Tag Archives: drawing

Portraits of my friend Tom, 1990.

June 12 1990 Tom at Dunn Bros by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesJune 12 1990 Tom at Dunn Bros by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesA big part of the praxis of portraiture is drawing the same people over and over.

You have to do it over and over, so you start to understand what characteristics make a face distinctive, what features identify someone. I had a teacher at Parsons who taught us that ear placement is critical, too!

Tom June 12 1990 at Dunn Bros by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesTom at Dunn Bros Coffee, June 1990.

Tom was one of my closet friends in early sobriety, during a year where I carried a sketchbook everywhere I went. He is a fellow New Yorker; we met at the halfway house after I finished my four months and while he was doing his. We become instant sobriety buddies and confidantes. Eventually he moved in for a while with me and my roommate Anita.

tom1990 Tom at Dunn Bros by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesTom at Dunn Bros. Coffee, summer 1990.

We went to recovery meetings almost every night, and went for coffee before or after.

Tom April 17 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesTom, outside Dunn Bros.

We spent a lot of time at the coffee shop!

Tom and Evan summer 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesTom, right, and Evan, a guy I briefly dated. Summer 1990.

1990 sketchbook with Tom by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesA sketchbook page from 1990 with a collection of heads, including two quick sketches of Tom.

I used to scribble and doodle and sketch in my notebooks, something I gave up completely after I became a courtroom artist and then a comic artist.

My pencil doesn’t move unless it’s work, since about 1992.

That’s ok, because I have delightful mixed media crafts and projects to play with!

None of these drawings had ever 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.

From the vaults: art about addiction, from 1991.

Self Portrait with Dino Jan 26 1989 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall 1990On Jan 27 2020 I celebrated 31 years clean and sober.

These paintings are from Fall 1991, when I was just turning three years sober. I had several excellent painting teachers at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the school where I finished my degree after I got sober. These paintings were part of a series I did with one of them.

The one above shows me and my friend Dino in her flat on First Avenue, the night before I left for treatment, January 27, 1989.

Self Portrait with P at the Jane West in 1987 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall1990This one, of my longtime on-and-off boyfriend P. and I, is at the Jane West Hotel.

It was an SRO then, I think it’s fancy now.

Self Portrait Panhandling 1988 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall 1991My main income as a junky came from panhandling.

Not because I was opposed to sex work – I have always known and loved sex workers – but because my father, my first abuser, made me so self-conscious about my cellulite! I found it very hard to see my own body as a commodity.

Self Portrait Panhandling with subway entry in 1988 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall1991These paintings are pretty dark, I know.

Their surfaces are excoriated, like my skin was then. I literally scraped away the paper.

Self Portrait Panhandling with subway entry in 1988 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall1991 cuBeing a junky was bad then and it’s bad now.

Self Portrait snorting on LES in 1988 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall 1991I have always had a ferocious sense of self-preservation, beading up between the lashings of self-destruction.

I wasn’t a needle user til my very last night before treatment; I snorted instead, in the bathroom of every restaurant and bar that would let me on First Avenue.

I worried a lot, at the time, about what the alkaloid plus whatever it was cut with was doing to my sinuses.

Yesterday I had my first sinus ultrasound, at my first visit to a German Otolaryngologist.

He ran the lube-slick device over my cheek, and he yelped, “Jesus Christ!” And said no more, except that I must get a CT scan immediately and I may need surgery.

Luckily sinus surgery not too big a deal and we have incredible German health insurance that will cover everything! But yeah, I guess there was a reason I was sick eight times in ten months last year.

I am so lucky, so grateful to be alive, to be here in Germany, to be working.

Self Portrait panhandling 1989 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Fall 1991I feel such grief for the huge population in the States living in opiate addiction.

Harm reduction matters and #narcansaveslives. Don’t leave before the miracle happens.

None of these paintings had ever been photographed; no record of them existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

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