Monday, April 18, 2016

quarry ridge- poem, music, photographs

Last spring I went for a long trail run up into the trails around what once must have been a small-- perhaps family operated-- quarry. I was inspired by the first real green of spring, the sense of opening, the hazy mystery of distant hills and mountains seen through trees. I took quite a few photos along the way, and as I ran home words and sentences began to form. Over the next few weeks I sculpted those words into a  poem.  Over the following winter I made the accompanying music, with lap steel, laptop, and kalimba, keeping in mind the idea of an ancient journey that leads into timelessness.
Here are those elements combined, in the form of a short video:

quarry ridge from Kevin Macneil Brown on Vimeo.

April Vernal- Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor and map sections on paper, 2014.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Poised at season's edge....

                                       Dawn, Eastern Uplands- Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
                                             watercolor on paper, 2016

It may have been the winter that never was here in Vermont, but I suspect there will be a bit more winter mixed with the spring that arrives this week.  With most of my work time devoted to the third draft of a book  right now, I'm taking a moment, on this quiet Sunday morning, to share a look back and a look ahead.
Letting winter go, I share this short video combining most of this year's winter watercolors with new music for lap steel and laptop:

and winter light spilled slowly... from Kevin Macneil Brown on Vimeo.

On my sonic easel is a work in progress. This section was made with steel guitar and kalimba. The idea is of a journey in an ancient time.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Thoughts on the Third Draft

Third drafts, I find, can be somewhat geological. With the story and characters --mostly-- what they will be, I now come across veins, lodes, and layers of theme and mood, character and development.  Through rewrite and revision I can polish and clarify, connecting and revealing these things. It’s like discovering secrets within my own book. The third draft is also a good time for digging deeper into historical research and map work—fine-tuning details of background and location.

 After this, in the drafts that follow, a painterly metaphor might better describe the process— working with subtle tints and brushstrokes that will bring out detail, shadow, and highlights.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Colorado Sunset (watercolor painting)

A place, a moment--its shapes, colors, textures, light, shadows-- can be held inside for a long time before it shows up in a finished painting. The western view at Vista Verde Ranch in Clark, Colorado, has a particular resonance for me, vibrating with its beauty and power, with family memories and a sense of personal transformation.
On a December visit a couple of years back, I painted every day, filling a medium-sized watercolor sketchbook. Over the years I have painted watercolors from those sketches, mostly of the high peaks to the east and north.

A few days ago,though, I had a strong urge to paint a particular sunset that I had sketched loosely from the porch pictured above. (The place where I began and finished each sketching day, with wanderings in between.)  I consulted my sketchbooks and memory, then, on good watercolor paper, made the simple sketch below, leaving plenty of room for sky:

After that, in afternoon light, I chose and mixed my palette ( Payne's gray,  ultramarine, yellow ochre, permanent rose) and painted until finished:
                                WINTER SUNSET, VISTA VERDE RANCH- Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor and graphite on paper, February 2016.)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Sketchbook Visitors with Stories to Tell...

I’ve written here recently about the fact that I tend to draw more than paint in the mid-winter months. This has a lot to do with the light—or lack of it-- in my studio. It might also be a response to a landscape that seems less about color and more about line, light, and sparse shadow.
This past year I have noticed something new happening in my sketchbooks. I draw every day, sometimes practicing ideas and techniques, sometimes rendering landscapes or nearby objects. What has surprised me, though, is the way people have begun to show up in my sketchbooks. They arrive as characters, with a back story that reveals itself as I draw. As time goes by, these characters and stories linger, and I begin to see where they might be going.  
The surprise in this is that I end up with people and events to write about. I’m finding this a new—and welcome—part of my writing process.
Below is a selection of some of these visitors. A few I have already written about; most are waiting in the wings until I finish the current book, Liam Dutra mystery number five.

                                     Sketchbook pages by Kevin Macneil Brown, 2015-2016

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.