Tag Archives: MCAD

More archive work from Illustration Class, some very…weird?

Secret Garden for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 or Winter 1991 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesWeirder than the chickens?

Possibly yes! Illustration classes are always weird – I’m sure they are STILL weird- because clients are weird. The class has to prepare you to be asked to illustrate some peculiar ideas! And my excellent Illustration teacher at MCAD, Tom Garrett, was a working professional illustrator.

Red painting for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 or Winter 1991 Rachel KetchumYou never know what weird stuff clients might send you as a concept.

I have no memory or idea what this class assignment was about. It’s kind of a cool image though! I like the way I used the red!

Ostrich painting for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class 1991 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesOk, now what? Ostriches in a lingerie palette!

Ostrich painting for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class 1991 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes detailI vaguely remember being given ostrich photo reference for this one. It was pre-internet, so Tom Garrett often supplied photo reference, rather than all of us having to go to the library to get a picture of a whatever.

I do not remember what the concept was, or why “the client” wanted ostriches. Why do they look like a La Perla ad?

You can see the way I was playing with handling the paint, with mark-making, in the safe space of Tom’s class. I still kinda love the technique. I draw ostrich feathers all the time for burlesque dancers, and I’m gonna ask the next one I paint to bring some so I can try to revive this approach!

Smokers comps for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesI do remember the smokers.

We did so many variants on the smokers – first sketches, then colored pencil comps, then actual paintings. It was during the period when smoking indoors was first being banned in places, the early ’90s, so that’s what these were about.

Smoker comps for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesAs a two-pack-a-day smoker until Jan 27, 1991, I was very indignant about smoking bans!!

Even after I quit! Honestly, even now! I know they are deadly, but I love the smell of second-hand smoke, which is yet another reason why it’s good I live in Berlin!

Smoker header for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThe weird long panels were one of the standard commercial illustration magazine art/ad panel sizes.

We learned all of them although of course all I remember is that one was called “subway”. These illustrations were done in such an evolving matrix of techniques – this one involved painting over the colored pencil with glazes of acrylic, tinted with paint!

Smoker header detail for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesYou can see the glossy surface from the glazes, and even the blushes of color where liquid paint overlaid color pencil. Since both the color pencil comps and the final still exist, I must have transferred the drawing outline onto illustration board for the final with graphite transfer paper. Which maybe still exists, unlike Letraset!

Smoker closet final for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesI put so much time into these pieces!

Even though I didn’t intend to become a commercial illustrator anymore, there were a lot of people in comics using hybrid mixed media illustration techniques as the printing technology improved. I felt some of this practice would be transferable to my work in comics, and also I had such respect for my teacher!

I still like the weird style of these works and the expressiveness of the drawing. I’m glad I saved them, and transported them from St. Paul to Hartford to DC to Arlington to Alameda to Albany to Berkeley to North Berkeley to Albany to Oakland to Berlin. They have been in storage three times. I’ve had fifteen apartments, dozens of jobs, and three husbands.

But I held onto my work that whole time, because that’s what I was trained to do in school. At The Art Student’s League as a child, at Parsons as a teen, at MCAD – we were told to preserve our archives. And it was worth it, to me, because seeing these works again is a revelation in terms of technique and approach!

Only two of these pieces have ever been photographed; no modern media 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.

For the Archives: other people’s addictions.

Clock me and Max Fall 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesWow, that situation was a hot mess.

I have generally only experimented with codependancy for short periods. Other people’s problems tend to get in the way of my own addictive nature, and the ego strength and ambition I’ve been pulled along by my whole life.

Max Vampire painting with police Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesStill, I took a pass at a bad boy now and then, back in the day.

If they were hot enough. And Max was VERY hot.

Me and Max black and titanium buff acrylic on paper Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesHe was the manager at the St. Paul coffee shop I worked at in 1990, Dunn Bros. (now a big Minnesota chain!)

This crude painting of the two of us behind the counter at the store (as we called it) is still one of my favorite paintings from MCAD, the art school where I was in my second year at that Fall.

Max had white hair, and six-pack abs. He was 6’2″.

He was local, and a hard drinker, and a musician, and divorced, and like six or seven years older than me. Perfect.

Max Vampire painting with police Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesHe was a darksider, which is what the older generation of Twin Cities Goths were called in 1990.

They were kinda glam and kinda metal.

Painting of me and Max Fall 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesWhen he moved in with me all he brought were weights, leathers and a white Gibson electric guitar.

And some Flexidiscs of his band’s demo song.

max 9 24 90 playing guitar while his hair bleached by Rachel KetchumHe just seemed like good material.

I was still willing to risk a fair bit for good material, then.

Me and Max seated acrylic on paper Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesHe moved into my St. Paul apartment with me when we’d worked together for a couple months, and stayed a couple months.

Painting of me and Max Fall 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes detail MaxHe moved in after he got beaten up somewhere, by somebody, and it looked like he needed to get out of Minneapolis for a while. He paid half the rent without my asking, which was cool. He was mostly decent to me most of the time, despite being pretty much a jerk.

He was a binge drinker, so he’d be off with his local friends when he went out, and he didn’t wreck the house and I almost never saw him drunk.

I was pretty scared for him the first few times he didn’t come home, but then I kind of got used to it.

Nightmare assignment with me and Max Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThis was for an assignment for Illustration class, about nightmares.

I did several versions, but this one was clearly about me and Max, two people who woke up screaming all the time. When we slept spoons, as we usually did, the razor scars on our left wrists lined up.

He was very into his damage, and I was interested in visualizing the material of my own trauma in a way I mostly ceased to be after art school.

Me and Max by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes September 1990These studies and painting roughs are about consent and power exchange, but not violence; Max never harmed me physically in any way.

Me and Max acrylic and ink on paper Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes The situation was some bullshit, but oddly enough, both of us were kind of playing it like we were doing a bit.

Me and Max clock acrylic on paper Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesMy dear friend Erin once said, “It’s no fun when there’s two sharks in the tank!”, and few statements have ever summed up my dating life like that.

I knew I wasn’t gonna fall in love with a fellow shark, and he knew I could handle his nonsense.

I used the drama of it for material for Illustration class assignments and he posed for my painting class homework, and we made each other laugh.

After two months or so he decided to get sober, and took off to Montana or somewhere. For years all I heard he was sober, and also being pretty weird.

Sketch of Max black acrylic on paper Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesHey, whatever it takes!

The relationship served a purpose for both of us. I saw him buying milk in the supermarket years later and he thanked me for saving his life, which I did not feel I deserved credit for.

Portrait of Max mixed media with spraypaint stencil Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThe art that I made about him formed the first student show I hung at MCAD, and I met one of my most influential art friends through it.

Figure sketch of Max Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesI came upon Georgia Johnson Mrazkova and a friend standing in front of the paintings, discussing whether a man had done them and if so, did he know what a dick it made him look like.

“No, they’re mine.” I said.

And Georgia yelped with delight, and she said “I knew it! I knew it was a woman, and she knows EXACTLY what she’s doing!”

And we became art school friends, and I learned a lot from her, both about art and feminism.

I find it comforting that I did make a few images of Max that expressed his unique humanity, not just his role in a drama.Max sketches August to September 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

I drew him all the time when we were both home. Max August 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes 4The white hair just killed me.

 

Me and Max in the kitchen Fall 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThis painting of the two of us in the kitchen of my St. Paul apartment is another favorite of my art school works.

It was funny sometimes, how we were fucked up addicts in this crazy dynamic, and also, humans!!!max shadows 90 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

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