Rootsmon No. 2 - 4"x6" / by VH McKenzie




This is Barry. Or "Vietnam". Or "The Rootsmon". Take your pick.

I've painted Barry before but wanted to explore using an entirely different color palette and he's a great subject. He has quite unusual dreadlocks, a golden rust color and thick as the branches of a small tree. They always seem to be sprouting sideways out of his head and draped over one shoulder. I find them endlessly fascinating to draw. They become less like hair and more like some other organic growing life form, anything, actually, other than hair. He's a formidable-looking character, quite large and always wreathed in a cloud of ganja smoke but he was quite pleased to pose for me.

Barry is regarded as a medicine man, of sorts. spending his days collecting and mixing huge vats of "roots" tonic over a wood fire outside his small, concrete, 2-room house. He boils a huge pot of various plant roots, bark, dried grasses and leaves into a thick, viscous stew which he then strains into smaller containers. When the tonic has cooled, he pours it into his collection of discarded rum bottles and gallon milk jugs. The rasta elders will tell you that "roots purifies the blood". Barry rides his bicycle some 20 miles to the nearest tourist town to hawk his bottled "roots" to both tourists and rasta bredren alike. I imagine Barry drinks quite a bit himself.

Funny, the tonic is the same murky, golden rust color as Barry's hair.......

"Rootsmon No. 2" 4"x6" Ink and watercolor on paper. Purchase a print here.