Tag Archives: figurative art

Archiving some very early portrait paintings.

Portrait of John Talbot Wallis by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel Ketchum fall 1989One of the very first portraits I ever painted.

In late summer or early Fall 1989 I did this painting of my beloved, cherished friend John Talbot Wallis. He was staying with me at my little basement apartment in St. Paul, trying to kick heroin. It didn’t work out for him, and he went back to NY and relapsed immediately. I desperately hope he is still alive. Last I heard, in the mid-90s, he was very deep in addiction and had apparently lost most of his teeth. The odds aren’t good, but we junkies are tough as cockroaches. I’ve said a prayer for him every night for almost thirty years.

This was one of the earliest portraits I ever painted, though I had drawn quite a few by this point. To get ready for going back to art school full time, I was taking a painting class in downtown St. Paul, an extension class from the Minneapolis College of Design, with a wonderful woman professor.

I started out painting in acrylic, though there is tremendous bias against acrylics in the figurative and especially portrait painting community.

I really appreciated my teacher’s willingness to let me use acrylics. I was afraid I would have problems with my sobriety if I used oil paints, which involve solvents. I had never been an inhalant abuser, but I was less than a year sober and I wasn’t taking any chances!

I liked acrylics and it turned they are perfectly suited for my run-and-gun, punk rock style of painting, so I’ve never looked back. Detail portrait of John Talbot Wallis by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel Ketchum Fall 1989My palette was a lot more Fauvist early on, partly because I didn’t know how to mix colors or how to see color temperature in shadows.

I had never intended to be a painter – I was gonna be a comic penciller, and have colorists to take care of that!  So I had paid little attention to my color theory class at Parsons and stubbornly avoided working in color as much as possible. It was really an accident that led me to becoming a painter, that the only class in the extension program that Fall was a painting class, and that I loved my teacher.  I also just really love Fauvism, and I still think my early paintings are terrific examples.

This portrait of John, an homage to The Green Stripe aka Portrait of Madame Matisse, is probably one of the top ten likenesses I’ve ever achieved.

This IS John, who I met at Stuyvesant a day or two after my fourteenth birthday and was close friends and sometimes friends with benefits with til I was 23. He was literally the jolliest drunk I have ever met, a vibrant, loving, wildly creative guy without a mean bone in his body. He was a drummer, an artist, a rapper, and a lover who adored pleasing women.

He turned me on to NWA and The Tubes, and we walked thousands of miles together over Manhattan Island in the 80s. We logged thousands of hours hanging out, writing graffiti, drinking beer, roaming the city or watching MTV. We used to do acid and heroin and watch Jaws 3 in 3D with the colors on the television reversed, laughing hysterically. He had a heart the size of Central Park. Merciful Goddess, I hope he is still alive.

detail Portrait of Brad Geiken by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel Ketchum Fall 1990Another redhead, fellow MCAD painter Brad Geiken.

I painted this in the fall of 1990, I think, when Brad and I were together. Brad was a terrific, terrific painter and a really nice boyfriend. He looks mean here but that is the fault of me as the painter, not the man. Or he was mad because I was a shitty girlfriend and he deserved better. He had the most beautiful red hair.

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.

Until today, no record of these paintings existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

April 2018 Unterwegs

Unterwegs April 22 2018 by Suzanne Forbes So Many DogsThis punk girl with so many dogs was reconstructed from a glimpse I had on a train.

I tried several perspectives to get the scene to make sense without reference; it was really hard to figure out how to show all the dogs. I’m not sure even now if you can tell how many dogs there were. Which is fair, because I wasn’t really sure when I saw her either!

Unterwegs April 22 2018 by Suzanne Forbes LookingThis father and son were looking at something, but I couldn’t see what from where I was standing.

Unterwegs April 21 2018 by Suzanne Forbes Pre Gaming the NightI saw these two girls in the front seat of the upper deck of the M29 when I was on my way to some  fetish party.

They were pre-gaming the night by drinking vile-smelling booze out of a plastic soda bottle and listening to music and giggling. They were happy!

Previous unterwegs are here:

March 2018

February 2018 bonus round

February 2018

January 2018 bonus round

January 2018 round 1

December 2017

November 2017

September 2017

July bonus round

July

June

May bonus round

May round one

April

March 2

March

January

December

November

Life Drawing at Lydia’s!

Collection of life drawings by Suzanne Forbes made on April 19 2018My friend Lydia and her housemate Flavia hosted the most glorious life drawing session.

They are both working professional artists and know a lot of amazing artists. The flat is gorgeous and was full of evening light.

Life drawing 2 by Suzanne Forbes April 19 2018Here in Berlin, where some of us have generous flats, artists can have models pose right in their homes and invite other artists to join in.

(I did it in October!) This was an absolutely fabulous session, and I am so grateful to Lydia and Flavia for organizing it and hiring such terrific models.

Life drawing 7 by Suzanne Forbes April 19 2018The modelling team, Eli and Louise, are absolutely great.

They are young and strong and beautiful and do wonderful dynamic poses as well as tender, intimate ones.

Life drawing 10 by Suzanne Forbes April 19 2018You can follow them on Instagram at Rosiichbinnackt, which means “Rosi I am naked!”.

Me and Daria and Marina were all in a row in the back, with the usual giggling and super-fast talking in Russian from those two hooligans.

Life drawing 8 by Suzanne Forbes April 19 2018Funny story: I have drawn naked lovers before, but never naked lovers holding still!

I’ve drawn beautiful naked young people together many times, but it has always been at sex parties or porn shoots, where they were actively engaged in having sex!

Life drawings by Suzanne Forbes April 19 2018So it was really cool to draw these two professional models, who posed for short poses and twenty minute sets, as well as traditional gestures.

Thanks a million to Lydia, Flavia, Eli and Louise! Visit my flickr for free downloads of these drawings and many, many, many more. Remember you’ll need to be logged in to a flickr account with adult safeties turned off to see some of them 🙂

And as always, I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to work and grow as an artist. You can help!Three life drawings by Suzanne Forbes made on April 19 2018