Author Archives: Suzanne Forbes

About Suzanne Forbes

Suzanne Forbes is a traditionally trained figurative artist, writer and bricoleur. She is an expat New Yorker living and thriving in Berlin with her third husband and their two cats. In previous lives she was a courtroom artist for CBS and CNN, a penciller for DC Comics on Star Trek, and a live-drawing chronicler of Bay Area alternative culture.

My big new portrait finished and hanging at Ludwig!

Portrait of Rah Hell by Suzanne Forbes Aug 2017I am so proud of this painting of Rah Hell I hate to be separated from it even to exhibit it!

painting of Rah Hell by Suzanne Forbes at Ludwig photo by Suzanne Wegh

Rah Hell by Suzanne Forbes at Ludwig. photo by Suzanne Wegh

Rah Hell ukelele from portrait by Suzanne Forbes Aug 2017However I am thrilled to have it shown at Ludwig, where Thorsten took such great care in hanging it and positioning the lighting.

Ludwig is a beautiful queer space in Neukölln where art is really respected. I was so grateful to see my work handled with care. It will be the first thing visitors to our show this Saturday see upon entering!

Portrait of Rah Hell by Suzanne Forbes Aug 2017 black and white versionIt is the first big personal project portrait I’ve done in Berlin.

I see it as a companion piece, à pendant, to this big portrait I did of friend/muse/Patron Khris Brown in 2005, when I had just returned to painting after a thirteen-year hiatus. This portrait, one of many I did of Khris, is probably my favorite thing I’ve done to date. And this picture of Rah is right up there.

Portraits by Suzanne Forbes 2005 and 2017I painted Rah on a pink ground.

That means before she arrived, I painted the primed canvas an allover bright pink. I used to do this occasionally in college, but had forgotten about it until I saw the work of Natalia Fabia. She is one of the wonderful modern figurative artists I’ve discovered on Instagram. She very often paints on a pink ground.

It adds so much warmth, plus serving as a light mid-tone. Not entirely unlike the many drawings I’ve done on Kraft paper in the last few months! Since I paint alla prima and leave a few areas of bare canvas on every painting I make, you can see the pink peeking through at the edges.

Modern technology makes it so easy to photograph your work, even if you are as bad a photographer as I am.Portrait of Rah Hell by Suzanne Forbes Aug 2017 detail

I’m amazed at how easy it to record and share my new pieces. You can see the details of how I paint easily, the scumbling and bits of impasto. I used quite a bit of gel medium in this work, to get translucent layers that would capture Rah’s luminous youth. Young people’s skin has so much subsurface specularity!

You can see it in progress here and here.

This painting didn’t exist a month ago, and now here it is, on the internet and hanging at Ludwig. My Patrons made it possible.Portrait of Rah Hell by Suzanne Forbes Aug 2017 detail

I’m incredibly proud of it and so grateful to Rah for posing for three long sittings. I am so very grateful to my Patrons who support me on Patreon and make it possible for me to do this work.

If you’re in Berlin, come see our show at Ludwig, opening August 19, 2017! Check out Rah performing in Donut Heart! Celebrate queer Berlin!! YAY!!!!

The night is dark and full of ice cream: Moldover and Alfred Ladylike at Posh Teckel in Neukölln.

Moldover performing at Posh Teckel drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 10 2017Seriously, nukes could fly any second. The world is ON FIRE because of some dimwitted psychopaths. Life has returned to 80’s conditions, a world of “tomorrow I’ll ____, unless nukes. Thursday I’ll _____, unless nukes.”

And yet, I am full of joy, and I got to see an amazing show, and I made art.

I’ve drawn Alfred Ladylike before, on two occasions. I am a fan of Alfred both in solo and Donut Heart incarnations. Although I did not draw her the first time I saw her perform, when she opened with “Professional” for Amanda Palmer at the show I drew at last Fall! Alfred played at Posh Teckel in Neukölln last night.Alfred Ladylike performing at Posh Teckel drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 10 2017

“Teckel” means “dachshund” and there has never been a bar as dachshund-themed as Posh Teckel ever in the history of the world.

It is pretty damn delightful, and also it is a bar that cares a lot about music. It is smaller than our flat but charming. The music sounded great. Alfred performed a few songs but I only made one drawing because it was entirely red and dark and very, very hot in the music part of the bar!

Luckily the music space cooled off a bit as the evening went on. I asserted my needs and dragged in a bar chair to sit on in front of the stage. No-one minded. It’s Berlin, we do what we like.

Moldover drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 10 2017Then Moldover played and wow he is a crackerjack musician and terrific live performer.

He was really just extremely good. I knew pretty much nothing about controllerism, or that Moldover is known worldwide as the Godfather of Controllerism. But I know musicians, and I know performers, and I was just thrilled to see such a terrific show out of the blue on a Thursday night in Berlin when we might all die in a nuclear firestorm tomorrow.

Moldover drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 10 2017Boy howdy, I sure hope I get to go back and read this six months from now and say “wasn’t it scary, thank heavens things are better now.”

Because this is the sweetest and brightest and most joyful and meaningful my life has ever been and I’m drawing like blue hot holy hell. I headed home at midnight; I stopped at our all-night bistro to get ice-cream. Mango eis in the velvet dark and coolness of the summer night, our neighborhood still quietly bustling. I was so happy I scared the cats my husband by dancing in the front door. It would be a shame to get radiation sickness at a time like this.

Anyway, If you like me going around and documenting Berlin life and art, you can help make it possible by supporting me on Patreon. It’s easy and you can pledge as a little as a buck a month; I’ll be thrilled! Moldover has a Patreon too and is on bandcamp and both those corporations are being pretty decent world citizens, as corporations go, so far. So you could go support this fine musician here on Patreon (I did!) or buy his music and music devices on bandcamp. And watch this video, where Moldover wears a tinfoil jumpsuit and performs inside a giant computer chip.

Or maybe he’s really tiny? Whichever, check it out.

Don’t wait too long, in case nukes.

Dr. Sketchy’s Weimar Berlin Part 2: Le Pustra as Sebastian Droste!

Le Pustra posing at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes at Dr Sketchys Berlin Aug 6 2017At the Dr Sketchy’s Berlin “Anita Berber” session, Berlin cabaret superstar and muse Le Pustra portrayed Sebastian Droste.

Le Pustra posing by Suzanne Forbes at Dr Sketchys Berlin Aug 6 2017Droste was Anita Berber’s gay husband, a figure of crafted intrigue, tweaked out cocaine addict ferocity, and wild Expressionist talent.

Together they created a kind of Smut Dada that exhilarated and appalled the world, exactly as they intended. Lustmord, Sex and Death.

“Here as elsewhere, Droste materializes as a liminal figure, both male and female, human and god. In this and other scenarios of sacrifice, the accent falls not on redemption, but on sheer eroticism of self-extinction, the ecstasy of Lustmord.”

-from the must-read introduction to Merrith Cole’s translation of the Berber-Droste book of poems, Dances of Vice, Horror, and Ecstasy.

Le Pustra posing by Suzanne Forbes at Dr Sketchys Berlin Aug 6 2017

The session was in the very elegant salon setting of queer space Cafe Kalwil on Berlin’s historic gay boulevard Motzstraße.

Le Pustra as Sebastian Droste fox stole drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 6 2017Since we did not want to damage the silk satin and devoré velvet furniture, we used only graphite and pencils. I added some pastel and ink later, at home.

On Monday I went to my favorite art supply store near Winterfeldplatz specifically to get an oil pastel in a deep labial/glanz pink to accent the Sebastian drawings. It seemed like the right thing to do!

I cannot wait to see Le Pustra’s celebrated Kabarett der Namenlosen at Ballhaus Berlin next March. (Trailer here) I will make so many drawings!

So much gratitude and thanks to LaLaVox and Le Pustra for organizing such a dream event for artists!

Mad praise to Le Pustra for his creation of Droste as decadent and bitter, yet sensual and vulnerable. Even more drawings coming soon! You can see my drawings of Bridge Markland as Anita Berber here, drawings from the previous Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin here, and here’s the Instagram for Dr Sketchy’s Berlin.

Le Pustra as Sebastian Droste drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 6 2017Please remember: if you enjoy my drawing documentation of Berlin’s queer art scene, you can support my doing it for as little as $1 (or euro) a month by pledging to my Patreon!

Dr. Sketchy’s Weimar Berlin – Bridge Markland as Anita Berber!

Bridge Markland as Anita Berber drawn by Suzanne Forbes at Dr Sketchys Berlin Aug 6 2017What a fabulous Dr. Sketchy’s! Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin is SO FUCKING GOOD.

The atmosphere, the models, the music – always on lock. This session’s theme was Anita Berber and her Weimar Berlin life of decadence, debauchery and artistic fervor.

Bridge Markland as Anita Berber drawn by Suzanne Forbes at Dr Sketchys Berlin Aug 6 2017Bridge Markland, an incredible performer, portrayed Anita Berber late in life, bitter and caustic.

As well as a Drag King, actor and puppeteer, Bridge is an artist’s model with decades of experience. She imbued her characterization with such wickedness and sensuality, such louche elegance.

Bridge Markland at Cafe Kalwil reclining drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 6 2017We also enjoyed legendary Berlin model and performer Le Pustra posing – portraying Anita’s husband and betrayer, genderqueer icon Sebastian Droste.

Bridge Markland as Anita Berber drawn by Suzanne Forbes at Dr Sketchys Berlin Aug 6 2017You can see the post of my drawings of him here!

Both Le Pustra and Bridge have made a deep dive into the Berlin of the 20s and 30s.

They captured the feel of the time so beautifully, lounging in their silk robes on devore velvet furniture and sniping at each other. When they fought over a fox stole I almost died of happiness!

Since we were working in a very elegant salon setting, we used only graphite and pencils. I added some pastel and ink later, at home.

The exquisite setting was queer space Cafe Kalwil on Berlin’s historic gay boulevard Motzstraße.

So much gratitude and thanks to LaLaVox and Le Pustra for organizing such a dream event for artists! Thanks so much to Bridge Markland for bringing Anita to life in all her rage, sensitivity and passion! More drawings here! You can see my drawings from the previous Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin here, and here’s the Instagram for Dr Sketchy’s Berlin.

Join us Aug. 19 for live model painting, art exhibit and drag performance at Ludwig Berlin!

 

Natascha bodypainting at Ludwig by Suzanne Forbes May 25 2017Art will come to life at 8pm on August 19 at Ludwig, Anzengrubenstrasse 3, in Neukölln.

Natasha Artworx body painting!

People will be the canvas, experiences will be documented on the spot, gender roles will be reversed. Come to Ludwig, join and meet us and have a toast to this whimsical art affair!

Ludwig is a lovely queer-embracing space that is designed to show art beautifully. We will be exhibiting brand new works by me, Natascha Artworx (who will also be doing bodypainting) and curator/artist Suzanne Wegh.

Bring your drawing supplies; we will have a professional model posing, electro-accordion chanteuse Natasha Enquist who is one of my very favorite life models.

I’ll be live-painting in the life modelling session and live-drawing the event! The painting I do will be raffled off, with free raffle tickets!

I’ll be offering drawing tips and doing a mini-gesture workshop too!

There will be a gorgeous drag performance (more deets to follow)

-Plus I’m gonna make a bunch of vegan sweet treats which will be for sale!

More information, updates and further announcements can be found here.

Ludwig is very close to the Rathous Neukölln U7 station!

What: A(rt)ffairs Live Art Show

When: Saturday August 19 at 20:00 (8pm)

Where: Ludwig, Anzengruberstr 3, 12043 Berlin Neukölln

Cost: Free, entry to live model session by donation

 

Life drawing session at ESDIP Berlin: a very pregnant tattooed lady!

Martha reclining drawn by Suzanne Forbes at ESDIP Berlin Aug 4 2017I went to the life drawing session at ESDIP Berlin again and this time I drew a lovely model named Martha who is about to have her baby!

I think I drew a pregnant woman once, well actually twice in my whole drawing career before, I don’t have a picture of the second one which was a private commission of my friend Mindy.

Martha in blue wig drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 4 2017For part of the session Martha wore a flowing blue wig! Of course, no one with a comics background can draw a naked pregnant woman without thinking of the late Jeffrey Catherine Jones and her creation Idyl.

It was totally by accident that I drew her as a naked, tattooed, pregnant Whistler’s Mother.

Martha in blue wig drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 4 2017What a beautiful evening it was, with a crowd of three dozen artists quietly working hard to capture Martha in her immanence.

Mysteriously, the group was almost entirely women, many of us tattooed blue-haired women. It was very special. I’ve had a lot of luck of both kinds in my life. The night I accidentally found my way to ESDIP Berlin for the first time was one of the very luckiest.

You can see my previous life drawing session drawings here.Martha in turban drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 4 2017

Playing with pastels, drawing loved ones.

l in berlin by Suzanne Forbes Aug 1 2017When you live in Berlin, everyone comes to visit!

Many Patrons will know the beautiful face of this loved one, visiting Berlin for a week or two. L. and I got to spend some sweet quality time visiting in my Berlin kitchen while I took it slow making this drawing.

As I continue to experiment with pastels, they become more integrated into the drawing as a whole. I really considered their usage and merits for the first time as I worked on this, trying to actually work with the medium a little. As opposed to riding roughshod over it and entirely imposing my comic-book aesthetic and technique, the way I usually do.

Maybe someday I’ll even make a traditional style, true pastel painting, with no ink at all!

Like I used to do at the Art Students League as a ten-year-old.

But that day is not today, as you can see from this drawing of the hubbin sleepin. I was so fired up from drawing L. that later that night I snuck in and drew my husband in the dim light of our bedroom. Hub is so used to me sneakin in and drawing him, he just opened his eyes, shrugged, and went back to sleep, being careful not to change his pose!D sleeping August 1 2017 by Suzanne Forbes

July bricolage – glitch collage embroidered moto jacket!

Collage embroidered floral motorcycle jacket created by Suzanne ForbesI didn’t do much bricolage or embroidery this month, as I was super busy with life drawing and a new painting.

Collage embroidered floral motorcycle jacket created by Suzanne ForbesI did however drop a bunch of hours into this one project. I had been seeing these embroidered motorcycle jackets at mainstream stores, inspired by last Fall’s fashion shows.

I found one for under forty euros (in case the whole idea went badly) and ordered a bunch of commercial appliques from eBay.

Then I researched the process of sewing on appliques, learned about invisible thread, and ordered some of that from Amazon.

All of this took months of course, so it was summer by the time I finally started sewing. And the sewing on of the appliques itself took a solid thirty hours.

I just laid out the jacket, which had some embroidery on the sleeves and a little bit on the front, and started collaging appliques onto it.

Collage embroidered floral motorcycle jacket created by Suzanne ForbesI cut them up, moved them around, and tacked them down with pins.

Then I sewed them on, very carefully and slowly. It was relaxing actually. Except, to my surprise not all the collage designs worked once sewn on. Sometimes the applique was too thick and deformed or distorted the thin PU fabric, and in some places it just didn’t look cool.

Collage embroidered floral motorcycle jacket created by Suzanne ForbesSo sometimes I had to use my handy stitch picker and cut off a section I had laboriously attached.

Because it didn’t look right! On the bottom right of the back I had to try three different applique pieces to end the pattern in a way I was satisfied with. I love how it came out, though, and that mine is completely unique.

This is a project anybody could do. The only specialty skills I brought to it were a tiny bit of embroidering here and there to unify pieces and my personal aesthetic. I used colored Sharpies to tone down brights and unify colors in the applique pieces as needed. Objects we own aren’t permanent, and we get to fuck with them like we want to!

More mixed media experiments on some life drawings from Drink and Draw Berlin.

Masked woman by Suzanne Forbes July 30 2017Just playing around, experimenting wildly with mixed media, composition and values.

Well, wildly for me. Since I spent my six-plus years of art school totally focussed on becoming a comic book artist, I never experimented with anything unless they forced me to, as a student.

I had some left over unfinished drawings from when me and Daria and Marina went to Drink and Draw Berlin earlier this year. I thought I’d finish them up by adding some big dark areas and sharp contrasts. I was like, hey, this mixed media stuff is mostly going well, why don’t I add paint to the drawings? Daria adds paint and ink and watercolor sticks and even coffee and tattoo ink to her drawings all the time and they come out absolutely beautiful.

Shhhh girl by Suzanne Forbes July 30 2017Ha ha ha NO. I added some highlights in unbleached titanium, which seems like a pretty innocuous thing to do…

It looked clumsy and awkward and tragic. Oh well! Pastels have some limited additive/subtractive properties so I just covered up the paint! It was on the top and bottom ones, for the curious. I think they look fine now.

Honestly, I think they look terrific. I’m having a blast. An artist I know from Instagram, an extraordinary young French courtroom artist and illustrator named Emilie Oprescu, said nice things about them. Since I have mad enormous respect for her work, I feel good about these playful experiments.

boy drawing by Suzanne Forbes July 30 2017Gonna keep messin around! It’s just art! Nobody’s heart is open on the table!

One of the producers used to say that, when I worked as a production coordinator at a VFX studio. He’d say, “It’s just a movie! Nobody’s heart is open on the table!”. Wise words.