Tag Archives: “Glücklich in Berlin”

The big diptych – work in progress! My portrait of Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux.

wip Portrait of Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux by Suzanne Forbes Sept 2017Now we’re at the stage where I make serious refinements to scale and positioning.

You can see I’ve scaled down Jo’s body significantly and adjusted the room and furnishings as well. I made her enormous hands much smaller, although enormous hands are cool! I had made them so large I had to repaint them twice to get them normal size 🙂

One foot of at least one model always breaks the frame in every one of my portraits, and it was best if it was Sadie’s new Fleuvog boot, so I moved Jo’s knee and feet back.

WIP Portrait of Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux by Suzanne Forbes color clarification pass Sept 24 2017You can see the previous pass of post sitting work above, the color clarification pass where I clean up muddy colors from the first sitting.

WIP portrait of Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux by Suzanne Forbes Sept 24 2017And the first sitting, which I painted almost entirely with sponges from the euro store and sponge brushes, in 2.5 hours.

More info in the first post!

The Women of Folsom Europe

Miss Natasha Enquist in Butcherei Lindinger at Folsom Europe Sept 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesMy friend Miss Natasha Enquist performed at Folsom Europe 2017!

So of course I was there to see her. And the other women on stage.  There were plenty, despite the event being produced by male.space! ! Miss Natasha was styled for the event by legendary Berlin fetish wear designer Butcherei Lindinger.

She played a set you can check out here and also my favorite cover, “The Cat Came Back”. She got down and twerked and waggled her cock at the audience. You might have thought it was pretty transgressive for a mainly-gay-men event, but the crowd loved it!

And I was surrounded by big, buff leathermen who were cheering Miss Natasha on and saying incredibly nice and supportive things about my drawings.

Liliana Velasquez at Folsom Europe by Suzanne Forbes Sept 26 2017Then we enjoyed Power Woman Ms. Liliana Velásquez from the Freudian Slip Club and  Fetish Comedy Show.

She told jokes about working in a house in New York, which I was greatly entertained by. It took me back to the 80s when my friends worked at a house in the Meatpacking District. She was wearing a bespoke latex gown from The Baroness!

Comedy Singer at Folsom Europe by Suzanne Forbes Sept 26 2017I will have to get the name of the very young and very funny woman with the ukulele.

She was hilarious and pretty shocking!

See more drawings of Miss Natasha Enquist here and here and more Folsom Europe here.

First Sitting: A really big new portrait, my first diptych!

WIP Portrait of Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux by Suzanne Forbes color clarification pass Sept 24 2017This Sunday I started a big new portrait of my dear friend Sadie Lune and her wonderful partner Jo.

WIP Portrait Jo Pollux by Suzanne Forbes Sept 24 2017This is my first diptych painting. It is being done on two canvases, which will be hung together or separately at the choice of my curator Thorsten at @ludwig.berlin when we show the works in early October!

Sadie is wearing her beautiful black leather Alexandra corset by  @darkgardencorsetry. Jo, a photographer, is wearing a marvelous outfit of a little ruffled white dress and a cage harness of black elastic, which I will paint in at the next sitting. And they will have Autumn headdresses of rosehips!

Sadie Lune at her birthday party CSC October 2008 by Suzanne ForbesI have wanted to paint Sadie since I met her at “Nude Aid”, an art benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture, in 2007. She is an artist, performer, sex worker and activist and has marvelous style and presence. The day I met her she was working as both artist and model as she often does. She was wearing a cloche, I remember it so vividly!

As the drawings were all sold that day for a fundraiser, I don’t have a picture of it, alas.

We talked that day about a portrait collaboration, but with our busy, frantic, community-focussed, subsistence working lives as Bay Area artists, we were never able to make it happen in the US.

Art of Restraint 5 16 2009 Sadie Lune performs

I did make several drawings of her at events, like the one above of her at her birthday party (also at the CSC) in a latex dress. That party was full of amazing performances, like Jiz Lee and Syd Blakovich doing a work from their Twincest collaboration with blood-drinking and fisting.

Sadie invited the audience to use her body as a canvas for “birthday bites” and we all decorated her with bite marks!

I drew her again in 2009, when she performed with her snake at Art of Restraint, a regular fundraiser for queer art gallery Femina Potens. Here’s Violet Blue’s photo of the scene. and her shot of me drawing Fivestar.

Suzanne Forbes drawing at Midori performance at Femina Potens photo by Zille Defeu Sept 29 2010

Suzanne Forbes drawing at Midori’s “Taken” performance at Femina Potens/ Photo by Zille Defeu Sept 29 2010

We both were constantly donating time and art to fundraisers for the sex-positive and queer art community in the Bay Area in 2006-2010. My policy for five years was, if someone in the community asked me for any art or art labor, I said yes. So we were doing the same events in the scene all the time. Here’s another shot of me drawing at another Art of Restraint. You can see my red flowered head in this one from another Nude Aid. These events were so beautiful and magical, so queer and body-positive and great for community resources. They didn’t leave us as much time for personal projects as we would have liked, though!

Sadie moved to Berlin years before anyone else I knew, and was a great inspiration to me.

Portrait of Sadie Lune by Suzanne Forbes in progress Sept 24 2017She was tremendously helpful in the year before we moved here, providing critical advice about how to prepare for life here and apply for an artist’s visa. (By the way I was granted a two-year artist’s visa of my own on August 28th!)

It has taken us until now to sort out doing a portrait at last, because we both face health challenges and Sadie has a little one, who is now four.

And that’s fine. It takes time to come together for personal-project portraits.

it took a year to schedule and another two years to finish the sittings for my portrait of Midori, for example!

WIP portrait of Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux by Suzanne Forbes Sept 24 2017I believe it always happens at exactly the right time.

Puppies of Folsom Europe!

Smarty and Lucky at Folsom Europe 2017 by Suzanne ForbesI am not a dog person.

I’ve never been comfortable with dogs or known how to interact with them and I’m always a little scared of them. However back when my art business cratered in the Great Recession and I went back to work as a barista, I worked at Wicked Grounds. And the puppyplay munches held there transformed my experience of dogs.

I learned to play with human puppies, how to scratch them and throw things for them and yell “Good DOG!”.

Many of the puppies were over 200 pounds, and as they frolicked in the back seating area (we moved the chairs and tables out) they made the old floorboards creak. Their joy and exuberance was so delightful to me.

So when I was at Folsom Europe this year, I really wanted to spend some time with puppies!

pups of folsom Europe 2017 by Suzanne ForbesLuckily my friend Sadie Lune and her partner Jo were there, dressed as amazing Autumn Leather Goddesses, and Sadie told me where to go.

“There is a puppy play area where you can see puppies at play and at rest”, she said with great warmth and affection. And I went there and played with pups and skritched their heads and drew them and they were SO WONDERFUL.

So curious, so alert, watching me draw with great interest, ears cocked.

Morgan and pup drawing by Suzanne Forbes Sept 2017The puppies in the first picture above were in the play area and were wonderfully friendly and well trained.

Usually human puppies are much better trained than animal puppies, and I’ve rarely had a human puppy jump up, which scares me. Here in Germany the dogs are generally well-trained, whether human or animal, and I feel very safe around them.

The pups in the second picture were more aloof, maybe they were sporting dogs of some kind? They had those sleek racing stripes!

Obviously, Morgan doesn’t like dogs of any kind, so she had to display her dominance over the works in progress!

Women who rock: Das Fluff in Berlin!

Dawn and Das Fluff by Suzanne Forbes Sept 18 2017I finally got to see Das Fluff perform! Post-punk electric filth!!

My friend and muse, Donut Heart drummer Rah Hell, told me I would love them. And I did!!!

I went to frontwoman Dawn’s 51st birthday party gig at her favorite Berlin bar, Leydicke. You can’t explain Leydicke; it’s one of those Berlin places that just breathes magic. I had met Dawn at the Donut Heart video release party and liked her very much, and i was excited to hear her music. We are the same age and share much cultural and aesthetic furniture. I missed two of their Berlin gigs this summer due to my ever-present perimenopause health variances, and they are frequently playing in London and soon again touring Japan. It’s hard to get paying gigs for bands in Berlin, whereas in Tokyo serious rock is always in demand.

So I was determined to make this gig in my own part of Berlin, the West. I arrived at midnight, in time for the second set, and it was fantastic. Das Fluff has a sound that is both very modern and very responsive to the era Dawn and I became adults in, the 80s. And it is FILTHY and raging.

Das Fluff audience at Leydicke by Suzanne Forbes Sept 18 2017The crowd was all ages, as so often in Berlin, and international, and multi-gendered.

Berlin is a dress-down town, so most people were in leather jacket and black jeans mufti, except a couple gorgeous genderqueer belles in gothabilly style.

I was so happy I got to chat briefly with Dawn after the set. There is nothing like talking to a woman your own age, who has as much hard-won experience and personal power as you do. We are both here in Berlin, doing our art in the most truthful and authentic and finally distilled way, after long hiatuses from our work. We are beautiful and strong and staying the course.

There is a story to the woman in her 80s who was rocking out hard to Das Fluff, but I’m not going to tell it. She was there, she was dancing. She is part of the mystery of Leydicke, part of the mystery of Berlin. Sometimes both art and life are long.

Follow Dawn on twitter, Das Fluff on fb, and buy new Das Fluff album “Flower with Knife” on vinyl or DL here.

Sacred Heart with titanium druzy.

I have had almost no time for embroidery this month.

I drew at so many events, we had an art show where I did live painting, I made the Trans Dino-Witch, I finished a big new portrait. It’s been glorious and exhilarating. Yet I really wanted to get some thread and bead time in, for the energy and comfort it gives me.

And I wanted to work with Sacred Hearts, the symbol of hope and faith.

I learn so much from beloved artist Monique Motil, aka @z0mbique, about how working with mystic powerful symbols gives you creative juice. So I used bricolage and upcycle principles to make these collage embroidered Sacred Hearts or Ex Votos.

Sacred Heart collage embroideries WIP by Suzanne Forbes Aug 2017The hearts in the center are beaded patches I bought on eBay for a couple of euros.

I sewed them to some of the last scraps of an iridescent blue-violet panne violet I bought two yards of in 1999 and have used for innumerable projects. I made the orange and blue flames out of the last pieces of some vintage velvet flowers bought at Lacis in Berkeley, also in ’99.

Then I embroidered around them with my favorite Rico Metallic thread, the Holy Grail of metallic embroidery thread.

sacred heart collage embroidery by Suzanne Forbes Aug 30 2017I sewed on iridescent and AB Swarovski bicone crystal beads and added hundreds of Swarovski crystals in many, many colors. I attached some of my new blue oil slick iridescence titanium druzy crystal beads with invisible thread. I painted the frame by rubbing it with deep madder paint, then gold paint, then tapping silver leaf onto the still tacky gold paint.

The shiny red string was saved from a gift I received – I save all my gift ribbons and bows for projects.

Like the embroidery collage jacket I did last month, this kind of collage/bricolage embroidery is a low-impact, flexible project anyone could do. I love how in the top picture the fiery heart coordinates with my sketchbook-carrying sack, a 50th-birthday gift from Daria! I plan to sew a LOT in September, along with the million new events and teaching, so I’ll finish the blue flame lightning heart soon.

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

More drawings from Dr. Sketchy’s Weimar Berlin at Cafe Kalwil.

Bridge Markland posing at Dr Sketchys Berlin Aug 22 2017 by Suzanne ForbesWow, I have made SO MUCH ART this month! Thank you, amazing Patreon Patrons, for making this possible.

Here are some more drawings from the Anita Berber Salon Session of Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin. Above, Bridge Markland portraying Anita Berber amid a group of young women drawing. The life drawing scene in Berlin is absolutely being taken over by women!

For this one I pulled out my Winsor & Newton Series 7 Sable No. #7, which I have kept and cared for since I bought it when I was a student at Parsons in 1984. It is beat to shit but still shakes out to a nice point and holds a wash like nobody’s business. I haven’t done a wash drawing in decades and have no ink, so I used a bit of black acrylic (bad! don’t use acrylic on a sable brush!). It came out lovely I think! The craft paper isn’t sturdy enough to hold up to a wash so I had to press the drawing under a bunch of my doorstop Rose Levy Beranbaum cookbooks after.

Bridge Markland posing at Cafe Kalwil by Suzanne Forbes Aug 22 2017Here’s another drawing of the amazing Bridge, illuminating beautiful Cafe Kalwil with her classic art modelling chops.

You can see my previous Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin drawings of Bridge here!

Le Pustra as Sebastian Droste by Suzanne Forbes Aug 10 2017And I finished two more drawings of Le Pustra as Sebastian Droste.

You can see the previous ones here. The one below has paint added with my fingers, as I continue to experiment with mixed media despite my previous failures. I am so gorram excited about the next time I get to draw Le Pustra, at the Kabarett der Namenlosen.

Or maybe I will sneak in a sketch of him at the October Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin which is Victorian Spiritualism themed! OH hell yeah you know Imma hit that big time in Full Goth.Le Pustra as Sebastian Droste by Suzanne Forbes Aug 22 2017

After all I snuck in a sketch of event organizer LaLa Vox this time 🙂LalaVox hosting Dr Sketchys Berlin Aug 6 2017 by Suzanne Forbes

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

My big new portrait finished and hanging at Ludwig!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can see it in progress here and here.

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

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

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