Sunday, April 01, 2018

Hinman Lake, July ( watercolor painting)

                                          Hinman Lake, July ( Clark, Colorado) 
                                     Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor on paper, 2018

A steep climb, and then a trail through a paradise of aspens; trail meeting this shore in late-morning shadow, sun, sky, reflection. I swore I heard the ratcheting, resonant call of  a sandhill crane, but saw no birds when I scanned the sky.   Months later, looking at a photo I had taken that day, I noticed a speck in the sky that I thought might be the result of some dust caught on the lens. But a zoom-in revealed the shape: long neck and wings of a crane in flight.-KMB

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Three thoughts in early spring (painting)

Three thoughts in early spring- Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
graphite, watercolor, and ballpoint pen on paper, 3/24/2018

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Places of power and repose (new music)

There are places I can go to—woods, rivers, shorelines, high mountains—where the deep presence of something true arrives inside me. It often comes from the impossible approach of sounds that are almost a silence, a mystery.  For days, weeks, months afterward I carry these sounds inside. When the need is strong, I go to my studio and find ways to bring these sounds back, to share what I can of the gifts received in these places of power and repose.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Wheeler's Point (watercolor painting)

                                       Wheeler's Point- painting by Kevin Macneil Brown,
                                       watercolor and gouache on paper, 2018.

Painting the other day, and a memory surfaced as it took shape on the paper. It was fifteen or so years ago, a day spent with my mother, Patricia Macneil, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, her home town. We spent a drizzly spring day exploring, revisiting places and stories strong in her memory. For some reason I really wanted to find the place called Wheeler’s Point, and we ended up alongside the tidal, liminal wash of the Annisquam River. 
All this returned  about halfway through the process of  making this watercolor, and I had the sensation, as I moved the paint, of an old  Polaroid  paradoxically dissolving and developing at the same time. Two days later now, and I am grateful for the rising of this memory to the surface. -KMB

Monday, February 26, 2018

Trail Run

 And then there are days when you are given a chance to take a trail, one you have never been on before. You say yes to the moment, fill up your water bottle, and head out, not sure what you will find. After a half hour of climbing, you come to an opening, and there it is: a place you have been waiting all your life to find. Almost breathless at this altitude, you keep running. You know you will get home later, but for now you just want to keep going and going, Distant snowy mountains shimmer in the July sunlight. A Coopers Hawk circles in the pure cerulean sky. Outward now is inward, and inward is the new unknown...

                                                          Hinman Lake, Number 5
                   Painting by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor and graphite on paper, 2018

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Secret Waters, Wilderness Shadows (New Music)

With freezing rain and sleet pinging wind-blown against the windows before dawn, it seemed the perfect January morning to stay inside. Coffee and meditation led to a second cup-- and a surge of deep cleaning and re-organization of my studio space.
Before long the resultant opening of inner and outer spaciousness led to an idea. I found the audio file of a steel guitar improv that had been the heart of a previous composition, and began to re-work it with retrograde, delay, panning; EQ, layers of chorus and echo.  After a while I heard another opening, and added three layers of pulse and shimmer on staggered mandolin tracks, then panned them like voices of birds, like shadows of tree-branches.
Three mixes in, and there it was: a place in sound that I belonged to for the moment.-KMB

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Blue Song, Far Shimmer (New Book)

I am excited to announce the publication of the sixth Liam Dutra mystery novel, BLUE SONG, FAR SHIMMER.  This one sends Liam on the lost trail of a Vermont woman who vanished back in 1925. As Liam traces her past through a far mountain landscape he finds himself confronting his own darkest fears and visions. 

Here's the first chapter if you'd like to check it out:

Chapter One

   Golden light suffused the chapel of Saint Augustine’s church.  The sound of the choir had the hushed feel of gentle snowfall, a soft blur as they sang--together, for the most part.  Or maybe it was that pale light somehow blending with the music, making harmonies sound better, more perfect than they actually were. 
 Our daughter, Rose, was a sleeping bundle, warm in my arms. Of course she was asleep: What better way to quiet an over-excited five-year old than a Mass delivered in murmurs on Christmas Eve by an elderly priest who seems to be barely awake himself?
Shawn’s mother, Faye Donahue, had warned us that Father Thomas, a guest of the parish this night, might be lulling, to use her word for it. But she was thrilled to have her daughter and granddaughter with her in church tonight. It was a promise we’d made to her, and making good on it felt right.
I myself was doing my very best to stay awake. The mellow light and stained glass, the kind voices, the smells of soap and perfume and wool clothes tinged with winter wood smoke were pulling me into dreamland.
But a sudden cold draft from the cathedral’s open doors at the end of the service stirred me awake. I stood, handed over to Shawn the slack bundle that was our daughter, and slipped into my old gray sweater.
Outside in the dark, people thronged in chattering groups to their parked cars along Barre Street. A century ago this street and been home to work-sheds for the granite industry and rows of apartment houses for the laborers--many of them Italian, Scots, Irish, Swedes---here in the hill-nestled city of Montpelier, Vermont.
 This church, tall and imposing with its gray stone and big rose windows, had been the heart of the neighborhood back then. In a smaller way, it perhaps still was, though the industry was almost-- though not quite--gone, and the people who lived here now were more apt to work for the State of Vermont, or the big insurance company up on the hill, or the retail stores and restaurants downtown and on the outskirts.
 From the shadows beyond a streetlamp, a tall, broad-shouldered man called out Faye’s name. She moved toward him, showing that same taut confidence of stride and bearing, that same quizzical tilt of head that I so often saw in her daughter.
 Shawn kept moving, as I would have, too, so as not to stir up the sleeping kid. I hung back, waiting for Faye.
Faye called me over to where she stood with the big man in the shadows.
 “Somebody who’d like to meet you,” she said, “And I think you’ll be very interested in what he has to say.”
 “Ethan LaSalette,” the man offered a handshake. I felt the hard calluses, saw now that he was about Faye’s age.  Even in the hazy light of the streetlights I could see that he had dark eyes and dark hair, a full and friendly-looking face.
“I’ve known your mother-in-law since we were kids,” he said. “Look, it’s cold out here. And I don’t want to keep you from your family. But I wanted to connect with you. I think we can help each other out.”
 His breath made a luminous vapor in the lamplight. The sounds of voices came from the front of the nearby church, along with a variety of footfalls--winter boots, high heels, dress shoes--on the stone steps.
“I saw your local history column in the paper, the City Bridge,” he went on. “I read what you wrote about looking for traces of a woman named Marie Dubois; about trying to find a granite statue she had posed for back in the 1920s.”
I had just begun the weekly column the month before. It was hard to believe that the one-sentence query at the end of what had been only my second column had already stirred up interest.
 “Like I wrote,” I said, nodding, feeling my heartbeat kick up a notch. “She’s only a name in somebody’s diary, a few sentences. But I’d love to know who she was, what might have happened to her.”
Ethan nodded back at me. 
     I could see that Faye was grinning, even as she hugged herself against the cold.
  “A woman named Marie Dubois was my mother’s cousin,” Ethan said. “Marie disappeared when she--Marie, I mean--was a young woman. And my mother was haunted for decades by… not knowing what ever became of her. And I’d like to know more about her, too. I can tell you some things. Maybe you know some things that I don’t. Let’s get together soon. But someplace warm, that’s not the church steps on Christmas Eve.”
 “Yes,” I said, thinking, if this is the same Marie Dubois, then here it is, the first gift of this Christmas.

(excerpt from BLUE SONG, FAR SHIMMER, by Kevin Macneil Brown, Liminal Editions, 2017)

 The book is available in print and kindle editions at