To Sleep to Dream II, egg tempera painting

To Sleep to Dream II, egg tempera painting

It’s that feeling of having a word on the tip of your tongue that you can’t recall, or not remembering the title of that Marvin Gaye tune spinning in my head.

Gazing all morning through the high window at a boundless blue sky, I half expect answers will form in the ether, like smoke signals from a skywriter. Instead, a mockingbird zips by, it’s white wing bars message me in minus signs. No answer here my friend.

Turning back to the easel, I ponder a new painting, A Promising Path. It’s an exhilarating process I’m exploring in my art right now. Reaching for something I sense more than see—something I know. Beauty, love and memory, are becoming my inspiration trinity.

Artists are interpreters of the ineffable—dealers in dreams, and dreams are nebulous things.

But a field never got plowed by turning it over in your mind, so I pick up the brush, mix a little egg, a bit of cobalt blue, and trust enchanment will come.

You are on the right path. Keep your feet on earth, your head in the heavens, and your heart in each step. Success will come.

It’s right there, just like that word on the tip of your tongue.

About the painting:
To Sleep to Dream II
egg tempera with oil glazes
14 x 11 inches
Available at Cheryl Newby gallery



Believe, egg tempera painting in progress, by Daniel Ambrose

To all my painter brothers and sisters. What inspires you? What moves you to paint, what makes you alive?

I’ll share with you where I currently am in my own evolution as a painter.

Though my thoughts, my work, are no more or less than your own. We each are a drop in the ocean of art. Each contributing to humanity’s historical body of art.

The only thing I ask of you, is to strive for excellence. There is enough mediocrity in the world. Your work is meaningful, an opportunity to inspire and speak of the powerful emotions and events that shake us, make us human. An artist work is to express our universal bonds—our soulful connections. What is your intention?

Nature has always been my primary inspiration. The struggle to depict what I see and feel in a representational manner occupied most of my early years while I developed my voice. In addition to teaching myself the fundamentals of picture making; the properties of color, value, drawing, perspective, etc. I learned about anatomy, habitat, seasons and structures.

Seeing is never enough for me, I want to understand the how and why, the cause and effect—the intelligence behind the thing. Dorothy Sayers called it The Mind of the Maker.

We are not only artists but humans first. Our cumulative life experiences shape our art. My own journey has delivered me to a new plateau.

Living has brought me face to face with powerful, profound forces that I do not understand. They confound and ask of me many probing questions. I am seeking the answers in my work.

One thing that I am clear about. Through the waves and troughs of life, the immense beauty of it all swamps me in wonder, filling my senses with awe.

When I picture you, all I can see is a beautiful being enveloped in luminous, emotional hues. These vague and vast impressions are what I am exploring in the limited scope of pigment. It makes me get out of bed each morning.

We each are unique and it is your story I want to see and hear. Teach me. Show me what inspires you.

And not just my artist friends. Indeed, you as well, are a gift to someone special in your life.

Show them.

It can be the way you present a plate of food, an encouraging word, a thoughtful note left on a pillow, or a kind act. This is art too, and art is love.

What makes you alive?

Who do you love?

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I drew this pencil sketch of a white daffodil, on a piece of land in the Carolina mountains on the morning of April 28, 2008. In the background is a large, old white pine that is diseased and dying. The delicate, fragile petals of the flower playing before the decaying, brittle pine—the contrast of concept and textures—told me a story.

Daffodils, pencil sketch 28, April 2008

Daffodils, pencil sketch 28, April 2008

One day, I will paint a lovely tempera for you.

Looking at the drawing now, I am there, sketching by the fish pond, draped in the dewy light. Sunlight streams through the trees in the cool, spring air—feels happy on my face. Music floats upstairs from the barn. We’ll run errands in town soon. Life is blossoming all around me, renewed in me. Millions of heartbeats pulse in the breeze that silently stirs the young leaves.

The steep, gravel drive beside me slopes down through black walnut trees, and over a trickling stream to meet the road. The UPS driver said the road to this place is the prettiest one in Mitchell county. From the top of the hill by the church, you can see Roan Mountain and Mt. Mitchell. I’ve painted on many back roads in this tri-county area, and I’m in accordance with him.

I wonder who named this road. I think they had a sense of humor. Nate, a neighbor, told me that it once was an old wagon road. Said there used to be a house on the curve across the driveway from the property. It must have been a tiny house, because the land falls sharply away from the roadside. Down below are castle-like granite boulders protecting a small stream, giving it a fairy tale setting.

The neighbors are some of the nicest folks I know. One of them, Jay, used to mow around the driveway, and the sides of the road way up to the church. When he died of a sudden heart attack that winter, his daughter carried on with his work. An unbroken act of love.

I see a lot of smiles acting on that road, shining in summer gardens, apple blossoms and apple butter, and autumn fires. Critters too. Goats, horses, deer, wild turkeys and these little guys that always make me smile when I see them scampering alongside the road. Here is a charcoal sketch of a bunny.

Rabbit, charcoal sketch

Bunny rabbit, charcoal sketch

Life on this road may not be grand or glorious. It’s delightfully unpretentious and real. Where people do for each other.

Many friends, many memories of happy hours, many faces. . .so many. For all that, only the smiling face of a single flower, binds my heart to the land, yonder on that road in the Carolina mountains.

Aside: When my Facebook Studio page reaches 200 Likes, I’ll give a sketch in appreciation.