Tag Archives: Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Artwork Archives: people of my early sobriety (besides Anita!)

Matt at the Bat Cave August 10 1989 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesAs I’ve said before, the first thing I did when I got sober was start drawing portraits.

I met Matt when he came to the first party I ever gave at my first place of my own. I lived in a basement apartment on a really lovely street in St. Paul when I first got out of the halfway house, which of course we called The Batcave. Matt and I dated a little, briefly, but were mostly friends. He was a good man and always happy to pose for me.

Matt at the Batcave August 6 1989 by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel KetchumMatt, August 6 1989. Did I mention he worked out?

Painting of Matt winter 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

Matt, winter 1990, acrylic on board.

This was done during the few months’ period after Anita and I moved in together and I started back to art school full time. I painted Anita many times, and Matt got painted too.

J and Tom perspective drawing Winter 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

Jamie and Tom in St. Paul, Jan or Feb 1990, pencil on paper.

Our friend Tom moved in with us when he got out of Fellowship House, and Jamie was the boy who appeared during the party Anita and I gave at the end of January for my one year and her six months sober. I was unwise to date him, but I did.

Keith at the Barbary Fig May 23 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesKeith, March 1990, 9×12″, pencil on paper.

Keith Sketchbook 1990 Minneapolis by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesI met Keith at meetings, and we had one night of amazing sex. Then he ghosted me. As the kids call it nowadays.

I find it so strange, looking at these old drawings, to see how central men were in my young life.

As a teenager, half of my closest friends were guys, half were girls, and I slept with nearly all my friends back then! I really loved my male friends, gay and straight, and found it normal to be very close to guys in my teens and twenties.

However, when I got sober I did this thing in the halfway house called “Female Focus”, where I was not allowed to talk to the guys in the house for a week.

I liked it so much I asked for another week. I was going to women-only recovery meetings, too. Meeting so many strong women. It was at that point that I started slowly shifting, over decades, until today when I have far more women, pangender and non-binary friends.

“Women heal together”, we say in recovery meetings, and that has come to be the center of my life.

Tom at table drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes June 1990Brian and Tom, June 1990, ballpoint, 9×12″.

Tom and I were best friends during the year or two of early sobriety when I carried a sketchbook EVERYWHERE I went, and I made so many drawings of him! He was a great friend and companion, and is doing good work today. I am gonna do a separate post with all the pics of him, there are so many!

Kirk Kristlibas Rachel Ketchum and Rob Houston Fall 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesKirk and me and Rob, Fall 1990.

rob h at harriet st 1990 by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel KetchumKirk Kristlibas, an incredible multi-disciplinary artist, and Rob Houston, another very talented guy, lived in a beautiful flat in Uptown Minneapolis, and I met them my second semester at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

I would go visit them and hang out in their wonderful creative home, which they had painted in rich jewel tones. They also had a tremendous fish tank. More art of Kirk here. Kirk was my dear friend, and we had fun.

Rob was beautiful in the way that I got really messed up by back then, and our friendship was fraught.

kirk me and rob harriet st 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

kirk and rob harriet st 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

Kirk was easy to draw and I got several good likenesses of him.

I wish that I had made a picture of Rob Houston that captured his beauty as a young man, though.

Sketchbook 1990 fantasy Ani and Gigi by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesMy friend Ani was a big part of my life, until she cockblocked me!

This is a fantasy drawing of Ani and her girlfriend Gigi from 1990. Done on birthday request I believe! Ani and Gigi were one of those lesbian power couples for a long time. Then at one point, Ani left town. Time passed. I met this girl named Liz, who I really liked.

Liz and I had a couple of nice evenings together, I thought she liked me, I was hoping we could get together.

Sketchbook 1992 liz by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesHere’s a picture of Liz I drew then, early 1992.

Then Ani roared back into town on her motorcycle like a blonde metal recovery biker goddess, and Liz forgot I existed and ran off to run around with Ani!

What the hell, Ani.

There are quite a lot of other portraits of friends from this period; however I archived those on the last pass at archiving, in 2009, and they can be found here on my flickr.

Only two of these drawings had ever been photographed; until now, no record of the rest 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.

Black and white illustrations, from when I kind of had a style thing going on?

Graduate Drawing 2 for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 Rachel KetchumIt’s hard to believe I could draw this confidently back then.

I would love to be able to make this kind of black and white drawing, made for Tom Garrett’s Illustration class at MCAD in 1990 or 1991, today.

Graduate Drawing 1 for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 Rachel KetchumTom would give us an assignment and we’d do sketches and comps and finals, like real professional illustrators.

Somehow the repetition, and his charm as a teacher, let us cut loose. The final is the top one, the one above is the comp. And yes, this assignment was something like “Boomers vs Gen X”! Abandoned House Drawing 1 for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum

Look at this great horse I drew!

I still kinda wish I’d had a reason to put my skill at drawing horses to use at some point in my career.

Abandoned House Drawing 2 for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum
White inks or paints can react with the pigment in black pens to create blue or purple tones.

It happened with this long ago mixed media illustration, and some drawings of boylesquers I did here in Berlin a couple years ago. It’s hard to predict; it shouldn’t happen with quality materials, but it still does sometimes.

Tool Drawing with lace and smoke for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 Rachel KetchumHow about this still life with a collaged real lace shadow?

What fun! The dark tones across are actual smoke – I still smoked cigarettes then, and I used matches or a candle to leave carbon on the board.

Tool Drawing with glue resist for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThis one used plain white glue as a resist!

Then I washed over it with black acrylic paint. The glue areas remained white (although you can see the pencil drawing underneath). This is a great technique for kids, you can use carboard (so it won’t warp under watered-down paint) and kids’ tempera paint. Just make sure to let the white glue dry for at least a couple hours first!

Ralph Steadman style pliers for Tom Garrettt Illustration Class Fall 1990 Rachel KetchumAnd I found this ridiculous one in the style of Ralph Steadman, too!

None 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. And of course, I am the only person who knows when they were made and why, the story of the pictures.

As a highly-vulnerable person with asthma and auto immune illness, it seems more important than ever to document my life’s work. Not morbid, just pragmatic!

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.