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