Category Archives: Art

Artwork and various creative projects and obsessions from Berlin artist Suzanne Forbes.

Self portraits of the artist as a child.

From Adirondacks photo black white acrylic on paper Winter 1992 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesI did a number of self-portraits of myself as a little kid when I was at my final art school, The Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

This black and white painting is from a sad, weird black and white photo of me around age 7 or 8, taken at our cabin in the Adirondacks. The kids are my brother, far left, then me, staring dead-eyed at the photographer, and my father’s girlfriend Cathy’s kids, Carla and Ethan.

I think this was painted in 1990, but it could have been 1991.

Adirondacks 1970s Aaron Rachel Carla EthanI loved Carla and I was really glad to be in the hammock at the cabin; I was just an angry, suffering kid. At this age I was dealing with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, which meant I woke up hours later than everyone else, depression and the invasive and violating sexual words and behavior of my father. I would be molested by a stranger within a year or two.

I was kicked out of my private school because of acting out at eight.

Drawing lessons with Janine circa 1974 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThis is me and my first art teacher, Janine.

Janine was a professional illustrator who lived on the sixth floor of the building I grew up in, 312 West 20th St. in Chelsea. For a while when I was seven my father hired her to give me private lessons. She was the person who taught me about the “Line of Action” or gestural line of a drawing, using a drawing of a leaping leopard. I drew a leash around the leopard’s neck at the end of our lesson, so it wouldn’t run away!

You can see the Empire State Building out of her window – you could see it from her side of the building. I drew this in my last year at MCAD, I think – 1992. I drew myself as this avid, volatile kid – wildly eager to learn but with trouble behaving normally. In retrospect I look large for seven but Janine was a very small person!

Child self at easel drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes circa 1990This is from 1991 or 1992, a picture of myself as a ten-year-old in class at The Art Student’s League.

I remember those classes vividly, the experience of learning to draw from a still life and using pastels for the first time – beginning of a love-hate relationship! Learning to draw the center line on a bottle to make it symmetrical. Learning to observe.

At this age I had recently cut my own hair off with household scissors, because my father loved my long hair, and was also now living with OCD and disordered eating. I was incredibly angry.

Rachel on Bucky summer 1977 or 8 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Rachel Forbes Spring 1992This is a picture of me around age 10, on my rented pony, Bucky.

NYC Xmas 1970sWe had a ramshackle Victorian farmhouse with a big barn in Northern Maine, and some of the summers my father rented a pony for me and I kept it in the barn.

Or tied on a long lead to a birch tree in the backyard, grazing, for long summer hours. Horses were my great obsession and comfort, both my model horse collection and the real ones in the summers.

This drawing of me lying on Bucky’s back was made, but not used for, my senior thesis project, an artist’s book about childhood sexual abuse and my own history as CSA survivor.

I realize that my story contains immense privilege – TWO country houses! An actual pony! Private drawing lessons, private school and art school! So many toys! And this privilege, like my mom’s unconditional love, is a huge part of the extraordinary resilience I’ve shown my entire life. But things are not simple. My father, a product of violent childhood abuse and the Great Depression, was obsessed with education and property.

So we had houses in the country, but very rough ones, with no bathroom at the cabin. We didn’t have a single towel that matched another at home; sometimes my father had no cash until the next article sale, the next antique sold to a collector, the next book advance.

I had art school and private lessons because of very basic Drama of The Gifted Child stuff – my father wanted me to be a famous artist, a prodigy, for his own narcissistic reasons. Art was never “play” for me; it was a high-risk undertaking where my entire identity was at stake. It was my way of validating my existence; having a right to live.

My mom holding me in the Adirondacks in 1967

Not gonna lie, in these days of quarantine, I still feel like my work is the most precious part of my life history.

I know I have impacted people as I have been sober 31 years; people say I saved them. I know I’ve been kind to people in ways that matter. But I have also done much harm, and I carry that. My work is the part of my legacy I trust, because I became an artist who tells other peoples’ stories. I became an artist who is about documenting other people’s uniqueness and preciousness, and I think that’s beautiful and transcendent.

Noeline la Bouche at Berlin Berlin Burlesque Week by Suzanne Forbes June 20 2019

Noeline la Bouche at Berlin Berlin Burlesque Week, June 20 2019 – one of my favorite portraits I’ve ever made.

I’m enormously grateful to have found this life path.

Some of these paintings and drawings had never been photographed; until now, no record of them existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

I am so grateful to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.

 

Limb Different Non-Binary Fetish Fairy with External Heart – not your average OOAK Fairy!

Lux the nonbinary limb different fetish fairy by Suzanne Forbes April 6 2020 UVThe genesis of this project was in multiple threads of awareness.

First, I have experienced so much precious community in Disabled Twitter in the last year. I am so grateful to the “visibly disabled”, chair users and mobility aid users, limb different folks and asymmetrical folks, for the welcome they give to invisible illness and chronic illness folks like me. To be heard and seen for the person fighting to “function” that I am is a revelation.

Lux the nonbinary limb different fetish fairy by Suzanne Forbes April 6 2020Huge thanks to Imani Barbarin, “Coffee Spoonie“, Brianne Benness, and Andrew Gurza, just to start.

I also in the last year met and got to draw amazing adult filmmaker Dr. Loree Erickson. I’m following Limb Different models like Ashley Young, actors like Samantha Renke, and delighting in the vision of the inclusive modelling agency Zebedee Management.

Lux the nonbinary limb different fetish fairy by Suzanne Forbes April 6 2020 uv cuThen, I was watching that tv show about fairies fucking.

There was a scene where a fairy midwife looked at a newborn being whose wings were small and said, “He probably couldn’t even ever have taken flight, poor thing!” or something like that. I was like, ableist prejudice from the fairies???

Lux the nonbinary limb different fetish fairy by Suzanne Forbes April 6 2020And I had some scraps of Angelina Fantasy Film that I had shaped as test pieces and then absently glued crystals to, on my worktable.

Slowly this all came together with the idea to make one of my bricolage fairy dolls, but visibly disabled and limb different. I used the second-to-last one of the ceramic fairy bust/heads I bought on sale at the craft store in St. Paul in 1994!

OOAK fairy sculpt first wip by Suzanne Forbes April 2020I shaped the base for the non-binary fairy, whose name is Lux, out of tinfoil, which I covered with FIMOAir air-dry modelling clay.

OOAK fairy sculpt wip by Suzanne Forbes April 2020Then I used my fave epoxy clay, Apoxie Sculpt, over that.

Air-dry clay is quite strong, but I wanted the more robust feel and finer detail holding of Apoxie Sculpt for the final layer.

Then I selected two different size cyborg arms from my collection of Alien action figures, given to me years ago by a beloved Friend-Muse-Patron.

 

OOAK fairy wip limb test fit by Suzanne Forbes April 2020I love Alien action figure arms!

Here you can see the test fitting of the arms. I snipped off extra plastic with my jewelry snips and sanded them to shape with my Tack Life mini-dremel tool. I wanted them to look like doll arms, attached at the shoulder rather than growing out of the shoulder, clearly prosthetic. I painted the figure base and the arms with artist’s acrylic, sealing the arms with a coat of Matte Mod Podge afterwards. I used interference paint here and there for extra gleam.

holographic pvc fetish harness for OOAK fairy in process by Suzanne Forbes April 2020I have been obsessing over holographic pvc fetish fashion. For weeks.

OOAK fairy sculpt wip heart by Suzanne Forbes April 2020Like this. It’s a madness. A desire so intense for flashing rainbow glitter that there is a #Holosexual hashtag!

I did two earlier projects, The Fairy Unicorn Rainbow Headband and the Bi Pride Crown, last month, but they did not sate my holo lust. Neither did the bead embroidery projects with holographic pvc I’m working on. Nothing would do but making an actual holographic pvc fetish harness!

Luckily, I had the holographic pvc, a craft knife, a cutting board, jump rings, and tiny brads and buckles. I have been using tiny buckles and hardware from model horse supply company Rio Rondo for years.

Yes, they know kinky fetish people use their stuff for things like Barbie Bondage. No, they still haven’t updated their website!

I made Lux’s heart out of a mix of translucent red Fimo, Premo Sculpey Opal clay, Fimo effects bronze, and plain translucent Fimo. I had the idea it would be an external heart, with veins coming from it, and there would be a clear layer of resin encasing it. So I broke into my UV-curing resin! I bought some UV resin to try a couple months ago, but hadn’t touched it.

Last fall I asked fellow miniature crafter (and Ms. DTLA!) AfroDisiac about using UV resin when I saw her mention it. She reassured me but I was still afraid! UV resin is mostly made in Japan, and there just aren’t that many online resources in English to learn about using it. This project made me jump in at last. And I love it!!!

I wanted to use UV resin because of several of its properties: clarity, shine, lack of yellowing, and hardness.

I felt like it would be strong enough to hold wire “veins” in place and let me bend and manipulate them, and in fact it is! I crazy-glued the veins on and then squeezed resin over. The resin seems goopy going on, but self-levels smoothly within a few minutes. Because of the spreading out, you really have to work in thin layers if you don’t have a bezel or a UV oven.

I bought an LED UV flashlight, but it wasn’t powerful enough to properly cure the resin I have, which is not intended for LED curing. It’s Padico, which is a very popular brand, and they do have one which is both LED and UV quick-curing. I will definitely get that next time!

Lux the nonbinary limb different fetish fairy by Suzanne Forbes April 6 2020Lux’s wings are Angelina Fantasy Film.

I discuss the issue of how to purchase this product, when “Angelina Fantasy Film” is ungoogleable, here. Fearless Pink Gay Santa is the first project I made with Fantasy Film. The veins in Lux’s wings are wire and lengths of PLA filament (from the 3D printer pen my mom-in-law got me!) that I stretched and shaped using a lighter.

I have no idea why Lux’s heart glows under the UV light from the LED flashlight. I was mightily surprised to learn it! Maybe one of the Fimo clays I used was glow-in-the-dark, not transparent?

It’s a trip, right? So is my journey of learning to see beauty in all forms.

Other bricolage dolls and fairies I have made:

Reserved Parking for Eliza

The Gothest Action Figure Custom ever.

Valentine’s Monster Doll Armada

Snow Queen/Jadis

Fearless Pink Gay Santa

Custom Elsa Lancaster as The Bride

Gothic Rococo Horribella

Horribellas

Mummified Fairy King

Evil Mermaid

Opal Fimo Mantis Doll

Earliest dolls! with bad photos!