Tag Archives: ESDIP Berlin

Live Drawing at “Loving the Alien”, Monster Ronson’s Berlin.

Shlomi Wagner as Anastasia at Loving the Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017

Shlomi Wagner as Anastasia at Loving the Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017

I finally went to Monster Ronson’s!

Iggy swan song at Loving The Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017

Iggy’s swan song at Loving The Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017

After a year and a half of passing it whenever I went to and fro from teaching at ESDIPBerlin!

Loving the Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017I went with Suzanne Wegh, to see “Loving The Alien”, a musical that several folks I know are involved in. Delighted surprise when a woman I know was also manning the door!

Iggy and Mandy by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017We were kindly seated in the front row, so I could draw.

It was a great show with really terrific songs, a cracking band and fabulous dancers.

Spaceman at Loving the Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017Lots of homage not just to Bowie but to other icons of glam like my beloved T. Rex.

Afterwards I went backstage and finished my drawings while the performers changed, just like Degas or Toulouse-Lautrec, except gayer and with more glitter!

Further info with performer name links as I get them sorted, the drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivs and can be downloaded here.

Behance Portfolio reviews at ESDIPBerlin!

Maria at ESDIPBerlin by Suzanne Forbes May 13 2017Earlier this month ESDIPBerlin had a lovely event, Behance Portfolio Reviews.

Our wonderful María was the MC. My colleagues and I gave some short talks and then we looked at portfolios and ate vegan cupcakes. There was music and Fritz-Kola and beer of course!

ESDIP folks May 13 2017 by Suzanne Forbes

Wow, what incredible talent there is in Berlin.

My colleague and friend the amazing illustrator Rafa Alvarez and I looked at illustration portfolios of people from all over the world. Lookit his gorgeous fam above! Remco, sorry I cut off your head!

From Japan, Brazil, Warsaw, everybody is here in Berlin to make their creative dreams come true. Rob Hanna made this awesome video of it all!

Behance Portfolio Reviews at ESDIP Berlin 2017 from Robert Hanna on Vimeo. Featured presentations by Rafa Álvarez, Marcos Morales, Suzanne Forbes, Juan García Segura, and Jorge Chamorro.

May unterwegs and the Berlin Music Video Awards

Amanda at the Berlin Music Video Awards by Suzanne Forbes May 18 2017Miss Natasha Enquist invited me to see her perform at the Berlin Music Video Awards opening, but I missed her!

I was teaching at our ESDIP Illustration Program, and there are no cabs in Friedrichshain! At least not at 6pm on a Thursday. I thought I could just come out of Grunberger Hof and grab a cab, like you can where we live in the West.

Nope! Seriously, in our neighborhood you can get a cab in 30 seconds. Not in the East! So I got to The Nuke Club late. But I saw Natasha in her wonderful golden sequin hot pants and fishnets outfit, and met Amanda, who let me draw her, seen above.

Tomibaez at Berlin Music Video Awards by Suzanne Forbes May 18 2017I asked her if I could draw her portrait, and she was like, no I’m sorry I’m working, I manage the VIP bar, I’m just grabbing a smoke and a drink and a snack then I gotta go back to it.

I was like, “Don’t worry! I can easily draw you in the time it takes you to have a snack and a smoke!” She was super-nice and friendly. Her mom is a painter!

I also got to draw this nice young man, who caught my eye for his gingery coloring in the Berlin sun. He was shooting for the event, so he filmed me while I drew him!

This is one of the fastest portraits I’ve ever done, less than five minutes in the crowded courtyard at Nuke Club!

I finished up two May unterwegs as well on Thursday. How I love the faces and characters of Berlin.Unterwegs butch by Suzanne Forbes May 18 2017Unterwegs femme by Suzanne Forbes May 18 2017

You can see more Unterwegs here!

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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

Opening my heart through my fear. A work in progress.

I invited total strangers I met on the U-Bahn into my house and made them food. Then we made art together.The Walz by Suzanne Forbes WIP CU November 16 2016

It might not seem like a big deal to you, but to me, a skittering omnibus of aggregated phobias, it was a big deal.

journeyman packs in BerlinI was on the U-Bahn heading to ESDIP to teach my Hand Drawing class when a group of young people caught my eye. They look like cowboys in daguerreotypes from the Old West, I thought.

I kept glancing at them through the crowd. Wearing thick, homespun-looking clothes with worn leather trim on the pockets and cuffs, broad-brimmed black hats, and one gold earring, they were romantic and mysterious.

There were two men and a woman, whose heavy cord waistcoat had an embroidered shawl collar.

The Walz by Suzanne Forbes WIP CU November 16 2016Their waistcoats and coats had rows of huge mother-of-pearl and horn buttons, mismatched and full of character. Their thick trousers had vertical double zips where the buttons on a sailor’s pants would be.

They wore pintucked white shirts of what looked like cambric, and scarves of rough loose-woven cotton, and heavy leather boots that had seen the hands of a cobbler.

They had walking sticks that were gnarled and smooth, like roots that had been polished. They seemed relaxed, at ease, comfortable with each other and the East Berlin night. I had to know more.

I wove through the swaying car and approached the oldest, a bearded and tattooed ginger.sketch for The Walz by Suzanne Forbes November 15 2016

I asked, as you do here if you are polite, “May we speak English?” He said yes, and words spilled out of me: “What is the story, you are rocking this amazing look, is it like cowpunk or something, are a you a troupe, what ARE YOU?”

“Oh no”, he said, “We are journeymen. For three years and a day, we must be within not a certain distance of home. We are gardeners and a joiner.” “A joiner?” I asked, amazed. “Like a carpenter?” “Yes”, he said, “We are craftsman on a journey.”

I desperately wanted to paint them. I had my sketchbook with me, and I showed them my U-Bahn sketches of a sleeping Russian teen, of a Turkish guy playing the banjetar. I had my Moo cards in the hot pink carrying case Daria got me and I gave them cards.

I paint people, I said. Would you come to my house and be painted and I’ll make you dinner?

They nodded consideringly, said they would be in touch, and debarked at Schlesisches Tor. I went and taught class and after I told my friend Skye, who was in the class, all about them. “I met these amazing people!” I drew the clothing of the ginger as best I could remember.

Late that night I got an email from the oldest journeyman.

We would like to come tomorrow night, he said in the direct fashion of Germans. I was terrified. I had looked up the journeyman tradition, and got my brain around it a bit, but basically we were talking about homeless strangers coming to my delicate sacred house of precious things. I muscled through the fear and confirmed. I offered to make some simple vegetarian food, which was a good plan as it turned out the fourth of their company is a vegan.

Skye came over for moral support, and brought peppers and onions.

The Walz by Suzanne Forbes Nov 16 2016 WIP CUI sauteed peppers and onion with chunks of smoked tofu, baked a dish of refried black beans (ordered from Amazon, totally unobtainium on the street here) with chipotles in adobo and olive oil, and made this no-fuss vegan cornbread.

I substituted full fat coconut milk for the soy milk, olive oil for the canola, white balsamic for the ACV, German “strong” 1050 flour for the all-purpose, and four tablespoons of date syrup for the sugar. It came out really well!

The journeymen arrived and we ate food together. They were intrigued by our weird house and I could hear them muttering, “Ah! Halloween!” as they looked around. I immediately knew that I had been right to push through my paranoid, everyone is out to get you New Yorker mindset and that these were truly good folk.

We talked of lots of things, had some tea, and then retired to the library to paint.

Jagua dye Wonder Woman skin tattoo by Suzanne Forbes Nov 16 2016.I didn’t have a canvas on hand and wanted to get as much detail as I could in the time we had, so I painted on cold press illustration board for the first time in at least twenty years. Boy howdy, I forgot how easy it is!! I made good progress in the amount of time my strength held out.*

After the painting, we hung out for a while and Ben, one of the journeyman joiners, pulled out a battered plastic Coke bottle. He had recently been in South America, in Brazil, living with indigenous people and weaving and building. He’d brought this bottle of scary indigo fluid back with him, through German customs. (Imagine being that unafraid of your government!). It was jagua, a traditional skin dye or tattoo pigment made from Genipa Americanus, which is an edible fruit.

I painted jagua tattoos on the journeypeople and myself as mementoes of our time together.

Jagua skin dye tattoo of robot by Suzanne Forbes Nov 16 2016.I took photos of their clothes so I can continue to work on the details of the painting, and I’ll be posting more about it.

You can learn more about the journeyman tradition here. Although the part about not using transit doesn’t apply to all journeyman groups, obviously.

This whole experience was so mellow and yet so fucking magical I almost can’t describe it.

My Patrons give me courage. It is the support of my Patrons that makes it possible for me to do things like this, and I am so, so very grateful.

*Which was less than three hours. The times in 2005 when I could sit three sitters in a day, or paint for ten hours straight, are long gone. My stamina, health and vitality were decimated by the recession, having to close my art business, losing my house, losing my health insurance, years of major depressive disorder and suicidal impulses, and being briefly homeless.
Here in safe-for-now Germany I am slowly recovering, but my health may be permanently broken. When artists are marginalized to the point where their survival is touch-and-go, they are damaged. You can support me and other artists on Patreon for as little as a dollar a month, and we will be fucking grateful.

María drawing me while I draw María.

Maria at Graffiti by Suzanne Forbes Oct 23 2016On Sunday one of my former students from ESDIP and now friends came to the West to meet up for a coffee.

She was in town for the weekend. María is an incredibly talented young artist who is now studying art full-time back home in Madrid. You can see her work by following her on twitter and tumblr, as well as her YouTube channel. We had a wonderful visit, talking about art and drawing. I got to see the things she’s working on, her Inktober drawings and her latest projects. She has recently won prizes in several illustration contests in Spain (which I predicted each time!).

She made this lovely drawing of me, which I will add to my framed collection of portraits of me by other artists. Drawing of Suzanne Forbes by Maiku-no-Koe Oct 23 2016

meandmaria-by-sabine-sept-6-2016Here’s a nice picture of us earlier this year! In case you can’t tell, I am living my best life ever here in Berlin. Thanks to my Patreon Patrons, I can draw and teach and live, and it’s a life of meaning and purpose.

My next class at ESDIP Berlin is another round of “Drawings Hands LIke a Boss“, Tuesdays November 15, 22 and 29, 7:30pm to 9:30pm. You can sign up online!

Vernissage Night in Berlin!

Saturday night I went to two gallery openings. Laetitia Duveau at first IRL CuratedbyGIRLS show Oct 8 2016 by Suzanne Forbes

First up was the inaugural IRL exhibit of Berlin sensation Laetitia Duveau’s feminist art platform “Curated by GIRLS“.

(edit: Art historian Suzanne Wegh is now co-curator; check out her blog!)

The show, called “Freer in Berlin“, was beautiful; I really loved the photographs by Laurence Philomene especially. I made this drawing of Ms. Duveau in glimpses through the packed crowd. Also, in an amazing piece of Berlin magic, a friend from the Bay who I hadn’t seen for years spotted me drawing; he couldn’t believe the synchronicity. I was like hey, Berlin is ALL synchronicity.

Then I went to the Gig Poster Screen Print show at ESDIP Berlin, where I teach.Rob Hanna screenprinting at ESDIP Berlin Oct 8 2016 by Suzanne Forbes

It was a really nice party, with live screen printing, music, the official Lujan Bar and a vegan chili pop-up by Chicas Sin Carne. The work was simply amazing.  Fantastic work by Brookesia Studio, Noise Armada, The 13th Sign, and Print’s Not Dead. I drew Rob Hanna printing.

I wanted to buy fucking everything, the prints were so amazing, but as a poor artist I controlled myself and bought only this Noise Armada piece of Trump getting it in the head with a machete. Husband finds it too horrifying to hang in the house, I am bummed.Noise Armada Brujeria print

Field trip with ESDIP Berlin Summer Illustration students!

What an incredible pleasure it’s been working with the talented group of students we had!esdip Berlin summer illustration students Aug 20 2016 Suzanne Forbes

I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have met these gifted young women (and one fellow!) and shared some of the knowledge I worked so hard for. Although the ESDIP Summer Illustration program was over, I couldn’t say goodbye to these amazing artists yet.

So we went on a bus ride on the M29 and did some drawings.

drawing by Shine - Hyungbok Shin August 20 2016

drawing by Shine – Hyungbok Shin August 20 2016

bus M29 by Ana Vigueras

bus M29 by Ana Vigueras

Then we got off the bus and went to my house! Where we made more drawings.drawing by Suzanne Forbes Aug 20 2016

Drawing of Suzanne Forbes by Shine August 20 2016

Drawing of Suzanne Forbes by Shine H.B. August 20 2016

If I was one-tenth as helpful and supportive to these women as Trina Robbins was to me at their age, I’ll be delighted.

drawing of Suzanne Forbes by Sara Pinilla Aug 20 2016

drawing of Suzanne Forbes by Sara Pinilla Aug 20 2016

Visiting Trina and her much younger partner Steve Leialoha in their Mission house in 1986 and 1997 had a huge impact on me.

Trina’s warmth, her humility even though she was already a comics legend, her compassion and kindness- all inspired me to become to a person who would have something to give to the next generation of women artists.

And the fact that she lived with a tall thin dark-haired younger man in a big magical apartment full of history and mystery, in a cool city, may have been formative for me as well.

I watched Xena Warrior Princess with Trina one time; you could not ask for a better moment to shape you.

drawing of Suzanne Forbes by Elaine Oller Aug 20 2016

drawing of Suzanne Forbes by Elaine Oller Aug 20 2016

I have so much hope and excitement about what these young artists will do. I can’t wait to see!

Update: check out Ana Viguera‘s work at her Instagrams of beautiful drawings and photos!

If you want to get in my next class, I’m teaching Perspective For Masochists again at ESDIP Berlin starting October 4th.

 

ESDIP summer students and teachers 2016

ESDIP summer students and teachers 2016

My first Berlin art event!

Suzanne Forbes drawing from ESDIP June 2015Since we got here, it has been crazy.

There is so much to do with a move like this for two people and two cats. Plus we’re both partially disabled and just don’t have the bandwidth some people do.

So it was only this Friday, three months after we arrived, the day after we got our two-year visa, that I finally made it to an artist’s networking event.

 

It was at ESDIP Berlin, a co-working space and art school in Friedrichshain.

I took the subway, even though the tram would have been more efficient, because I love the subway so much. Across from me there were three blond German kids; I noticed them because one girl had a face that interested me as a potential model. I don’t have cards yet though, and although I have been known to accost total strangers and demand they pose for me, I prefer to have a card to give them.

I got off at Frankfurter Tor, which smells slightly like pee, as do many Friedrichshain stations.

I deeply appreciated that the event didn’t start til 8, and when I got there at 8:30 everyone was eating delicious vegan food from Flambé. After staggering asthmatically up the eight million stairs, I entered the room full of young artists in full-on perimenopause hotflash hell.

Luckily, there was a gallery space serving as smoking room with open windows, and I saw a woman my own age, standing in one of them. I asked if I could share her window, since I was having a change of life moment.

She said in the most glorious, smoky, Marlene Dietrich voice, “Dahling, you know I understand you!”

I had a lovely chat with her, and then found a seat next to Clairikine, a transcultural maker of comics who I was delighted to meet. There is an incredible generation of young women in comics now, fearless and funny. They were never wounded by the battle to break in at the Big Two as I was, because they’ve never cared about working at Marvel or DC. They make comics and post them, and scrape together a living, and they don’t have to get sexually harassed by editors to do it.

Soon the first presenter, a graphic designer from Spain, started his slides.

That’s him in the top picture, Jorge Chamorro. I was so happy to be in a room full of artists, with beautiful work on the walls, with people holding sketchbooks, with people talking about making visual art. There were people from all over Europe, and of course plenty of Americans because there are Americans everywhere in Berlin, and everyone there cared about DRAWING. (And eating tasty vegan food. And drinking beer, or delicious Fritz-Kola, like me.)

It was like taking a bath in hope and welcome, especially because of the usual ghastly Berlin humidity.

The presenters were from Spain, France, Scotland and Germany. I was enchanted by French animator Perrine Marais and her fucking adorable mobile game, Pony Style Box. I was also impressed to see that “Kommunikations Designer” Jonas Heidenreich has solid actual drawing skills under his graphic design chops. I don’t think they teach drawing to design students in the US anymore.

I felt like I was in an environment where traditional draughtsmanship was actually valued, for the first time in decades.

I drew this picture below after the talks were over, especially for one of my patrons, since she has a taste for a certain look in boys. ESDIP_Connects_2_Suzanne_Forbes_June_15

I headed home early, just past midnight, because I’m an old, but I was deeply glad to have gone and so excited about art in Berlin.

I stopped at a very cool little crepe shop and bought two goddam excellent macarons, for just €3, and on the subway I saw the three blond kids again, sitting across from me again. “You guys were–” I said, laughing, and they said, “Yes! Berlin is small.”

Berlin is small, but big enough for new dreams.