Tag Archives: live drawing

Drawing strangers for comfort.

For me, drawing people I encounter or glimpse in a day is a salve for my soul.On the phone by Suzanne Forbes Nov 19 2016

It makes me feel connected, and useful. Recording moments with care.

It’s very hard for me to leave the house right now. I really needed to get to my recovery support group, so I told myself I would get Jones Ice Cream on the way.

I was standing outside Jones Ice Cream, waiting for them to open and working on finishing up this drawing. The folks who run the beautiful seasonal and local foods store next to Jones’ gave me a gleaming local apple, “For the art!”.

The bottles by the bin in the drawing are left by people for people who need money to turn in for the pfand, or refund. Everyone does it here; there’s no shame in it.

There is a new flavor at Jones, Apple Crumble. I had it with their Salted Caramel. Which is not as creamy as Bi-Rite’s, more chewy, but stays live on the palate longer.

“It’s as close to perfect as anything could be, right now”, I told them when I finished mine.

 

Adventures on the Ku’Damm, October 2016

Daria had to go the Apple store, so this guy helped us.Apple store guy by Suzanne Forbes Oct 2016

He had a lot more tattoos than I would have thought you could have to work in a corporate android rectory like the West Berlin Apple store!Walking the Ku'Damm Oct 2016 by Suzanne Forbes

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!

San Francisco Skater Girls in Berlin.

San Francisco Skater Girls in Berlin October 18 2016 Suzanne Forbes On my way home from teaching at ESDIP Berlin I saw these badass skater girls.

I sat across from them on the U1 and politely asked if I could draw them, as I’ve learned to in Germany. But they were American, and it was totally fine with them! Turned out they were from the Bay Area, specifically all San Francisco born and raised.

“From inside the 7×7”, they told me, just as I always make it clear that I was born on Manhattan island.

I had just a few stops to draw them, so I finished a lot of the detail later. However, it is totally accurate that the stickers on their boards were all dogged out from grinding copings. I don’t think these vital, modern young women were riding fat old-school Kryptonics wheels; that’s just what skateboard wheels look like, to me. I loved that they had big wide decks.

My best friend in high school was a skater girl, in 1981, and she rode what she called a “rolling stage”.

I showed this to Daria while we were having some lovely cake in my kiez and she said she liked the right-hand girls much better, with their casual sketchy hands. She said the hands of the left-most girl were overworked. Too much information.

“You’re so strong in technical skills, in understanding the structure of the hand, you get caught up showing too much.”

San Francisco Skater Girls in Berlin October 18 2016 Suzanne Forbes She was right, of course. The most interesting and powerful thing about the whole scene to me was the way the girl on the left cupped her hands over the nose of her board, like it was the pommel of a saddle.

And by drawing every detail of her fingers, instead of leaving some space open, I’d made her hands pedantic and overdrawn.

I had lost the shock of her dark nails against her pale skin by adding too much black line detail.

If I were drawing this for reproduction, I would have changed it, as I did when Daria suggested I give the Three Ages of Woman more space around them. Instead, I restored some of the drama and focus I’d intended by making the left-hand girl’s shirt black. Interestingly, Daria didn’t make the same criticism about space with this drawing- I think she understood that the fact the girls fill the frame is meant to create a sense of intimacy and immediacy.

I wanted to show I was occupying the same space, briefly, as these fearless young women.

Drawing my husband by candlelight.

We went to a birthday party at a really lovely club, only to find that we had missed the party by one night.D by Suzanne Forbes September-30-2016 However, there was piano music and candlelight, and I made this pretty drawing of the hubbin, so it was a net win.

Painting, or not painting, Ian in Berlin.

I am very new to using watercolors.

unfinished-failed-watercolor-do-not-share-editedThat means I sometimes makes mistakes, and with a watercolor you can quickly reach a point of no return.

One of our friends from the Bay Area, a very handsome and dashing fellow, was in town. I was super excited to paint him, as I’d never had a chance in Oakland.

He came over, dressed in a sharp suit, and I gave him some wine (we still have tons left from the housewarming) and set to work. He posed extremely well, with great brio, but I couldn’t get a light source that worked. And once I started painting, the situation devolved.

I can draw myself or paint myself out of just about any corner in an additive-subtractive medium; my knowledge of anatomy, structure and values is sufficient to recover from most wrong directions. But with watercolor, you can’t go very far down the wrong road. unfinished-failed-watercolor-do-not-share-edited-1

An old friend of mine, a master watercolor painter, once said, “I’ve never won an argument with a watercolor.”

I tried everything I could think of to resolve the portrait, including opaque white to recover lost lights, but it was a no-go. Eventually I called it and we started over. I asked my model to change his pose, I changed the light source, and I switched to drawing, only lightly tinted at the end with watercolor. I captured his Leyendecker profile this time.Ian September 24 2016 by Suzanne Forbes

So I was able to produce a decent likeness that had a good sense of the sitter, but only by divergent means. I scanned the horrific failure, excerpted here, but only my Patrons get to see it 🙂

My very best wedding drawings yet!

drawing by Suzanne Forbes Sept 17 2016We went to America for a family wedding, and I made wedding drawings.

drawing by Suzanne Forbes Sept 17 2016

drawing by Suzanne Forbes Sept 17 2016Which is always a joy!

As my health and well-being has increased here in Berlin, so have my drawing skills. These are some of the best, most warmly human likenesses I’ve achieved.

I’m so grateful to continue recovering my health and to be able to make work at events like this one. A wedding is as high-pressure an event as my old work as a courtroom artist was- you only get one shot!

I do have a rough sketch of the bride and groom I’m planning to finish up later 🙂

Lou and Peter Berryman by Suzanne ForbesThese folks performing are Madison, Wisconsin folk artists Lou and Peter Berryman, who actually wrote a song for the bride and groom; it was delightful!

Here are some of my previous wedding drawings and a post-wedding couple portrait.

If you’d like to support my work as an artist and art teacher you can visit my Patreon page!

 

Mother, Maiden, Crone- the Ages of Woman at a Berlin bus stop.

mother-maiden-crone by Suzanne Forbes Sept 12 2016This is one of those lovely Berlin scenes I just got a quick look at.

Luckily, I had my mini sketchbook with me AND two of the women got on the bus with me, enabling me to get more details of their clothes. It was a Sunday afternoon in the West. The conked-out girl in the leather jacket was obviously walk-of-faming it back from a club night (in Berlin you wear sensible shoes to the club, not heels. I had to wake her up and tell her the bus was arriving, which she appreciated!).

I worked on the drawing over a couple of days and when I showed it to Daria she said it needed more space, the ladies needed to breathe.

She was absolutely right, of course. She also suggested I push the characters a little more- make the older German lady even more grouchy and vigilant, make the Muslim lady more clearly heading home to her family. So I photocopied it onto an A4 sheet and finished the details at the expanded size.sketches-wip-by-suzanne-forbes-sept-2016

I added a grocery bag beside the “Mother” lady, with a baguette to represent grain and Demeter.

I enhanced the frown of the “Crone”, who was really quite pissed off about the bus running late. And I added more leaves, to represent the cycle of life and Persephone.

sketches-wip-by-suzanne-forbes-sept-2016-When I copy an ink drawing I often take advantage of the opportunity to make any corrections with white-out tape, as you can see here. I redrew the Crone’s right hand so her fingers popped more against the black of the Maiden’s jacket.

I also used the white-out tape to eliminate the edges from the copying; the white line is where the drawing originally ended.

Sure, I could use Photoshop, but this is way faster than trying to launch any kind of photo-editing program on my poor little Chromebook!

Watercolor painting with Daria in Schöneberg!

Daria at Cafe Bilderbuch Sept 2 2016 Suzanne ForbesI love Schöneberg.

It’s our neighbor neighborhood, just to the East and a quick bus or subway ride. Blixa Bargeld, Marlene Dietrich and Helmut Newton were all born there. Bowie, Iggy Pop, Klaus Kinski and Christopher Isherwood lived there. It’s old-fashioned and not uptight, with lots of amazing food and lots of relaxed mature bears.

Daria decided the Cafe BilderBuch, or Storybook Cafe, is the perfect meetup place for us because it’s halfway between her place in Neukölln and our place in Wilmersdorf. We met there for the second time yesterday. I love to walk from the M29 stop at Nollendorfplatz, through the ancestral queer neighborhood and down towards the new hip specialty food joints.

Daria made this beautiful watercolor.Daria Rhein watercolor at Cafe Bilderbuch Sept 2016

We went to Jones Ice Cream first, because Jones Ice Cream is beyond belief incredibly delicious.

The ice cream is American style, with big, soft chewy American cookies also available. This time I had lemon ice cream with blueberry jam and lemon-mint sorbet. The day before I had cucumber and tonic and pink grapefruit/Earl Grey. All are amazing, although the cucumber and tonic is some particularly next level business.

Daria Rhein watercolor at Cafe Bilderbuch Sept 2016 cu Daria, who actually studied watercolor in art school, is going to teach me some techniques soon so I can make real watercolors. Meanwhile I made a kind of illustration/drawing hybrid of her 🙂

Here’s another pic of her Bilderbuch picture. You can see more of her work at her site and now secret works at her brand-new Patreon!

August Drawing Roundup!

Some drawings I’ve been finishing up.

Here’s one of my beloved friend-muse-patrons with her little guy Felix.chunskis summer 2016 by Suzanne Forbes

in the ubahn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 30 2016Here’s a girl I glimpsed on the subway platform and had to draw because something about the way she delicately picked a strand of hair out of her face reminded me of my friend Victoria’s daughter Dalia when she was younger.

drawing of Victoria Aronoff by Suzanne Forbes 1993Here’s a throwback- a drawing I did of Victoria in ’93 that she recently sent me.

drawing by Suzanne Forbes April 2015Here’s a guy I drew on the U-Bahn cause he looked like my boyfriend David when I lived in DC.

And here’s a note I left for my middle-aged German biker furniture movers, who don’t speak a word of English but can be relied on to go anywhere in Berlin and collect something I bought on eBay, then deliver it and gruffly mock me for “kaufen, kaufen!”. We would have no furniture without them.note to Bernd und Peter Suzanne Forbes 2016