I love getting a second crack at the same face. I created an entire conceptual series that allowed me to do this a few years ago, and I often paint friends and family repeatedly simply for the pleasure of revisiting features and personalities I love. Each individual has more faces than she-he might like to admit, and it is difficult to capture their whole person in one portrait, but that’s only more true when it comes to Kevin Cook, the man behind Poison Waters.
And it was the latter that was actually most difficult to paint. I guess it makes sense really. Everyone’s private selves are more nuanced and complex than the public faces they put on when interacting with the world, and Kevin/Poison is no exception.
Here, I had only just started Kevin’s side of the bag and I was already wiping out the left side of his face with a lighter color in order to place the structure of his features more accurately.
I struggled throughout the process with the unstretched patchwork canvas of the bag. Warped and very rough in places, it gave me a lot to play the paint against, but it also took over when I wasn’t begin watchful.
I had whittled Kevin’s neck down to almost nothing here.
It was important to me to capture the tilt of his head and the way he carries his shoulders because they inform what his face conveys so much, but, in looking for those expressive lines, I’d apparently lost a sense of the mass of Kevin’s neck!
Line and mass had found a happy medium by this point, but the shadows were far too deep.
Here, I had started to look for the forms I’d use in the background…
...but, as the bag as a whole started to come together, Kevin’s face began to disintegrate.
His teeth, his complexion…
...I wasn’t even sure of the shape of his face anymore!
I managed to bring it back into focus…
...and eventually figure out how his smile fits onto his face.
Kevin wins the award for the subject who put up with the most during a photo shoot. In order to make this half of the bag, he had my camera snapping away at him along with Oregon Art Beat’s television camera recording our every move. That I came out of the interview with many photos worth using as a source image for a portrait is a testament to Kevin’s (and Poison’s) ability to work a crowd!