Where I Find You, oil on linen

Where I Find You, oil on linen, by Daniel Ambrose

I’m happy to be able to finally show this painting to you. Where I Find You is a major new oil painting in which I continue to deepen the exploration of ideas using the seascape as my motif.

I am also beginning to incorporate techniques that I use in my egg tempera paintings. During the process of painting this seascape I developed an oil painting medium that allowed me to achieve the luminous quality of light that I love to paint. I will write more about my thoughts and inspiration behind this series in future posts. Kindred Spirits began a shift in this new direction, and in Aquablue I poured it all out.

Where I Find You will be available at Hughes Gallery in Boca Grande, Florida for a special reception tomorrow night.

Painting Details:
Where I Find You
Oil on linen
36 x 48 in.

Gallery Reception:
February 11, 7 – 9 p.m.
Hughes Gallery
333 Park Ave
Boca Grande, Fl

Inquires about this painting or the event:  Barbara Hughes 941-964-4273.

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Art from Morning Tea

by Daniel Ambrose on February 4, 2016

watercolor painting of tea cupOpening the cabinet door, I remove the white tea cup and set it on the counter. Its stout shape with fluted sides and flared brim vaguely evoke images of a vintage British sun helmet.

I take a tea bag from its box. Organic, green tea. From outside the window a wren sings in the ligustrum. The tea bag is between my fingers—the sound of paper being torn, of water dribbling into the cup, of the click then hum of the microwave—four minutes. I contemplate a painting on the easel. Five birds glide in platinum water. Ding! I slip my finger through the handle. Hot! Being present, I move from the kitchen to the stairs, the stairs to the morning room doorway, to the chair, transfer the cup from my hand to hers.

This cup belongs to another and holds little value for me. However, I do care immensely about the idea of possession, the symbolism of belonging that is attached to this particular cup. I care because another cares. It is a small thing, this tea cup, and light, but the idea of attachment—of belonging to something, to someone—bears weight.

Because she prefers this cup, because she loves to sip green tea from it in that chair, in the quiet of early morning—quiet save for the expression of her breath when she sips, the creak of the chair, the rustle of cotton nightwear, of birdsong. Because of these ritualized moments, I take note long to remember.

This cup of small value, this tangible object has become symbolic of an intangible exchange of life, a priceless artistic expression.

Then again it’s not the cup, nor the tea, nor the singing wren, though each lend their colors to my musing. No, it is the investment of attuned time—moments held in awareness, in gratitude—that inspire me. Often not for the thing itself, but for how it makes me feel. I attach meaning to moments, objects and places, infusing my thoughts and emotions with my visual acquisitions. Like a tea bag seeps in water.

Attaching meaning to things—the melding of motifs, awareness, intellect and emotions becomes art.

This is what I love about painting, about being an artist. Cultivating an awareness and appreciation of ordinary things, recreating these focused moments with paint and love and time allows me to express myself exquisitely.

What value can be placed on observed moments?—on time shared?—on enlightened encounters amid the fog and fires of life?

What value can be placed on a life filled with love?

On an artist steeped in the hot water of life?

On the art that flows from her hands?

On shared morning tea?

On a memory?

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Living in Astonishment

by Daniel Ambrose on January 19, 2016

Solist, egere flying over wave. Egg tempera painting by Daniel Ambrose

The Messenger, egg tempera, 2016. Daniel Ambrose

sanderling bird sleeping egg tempera painting by Daniel Ambrose

Asleep to Dream IV, egg tempera. 2016

The Messenger and Asleep to Dream IV are new egg tempera paintings just off the easel and headed to Hughes Gallery for their winter season.

They are visual indicators of thoughts I circle. In essence, perhaps these two paintings are simply about noticing things—the beauty of natural moments—of birds, of stillness and gratitude, about living in astonishment.

Besides being astonished, learning to appreciate a moment can cultivate a sense of happiness. Painting from life will do it, and meditation is another way to bliss.

While painting these two temperas, I’ve been listening to On Being with Krista Tippet. In a podcast interview, Krista’s guest, Ellen Langer, Harvard professor of psychology, said that meditation is a means to an end:

“Meditation, no matter what kind of meditation, is engaged to produce post-meditative mindfulness.”

In other words you have to meditate to be in the moment—meditate to be happy.

Dr. Langers, decades of research has shown that we can skip the meditation and jump right to the end. The simple act of actively noticing things, will result in increased health and happiness.

“And so, mindfulness, for me, is the very simple process of actively noticing new things. When you actively notice new things that puts you in the present, makes you sensitive to context. As you’re noticing new things, it’s engaging. And it turns out, after a lot of research, that we find that it’s literally, not just figuratively, enlivening.”

We all have our problems. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be alive. The secret to getting more joy out of life, is to simply pay attention and actively notice things. In general, deeply noticing people and things in our lives begets astonishment. Astonishment begets gratitude. Gratitude begets happiness.

Which pretty much sums up my artist friends and my experience of drawing and painting from life. The moments in my life when I’ve been totally absorbed in observation or drawing from life, reside happily in me with great clarity. From these memories I can draw a kingfisher on a slender limb, Venus beside the moon, the shape of her eye, the tender curves of those lips…

In noticing, I’ve been a receiver, a grateful witness to illuminating moments of inspiration.

Look around you and actively observe something. What do you notice?

For my painting The Messenger, I lifted the title from a Mary Oliver poem. In it she writes quite eloquently about noticing and astonishment.

The Messenger
Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird — equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth
and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all,
over and over, how it is that we live forever.

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