Friday, August 18, 2017

Colorado Sketchbooks

In July I traveled to Routt County, in Northwest Colorado. I visited family and did some historical research for a novel in progress.  On family outings and on solo trail runs  I carried small sketchbooks and a minimal pocket watercolor set. I made sketches of landscapes that caught my eye and heart, with the plan of making larger paintings from them in the months ahead. Here are a few I would like to share.
                   Mount Zirkel and Big and Little Agnes Mountains as seen from Steamboat Lake.
                            Hahn's Peak from  Steamboat Lake. In 1866, Joseph Hahn found gold, but succumbed to a brutal winter storm in 1867, before much could be mined. Others finished what he had started. The peak, part of the Elkhorn Range, dominates the landscape around it.
A solo trail run on the South Fork Trail in the Routt National Forest took me up though spruce and aspen and open meadows. One long meadow descent brought me to the quiet power  of the South Fork on its way to the bigger Elk River. I stayed a while, waded in the cold, rocky waters, then settled in to sketch.
                     Two views of the Zirkels as seen from the South Fork Trail.

All watercolor sketches by Kevin Macneil Brown, July 2017.



Friday, July 14, 2017

Midsummer Shores (watercolor paintings)


As always, the places where water, sky, and land come together are the places I love to paint.

Rocks at Oakledge, Lake Champlain

                                                     Berlin Pond, Changing Skies
                             
                                  Paintings by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor on paper, July 2017




             

Monday, April 17, 2017

First Drafts and Passages

With the first draft  of a novel  put away to rest---or cure, or proof, or ripen-- for the next two or three months, I have been thinking about the way each book seems to bring to me an inner crisis.

Some books actually begin with the crisis: the thing I’m feeling a deep need to work out; a yearning and restlessness beyond any understanding or resolution except via the irrational magic of making it into a story somehow.

At other times the crisis gathers force only when I am well into the writing, and suddenly the narrative takes over most of my energy and focus, until the story is shaped, completed.  This can be exhausting, physically and mentally.

Each book has had its own arc of crisis and resolution, and with experience I have come to learn—to feel inside—the moment of passage. That’s when I know the first draft—what I call the story draft—is ready, along with its writer, to rest for a while.

As one who is fond of sky and water metaphors, I can describe it like this:  The story that forms and becomes visible is shaped by things unseen, just as the waves on the surface of a lake or sea take their shape and form and motion from the vectors of the wind and tides, from the shapes and proportions of whatever lies hidden below.
                                                       

                                                                                                     
                            Island-  Mixed media collage and scan by Kevin Macneil Brown, April 2017.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunrise and Old Western Songs

                 
The first day of spring is the official release date for my new collection of songs. This album gathers together western and Americana-style originals written and recorded over the past two years.


               

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Winter Light, Close to Home

 My focus this winter had been on writing, with mornings spent on a first draft of the sixth Liam Dutra  New England  mystery novel.
 I have nonetheless managed to find some time to paint, usually in the afternoons. These painting sessions have often become a sort of meditation on what is right here all around me-- a welcome respite from the immersed- in- another- world feeling that comes with writing fiction.
Here are a couple of recent watercolors.

Afternoon, Late January




Whiterock and Mount Hunger in Morning Light, January

Paintings by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor and graphite, 2017.


Saturday, January 07, 2017

New Year, New Light

                                                           First Light, First Day of the Year  
                                         Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor on paper, 2017


It happens each year, of course, but I am always surprised at how noticeable the lengthening of the days and the strength of sunlight become,  just a couple of weeks past the winter solstice.

Another kind of light has found me in recent days also.  In December I was struggling to see my way further into the novel in progress. My production slowed way down-- despite a good start, I was feeling stuck.
 Just yesterday, however, something shifted. Here's what I wrote in my journal:

  ....logjam seems to breaking up...I think I need to just keep writing, letting the story come to me and take shape around the energy points that I do have in place already. It's a bit like a submerged mountain range: the high peaks are clear and visible, as is some of the ridge line. But there's a lot of mountain still beneath the water, waiting to be found. I've never had a story come to me this way before...
-KMB




Saturday, December 10, 2016

December Voices





December brings to me the urge to turn inward. This year I have a new book in progress, and its voices and stories have been coming quietly and steadily. Thus, inward seems to be the right direction.
I thank all of you who visit this blog and partake of the words, art, and music I share here. I hope you'll be back in 2017.
I will close the year here by sharing some recent music. The first track is an ambient piece inspired by the snowy landscape and late-autumn light.
The second is a country song that tells a story inspired by an early morning moment and a glimpse of a stranger.
The third is a cowboy Christmas song in a vintage style.
I hope you enjoy listening.
I wish you the best for this season and the new year ahead.