Tag Archives: life drawing Berlin.

First unterwegs of the new year – January 2018 travel drawings!

Woman singing in the U Bahn by Suzanne Forbes Jan 17 2018As usual, I’ve seen all kinds of interesting things riding the Berlin transit system.

This woman was singing Tracy Chapman’s “Give me one reason” on a cold night, pretty late. Her voice rose up in the station, and she laughed as she got a little feedback howl.

Guys on weed mission U5 by Suzanne Forbes Jan 15 2018These two guys, one Russian and one British, were speaking English and having the loudest, most public discussion about buying drugs I’ve ever heard.

Brit: “Her message – ‘love gettin fucked with you'”

Russian: “And yours?”

Brit: “Gonna go get weed.”

Russian: “Aw that’s the sweetest thing to text to a girl!”

They had a long discussion where the Brit explained she had offered to get the weed, but he said he’d do it his own self, because “Gotta show I’m a provider”, which the Russian guy followed with this whole story of how when they had kids, there would be a little miniature boy who felt the same need to take care of supply maintenance, and then they rambled into how to split two bags for €15 three ways, which is not a math problem they were really up for. To be honest, I don’t know that they needed much more weed.

The German girl with the skateboard was laughing at them.

Little guy on the U8 by Suzanne Forbes Jan 12 2018This little guy sitting on his mom’s feet is named Miguel.

Little guy on the U8 by Suzanne Forbes detail Jan 12 2018I know that because he said to his mom, who was eating fries out of a deep-fried flour bowl (something I’d never seen before as a fry vehicle), “I NEVER get to do what I want!!”.

She replied, “Actually, Miguel -” and she enumerated some recent times when he’d gotten to do exactly what he wanted.

She said it in a very chill way, like she was just explaining something reasonable to a reasonable person.

And he kinda huffed, like, “Fair enough”, and settled back against her legs.

Small dog with large head on U5 by Suzanne Forbes Jan 17 2018This small dog had a really big, hairy head.

The little girl next to him was blown away by it. As her mom was herding her off the train, she was staring at me and I flipped my sketchbook around and showed her the drawing, and then she was even more astonished!

You can see previous unterwegs here:

December 2017

November 2017

September 2017

July bonus round

July

June

May bonus round

May round one

April

March 2

March

January

December

November

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!

Last assless chaps of the year!

Dancer at DILF party Club Gretchen Dec 29 2017 by Suzanne ForbesMiss Natasha Enquist was performing at the DILF/Testosterone party at Club Gretchen last night.

I arrived at the club, which is a beautiful venue in old military stables, to find it full of great-looking classic leather daddies in Tom of FInland gear.

Last assless chaps of the year at Club Gretchen Dec 29 2017 by Suzanne ForbesI was a little nervous at first with so many NYC policemen uniforms- anyone who was arrested as often as I was by the NYPD would be!

It was dark and I kept it loose, using mostly broad-tip markers. The club manager came over and gave me a tea towel to put my markers on, so I wouldn’t mark up the white lucite bar – not that I would have!

Miss Natasha Enquist performing at Club Gretchen Dec 29 2017 by Suzanne ForbesMiss Natasha came onstage looking like if Rolls-Royce made hood ornaments for Star Destroyers.

Miss Natasha Enquist performing at Club Gretchen Dec 29 2017 by Suzanne ForbesAs a portraitist, it’s so important to draw the same person over and over. It’s critical to understanding what makes each face, body and library of gestures unique.

You can see I didn’t really get her face right in this picture, or I drew her head too large, but her body is completely right.

The specific is the key to the deep spiritual magic of touching the universal humanity in each of us. And practise and observation is the sacred work of portraitists. I have so enjoyed drawing Miss Natasha this year!

I would have liked to draw some of the DILFs in more detail, but they were all too busy dancing!

I’ll have to wait til the next Cigar Lounge!

MNE dancing at Club Gretchen Dec 29 2017 by Suzanne Forbes

Working with a new muse, Shakrah Yves!

WIP Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Dec 27 2017There is nothing more thrilling than finding another woman I’m excited to make pictures of!

I met Shakrah at a Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin earlier this year, and immediately did my weird thing of being like “Hi total stranger, can I paint your picture?”.WIP Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Dec 27 2017

She moved here from San Francisco a couple years ago, and has also lived in New York and Amsterdam.

She is a woman of many talents, including singing 20s and 30s jazz. She has an absolute treasury of gorgeous outfits she has created.

As you all know, an outfit treasury and the costume styling cognizance that goes with is very precious to me in a model!

You can see her singing in one of her marvelous outfits below, and hear her band The Cat’s Meow on bandcamp here.

When Shakrah arrived with her incredible emerald outfit for a planned pastel portrait, I knew I had to commit to the pastels.

Her outfit creation deserves full color. I already had a set of colored pastels in my Amazon cart and had added a bunch of pan pastels to my German Amazon art supplies wishlist. But I had been hesitating.

My childhood dislike of “dust sticks”, my concern that pastels would be…pastel, rather than the dramatic jewel tones and Manet-level darks I like, my fear of working with color and my concerns about my ability to manage color…

all those factors kept me using just black, grey, dark red and umber all year. Here’s what’s left of the sticks I bought early this year! So I’m gonna get some colored pastels and Shakrah and I will reconvene next week.

My US Amazon art supplies wish list is here, I think all the sellers ship to Germany! My 51st birthday is January 8 🙂

*why do you mostly paint women, Suz?

Men are too easy – women’s faces are much harder to capture.

Women’s stories and identities are most important to me in terms of the kind of creative legacy I want to leave.

I value making new woman friends enormously and painting a portrait of a woman I meet who I admire is a great way to get to know new people.

Men are somewhat less likely to have the kind of carefully crafted, creative performative identity (and attire to support it) that interests me.

Sexy male people and a colorful textile artist at Bordello Bizarre!

Unicorn at Bordello Bizarre by Suzanne Forbes Dec 20 2017Just finished up the rest of the drawings from Bordello Bizarre at Bassy Club.

The colorful woman below is an Australian textile and multimedia artist named Anto Christ; she made her marvelous outfit.Dancers at Bordello Bizarre by Suzanne Forbes Dec 20 2017

Ludwig performed an opera!

Ludwig opera at Bordello Bizarre by Suzanne Forbes Dec 20 2017This gent with bowler and cane brought the gun show!

Gent with bowler and cane at Bordello Bizarre by Suzanne Forbes Dec 20 2017You can see the previous Bordello Bizarre drawings here.

Thank you for having me at the Bordello Bizarre party, Joseph, 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 🙂

 

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 🙂

 

 

The Cabaret Spirit of Berlin, alive in people.

Silver Man at Vaudeville Variete Revue by Suzanne Forbes Nov 30 2017Here are some marvelous Berlin artists and performers from my October drawing spree!

My tablemates at Vaudeville Variety Revue were all very kind and enjoyed my drawing. The silver man is a friend of LaLaVox, who co-produces Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin, and I will have to get his name from her. His silver face makeup was the best I’ve ever seen, and his sheer chiffon gown over his silver suit was actually yellow with yellow pompoms and huge yellow faceted rhinestones!

Le Pustra at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 30 2017Le Pustra is an incredible performer, producer and muse.

Here he is releasing some hooligan spirits from Valentina Demonia , who was one of the models at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin in October. Here are some of my previous drawings of this elegant man and here is his Instagram so you can check out his ethereal works!

Jo Pollux is an amazing photographer.

I drew this at her installation of her photographs at the Berlin Porn Film Fest. She was exhibiting a series she had just shot that week called “As you wish, my Lady”, which featured Sadie Lune. I stared at the pictures for a long time in the small crowded theater. They are full of mystery and time, like Le Pustra’s evocation of Weimar Berlin.

I am only beginning to open the jewel box of inspiration and fascination that is the people of Berlin.

Chris Harder: Rhinestone Cowboylesque!

Chris Harder Vaudeville Variete Revue by Suzanne Forbes Nov 27 2017Another performer I really liked drawing at Vaudeville Variety was Chris Harder.

He is seriously HARD-working and honestly worked the stage into a lather! And he was super friendly and nice, and is made entirely of cheekbones and muscles, like an ambassador from the Buff Gayboy Planet. He wore a light-up g-string, which was grand!!

Chris Harder pre show at Vaudeville Variete Revue by Suzanne Forbes Nov 27 2017Spending time at the theater during rehearsal gave me a wonderful opportunity to see the performers in regular lighting.

I made rough drawings to get to know their movement, like the one below. I got to look at them up close and chat with them during dinner.

Chris Harder sketch at Wintergarten Berlin Oct 10 2017 by Suzanne ForbesPrevious drawings from this event hereherehere and here. Thank you Sheila Wolf, producer of Berlin’s fabulous Vaudeville Variety Revue, for your hospitality!

And thanks to my beautiful Patrons on Patreon for providing the monthly sponsorship that allows me to document Queer Berlin!