Saturday, January 30, 2016

Winter Morning Music

Like many endeavors, it begins with the second cup of coffee. It's a  cold January morning-- clear, the temperature below zero-- and sunlight spreads across  a snowy landscape, finds my window, suffuses the room.  I hear a cluster of tones inside me, and putting my coffee mug aside, take my steel guitar from the case. Steel bar in hand, I play the notes. Next, I rummage in my studio until I find the old Yamaha digital reverb-- 20th century vintage, seldom used of late-- that seems to be the tool I need. Within minutes I have a signal path to my computer, and I hit the record button.I begin to play, all the while internalizing that suffusion of winter light, letting it spread into the sounds I'm making.

Later that day, out on a trail run, I keep that music playing inside me as I explore the changing light and shadow of the winter day.  -KMB

                                     Photos by KMB

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mid-Winter: Snow, Light, and Paint.

During the Vermont winter, I find that the available light for watercolor painting is limited in duration. I do more drawing than painting during December and January.
But there are times when the light is right--and that's when I act quickly to paint the things that catch my attention. This year the snow did not arrive until January, making it all the more welcome -- and inviting to paint.

                                                Worcester Range, Morning, After Snow

Worcester Range, Morning Alpenglow

White Pine and Hemlocks in Falling Snow

Paintings by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor and graphite on paper, 2016.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Liminal Reflections

                                            SAILBOATS, LAKE CHAMPLAIN
                        Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor and graphite on paper, 2015

Winter weather appears to be on the horizon at last here in Vermont, after what seems to have been the longest autumn ever.  This calm stretch has been strange, but it has also offered extended opportunities to contemplate big skies, bare light on the bare landscape, and reflections on waterways that seldom remain open and free of any ice so late into December.
Reflections, light, and water were important to me in 2015, coming up again and again in my painting and writing. So, as the year ends, it seems fitting that I take some time to go inside and reflect upon the currents, shapes, shadows, and light-falls that have guided my explorations.
Among these thoughts are those of deep gratitude for you who follow the words, images, and sounds I share. It is an honor to have you partake of these offerings, these energies I receive and transmit as best as I can. Thank you for your part in the confluence!
I look forward to new adventures and explorations in 2016, including the publication of the fifth book in the Liam Dutra New England mystery series, THE ISLAND OF ANCIENT LIGHT, sometime in the fall.
I wish you all wonderful things, for right now--and the year ahead!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

from THE ISLAND OF ANCIENT LIGHT ( Novel in Progress)

Over the past summer and fall I have been working on THE ISLAND OF ANCIENT LIGHT,  the fifth novel in the Liam Dutra New England mystery series.

 I finished the first draft a few days ago,  and I would like to celebrate by sharing a short excerpt here.
This scene finds Liam, a historian and writer with a penchant for stirring  up troublesome old secrets, at the beginning of a quest that takes him along the shores of Lake Champlain:

  …The morning brought good omens for my excursion up the lake in the Sea Nymph. They were bird omens, pretty much my favorite kind.
 Three massive great blue herons pterodactyl-ed over me in the silver-gray mist down at the marina in the quiet morning— the first herons I’d seen all season.
  A few minutes later, with the fourteen-footer and 50-horse Evinrude outboard chugging out into the smooth and silver lake passage, the mist breaking up to reveal a soft summer-blue sky above, I spotted an osprey, the mostly white fish hawk patterned with dark brown--massive, crook-winged, and powerful-- winging directly overhead.
 Both the heron and osprey feel like familiars to me, and sometimes they seem like guides in my line of work as a historian, writer, researcher.
  The heron knows how to hunt wisely and calmly: waiting and waiting in stillness at water's edge, then grabbing its prey decisively when the moment arrives.
  The osprey is always in motion, seeking its meal from a long view high above, then-- after finding it-- diving suddenly, explosively, into the water’s surface tension; grabbing with sharp talons and pulling up the dripping, struggling prey.
  I’ve found that both methods can work well when investigation and exploration—-the finding of lost things, lost stories— is the mission at hand....

    - excerpt from THE ISLAND OF ANCIENT LIGHT, a novel in progress by Kevin Macneil Brown (Coming in autumn  of 2016.)


               The Liam Dutra Series is available in print and kindle editions at


                                                      Kevin Macneil Brown's Author Page


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October Ridge (Poem and Painting)

                                          October 6, Morning- Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
                                          watercolor on paper, 2015.

At the place below river bend you will find
the stone sluice, gray with shadows
that morning sun will soon submerge.
Turn north here, and toward
the quartzite mountains.

The wooden gate has fallen and rotted,
 but it’s still there,
 beneath a rusted galaxy of  dead leaves released
 by October wind and rain.

The climb toward the ridge will be a long one,
but you will arrive
at a grove of great beeches—you will know them by their
copper shimmer.

Reaching this high place, please, if you would like to,
write some words on the empty sky revealed
through and between
the trees above and around you.

 I would feel blessed if you would wait for me here:
 I am wandering somewhere along that ridge,
 and my heart is full to overflow
 with the dream of our reunion.

-Kevin Macneil Brown

Monday, August 10, 2015

Memories, Boats, and Reflections.

This summer I have been making paintings of boats, in particular following a fascination with their reflections on water in different conditions of sunlight and weather. A few days back I had a small epiphany when I realized-- and remembered-- one strong source for this.

When I was a boy I spent long summers in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where both my parents were born and raised. Back then, walks to the working harbor with my Grampy Brown-- John Brown-- were the very best part of my summer days. In memory I can still see the chaos of many boats along the piers, the patterns of reflection and shadow, the colors and motion of light and shade on the  never-still water.

Now, at Lake Champlain--mostly at Perkins Pier in Burlington, Vermont-- it seems that I am exploring,through sketching and painting,  some part of those mysteries and possibilities that I felt back then in Gloucester at seven or eight years old.

 The light and wind are always changing. Boats at moorings do not sit still. But there's plenty of summer left, and the beautiful angled light of autumn to follow. I figure I will  never run out of images to paint. 

And I find myself happily surprised to be learning how deep surfaces can actually be.


 Boats in morning light at Perkins Pier.  Watercolor sketches by Kevin Macneil Brown, Summer 2015.

Monday, July 27, 2015

summer light seen from front steps (watercolor painting)

Last week, a forecast of afternoon thunderstorms led me to abandon plans for a day of lakeshore painting.
But the light and shadow of a summer afternoon, seen shimmering right from my front steps, captured my attention. I made two sketches, and then realized I wanted to paint what I saw. So I did.
The thunderstorms never arrived, at home or at the lake.  But as it turned out, I was happy to be reminded that sometimes the front yard is exactly far enough to go.


Sketch  and painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, graphite and watercolor on paper,  2015.