Tag Archives: Daria Rhein

ESDIP Life Drawing happytimes!

10 minute life drawings by Suzanne Forbes at ESDIP Berlin Nov 10 2017Me and Daria and Marina went to ESDIP Life Drawing yesterday. Know who else was there??

Lee Dotson who I know from the Bay Area, who is living at Rah Hell’s place and co-working at ESDIP, both occurring totally unrelated to me. The world is small, and rich in co-incidence.

5 minute life drawings by Suzanne Forbes at ESDIP Berlin Nov 10 2017We did five minute poses to start.

We were blessed by Luciano, a wonderful life model. For a former comic book artist like me, there are certain body types it’s terrifically easy to draw.

10 minute life drawings by Suzanne Forbes at ESDIP Berlin Nov 10 2017Then ten minute poses.

I am having a really interesting time switching back to markers and inkline after six months of experimenting with pastels.

5 and 1 minute life drawings by Suzanne Forbes at ESDIP Berlin Nov 10 2017Towards the end we did one-minute gestures.

I did two, and worked on the left-hand one for an additional four minutes, because Spiderman!

ESDIP Berlin life drawing artists by Suzanne Forbes Nov 10 2017For the last two poses, I drew the artists instead.

Several of my students and former students were in the group, which was lovely, and I wanted to capture the moment. Also, unlike most figurative artists, I’m not that interested in naked people. Even beautiful, fit, young naked people.

Daria tackled the last pose and made a terrific drawing despite the difficult angle from where we were seated. Check it out!

Life Drawing at ESDIP Berlin by Daria Rhein Nov 10 2017

Life Drawing at ESDIP Berlin by Daria Rhein Nov 10 2017

You can see my previous drawings from ESDIP Berlin life drawing sessions here, and here. Naked people warning, of course!

You can come to life drawing at ESDIP once a month. And you can sign up for our Illustration Intensive Program starting again in January if you want me to teach you to draw hands like a boss!

It’s the monthly financial support of my Patrons on Patreon that makes it possible for me to be a working artist. You can help, for a dollar or less than a euro a month!

 

First Women’s Halloween Art Salon!

women sketching Oct 30 2017 photo by Suzanne Wegh

I hosted an art salon for female-identifying people in our flat the night before Halloween.

It was wonderful! It was incredibly special to have a group of women artists gathered in our home, feasting on veggie and vegan treats before settling into a life drawing session with a professional artist’s model. It was like Eat and Draw instead of Drink and Draw!

Miss Natasha Enquist with crow friend by Suzanne Forbes Nov 5 2017I made vegan pumpkin pie, which is weirdly way better and easier than the dairy version. Way pumpkinier too!

Many people had not previously had pumpkin pie, which isn’t a thing in Germany or really most of Europe, and are now very seriously into it. Suzanne Wegh helped organize and brought hardcore salty Dutch licorice, which I thought I would not be into but really enjoyed.

Thanks to my Patrons on Patreon and their financial support, I was able to hire my favorite artist’s model, electro-accordion chanteuse Miss Natasha Enquist.

I met her teaching at ESDIP Berlin, and we became friends and now I hire her when I need a terrific life modeldraw at all her superb music performances and also we go to sex clubs and leather daddy cigar lounges!

Miss Natasha Enquist with skull by Suzanne Forbes Oct 30 2017Although I do love two-minute gesture poses, for the salon we went right into short poses, ten to fifteen minutes, then twenty minutes. Everyone wanted time to capture MNE’s whole lewk!

We used lots of props! Our house is so full of weird stuff and dead stuff and creepy stuff, we were spoilt for choice.

Miss Natasha Enquist And Giulia Caruso by Yvonne Prott Oct 30 2017

Miss Natasha Enquist And Giulia Caruso photographed by Yvonne Prott, Oct 30 2017

Almost everyone came prepared to draw or paint, except for Yvonne Prott of Yves_Art, who takes amazing photos and shot a collection of beautiful spooky images.

Yvonne Prott self portrait Oct 30 2017

Yvonne Prott self portrait, Oct 30 2017

Clockwise below, Giulia Caruso, Ksenia Shaw, a redheaded visitor from Australia, Suzanne Wegh, Daria Rhein and Marina Belikova. Sorry about my terrible photography “skills”!

womens art salon oct 30 2017 photo by Suzanne Forbes

 

Marina and Daria at womens art salon oct 30 2017

Everyone made such beautiful drawings. It was incredible, such a gleeful creative energy in our safe space!

I loved all the different styles. Lydia is a crackerjack draughtsman with terrific style. Her character selfie drawings on her Insta give me life.

Miss Natasha Enquist drawn by Lydia photo by Yvonne Prott Oct 30 2017

Miss Natasha Enquist drawn by Lydia, photo by Yvonne Prott, Oct 30 2017

Miss Natasha Enquist with Crow by Natascha Artworx Oct 30 2017

Miss Natasha Enquist with Crow by Natascha Artworx Oct 30 2017

Here are two of the many drawings made by Natascha Artworx. 

She came down from Hamburg for the salon despite the storm, and she has a lovely post about it on her Patreon!

She and Suzanne Wegh and I previously collaborated, and worked with Miss Natasha, for our A(RT)ffair at Ludwig this summer.

It was pretty funny having only two names to go around that time; we’ve gotten better at it now!

 

Miss Natasha Enquist by Natasha Artworx Womens Art Salon Oct 30 2017

Miss Natasha Enquist by Natasha Artworx at the first Womens Art Salon, Oct 30 2017

 

Miss Natasha Enquist with Natascha Artworx and Kelsey Bass Oct 30 2017, photo by Suzanne Wegh

I adore this digital version Kelsey Bass made of one of her drawings!

Miss Natasha Enquist by Kelsey Bass Oct 30 2017

Miss Natasha Enquist by Kelsey Bass Oct 30 2017

Each artist brought their unique style and approach to the poses.

Daria, who has been doing a lot of digital work lately when she isn’t tattooing, used watercolors. Keep an eye on her art Instagram and you might see ’em!

Crucial event support and photography provided by Suzanne Wegh; check out her Patreon!

Top photo by Suzanne Wegh, left to right: Daria Rhein, Marina BelikovaNatascha Artworx and Kelsey Bass.

Artwork made at the First Womans Art Salon Oct 30 2017 photo by Suzanne Wegh

Artwork made at the First West Berlin Womens Art Salon, Oct 30 2017, photo by Suzanne Wegh

 

More musicians – Dirk Rave and Mads Elung-Jensen at Ludwig.

Dirk Rave at Ludwig by Suzanne Forbes Aug 27 2017I love to draw people playing the accordion!!

There’s something physical about the way they have to lean into the instrument, its spinelike flexibility, that just blows my mind. It’s like they have a person in their lap and they are squeezing music out of them!

So when Dirk Rave came onstage at Ludwig the other night with his accordion i was delighted to draw him. Amazingly, after I wrote the above, I went to his website to add the link, and guess what I read???!

“The proportion of the instrument can not be underestimated: the accordion breathes. This makes it the ideal partner of a singing man, whether it is a baroque, a pop song or a classic French chanson.”

So I was right! It is about the physicality and proportions of the accordion, it adds a unique dimension to a performance! Isn’t that cool, that Dirk and I share this notion and didn’t even know it?

Dirk and Mads at Ludwig by Suzane Forbes Aug 27 2017Dirk performed several of his original compositions, then was joined by Danish tenor Mads Elung-Jensen. 

They were GREAT! You can see them perform together yourself here. It was a performance way the hell out of the league of a quiet Thursday night in Neukölln, exactly the kind of unexpected miracle Berlin specializes in.

About the drawings, I must note that the top one is another example of me nearly ruining a fine drawing by adding pastels and mixed media.

I wanted to use only grey tones, because I worry that I’m in danger of developing laziness around values from using pink and umber. I knew I had to be careful to leave the open space of the kraft paper as a value and that I needed deep darks to convey the night-time feel of the bar. I could just barely wrangle it all together, and it devolved for a bit.

Sargent said that if you control the midtones you control the painting.

I am working on midtones, trying to use them more effectively. Since I developed my entire style of drawing to be reproducible black and white linework for comics, that’s challenging to me. I still find spotting hard blacks is helpful when the drawing isn’t reading clearly.

Having a true peer that you see and work with often is so crucial to artists.

Daria is such an important part of my growth as an artist here in Berlin. It’s her voice I hear in my head when I want to overwork a drawing, and her voice I heard tonight saying, “When in doubt, add more black!”.

For the second drawing I kept it simpler, leaving more of the paper surface open. While pattern and value ensure it reads easily, it doesn’t have the same night-time feel. My next sketchbook is going to be a Canson grey tone pad. Sargent painted on canvases toned with a cool grey midtone, and I am excited to try using pastels to work on that kind of base! Wow, the 50th-birthday gift of greyscale markers from my beloved friend-muse-Patron Clear really opened the drawing door for me!

More accordion drawings:

Unterwegs

Four hour portrait painting of Julia

There’s one of Heather playing accordion but I couldn’t find it on my flickrstream, you can look at her great photos instead

Dovekins at Cakebread

Scout at Cakebread

Old ones from St. Paul and here and here

Live painting during A(RT)ffair at Ludwig Berlin!

Suzanne Forbes painting Natasha Enquist at Ludwig on Aug 19 2017 photo by Xushaw

Suzanne Forbes painting Miss Natasha Enquist at Ludwig on Aug 19 2017. photo by Xushaw

SO much appreciation to Suzanne Wegh and Natascha Artworx for creating our wonderful art event at Ludwig Berlin this past weekend.

We had new works from all three of us, live painting (me) and drawing (by lots of cool women), modelling by Miss Natasha Enquist, live body-painting by Natascha Artworx on Alfred Ladylike as human canvas, a gorgeous performance by Leo Gold, and music by NanseaBerlin.

Artffair at Ludwig Aug 19 2017

Clockwise from left, curator Suzanne Wegh, Natascha Artworx in front of works from her “Selfie” series, me painting Miss Natasha Enquist, my husband studies my portrait of Rah Hell.

It was so much fun! I was so happy to be able to book electro-accordion chanteuse Miss Natasha Enquist as our model; she is an extraordinary performer and one of the best life models I’ve ever known. This outfit was inspired by her rad look when she rode on a float at Christopher Street Day Berlin! She kicked it up a notch with the creepy white latex gloves!

Miss Natasha Enquist seated at Ludwig Aug 23 2017 by Suzanne ForbesMy colleague and fellow art instructor at ESDIP Berlin Omar Jaramillo came and made art!

He is a remarkable watercolorist and painting teacher; I had never seen his tonal work before and was dazzled by these lovely wash drawings. Check his Insta for more beauty!

Omar Jaramillo and his drawings of Natasha Enquist at Ludwig Aug 19 2017Omar Jaramillo and his drawings of Natasha Enquist at Ludwig Aug 19 2017

Omar Jaramillo and his drawings of Natasha Enquist at Ludwig Aug 19 2017

My beloved genius Daria Rhein came and made jaw-dropping drawings of Miss Enquist, on her new ipad Pro thing- I had no idea work like this could be created digitally.

Click over to Daria’s Instagram to see more!

Miss Natasha Enquist and Alfred Ladylike drawn by Daria Rhein Aug 19 2017

Miss Natasha Enquist and Alfred Ladylike drawn by Daria Rhein Aug 19 2017

I taught a quick lesson on how to do a gesture drawing, and made vegan treats! We raised 90 euros in our donation jar, not bad!

The house was packed, a wonderful representation of queer Berlin, and several of my former drawing students came and drew, how lovely! Photo of me and new drawer Ursula by artist Xushaw who I know from ESDIP’s monthly Life Drawing nights.

Artffair at Ludwig Berlin Aug 18 2017Alfred Ladylike posed for Natascha Artworx as her human canvas.

Natascha was wearing an amazing art dress she had customized and painted. The person who owned the dress was getting divorced and planned to burn it, and it got turned into art instead!

Natascha Artworx painting Alfred Ladylike at Ludwig Aug 22 2017 by Suzanne Forbes

Miss Natasha Enquist posing and Alfred Ladylike as human canvas for Natasha Artworx Aug 19 2017

Miss Natasha Enquist posing and Alfred Ladylike as human canvas for Natascha Artworx, Aug. 19 2017

30 minute portrait of Miss Natasha Enquist by Suzanne Forbes and Fluid Gallery at Ludwig Berlin Aug 10 2017

30 minute portrait of Miss Natasha Enquist by Suzanne Forbes and the Fluid Gallery at Ludwig Berlin, Aug. 19 2017

The finished 30 minute portrait of Miss Natasha Enquist, above.

We gave out free raffle tickets and raffled it off at the end of the night! Free art! And there was even a secret surprise performance by Alfred! Her Donut Heart bandmate Rah Hell was represented in portraiture by both myself and Natascha, and performed the raffle ticket drawing. What a heavenly evening.Miss Natasha Enquist and Alfred Ladylike drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 19 2017 Ludwig Berlin

My infinite thanks to Suzanne Wegh and Natascha Artworx for managing this event. If you’d like to help support their creative work, here’s Suzanne’s Patreon and Natascha’s Patreon. Visit Miss Natasha Enquist’s Spotify here and Donut Heart on bandcamp here.

I was able to be part of this event and make this art documenting queer Berlin because of my Patrons on Patreon. You can help with just a buck a month – it’s super easy!

30 minute painting of Miss Natasha Enquist painted by Suzanne Forbes at Ludwig Berlin Aug 19 2017

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.

Women make amazing tattoo art in Berlin.

Daria tattooing by Suzanne Forbes June 29 2017I drew Daria tattooing at Tremuschi Ink, the studio where she creates her works.

I swung for the fences with this one, and I kinda missed. To try and apply my new techniques of mixed media coloring to such a complex, detailed drawing – with such deep space!- was perhaps an act of hubris. I barely have a grasp of this new approach, and definitely don’t feel skilful in handling pastels.

And I absolutely loved the drawing in its original state. But I felt I had to see if I could make it even better. I’m not sure I did.

Daria tattooing by Suzanne Forbes June 2017 line versionLuckily, in a moment of foresight, I photocopied the original line drawing.

Drawings by Suzanne Forbes Berlin June 2017The scan is dark, because the photocopy picked up the midtone of the kraft paper, and I hadn’t finished drawing Daria’s tattoo machine. Someone with better digital editing skills than me can sort out the values, prolly.

I was quite scared to add the mixed media (pastel, oil pastel and markers) to the line drawing, and it took me almost a month to get down to it.

Rightly so; it turned out to be a bit beyond me to fully reconcile the values so the drawing reads well.

I kinda feel like I destroyed something I really liked, and that’s good. You gotta kill your darlings in the art biz.

After all, I can always make another drawing of Daria making a tattoo. And I want to go back to Tremuschi and draw Vivi tattooing too, when she gets back from her tattoo cons of Europe tour! I might do a whole series of drawings of women tattoo artists of Berlin!

Drawing at the Drink and Draw Berlin Midnight Society Party, May 20 2017.

Kelsey in mask she made at Drink and Draw Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 2017

Kelsey in mask she made at Drink and Draw Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 2017

Daria, Marina and I went to the Drink and Draw party.

The theme was “Secret Society”, emphasizing “Eyes Wide Shut” and occult iconography. Fine. At Drink and Draw Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 20 2017

On the one hand, it’s an easy theme.

catwomen at drink and draw berlin may 20 2017 by Suzanne ForbesAmazon.de surely sold out of cheap hooded costume cloaks, and even twenty-somethings have a suit or a cocktail dress and a mask or a strip of lace.

no shirt no hair by Suzanne Forbes May 20 2017And a roomful of beautiful young people dressed up Eyes-Wide-Shut style is pretty.

hooded boy by Suzanne Forbes May 20 2017The flowing capes were pretty.

On the other hand, it made the crowd of identically beautiful normative-bodied cishet or performative-queer twentysomethings even blander.

drink and draw berlin may 20 2017 by Suzanne Forbes red lanternI was passing out during live sex acts at the Hellfire Club in the Meatpacking District in 1986, so…whatever, this is fine. I certainly have plenty of practise drawing this look from the hundred hours the hub and I logged at The Upper Floor.

Kelsey and friend at Drink and Draw Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 21 2017The organizers had decided not to hire any actual professional models or performers, so all the models were volunteers. The only ones I was really intrigued and moved by were those who’d put some work into their costumes. Like illustrator Kelsey Bass, above and in the top image, who made her amazing goat mask completely out of recycled materials (Amazon boxes!).

And corsetiere Emma Caponi, who designed and made her astonishing deco gown out of exquisite eyelash lace she got on a trip to China. Emma at Drink and Draw Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 20 2017Her pretty boy killed the suspenders-no-shirt look, too.suspenders by Suzanne Forbes May 20 2017

These lovers posing later in the night were especially pretty, even without any effort at costuming.

lovers at drink and draw berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 21 2017I guess part of my OG/elderkinkster snark comes from the fact that we had such a great time at the last Drink and Draw Berlin party we went to.

unfinished drawings by Suzanne Forbes from Drink and Draw Berlin May 20 2017It was at the old venue, so much less fancy, so much less formal, everything so much more casual. People worked hard on their costumes, the costumes were more playful (though more problematic also!) and less “sexy dress-up”, and the model was a professional performer. I felt like my drawings were more interesting.

And the people drawing were there to draw, and they were mostly ridiculously good. Some of the Drink and Draw Berlin organizers are extremely, extremely good illustrators and draughtsmen. However they didn’t seem to have time to be drawing themselves at this huge event, with everyone drinking fairly vigorously, interactive performances going on, live tattooing and a huge dance floor. For me, so much energy at a drawing event comes from seeing other people do really good work. And certainly there was some, but it was hard to appreciate it in such a busy setting. Ah, so it goes.

roughs from Drink and Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 20 2017So this time I just focussed on making blandly attractive slick-looking drawings that hopefully will do well on my Instagram and help grow my Patreon.

After all, I can see conventionally beautiful twenty-somethings in half-assed costume at KitKat any weekend.

Plus people my own age, real queers, and some gender, body and ableness diversity.

Damn you, San Francisco, for setting an impossible-to-follow standard for costuming, themes and costume parties!!

Balsa Man was 1/16th smaller last year by SandwichGirl 2010

Balsa Man was 1/16th smaller last year by SandwichGirl, 2010

Snow Queen/White Witch OOAK Doll with sledge and reindeer, finished!

Snow Queen Jadis with carriage and reindeer by Suzanne Forbes May 2017I finally finished her!

I am amazing, and amazed by myself! Jadis, The White Witch, The Snow Queen, the Ice Queen, as I always imagined her.

I’d been wanting to make a doll like this since the early 90s in St. Paul. At a fancy shop in Summit Hill I saw a teacup fairy by Stephanie Blythe and Susan Snodgrass.

The delicacy, the precision, the tiny, tiny crystals- there was something about it that moved me deeply.

I had no idea you could get such tiny materials. The thought of handling such tiny things was exhilarating to me. I imagined I could make tiny dolls of characters I loved. I could make a tiny world.

Snow Queen OOAK doll by Suzanne Forbes May 2017I was still waiting to start my dollhouse then, still holding a space for that project open in my future.

Snow Queen by Suzanne Forbes May 2017I didn’t want to open the door to even more collecting and supply hoarding madness, I didn’t dare try such things myself, but I bought some porcelain doll parts and kept them.

I held my love for the teacup fairy in my heart, held the space for those tiny crystals dotting her bodice in my mind, setting the image gently in my mental room for miniature art.

Every time I moved, I packed my craft materials. My porcelain doll heads and limbs, my ever-growing collection of wired ribbon and metallic organza and silver cord and microbeads and glitter, travelled from St. Paul to Hartford to DC to Arlington to Alameda to Albany to Berkeley to North Berkeley to Albany to Glenview to West O to Oakland.

In Berkeley in 2000 I began building my dollhouse at last and collecting 1/12th scale action figures.

Miniature sex toys by Suzanne Forbes 2007

I subscribed to miniature magazines and went to miniature shows.

my first polymer clay OOAK doll by Suzanne Forbes 2011

my first polymer clay OOAK doll by Suzanne Forbes 2011

I met Monique Motil, dollmaker extraordinaire. I started sculpting little things with polymer clay for the dollhouse and reading about action figure customizing techniques.

I scoured the internet for methods, materials and supplies. And at our little Craftsman flat in Oakland in 2011, I finished my dollhouse and started making dolls.

I started my Snow Queen project in 2013.

I had been home to New York for holidays with my husband’s family and I had just seen snow for the first time in fifteen years. On a magical Christmas Eve we went to church in Freehold, New Jersey and when we came out delicate flakes were falling.

The night before In the city I’d stood at the rail of the skating rink in Bryant Park; a tween wiped out and came up laughing, clapping his cold hands over mine.Snow Queen in carriage with reindeer by Suzanne Forbes May 2017

I fell in love with the cold again, the way the stars get lean in a winter sky and the way everything is so sharp.

I remembered the way I loved the cold in WInter’s Tale, the way it muffled my footsteps when I walked through a silent Chinatown to buy heroin on New Year’s Day in 1989, the sparkling lavender twilight of April snow at the treatment center in St. Paul.

iridescent microbeads from MorezmoreIn the dark California January I drove to Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics and Beverlys and bought bags full of 90% off Christmas decor. Icicles and glitter snow and white fur and pale iridescent sequins.

I ordered Swarovski crystals in colors like Silver Shadow, Moonlight and Opal. I discovered the amazing doll supplier MorezMore. I ordered nail decals of flocked snowflakes from China and Ball-jointed Doll clothing buckles from Taiwan. I bought pearlescent microbeads and fusible fairy films.

Snow Queen OOAK Doll by Suzanne ForbesI learned the sizes Swarovski crystals come in, and where to get the very tiniest.

tiniest-swarovski-crystalsI made the sledge first. The sledge is made of three different plastic Christmas ornament sleighs, some pvc holiday ornament pieces, polystyrene sheets and strips, clear polythene sheeting, crazy glue and balsa wood.

It’s all stuck together with epoxy clay, polished and sanded smooth. The shafts are the bow pieces of dollar sunglasses!

I got so many materials in the basement of Ace Hardware in Berkeley, in the huge model and railroad hobby section. I’d lean on the counter and talk techniques with the guys there for hours.

I primed the sledge with Krylon Primer for Plastics. You can read about my adventures with priming mixed plastics here and here. Then I spray-painted it with four shades of Tamiya pearl and flake model car paints, one of the most fascinating rabbit holes of materials I went down.

I spent a lot of time on model car boards, reading about how to avoid the dread “orange peel effect” and how to clear coat.

Our back steps were my spray room, and the California drought of those years was a huge asset, I gotta admit.

Snow Queen OOAK Doll by Suzanne ForbesI used crazy glue and Zap-A-Gap to bond the styrene, plastic and balsa elements.

I used a Japanese product called Sakura 3D Crystal Lacquer, which is used by Lolis and Harajuki girls to adhere bling, aka “decoden”, to their phones, to attach a lot of the sledge decor.

The sledge is decorated with hundreds of the very, very tiniest Swarovski crystals, some smaller than the head of a pin, laboriously applied while watching all seven (at the time) seasons of Supernatural (twice!) and tiny, tiny flocked and glittered snowflake nail art decals. And upholstered with silver velvet, button-tufted using pretty antique silver scrapbook art brads and quilt batting over cardstock. I glued the velvet to the cardstock with my beloved Quick Grip/Quick Grab, which is my absolute favorite for small textile work.

As any burner or steampunk can tell you, assemblage art lives or dies by its adhesives.

tiny-buckles-from-RIo-Rondo

The reindeer is made of a cellulose acetate reindeer from the ’50s, legs sawed off and replaced with new sculpts, and head, body and neck heavily re-sculpted.

This kind of Frankensteining is a classic action figure customizing technique; the materials and techniques for creating the miniature harness come from the model horse customizing community, and the handling of the mohair mane from the dollmaking world.

(I’m allergic to mohair, like wool, it turns out.)

I also used the 3D Crystal to get a clear dome over his eyes and a gloss of mucus in his nostrils. The flocking on his ears is nail artist’s flock- much cheaper than the art store!

Snow-Queen-by-Suzanne-Forbes-May-2017-reindeer-headshot-cu

Snow-Queen-by-Suzanne-Forbes-May-2017-reindeerThe tiny silver leather strips for the harness came mostly from a handbag making supply company in Los Angeles; I found it on etsy. I bought many different silver cords and strings at a passementarie shop in the New York Garment district during my second trip back East for the holidays. And for four years I saved every single piece of silver stuff I got, from silver elastic on dress tags to silver pvc on packaging.

Then I had to make a Snow Queen figure!

Snow queen doll WIP Suzanne ForbesI was totally ok with customizing an existing figure; my many hundred hours on action figure boards has made me very comfortable with the idea of remixing sculpture.

I would never, ever, ever copy another artist’s drawing or painting- or even their style- or use elements of someone else’s drawing or photograph in one of my drawings or paintings. I just don’t do that.

But sculpture is play to me, something I do for pleasure. I like the idea that assemblage art incorporates existing elements. And dollmakers commonly use finished porcelains from well-known sculptor to paint and dress. It’s a medium where collaboration is normal.

So ultimately I decided to use the top of a commercial resin mermaid and the legs of a resin fairy to build my Snow Queen.

Snow queen doll WIP Suzanne ForbesI sawed and sanded as needed, then fit the two halves together, and then I used epoxy clay to bulk out her body. Because I love muscle on women’s shoulders, and a big butt, aesthetically! I left her ribcage and waist slim because they would have layers of tiny fabric corseting on them.

And she needed boobs too, sculpted to fit in a square Elizabethan type bodice. Then I had to completely resculpt her face, to give her the strength and archness she needed.

And I needed to bulk up her thighs and sculpt boots on her feet. And lengthen her fingers. And sand off and resculpt her ears. I think she was resculpted, primed and sanded about ten times altogether. Her final finish was partly achieved with Mr. Surfacer priming medium, which i learned about from Daria’s dollmaking. She is streets more advanced than my crazy haphazardness!

By December of this year, my Jadis was close to finished at last.

project-kit-Snow-Queen-OOAK-Suzanne-ForbesI got the project box I brought over in the shipping container out, intending to paint and dress her.

But I got nervous about working on the project suddenly and instead I used up some of the extra materials in the project box making Fearless Pink Gay Santa and his Jolly Ally Reindeer. Which came out great! And I used the fusible fairy film and it was super cool!

Then I made a whole bunch of other dolls!  And sculptures! And mixed media stuff! And a mantis doll! Was my poor Snow Queen doll ever gonna get finished?

faceup-Snow-Queen-OOAK-by-Suzanne-Forbes-2017Yes, she was. Because even though it was now April, and she was no longer seasonal, I had just finished my leafy green beaded Swamp Thing corset (reveal soon!), the second to last of the projects I brought from Oakland.

I really wanted to knock out the last unfinished thing and get rid of the last “project box”. So I can start all my new Berlin projects!

With that thought in mind, I nerved myself up and just went for it. I used nail art brushes I bought for 1€ to paint her face because I didn’t want to buy expensive tiny brushes. I’d never painted anything tiny before and didn’t know if I’d like it. But it went great! And I love her snotty smug 80s made-up face! She looks like Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth and Mia Sara in Legend, right?

Snow Queen OOAK Doll by Suzanne ForbesWigging and dressing her was easy, after that; Daria gave me a personal doll-wigging workshop last year and I have made so many tiny corsets now it’s NBD. And then she was, done, suddenly, after four years. In the green and glowing Spring, but so what? There will always be another Winter. She will look beautiful in the dark winter nights.

I’ve learned to trust the process with making art; I finish most things when it’s time for them to be finished.

What I’m saying here is, it’s okay to have a long game as an artist. In fact, the long game is pretty much the only game in town for most of us.

 

My first art show in Berlin – what a wonderful night!

Vernissage Suzanne Forbes photo by Sarah Kilcoyne May 12 2017

Thanks to my amazing friend Daria Rhein, who is a tattoo artist there, I met the lovely folks who own Tremuschi Ink Tattoo and Art Gallery in Friedrichshain.

vernissage tremuschi ink for Suzanne Forbes May 12 2017 by Uschi Tremuschi

vernissage for Suzanne Forbes May 12 2017 by Uschi Tremuschi

I was invited to show my works and we had a vernissage (that’s what we say in Europe instead of opening!) on Friday night.

The night before, Daria and her sib from another crib Marina helped me hang the show.

What a wonderful, glorious time we had! So many dear ones new and old attended.

Here you can see Miss Natasha Enquist chatting with a fellow whose name we couldn’t pronounce!

Nathan and Daria in front of Darias mural at Tremuschi Ink by Suzanne Forbes May 12th 2017Our friend Nathan, who was hub’s acupuncture doctor in the Bay, was in Berlin for re:publica, working his awesome new Makerspace networking startup, MakerNet.

He took care of Daria’s headache problem! One of my old lovers who lives in Berlin came and bought a piece. Our friends Ben and Ursula came and took the hubbin over to Santa Cantina, and returned with delicious Mexican food for me to nom.

vernissage for Suzanne Forbes at Tremuschi Ink May 12 2017My ESDIPBerlin fam came and represented, as well as new internet friends like curator Suzanne Wegh and Rah Hell of Berlin Uke rock band Donut Heart.

Several of the hub’s co-workers made it, as well as cool hackers from CCC, and lots of Berlin-based or soon to be Berlin-based programmers and Burners we hadn’t met before.

Half a dozen pieces sold immediately. I simply had the most wonderful time. I am happier here in Berlin with my hubbin than I have ever been in my life. Fifty is amazing; I am so grateful I lived, so grateful to be in long-term remission from depression, and to be able to make art.

My Patrons on Patreon make it all possible, so take a bow, supporters of the arts! I love you.

 

Another perfect Berlin day.

The graceful violinist by Suzanne Forbes March 17 2017On Friday I was feeling a little shaky. So I went rambling around Friedrichshain in the just-a-bit-raw weather with Daria, and felt immeasurably better.

pink musician March 17 2017 Suzanne ForbesOn the train I was working on the drawing of the violinist I started last week, (when we went to Dussman Cafe, pics soon), and then:

this guy with a pink accordozylophone thing got on!

Ninja drawing by Daria Rhein photo by Daria Rhein

Ninja drawing by Daria Rhein, photo by Daria Rhein

As I drew the guy I could hear Daria’s voice in my head saying “Don’t overwork it!”, just as I hear the voices of my teachers and mentors advising me at so many moments.

To be guided by the wisdom of artist friends is the best thing in the world.

We got china markers when we went to Modulor, because I hadn’t one for decades; here’s Daria’s first china marker drawing! I used a mix of greyscale marker and china marker on the musician drawings.

There is nothing, absolutely, nothing, like living and working around true peers for an artist.

Yesterday we went first to look at a possible flat for her and the adorable auburn-haired English lad. It was a really gorgeous perfectly reno’d altbau, in the absurdly desirable neighborhood around Boxy, about 700 sq. ft., rent about $750. Yes, you should still move to Berlin. Changes in the law meant to control rising rents appear to have worked, and you can still get an incredible place for what seems like nothing.

Then we went to Daria‘s tattoo studio Tremuschi Ink!

It is the coolest place ever in the world, absolutely not kidding.

Photo: Steffen Diemer, Model: Lexy Hell, Corset: Redcat 7. Hairpiece: icing

Photo: Steffen Diemer, Model: Lexy Hell, Corset: Redcat 7.

It is open in the front half to the incredibly charming handmade burlesque fashion design shop Redcat7, where a pink-haired gal manned the counter. One of the tattoo artists was working on sketches for a throw-up style tat; in the back Sammy, the designer and owner of Redcat7, was getting ready to be tattooed by Vivien.

They have benches and a tattoo bed and rests of every kind, to tattoo any part of you comfortably, and a big lightbox for composing designs, and a screened private area.

The walls are covered with framed art and there is a tag wall too.

After we rifled through all the pretties at Redcat, we walked to Aunt Benny.

Coexist Berlin Instagram shotIt was a long walk, through all the charms of Friedrichshain, past the coolest shops and dive bars and eis cafes and music shops and print shops where people were making beautiful real screen prints like people do in Berlin.

We had to go in to Coexist Berlin, a totally amazing punk pastelgoth alternative fashion shop for local and European designers.

I told the lovely pastel-haired designer of Indyanna who was working that it was like a perfect flashback to Betsey Johnson’s first store in Soho, Manic Panic and Trash & Vaudeville in the 80s.

Patches at Coexist BerlinIndyanna designs included a biker jacket lined with blue leopard and appliqued with blue glitter flames I badly coveted.

Ragged Priest dress

Ragged Priest dress

I bought an insane Tyvek paper jumpsuit in Patricia Field in 1980 and it was just the kind of thing Coexist would sell. Daria wanted this mesh flame dress by The Ragged Priest for her next tattoo convention– comfy but rad!

We arrived at Aunt Benny and met the lovely English girl Daria painted the last time she was there. I had mint lemonade since it was St. Patrick’s Day and we shared the really, really, really quite extremely good Carrot Ginger cake.

Everything looked gorgeously fresh and delicious. We sat in a secret alcove in the secret corner room that you get to by going to the WCs. We discussed getting a visa so I could go to visit Moscow with Daria later this year and see the magnificence of her home town.

Berlin, du bist so wunderbar!

An Ode to Creative Work by Behance from Behance on Vimeo.