I feel like the drawing-through-Zoom thing is working!
At least for people I know, and I’ve known Victoria since 1975! We had a wonderful visit over Zoom on Sunday and I made this drawing, on Strathmore Toned Gray Mixed Media paper.
This one is on illustration board, from 1987.
Note the X-Men comic and the careful rendering of the china set my Mom had then!
This is from 1986 or 1987.
Can’t remember if it is a black and white study or this is a photo of a photocopy, I found it on the hard drive from my last attempt at archiving all my work, in 2010. Found the original and photographed it!
This is a two-color watercolor study from Fall 1986.
Victoria was my primary model during my NYC art school years. She posed for a lot of portraits. This one was done at one of the Cuban-Chinese train car diners my Chelsea neighbourhood used to be full of. I used to give her downers to help her hold still, so her expression may be the result of a lot of Valium.
I did this one in January 1993.
I had at that point met and moved in with my first husband, Steve, and we were living in a big duplex in St. Paul. I think this was in NY, although Victoria lived in DC at the time. She came up to the city because I had gone to a comic convention in New York; I was just about to finally break into comics.
Here’s Victoria and I in her mother’s painting studio at their loft on Great Jones St. in 1980.
Photo by her mom, the artist J. Nebraska Gifford. I was thirteen and she was fourteen. We would say we were staying at each other’s houses and just stay out all night wandering the Village.
This is Victoria on New Year’s Eve 1995, in DC.
We had made strange and elaborate hats out of newspaper, and there was some kind of walkie-talkie game?
And this one is Victoria and her former husband, Gideon.
You can see some of Victoria’s recent art on this guest post here. We are about to start a collaboration – I’m gonna embroider one of her drawings!
Only a couple of these portraits had ever been photographed; no modern media record of the rest 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 moments in the pictures.
As a highly-vulnerable person with asthma and autoimmune illness, it seems more important than ever to document my life’s work. Not morbid, just pragmatic!
I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.
I looked through some of my art school notebooks and found these drawings!
They have never been scanned, photographed or copied; if we had a fire they would just have been gone forever. The one above is the birthday party of Gabriel, the son of a woman I knew in the recovery community. Gabe was what we would call a Spectrum kid nowadays, and there was not much understanding about how to support him, although his parents were devoted.
For some reason he adored me, and I was very fond of him and his older sister Shuli, and spent a lot of time with their family altogether. Based on the notebook this was found in, I am estimating it was done in the summer of 1991. I have only the haziest memory of drawing it!
This is another sketch of Gabe.
It has color notes, as if I intended to make it into a painting. It was clearly an attempt to depict a vision or mental experience he had described to me! I loved that child.
Sadly, his mother chose to publicly out my abuse survivor experience at a party, and I no longer felt safe going to their home. My memory is not clear: I hope I said goodbye to the kids. I was such a seething wreck of trauma in those days, it’s hard to remember.
And this is a teacher at MCAD, where I finished my BFA.
This is a drawing done in class of my friend Kirk Kristlibas.
Kirk was a dear friend of mine in my last couple years of art school, a deeply creative and talented person whose personal style was amazing. The kind of self-directed polymath art-generator you only meet a few times in a lifetime. He was a fellow New Yorker and we would drive around in my car yelling about the fucking Minnesotans. I have not seen him in decades, but he is quite googleable and so I see he has written a book, gotten multiple art degrees, done theater work and apparently looks exactly the same?
I drew a lot in my school notebooks and a little bit in my journals.
This is a self portrait of me in bed with a boy named Jamie.
In my bedroom in St. Paul, right after I’d been sober for a year. My roommate Anita and I had a party for our sobriety birthdays and I said to him, “You must be my birthday present.” He was a wounded soul, one of several survival sex workers I’ve been lovers with.
This one to the left is a self-portrait of me in my uniform from Woullet Bakery, where I worked for nearly a year when I was newly sober.
My roommate Anita had been forced to go back to prison, through some very fucked up drug testing stuff that was extremely unjust.
I was devastated; she was one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and an extraordinary muse to me right when I went back to art school, at MCAD. She posed for all my homework, and was an amazing cook, and gave me Neuromancer to read.
I’m going to start in soon on photographing some more of the many drawings and paintings I made of her in the short four months we lived together.
Looking back at the way I drew before I worked as a courtroom artist and then on Star Trek, I feel like something was lost.
The spring that I drew this picture, I did my first official tryout for Marvel, with Fabian Nicieza.*
One of Fabe’s critiques of my work was that I needed uniform, enclosed lines on all shapes and consistent, inkable shading. Which was good advice for superhero comics then, and maybe even now. Although in 1990 Baxter and Mando papers and Flexographic printing had long since become part of comic production, a lot of comics were still printed on newsprint, and artists were still being told to pencil for newsprint production.
I had to get rid of the multiple lines, the looseness, the brushiness of my drawing, unless I was gonna ink it myself, which I was never interested in. Comic colorists needed areas that were fully enclosed for each color, to be painted in carefully with Dr. Martin’s dyes, for the hand separated CMYK plates of the four-color printing process. I believe nowadays it’s all done digitally, with digital shading, stored codes for costume colors, and there is a person in the production line called a flatter, who is somehow involved in preparing digital color files for printing.
My old style probably still wouldn’t work for comics, but it was beautiful and free. Since I don’t have to draw comics ever again (it was not good for my health), I would love to find my way back to that free style. You can see a collection of more older drawings I scanned during my last period of archiving work, in 2009, here.
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.
Again, until today, no modern media record of these drawings existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.
*the splash page of the tryout script Fabe sent me was a picture of a dead woman, lying in a boat. I talk about some of the many ways women were deterred from working in superhero comics, even by well-meaning editors, here.