Whether you’d like to believe it or not, Rachel Peters was just a weeny little kid once, just like you, and not the Greek goddess and definition of “suave” you see before you today. She put her diaper on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. She still does, in fact!
There was once a time when those little, pudgy fingers played in mud pies, drew refrigerator masterpieces and maybe (possibly) occasionally got stuck up a nose or two.
For some reason it was considered much cuter then than it is now.
So, let’s take a self-indulgent ego trip down memory lane and revisit her childhood in the form of her drawings:
(If you can get passed the horrible photo quality, this trip will be a lot of fun.)
I. Hate. Playing. Kitchen.
What “fun” could possibly come from pretending to work? I don’t like cooking in REAL life, so why would I like cooking invisible food??
Why don’t we all pretend to EAT invisible food at a fancy, invisible restaurant instead!
Somebody please tell me why before I go ape-poopy on this photographer with my miniature skillet. Look at that hatred in my eyes. Don’t turn away, LOOK AT IT!!!
Don’t TELL me not to cry! I will cry if I WANT to cry! And then I’ll wet my pants! And you, the grown up, will have to clean up the mess!!
Damn straight. That’s the only ace I have up my sleeve.
(I really hated playing kitchen. …Also, having people tell me to smile.)
Here is a great, timeless story of a baseball game gone horribly awry. To the left we see what is obviously a mascot with a mop on his head, covering his mouth as he stares on at the scene, in horror. It seems the umpire (center) and the mop mascot have witnessed a violent beat-and-run incident during a baseball game disagreement. The bat is lying on the floor and the beater has long since fled. The victim (on the right) is in need of serious medical assistance, crying for help, through his blood-stained eyes.
I’m not sure, but this may have been a warning to anyone who planned to make me play kitchen again.
Two homeless children with nothing but a bed to their name play soccer next to the overpass, under which they live.
Life is hard.
Like all great artists, I started with religious paintings. Christmas was a reoccurring theme, regardless of the time of year.
As you can see here, Baby Jesus doesn’t have swaddling clothes, he has one enormous leg, in a cast. And Mary and Joseph are super happy about it. They probably think they can get into Year 0’s edition of Ripley’s Believe it Or Not.
No Kitchen. Better - A little bit. I always thought the puppets were ugly, but at least I didn’t have to pretend to cook anything. This was the year I began to learn how to fake a smile… Although, I probably still wet my pants and ruined the puppet theater for the rest of the children.
At age four I began working on original cartoons as well as themes. For most of the year, my compositions involved one or all of the following:
A hill in one or both corners of the page; a sun or quarter-sun with a funny face; A cloud with a funny face (because the sun and the cloud are buddies); a dog or several dogs; Smurf houses; and Easter Bunnies, regardless of the time of year.
The drawing above depicts me, sliding down the corner hill, our dog, intently reading a gibberish sign, horrible emissions seeping from our chimney (likely from burning tires to keep warm at night), and a little bird mocking the sun and cloud for being boyfriend and girlfriend.
Sad, sad Easter Bunny can’t give out eggs because Smurfs don’t celebrate Easter.
But they do glue asparaguses to their walls.
This bull dog became my my most impressive original cartoon in all my three years of Kindergarten.
Also, quarter sun and Easter Bunny.
(I sincerely do remember being very angry.)
At age five I started taking art more seriously and began working hard at portraits. My Austrian Kindergarten teacher, Tante Beate let me use PENCIL like a REAL artist (as well as my left hand).
Here is Tante Beate.
Daddy’s face was my favourite thing to draw. Daddy’s balding head was the icing on the cake.
I took a whack at landscapes, but layouts are boring.
Sarajevo, 1984. ’Nough Said.
There was apparently a play about a pope and a puppet show about an alligator. I remember drawing these, but I don’t remember why.
The play about the pope MAY have been an actual Catholic mass service… I wasn’t Catholic so it probably just seemed very theatrical. I don’t know what religion the alligator was.
I am very, very proud of this drawing. I really don’t think anyone told me to draw it. Who would have??
This piece, “The Good Samaritan” had only a few minor flaws. If I could go back I might have told my five year old self that Jews and Samaritans weren’t generally Austrian-coloured and that I need to stop consistently drawing my frowns upside down. I didn’t do it because I was a cheerful type - it was more of a juvenile dyslexic sort of issue That is one happy, pink naked man getting his swim trunks stolen from him, at knife point.
I also think my affinity for stories like these is what ultimately led me to a preoccupation with true crime shows like Dateline.
In Austrian Kindergarten we learned to sew and embroider by the time we were five. True story. This is my practice cloth.
AGES 9, 10, 11
I thought this jacket made me look so tough. I wanted to be The Fonz SO badly, but I knew I’d never get a leather jacket. This was as close as I was going to get. (Sometimes… I even popped the collar.)
And whoever thought making kids’ jeans with buttons on the knees was a good idea should be punched in the ear, hard.
First day of grade 4. I had to prove my superior drawing abilities. A vicious fight developed over whether or not I had traced it, but I hadn’t. That background should be proof enough. Layouts are boring.
I also couldn’t draw the horse’s ear.
Sampson. Copied from Sunday School illustrations. I was a church kid.
I wrote a lot of “books” in elementary school. And by “books”, I mean about four, double spaced, largely printed and poorly spelled pages, spread out between lots of big illustrations, and stapled together.
In this one, Chief Yamagoochi, the hump-less camel ruled a small town in the Old West. Gun fights and comedy ensued.
I was absolutely in love with a childrens’ novel series called “Bunicula”. It was about a quiet, little bunny with a black widow’s peek and sharp front teeth who would suck the colour out of vegetables at night. Only the other animals in the story would talk to each other and try to figure out the mysteries surrounding little Bunicula. And now that I think about it, I’m not entirely sure what the threat was. So he sucks the juice from vegetables… Normal bunnies eat them, juices and all. Which one is more gruesome??
Original drawing. I was SO proud of myself. The day I brought it home someone used it as a coaster. Not that I’m holding a grudge.
When I was 12 I looked like a boy.
Junior High. Disney, Disney, Disney, Disney, Disney. Practice, practice, practice. Draw through the pain. When you draw you can’t hear them calling you names. Just keep drawing through math class. When an art project comes along, they’ll all want to be your friend. Just keep practicing the Disney and maybe some day you’ll have a better life.
And that is a summary of Junior High.
And the pay-off. These are some original characters from the junior high days. Some of them ended up scratched into my school desk. I was the only one who never got in trouble for it.
I over-compensated for about a full week when I was 13, for having looked like a boy when I was 12. It would be another two years before I actually began to look like a real girl without the help of large, pink flower patterns and perms.
“Two Seconds Before The Horse Steps in the Margarine”.
I’ll explain it to you when my subconscious explains it to me.
Also, when layouts aren’t boring, they’re completely overworked.
At 15 I sold wildlife drawings for about $20 to $30 bucks a pop. That was a lot of money for me in 1994.
Sculpting lessons at 15.
Like I said earlier, my Dad was my favourite face to draw. This crossed over into clay.
In my teen years (these were somewhere between 15 and 17) I was really into making mediocre copies of other people’s genius.
I was ok at it, but a serious knowledge of human anatomy was needed. David’s got lumps in places no one should ever grow lumps. He also has a head so large he shouldn’t be able to hold it up on his own strength.
(The M.C. Escher Santa also looks like my Dad. Go figure.)
This truly was the drawing that began me thinking that I could draw whatever and however I wanted. It took me this long to realize I was capable of expressing myself. I know it doesn`t look like much of an expression, but it was a big leap for me. I can`t explain why or what about it was so ground breaking, other than tearing up multiple drawings of a baby and taping them back together with my own eyes, but this was sincerely the one that started me on the road to making what I want and not only what the majority perceived as pretty.
And that`s about it. This sums up my childhood in art. Smurf houses, Daddy`s face, elaborate stories… and layouts are boring.
Thank you for joining me on this walk down diaper lane. Now go pull out your own drawings and see what they tell you about yourself.