Tag Archives: Berlin

Painting live at Berlin Burlesque Week with Rafa Alvarez!

Suzanne Forbes and Rafa Alvarez painting at Ballhaus Berlin May 28 2017During Berlin Burlesque Week I did a live painting session with my friend and colleague from ESDIPBerlin, illustrator Rafa Alvarez.

Rafa had been approached by Laura, who runs Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin, and asked to do a painting during the Dr. Sketchy’s session. He suggested I join in, and so I did! Suzanne Forbes and Rafa Alvarez painting at Ballhaus Berlin May 28 2017

It was a nice day and we had a lovely time!

The theme was Garden of Desire, so of course I had to dress up in some leafy flowery business. I brought a leaf crown for Rafa too. His partner came (her parents were watching their little lad, who you can see in this drawing) and took these great pictures. Paintings by Suzanne Forbes and Rafa Alvarez for Dr Sketchys Berlin May 2017

Isn’t it amazing how two artists can create such different works, on the same theme in the same amount of time?

I love Rafa’s style so much. He used these acrylic paint markers, which he got at the graffiti store (we have two in Berlin!) and which I had never seen before. Last pose Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2017

I also snuck inside the (gorgeous, historic, old school cabaret) venue and did drawings of the last two poses.

The tables have these telephones you can use to call the bar and order a drink, and apparently they still work though a bit crackly. The globes light up, of course! Ballhaus Berlin is simply a mad spectacular place to hold a drawing session.At Dr Sketchys Berlin Burlesque Week by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2017

The models, lighting, props, set and music were amazing.

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin is a seriously nice event, going strong for over seven years, and I absolutely plan to make the next one. Hopefully next year I’ll actually make some of the performances at Berlin Burlesque Week. I know I missed some fantastic ones. Darn lack of spoons. More spoons next year!

Here is a lovely photo Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin House Photographer Nina Zimmermann took of all of us!

photo by Nina Zimmermann from DrSketchys Berlin May 2017

photo by Nina Zimmermann from DrSketchys Berlin May 2017

A long day at Charité Hospital, drawing everybody!

Charite waiting room by Suzanne Forbes April 4 2017We spent about five hours at Charité, Berlin’s huge teaching hospital, last week.

Dan At Charite April 4 2017 by Suzanne ForbesMy hub has to have major surgery. We had waited almost four months for the appointment to see this particular surgeon’s group, because we trust our orthopedist and his recommendation.

I couldn’t sleep at all the night before, and so I was pretty wasted when we got there.

Of course, the email had said the group would be in the “new building” after February 2, so first we went to the info desk at the shiny new skyscraper.

Where they laughed and sent us down the street to the ancient Winchester Mystery House-esque “old buildings”. Go through the cafe, they said.

Of course the new offices weren’t ready yet! Of course they hadn’t moved! Construction and renovation in Germany is…extremely, extremely slow.

Remember that new airport? Ha ha ha!!

Charite older guy by Suzanne Forbes April 4 2017I had allowed extra time for this possibility, so we arrived at the registration window precisely on time and gave them our info.

We were directed to the waiting room. All German offices have waiting rooms, often multiple, numbered waiting rooms.

Every other doctor’s or dentist’s office we’ve been to has been extremely nice, fancy and dressy. Like my Fifth Avenue ob-gyn when I was a teen.

But this warteraum was old and grubby and governmental looking.

So we just went into Ausländerbehörde mode and figured it would take as long as it took.

Charite lady and kid by Suzanne Forbes April 4 2017Then we waited. And waited.  When the dozen people who were there before us had all been seen, and they were starting to call people who had arrived after us, we investigated.

Turns out we had been forgotten! “We broke the system!”, hub said. They were very apologetic and in moments sent us in to see the surgeon.

And the surgeon was very nice and very on top of things and we were promptly sent along to Radiology for new x-rays and given a stack of paperwork and returned to the surgeon and in what seemed like no time at all, given a choice of dates for surgery.

The need for this surgery and future ones is one of the critical reasons we moved here; we’ve been talking about it, planning for it, most of the time we’ve been together.

Charite guy and gal by Suzanne Forbes April 4 2017To suddenly, finally, have it scheduled, with eight days of hospital care and three weeks of inpatient rehab and an entire year of pt offered, and six weeks of paid work leave guaranteed, with absolutely nothing to pay, seems like another Berlin miracle.

We used to live near Charité the summer we first moved here, and there was a student center across the street from our apartment.

At term’s end there were International med students having trolley races in the street at four am, singing “Eye of the Tiger” in the universal key of beer.

We have very fond feelings about Charité, and we are hopeful that the shiny new building will actually be done by the time of the operation. But if it is not I will be making drawings from some still perfectly serviceable hundred year old waiting room on June 20, Goddess willing.

Unterwegs Nr. 5 – March bonus round!

Nice daddy by Suzanne Forbes March 23 2017

I have been making so many drawings it’s hard to keep up.

These two sweet daddies were encountered on different day trips to meet Daria someplace. I hope I conveyed their amazing love and tenderness. The one above was letting his daughter go boldly ahead, not constraining her. I had to redraw a lot very quickly to convey that his arm was extended, just barely keeping a delicate hold on her hood, not pulling her back towards himself.

clean chocolate baby March 17 2017 Suzanne ForbesThis dad had kinda greasy hipster hair but his child was immaculate, even though it was eating some kind of chocolate-covered biscuit.

I have never seen a child eat chocolate so neatly, and I have never seen a dad so thrilled to be riding the subway with his baby.

Unterweg March 11 2017 by Suzanne Forbes

 

And here is an unterweg drawing I like just because it’s so loose and fast!

You can see loads more unterwegs drawings if you like.

March

January

December

November

Glücklich, glücklich in Berlin!

Life drawings of Oskar by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2017 censored for InstagramYesterday was our two-year anniversary of moving to Berlin!

Life drawing 5 min 1 by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2017To celebrate I went to the monthly life drawing session at ESDIP Berlin, where I teach drawing.

There was an excellent life model named Oskar, one of the most perfectly still and classically muscular models I have ever drawn. There is no greater gift to a figurative artist than a good model.

I hadn’t been to a life drawing session with a nude model since I left college, so twenty-five years. My work, this whole journey as an artist, is made possible by my Patrons on Patreon. That’s how I do stuff like this.

I told Sarah, “I haven’t drawn a naked person who wasn’t fucking since 1992!”

“You can’t say that and not explain it”, she said. Simple; I like clothing and costumery and fashion and performative identity signifiers so I draw and paint people in outfits.

Which means that when I draw a naked person, it’s at a sex party or other sex-positive event like a benefit or fundraiser. You can see loads of those (NSFW!) here, however many are adult-filtered so you’ll need to be logged in to flickr with safeties off to see the really, truly dirty ones.Life drawing 5 min 2 by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2017

I can’t believe I waited almost two years to go to the life drawing session! It was so great. The model was on a high platform with excellent lighting, and classical drapery. There was music and a bar and snacks (vegan of course), and a big crowd of serious artists.

We started with five minute poses. I love a short pose!

Oskar reclining 10 min by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2017Oskar seated 10 min by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2017I used my new china marker for the five minute poses.

Then I switched to my new Canson Mi Teintes 50% cotton pad and pastels in basic grey and terracotta tones (from Modulor!) for the ten minutes and longer poses.

I had a Koh-i-noor graphite stick as well and used it some, though I had grabbed a 2b which is a little hard for me.

I draw so fast and so hard that I tend to tear up the paper with anything harder than a hb lead. Or on a stronger, toothier rag paper, to spray shattering lead everywhere!

Wow, I’m so rusty at life drawing! I haven’t drawn a person who was actually holding still for so long!

Oskar seated 35 min by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2017Goddam pastels are so hard to control!

I hadn’t used them in decades. I hadn’t used a paper with any tooth for decades either. My drawings were still excellent, of course- when you’re talking about short pose life drawing, I’m the Slayer and you’re playing on my turf. But not as amazing as I expected! At the end I did this drawing in my traditional didactic pencil and ink style, and laid in some midtones with my grey-scale markers when I got home.Life drawing of Oskar 25 by Suzanne Forbes at ESDIP Berlin March 24 2017

That’s it, Drink & Draw Berlin and Dr Sketchy Berlin– Imma start coming in and throwing down.

People can draw like motherfuckers here, so there will be some seriously worthy competition. The drawings at ESDIP last night were excellent – a garden of wildflowers, said my student Chiara. Chiara and I did an art trade, I got this lovely drawing!

Drawing by Chiara Malasavi March 24 2017

Drawing by Chiara Malasavi March 24 2017

Rafa was there and as usual drawing like a motherfucker. His brush-pen mark-making is so beautiful and vital.

There was a guy named Florian who did the most spectacular drawing of the long reclining pose with the most incredible foreshortening and a magnificent foot. Someone did some sepia studies of Oskar’s face that were far better likenesses than any I produced. I kept holding them up and yelling “Who is this amazing artist?” but they refused to take credit and the drawings disappeared from the table while I was chatting with a young woman so I never got to find out.

People, sign your drawings! Date them! Share them! Your work matters!

From ESDIP Berlin Instagram Life drawing January 2017

From ESDIP Berlin Instagram Life drawing January 2017

Bad-ass Berlin artist people, I want to know ya!

Hello, how nice to see you here,
it seems you to go well
I think you’re happy in Berlin
your great dream for many years
seems finally to be true
a part of me that wishes you good luck
and a part of me takes this opportunity to wish you here back

yes it is nice if you write me,
whom thou meet and what thou hast driven
in this city do you know from
my’, who longs as home?
A part of me is very happy for you
and a part thinks: Berlin was nothing for me

too large, too small, too close to far
the one is, the other remains
that I do envy,’ but somehow lied
but it is great that you have hit the jackpot

you say that you are now in the middle of it
because everything andre makes no sense
because here the wide world
and so begins the true life sounds
a part of me wonders what the whole search is
and a part of hopes that you are satisfied

too large, too small, too close to far
the one is, the other remains
a part of me wish you best luck
and a part I wish you back here

too large, too small, too close to far
the one is, the other remains
a part of me wish you a lot of happiness is
a part of me takes this opportunity to wish you back
to you envy was somehow lied
but it is great that you have hit the jackpot

hello, how nice to see you here,
it seems you to go well
I think you’re happy in Berlin

A feminist art salon in Berlin.

dr laura by Suzanne Forbes March 3 2017A friend of mine, Miss Natasha Enquist, invited me to come along to see a movie her friend Gia Balestra has directed and produced.

The movie is called Clitorissima. It was being shown at a long-running sex-positive feminist salon. I arrived a bit late, but luckily there was a fellow outside who spoke English and told me which buzzer to press and what floor, and I went up in the lift. With my asthma, the usual Berlin staircase marathon is a no-go.

On the landing there were dozens of pairs of shoes, as you often see; it is customary to take your shoes off outside the home in Germany. I was nervous about leaving mine, because I was wearing my precious bottle-green granny boots that are a homage to proto-genderqueer YA novel Nightbirds on Nantucket. It took me almost two years of daily eBay search alerts to find a pair. And I am a New Yorker, and assume anything not nailed down will be stolen and anything nailed down defaced or set on fire.

But this is Berlin, and my shoes would be fine, and I entered a room packed with all kinds of women and a few cismen, and someone made space for me on the floor and gave me a pillow to sit on.

Sexclusivitaeten‘s house sexpert Dr. Laura Méritt was displaying a beautiful vagina hand puppet, with detailed anatomical features, wonderful for therapy and education.

Gia Balestra by Suzanne Forbes March 3 2017 BerlinAnd then the film was introduced; I had arrived just in time. Here’s Gia introducing the film.

It is a mixture of documentary and animation. As she talked about interviewing the women she made this beautiful, graceful gesture with her hands, describing the shape of the vulva and clitoral arms. Inscribing it in space, a reiterative dance, so lovely.

About Clitorissima:

Giancarla Balestra (Vulvah Van Klitt Productions), directed/produced the short documentary “Clitorissima” which is a series of interviews with women asking the same question: “At which age, and on which occasion, did you have clitoris awareness?”. She teamed up with the Danish Animator and Illustrator Sara Koppel (Naked Love Film & Koppel Animation) with the mission to normalize and facilitate the first mother/daughter conversation about clitoris and clitoris awareness, told through interviews with various clitoris owners, and storytelling through animation.

It was the winner of ‘Outstanding Creative Vision Award’ at the CineKink Film Festival, NYC, USA, March 2016!

CLITORISSIMA – Official Trailer (Italian subtitles) from Vulvah Van Klitt Productions on Vimeo.

Sara Koppel AnimatorThe film is so beautiful and magical. It would be wonderful for parents to show their young kids; it is elegant, cheerful and not graphic.

The artist who drew the exquisitely blooming animation sequences is Sara Koppel of Naked Love Film and Koppel Animation, left. She is so very extraordinarily talented.

Her previous sex educational work, which came out of talks with Gia in the Berlin sex-positive scene, is a short movie called “Little Vulvah and her Clitoral Awareness“. Which has won just buckets of awards and would also be a treasure to show your young child. You can watch the trailer and buy it here.

The vibe at my first Sexclusivitäten event was cozy and warm, and everyone was friendly. My drawing was enjoyed and supported. It was like the first time I went to SF Citadel and met August; I felt so at home. I got stickers!

puzz powerI am enormously excited about the upcoming event celebrating menopause; I find it is really necessary to learn more about this process as I go through it and I am thrilled to be meeting members of a community that has such an open and creative dialogue.

In the Bay being involved with Midori‘s fundraisers, supporting her performances and creating work with her was so important to me, as was working and exhibiting with Madison Young and her Femina Potens gallery. I look forward to getting to know and doing creative work with kindred spirits here.

Upcoming Sexclusivitaten salon events can be seen here! And workshops!

“For the whole month of March sex-expert Laura Meritt and her team offer an insight into the evolution of pussy power. 10 years ago the (Women’s) March was declared the month of vulvas to push its popularity forward and strengthen the sexual confidence of every vulva owner. All the events take place in the rooms of Exclusivitäten and offer a diverse program consisting of an exhibition, films and workshops around the female sexual organ. Viva la Vulva!”

 

 

 

Unterweg Drawings Nr. 4 – March!

Berlin clarinetists by Suzanne Forbes March 3 2017Lots of amazing unterweg drawing opportunities already this month!

These clarinet guys were reconstructed from a glimpse while my train was stopped at the platform they were on. I focused on details like their different styles of coat, their backpacks behind them, their hairstyles- so I not only didn’t get the specifics of the station, I don’t remember what station it was!

Accordionists at Yorckstrasse by Suzanne Forbes March 1 2017

Me and Daria went to a cafe in a cemetery, and it was the most wonderful place you could ever imagine.

I’m not telling which one, cause it’s too precious. When we left we saw these accordionists in the station, and she got on her train but I stayed to draw them. Using the set of grayscale markers I received as a 50th b-day gift from a beloved friend-muse-Patron has been so fun and rewarding.

Longboard by Suzanne Forbes March 1 2017Me and Daria went to Modulor, the legendary amazing Berlin art supply store. They have EVERYTHING. It is a terrible, evil place, just as she had warned me. We were running around saying “Bad, this is bad,  yes it is a bad place.” “Ok I just need this one more thing-” “Of course this too-”

Also the cafe there, Rock-Paper, has fantastic American style chocolate chip cookies. Better than serviceable Snap (which luckily has just opened a branch in our U-Bahn station), better than decent Scoom, even better than quite good Shakespeare and Sons. If you are in Berlin and your heart is aching for a real, American, gosh damm actual chocolate chip cookie, you should go to Rock-Paper.

On the way there and I back I drew this guy with the longest longboard I had seen since the early 80s. He said it was 1.4m.

Berlin, du bist so wunderbar!

 

Unterweg Drawings Nr. 3 – January!

3am on the U7 by Suzanne Forbes Jan 30 2017This is one of those Berlin moments that kind of confused me.

It was a Saturday late fairly late, and this guy was eating a sandwich in a white Tyvek jumpsuit. Was he a homeless guy, with his possessions in his cart? His cart also contained folders of papers and cleaning products, maybe he works in the subway system?

I couldn’t tell. I snuck behind the elevator shaft and drew him through its glass walls. Then I finished it a month or two later with the new greyscale markers one of my beloved Friend-Muse-Patrons gave me for my 50th birthday!80s classics come around again by Suzanne Forbes Jan 25 2017

I saw this woman last week on the U-Bahn. Everything about her took me back to the 80s.

It was an older train, she was in the classic straphanger bookworm brace position, she was reading an 80s thriller and wearing the same kind of puffer coat my mom wore in the 80s. Puffer coats came back in style a couple years ago, and I am glad because they are so fun to draw.

December Unterwegs here.

November Unterwegs here.

Drawing Amanda Palmer in Berlin!

Amanda Palmer in my kitchen, by Suzanne Forbes Halloween 2016

Our longtime beloved FriendMusePatron Whitney was on tour this fall with her longtime friend Amanda Palmer.

On Halloween she and Amanda and baby Ash and the whole delightful entourage of cool people came to our house. I made this drawing of Amanda in the kitchen. Daria drew the same moment!

Amanda and I had only met once before, almost a decade ago, so we had some sad quiet time in my bedroom talking about our mutual friend Conor. Amanda’s blog still sends a reader almost every day to my post about how Conor lost his battle with depression and addiction.

I’m grateful that her fans are reading my message about how depression is a medical illness, not a failing of character.

While we talked baby Ash, a sweet-tempered and happy baby, crawled around the coverlet and peered at the cats. He has soulful, deep-set eyes. I love him.Amanda and Whitney practising Paperback Writer in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016

Then on the next day me and Daria got to go to the show and be backstage and draw and it was wonderful.

This is Whitney and Amanda practising “Paperback Writer” in the empty venue before the show. The show was at a legendary Berlin venue, Huxleys Neue Welt, and the acoustics were gorgeous. Their voices rose up pure and exquisite in the open space, and the piano was amazing.

When we came into the concert hall where Amanda was at the piano, she sang into the mike, “The artists have arrived!”. I would like to be introduced this way everywhere.

Amanda Palmer and Ash in the Green Room by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016

Scotty the Blue Bunny in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016In the green room Ash was looked after by his nanny, who had been an on-point Eleven for Halloween, and old friends of Amanda’s who live in Berlin. His mother’s ear was always tuned to him, even as she got ready to perform.

Scotty the Blue Bunny, another Bay Area refugee now in Berlin, opened the show with his signature baton twirling. Amanda said she would like to be introduced this way everywhere she goes.

Amanda speaks fluent German, as you may or may not know, and fans were yelling “Your German is great!”

She spoke in German quite a bit and it went over gangbusters.

Here’s Amanda taking requests by writing them on her arm!

This is her traditional method of taking requests. The audience happily complied, yelling out song titles.Amanda Palmer taking requests in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016

And Amanda playing the ukulele. I fucking love when Amanda plays the ukulele!

Here’s Daria’s. It was so great, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be there and make these drawings. You can support both me and Amanda continuing to make exactly the art that feels most authentic to us on Patreon!

Amanda Palmer playing ukulele in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016

Amanda Palmer playing ukulele in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016

Amanda is in Melbourne right now, but in the US you can hear Whitney sing with group Midtown Social all over the Bay Area.

 

Drawing musicians is good medicine.

I love drawing musicians.

As a completely non-musical person, they are like sorcerers to me. They possess dynamic energy and their movements are both repetitive and startling. I drew this guy on the U both because I love banjos and because of his young-Frank-Zappa good looks! banjetar man november 2016 by Suzanne Forbes

These two guys performed at the delightful holiday party for the wonderful company my husband works for. It was at a totally wonderful, secret venue hidden behind a hof full of bins. I’ll get their names after the break, right now everyone is off for the holidays.aklamio-holiday-party-dec-13-by-suzanne-forbes

Unterweg drawings Nr 1

There is a bit of a thing among Berlin drawing folk, urban sketchers and life drawing people and so on, of “Unterweg” drawings.Fluffy boots by Suzanne Forbes Nov 28 2016They’re the drawings you make on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, bus or tram, as you’re underway.

I find that I’m using these opportunities to draw regular people going about their day as a place to practise techniques. I can drop on a half-finished drawing and decide to add dark values, or detail, or a second person, in the most relaxed and experimental way.Headphones guy by Suzanne Forbes Nov 28 2016

You get as far as you get with an unterweg, then the person you’re drawing gets off the train, or you do, or they notice you drawing and you have to stop. Often children gather to watch, and adults murmur, “Schon!”

It’s a wonderful way to pass the time, and try new things.