillness contrasted with movement.  An abstract idea made visible in the tangible elements of bird, water and light. A balanced tension resides in their juxtaposition.

I do know that I find peace and inspiration in these elements. In singular moments of gentle beauty.

In times of chaos and disruption, I return to the center of quiet things. I focus on moments.

In the words of poet, Mary Oliver, “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

Visit Cheryl Newby Gallery website to view the show.

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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.

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