Tag Archives: “Glücklich in Berlin”

Finished mixed media pastel portrait of Shakrah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I am gonna keep experimenting!

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

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

All knowledge is worth having!

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

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

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

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

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

Cedric Till at Sunday Slips by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

Cedric Till at Sunday Slips by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

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

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

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

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

Wynton Kelly Stevenson by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

Wynton Kelly Stevenson by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Berlin art and music fam, we love you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detail WIP Q and P by Suzanne Forbes Jan 02 2018

Happy, happy holidays from your artist friend in Berlin!

Tired elf Miss Natasha Enquist drawn by Suzanne Forbes Dec 24 2017Here is Miss Natasha Enquist resting peacefully in the cozy corner at Ludwig.

This was the last pose of our Women’s Art Lounge, and we all loved it so much we asked her to hold it for an extra twenty minutes. You can see three other woman artists interpreting it in the first post about the Art Lounge.

And for good measure, here are two more elf drawings.

Miss Natasha Enquist elf butt Dec 22 2017 by Suzanne ForbesMiss Natasha Enquist with lights Dec 22 2017 by Suzanne ForbesI wish all of you reading this the happiest holidays, at this beautiful inward-looking time, the turning of the year.

Tango dancers and more, from an amazing holiday party at TangoLoft Berlin.

Holiday party drawings by Suzanne Forbes Dec 14 to 22 2017My husband works for a wonderful company.

And every year the company throws a really terrific holiday party. (They throw parties all year, actually, but the December one is the fanciest!).

Tango dancers at Tango Loft Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Dec 22 2017The venue is always super cool, the food is always FANTASTIC, the music and entertainment is great.

This year’s party was at TangoLoft Berlin, which is soooooo beautiful! They had some of their tango dancers do a demonstration for us, above – I hadn’t drawn the tango in over a decade, and I had to hustle to get it going! Did you know the tango is hugely popular in Berlin?

M and team holiday party Dec 14 2017 by Suzanne ForbesH and I dancing at holiday party Dec 14 2017 by Suzanne ForbesThe theme was 1920s so lots of the guys wore suspenders and bowties, which is a great look!

I actually cried with happiness while I was drawing at one point during this party, because I am so incredibly grateful that my hard-working guy works for good people after all the evil startup asshats he worked for in the Bay.*R and S dancing at holiday party by Suzanne Forbes Dec 14 2017

Guest at holiday party by Suzanne Forbes Dec 15 2017Dj Steven at holiday party by Suzanne Forbes Dec 14 2017

smoker at holiday party Dec 14 2017 by Suzanne ForbesWe had a delightful time, as always, and I drew Steven twice because he’s so handsome. My husband danced quite a bit, on his new cyborg body part, and it was just beautiful to see.

The Tango Loft folks were super kind and the food, which was 90% vegan, came out of the small kitchen in smooth waves of scrumptiousness. We had roast goose, and it was SO good!

There was a smoking lounge, which I visited several times to enjoy the pleasure of vicarious smoking. The cigarette holder seen here was antique, a telescoping brass thing of great elegance.

Dancing coders holiday party Dec 14 2017 by Suzanne ForbesCheck out the fabulous Dancing Dev Team!

This was after the big “Despacito” sing-along. I was not familiar with Despacito, but apparently it was THE hit of the summer! There was also dancing to The Spice Girls song that has that line about family, idk? I kinda missed the whole Spice Girls thing. Anyway, we had a fabulous time.

Previous holiday and company party drawings herehere and here!

*Here is a story I will not stop telling until work/life balance changes in the US. In 2012 my hub and I had gone to the East Coast for Christmas to visit our families. We were at his parents’ house on Christmas Eve when his boss at the tech startup called him to ask him a question about the server. And hung up without saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. Jesus forgive me, I hated that fucking guy so much, and I hated that my man had to work for him and be exploited by him so we could have health insurance. Pretty much every conversation my hub and I have about his work here ends with, “We’re in Germany, thank God.”

Women’s Art Lounge at Ludwig, with a Wonder-Elf!

Artists and elf Dec 17 2017 by Suzanne ForbesThis past Sunday I organized the first Women’s Art Lounge at Ludwig Berlin.

Here are artists Suzanne Wegh and Alexandra Ru sketching our holiday elf, who is reading a very long naughty list! Other art friends present included Giulia Caruso, The Artist Minotaur.

Miss Natasha Enquist by Giulia Caruso dec 17 2017

Miss Natasha Enquist by Giulia Caruso, Dec 17 2017

Cheeky Elf Miss Natasha Enquist by Suzanne Forbes Dec 17 2017I engaged my favorite life model, Miss Natasha Enquist, and our lovely group of woman-identifying Berlin artists gathered to draw.

Miss Natasha wore her fabulous Elf outfit! Her Fluevog boots made the best elf boots ever.

I don’t know why so many of my models wear Fluevog, I swear I’ve drawn at least twenty people in them!

Miss Natasha also had a string of red and green lights AND the battery pack for the lights fit perfectly in the back pocket of her candy-apple red shorts which just slayed me! Professional at work.

 

Check out this gorgeous digital drawing from illustrator Kelsey Bass.

Miss Natasha Enquist by Kelsey Bass Dec 17 2017

Miss Natasha Enquist by Kelsey Bass Dec 17 2017

Both Kelsey and Alexandra, who is known around Berlin as artist’s meetup organizer BarSketcher, were using iPad Pro tablets and Procreate software.

drawing by Suzanne Wegh Dec 17 2017

drawing by Suzanne Wegh Dec 17 2017

Daria got one of them early this year, and seeing her experiment with it has made me feel like digital drawing technology is finally at a place where I want to try it.

Now I just need a Patron to gift me one!

Alexandra has a cool time-lapse of her drawing on her insta. Meanwhile Suzanne went in the opposite direction, using white pencil on black paper for this lovely drawing of MNE’s hands.

 

It was very cozy in the middle room at Ludwig, with our group of woman-identifying artists gathered close.

Miss Natasha Enquist posing at Ludwig photo by Suzanne Wegh Dec 17 2017

Miss Natasha Enquist posing at Ludwig; photo by Suz Wegh Dec 17 2017

I made vegan peanut butter chocolate bars and flourless chocolate cake with pistachio icing to keep our strength up. Turns out it is quite easy to make vegan chocolate with cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

I had to request a drastic music change; Maurus was playing some kind of classical stuff I am not sophisticated enough to appreciate.

So we switched to Parliament which always makes everyone feel good!

 

It was a lovely time, and I look forward to our next gathering together, whether it’s in my salon like the Halloween Art Salon or at Ludwig, like this one and the A(RT)ffair Suzanne, NataschaArtworx and I put on last summer.

Wonder Elf by Suzanne Forbes Dec 17 2017

I can do things like things for Berlin’s art community and pay professional artist’s models like Miss Natasha because of the monthly support of my Patrons on Patreon.

Patreon is a subscription support service where you can automatically contribute financially to an artist. You can contribute as as little as a dollar (or euro) a month! And it has changed my life!!!

Cosmic Pussy Power – MC Gaff-E onstage at Bordello Bizarre!

Gaff E at Bordello Bizarre Bassy Club 2 Dec 14 2017 by Suzanne ForbesUnique, spellbinding, confrontational: I got to draw international performance artist and tornado of woman Gaff-E last weekend!

I was invited to draw at Bordello Bizarre again, and this time I was well enough to do it. Thank the goddess, cause the performers were amazing subjects. I really pulled out the stops trying to capture the furious spirit of Gaff-E, who I had not seen perform before. She is a lioness onstage!

Gaff E at Bordello Bizarre Bassy Club 1 Dec 14 2017 by Suzanne ForbesShe was wearing a third eye on her forehead and her eye makeup was that of the alien Sh’iar Empress Lilandra.

She started out in a dress and shed layers of glittering Bowie bodysuits. These drawings reveal my roots in comics more than any I’ve done in years, because Gaff E really gives superhero vibes. Ya gotta see her incredible self-styled portraits – she works as a stylist as well as classically trained musician turned postpunk renegade and dj.

Gaff E at Bordello Bizarre Bassy Club 3 Dec 12 2017 by Suzanne Forbes

At one point she was howling at the adoring audience, “I exist!” in a combination of wonder and fury.

There is no better mantra for a woman artist in these terrible times. At the end, clad in nothing but her completely OTT hair and her growling, demanding, interrogative performance, she pulled out her tampon and flung it on the stage. I have seen many things, but never that classic riot grrl move, and I’m so glad I got to draw it. I feel like this drawing came partly from Gaff E onstage and partly from the images branded in my mind of Anthony McCall’s iconic photos of Carolee Schneemann performing “Interior Scroll”.

I feel so lucky to be here in Berlin, documenting all these women rocking the fuck out.

Gaff E at Bordello Bizarre by Sara Herrlander Dec 8 2017

Gaff E at Bordello Bizarre by Sara Herrlander Dec 8 2017

Thank you for having me at the Bordello Bizarre party, Joseph, and thank you for your warmth and friendliness backstage and your indelible performance, Gaff E! Check Gaff E’s music here. More Bordello Bizarre drawings coming soon!

And thank you so much to my Patrons on Patreon for providing the monthly sponsorship that allows me to document Queer, Indy, Punk as Fuck Berlin!

You can help with as little as a dollar a month 🙂

 

 

Band practise with Baron Anastis and the Erinyes in a secret space!

Rah Hell at the Catacombs Dec 6 2017 by Suzanne ForbesMy wonderful drummer muse Rah Hell is in a second band, besides Donut Heart, now.

The band is called Baron Anastis and the Erinyes and consists of Baron, Joe Dochtermann and Rah. They are a sexy-punk glam-punk triad! They rehearse at an undisclosed (and remarkable) location, in a space called (with reason) The Catacombs.

Baron Anastis and the Erinyes by Kim Hven of Kimera Photography

Baron Anastis and the Erinyes by Kim Hven of Kimera Photography

The band came and had a photo shoot in my studio last month, it was lovely to help them get all funky and be photographed! I was flinging props and wardrobe at them like a maniac, my secret fantasy career has always been set dresser or costume designer.

Here’s frontman Baron at The Catacombs, growling and crooning over his handsome polished wood bass.

Baron Anastis catacombs Dec5 2017 by Suzanne Forbes

Drawing Joe, below, is such fun. He is a classic rocker.

The guys were coming in on one of the songs a little Hendrix-y, as I drew these, and arguing about a pedal. I was loving being in a rehearsal space for the first time in a long time, really enjoying the way you can hear the music when you are an audience of one. It sounds different when there’s only a couple meatsuits for it to bounce through. The band already has a real sound, too.

Joe Dochtermann at the Catacombs by Suzanne Forbes Dec 5 2017I did four drawings of Rah behind the drum kit, in front of the space mural with its flaming asteroid.

I think you can see the progress in them. I did a pencil sketch of the drum kit for the first, to get a handle on how it takes up space in the space. You can see the ghosts of innumerable corrections for scale and perspective. With the second I opted to use just a stick of compressed charcoal on the smooth paper, for crude power and speed.

Rah Hell drumming in the catacombs Dec 5 2017 by Suzanne Forbes 1 and 2I am getting used to drawing the physicality of a drum kit, and the struggle to find an angle where you can actually see the drummer’s movements.

I’ve been drawing accordionist and guitarist musicians for decades, and made a great long-term study of a cellist with Unwoman over eight years in the Bay Area, but this is the first time I’ve worked on getting a drummer’s energy and movements down.

On the third drawing I sketched in a rough outline with charcoal, wiped it out and drew over it with my PITT “B” pen. And the fourth was pure charcoal again.

Rah Hell drumming in the catacombs by Suzanne Forbes Dec 5 2017 3 and 4

Next time I go to the secret space I’m gonna take my Windsor and Newton Series 7 Sable, some Sumi Ink and a big newsprint pad.

Gonna get SERIOUSLY loose and kick out the jams!

You can see dozens more musician drawings here on flickr. As always, I am so grateful to my beautiful Patrons on Patreon for providing the monthly sponsorship that allows me to document Queer, Indy, Punk as Fuck Berlin!

 

November bricolage roundup- shadowboxes, passementerie and mantelpieces!

mantis bricolage shadowbox by Suzanne Forbes Oct 2017More bug stuff, because it’s not like our house can have too much creepy bug decor.

I made this mantis shadowbox using some 1970s upholstery fabric I got in Berkeley in the late 90s, some vintage velvet flowers and little bees saved from the same era, and a machine-embroidered mantis from this amazing artist in Kiev, who is doing totally innovative textile art with the digital embroidery tech now available.

Egg shadowbox by Suzanne Forbes Oct 2017I’d always wanted an egg glossary display box.

No natural history, curiosity cabinet-themed library is complete without one! I used the 70s fabric again; a glue gun is my method of choice for stretching even wrinkled fabric smoothly across the particleboard backing of a shadowbox. Some of the little speckled eggs and the grapevine nest came from topiary ball displays I made for my first wedding, in 1993 or 4.
Glue gun party by Suzanne Forbes Nov 2017

I have nights where I crash around the flat asking, “What would Tony Duquette Do?”

And the answer is always, “Glue gun, Passementarie, MORE.” I added a couple trims to this silk velvet patchwork upholstered bench. After the intensity of the first three quarters of this year, with teaching and drawing and painting and my hub becoming a cyborg and being sick quite a bit, I really need this November make-cation.

jewelry holder by Suzanne ForbesI made a display holder for some of the earrings I’ve sculpted, made and modified.

I just took the glass out of a deep frame and gluegunned fabric to the backing. I used a beautiful textured knitting yarn left over from some lovely crochet blossoms my mom made me; the texture keeps the earrings from sliding around.

And most significantly of all, I got one of my first adult textile art pieces back up on display.

mantel scarf by suzanne forbes 2000I made this mantel scarf of crushed changeant velvet and celestial Czech glass buttons and bead embroidered wire and pleated ombre ribbon cockades in 1999.

I was living with my second husband in a gorgeous Craftsman fourplex in North Berkeley. It was the first place I ever painted like I truly wanted my home to be, in insane shades of aniline violet, quinacridone red, and chartreuse. It was full of built-ins I decoupaged with gilt paper Dresden trim, Victorian frogs and lizards, and accented in burnt orange.

We gave such parties there. It was such a beautiful home. I loved my second husband, or who I thought he was, so much. 

This piece was in storage for a long time, and it hurt me every time I came across it in my increasingly desperate and disenfranchised moves.

When the Great Recession finally ebbed a bit and I moved in with the man who became my third husband, I thought about getting an electric fireplace, where it could be displayed. There just wasn’t enough room in the exquisite jewelbox Craftsman apartment in Oakland that I designed to showcase his Black Irish beauty.

Here in our home in Berlin, we have plenty of room.
mantel scarf and fearless pink Gay Santa by Suzanne Forbes 2000 2016I used my glue gun to apply an emerald botanical brocade to the top of the particleboard shelf I had attached to the top of the electric fireplace I got on eBay.

Again, using a gluegun and moving fast, smoothing the glue flat with my fingers as I go, allowed me to get a nice flat surface bonded to the mantel. Then I just gluegunned the mantel scarf onto the brocade and added a few tacks to stabilize. I’ll add some finishing gimp braid and brass upholstery tacks soon as I get around to making it to Bauhaus.

Sorry I couldn’t get a better picture in our dark haus but we like it this way :))

mantel scarf and Fearless Pink Gay Santa in salon by Suzanne Forbes 2000 2016

More interior decorating and bricolage posts:

Our home, Halloween decor, decoupage and bug shadow boxes, passementerie and staining furniture, lamps and frames, more frames, No-Kill Butterfly Gallery, bas-relief rococo insect mirror, and Fearless Pink Gay Santa, as seen on the mantelpiece.

Another fabulous Uke Boogie!

Dara Star at Uke Boogie by Suzanne Forbes Nov 9 2017This month’s theme at Uke Boogie Berlin was X for Xtra-Terrestrial.

No way was I gonna miss that! Check out alien co-host Dara Star getting some psychic energy from her glowing eyeball orb.

Toby playing theremin Uke Boogie Nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesToby performed with his torso-mounted theremin, described by Crayon Jones as the world’s first Theremin Cock!

Rah Hell at Uke Boogie Nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesHost Rah Hell kept things running smoothly.

Follow her on the Instas and twitter for drum, ukelele and CAT FUN.

Women performing at Uke Boogie Nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesNice to see these lovely women singing German folk music again!

Dancers uke boogie nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesSome young folks were dancing.

Alfred Ladylike at Uke Boogie Nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesAlfred Ladylike was in fine form, rocking out on several songs.

Davepool at Uke Boogie Nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesAt the end of the night, surprise guest Deadpool AKA Davepool!

You may remember David Hawkins performing at the Donut Heart video release party.

As always, a wonderful, free evening in Berlin at Uke Boogie. You can see the previous Uke Boogie drawings here. Thank you so much Rah and everybody!