Monthly Archives: January 2018

Just some history hoarders sitting around the library.

Emmanuel Goldstein and Kyle by Suzanne Forbes Jan 14 2018My hub’s old friends Emmanuel Goldstein and Kyle came over on a Sunday afternoon.

Emmanuel Goldstein and Kyle detail by Suzanne Forbes Jan 14 2018They were in Berlin for a few days post CCC.

We had a great New Yorker talk, ranging from the things lost from the East Village to how it impacts your life to be a collector and archivist of your community’s history.

Folks from this particular community have a hollow leg for Club Mate.

I asked if they wanted one and Emmanuel said, “Well we just had one – sure, why not!”.

Good thing we keep a case on the balcony around CCC season, also known as the Hacker High Holidays in our house!

Finished mixed media pastel portrait of Shakrah!

Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Jan 11 2018I committed to the pastel learning journey!

When we had our first sitting for a planned pastel portrait, I knew I needed colors to depict Shakrah Yves. A 1920s jazz singer and former professional costumier, she has an absolute treasury of gorgeous outfits she has created, with matching accessories.Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Jan 11 2018 detail

Iris Perez by Suzanne Forbes Jan 2018There was no way I could do justice to her emerald sparkles with the nervous forays I’d made into pastel color thus far.

You can see the results of our first sitting, in sepia and umber colors accented with black and white, here.

I got two sets of new pastels, oil and chalk, and some mixing stumps, as a birthday gift. I took a trial run at adding color by enriching the portrait of Iris Perez, left, before her partner took it back to the Bay Area for her.

When Shakrah arrived for our second sitting, I was ready. SO many colors!

I rarely set up my paint palette with more than fifteen, and here I had at least 70. I added color to the drawing with chalk pastels first, as they are easier to remove, layer over and blend without muddiness. The chalk pastel also behaved well with the white gel pen highlights from the previous sitting. The gel pen ink seemed to act as a resist, sealing the surface of the paper. That meant I didn’t lose the highlights.

I’m using Canson Mi Teintes, which is gelatin-sized and has some kinda crazy microscopic hyper-surface-area (mechanical resistance) to attract and hold pigments.*

Then I put oil pastel over the chalk, because I am punk as fuck.

Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Jan 11 2018 detail cuI was careful because past experiences with oil pastels had taught me that things get muddy fast. You can lose color purity quickly with oil pastels, and wind up with tints you can’t shake.

While chalk pastel is close to painting in the sense that it has limited additive/subtractive properties, oil pastel is less flexible.

You can scrape it back down, but the surface will be permanently stained.

When you apply oil pastel over chalk pastel, the chalk slides like graphite dust under the stick.

It takes some focus to control the resulting mix, but it gives a rich color, including the deep darks I want from a picture. I don’t think I have the patience or discipline to become the kind of chalk pastel user who can get true dark values from chalks. Same way I don’t have the spoons left to properly learn watercolor. I love mixing media, though, and I feel like there are tremendous possibilities. Particularly in terms of the speed that is always of primary importance to me.

Of course I’m concerned about the archival properties of the works, particularly when using markers as solvents for oil pastels.

Star Trek the Original Series artwork by Suzanne Forbes AKA Rachel Ketchum AKA Rachel Forbes Seese

the effects of paste-up, non-acid-free tape and Letratone adhesive on some of my original Star Trek comic artwork.

The data that exists on the preservation of mixed media is not much more than a century old.

Gel pens are only a few decades old, and my hundreds of drawings made for Frank Wu are on printer paper and use correction tape, which isn’t intended for art material use at all.

Artists have the responsibility to be educated about the archival and lightfastness properties of their materials to the extent that the information exists.

As an artist who always intended to be a commercial artist creating work for reproduction, I’m willing to see some of my work deteriorate.

That the reproduction, or the digital record, is the true version of the work and the actual physical art is ancillary. And of course, when I sell these mixed media works, it’s crucial to be transparent about the fact that they may get Pollacky in a few decades. In the age of the digital record, collectors understand this much more easily. Time is a medium too.

So I am gonna keep experimenting!

With the layers of media and their varying specularities, this portrait is hard to photograph except in raking light. You can see a video of it on my Instagram!Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Jan 11 2018 angle

*reading about the properties of Mi-Teintes reminded me of learning about pasta-making at The Pasta Shop in Berkeley when I worked there in 1997. We had a superb employee education program, and during one lecture we learned that the best Italian dry pasta is still extruded from antique bronze dies, which create a microscopic pitting on the surface of the pasta. This sponge-like texture grips sauce far better than pasta extruded from steel dies.

All knowledge is worth having!

New Year’s Eve with Sunday Slips and Donut Heart!

Liliana Velasquez and friends at Sunday Slips by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017We went to the Sunday Slips Extravaganza at Lagari for New Year’s.

That’s right, we finally went out on New Year’s Eve, our third year in Berlin. What can I say, we like our house and we like staying home!

This year though, lots of our friends were performing/going to Lagari so we got on the M29 bus and went to Neukölln.

It was so wonderful to ride on the upper deck of my beloved M29 along the river of stars that is the Ku’Damm at New Years.

Cedric Till at Sunday Slips by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

Cedric Till at Sunday Slips by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

I felt ridiculously, absurdly fortunate to be riding the bus to friends with my husband in a city that was not just safe, but sparkling.

Well, exploding, really, but I like the noise and fireworks of Silvester! We arrived at Lagari around ten, just as the open mic session was ending.

The host of the event, Liliana Velásquez, is someone I drew previously at Folsom Europe. You can see her dancing with friends in the top drawing. As well as hosting the Sunday Slips, the weekly clubhouse of Freudian Slip Club, she is part of the Fetish Comedy group.

Her partner Wynton Kelly Stevenson is an amazing one-man band.

Wynton Kelly Stevenson by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

Wynton Kelly Stevenson by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

We were blown away by his sounds, created with harmonica, beatbox and Loopstation. And his sound is super danceable. Hubbin got up and danced a bit along with the folks of all ages who enjoy the chill Lagari scene!

Women dancing at Lagari by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017Here you can see Alfred Ladylike serenely conserving her energies for…

Alfred Ladylike by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017…the rocked to fuck show by Alfred Ladylike and Rah Hell of Donut Heart!

They were joined at the end by Liliana, who just learned to play the bass!

Alfred Ladylike and Rah Hell of Donut Heart by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

At one point Rah had to stand up and drum because her drum was trying to escape the pounding she was giving it. Wynton had to lie on it to hold it in place. Berlin is punk as fuck.

There were other performances like burlesque queen Viva Lamore coming out of a handmade giant Campbell’s Soup Can, and we received handmade banana hats in our goody bag. We had such a lovely time.

Berlin art and music fam, we love you!

A wedding gift couples portrait on the third day of the new year.

A and C wedding portrait painted by Suzanne Forbes Jan 3 2018Our friend A. comes to Germany for a certain hacker event every year, eleven years running.

Every year he says he’s not coming to Berlin for New Year’s Eve afterwards, and every year I hear his voice in the hallway at our Hacker Open House on New Year’s Day.A and C wedding portrait by Suzanne Forbes Jan 3 2018

This year he brought his bride to be.

And for the second year running, a box of still warm cinnamon rolls from Zeit für Brot nearby. I like both of these and wish both to become tradition!

A and C WIP by Suzanne Forbes Jan 3 2018I told them that of course we had to paint a wedding portrait, and we could do it in four hours or less.

They promptly agreed and spent the day on January 3 hitting Berlin goth shops for appropriate attire.

A and C wedding portrait A detail by Suzanne Forbes Jan 3 2018A and C wedding portrait A detail by Suzanne Forbes Jan 3 2018(Not everyone chooses the route of D & E, who wore their underwear for their New Year’s wedding portrait!)

A and C wedding portrait C detail by Suzanne Forbes Jan 3 2018I loved having a little time to get to know C., who is an amazing gift to the Bay Area community.

I am so happy for these two and the adventures that lie ahead of them as a family. The portrait was started and finished in three hours, all in, plus an additional hour for talking and planning beforehand. Making it my first Four Hour Portrait of a couple in many years!

The reason I can spontaneously make a work like this is that I am a Patreon-powered artist.

My amazing Patrons on Patreon, a subscription platform for supporting artists, contribute money every month to make it possible for me to make art. As a disabled person, I wouldn’t be able to be a working artist without Patreon. You can help, for as little as a dollar a month!

Click here to join the team who makes my work happen.

Work in Progress: a second sitting for Q and Companion.

q and p Jan 2 2018 by Suzanne ForbesFinally got a chance to have another sitting with our friend Quinn and her companion.

CU WIP Q and P by Suzanne Forbes Jan 02 2018Who I refer to as P. or PASR, which is a private joke between two women nearly of an age. We are both much alike and extremely different, she and I.

We’ve had uncannily similar traumas, and we each have our own ways of surviving them. She is completely an LA girl, and I am a New Yorker for life, but we are both robust survivors, absurdly resilient and determinedly creative.

I posed them in the library instead of the salon because the palette suits her Autumn coloring best; this sitting was extra special because her extraordinary child was with us. Ignoring us, like any reasonable teen would!

The day before we painted I said to her, you were one of the reasons I gave my guy a shot.

I figured any guy who had a woman friend like you had to be a guy worth checking out.

“Remember what I said when you got married?” she said, and we laughed. Knowing remarkable people over a lifetime is the first greatest treasure of life. Watching their remarkable children grow up is the second greatest.

Detail WIP Q and P by Suzanne Forbes Jan 02 2018