Thursday, July 14, 2011

Changing Tides

Beach at Good Harbor, Dawn ( 2 and 1)--Paintings by Kevin Macneil Brown, watercolor on paper, 2011

Some of my most satisfying watercolor days have come at those times when my paint supply is low-- when I am down to two or three all-but squeezed-out tubes of color.

One day this summer I decided to use up the last of what I had: two shades of yellow, some alizarin crimson, a tiny residual amount of zinc white.

I began with a wash of clean water, then squeezed out colors— mixing them, with brush and water, right on the sheet. I made two paintings that afternoon, both of them views of Good Harbor Beach, in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

After spending some weeks with these paintings —and making some small re-wettings and re-workings—I began to see that I had not only used up my paint; I had also come to the completion of something: the visual and energetic expression a place, a moment, a feeling—that I had been carrying for a long, long time.

Of course I will restock my colors. And I will most likely paint Good Harbor images again. But I am also excited to harbor that sense of completion, to look up now and turn my attention to a change in tide.