Tag Archives: pastel drawing

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!

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.

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!!!

Pastel and mixed media experiments on Canson Mi-Teintes, with cats!

Miss Natasha Enquist with Cat by Suzanne Forbes Dec 17 2017I finally finished up these drawings of Miss Natasha Enquist from our Halloween Women’s Art Salon.

I was scared to work on big drawings with pastels, so I worked on them to procrastinate when I was even more scared of finishing the pastel portrait of Iris!

Miss Natasha Enquist with Cat by Suzanne Forbes Dec 17 2017 detailThey’re much too big for my scanner, so I had to photograph them.

Miss Natasha Enquist in Cat Mask by Suzanne Forbes Dec 17 2017Turns out photographing pastels is hard! I guess the dust sticks and grease sticks create a lot of surface specularity.

Miss Natasha Enquist in Cat Mask by Suzanne Forbes Dec 17 2017 detailI hope you get the idea anyway. I am pleased with them, and working on them moved me along the road of using pastels and gave me enough confidence to finish the picture of Iris. Which is much closer to a true pastel painting.

I love the process, even when I’m scared. And I love my Patreon Patrons for making possible the space I am working the process in.

A deeper dive into pastels with Iris Perez.

Portrait of Iris Perez by Suzanne Forbes Dec 17 2017We are lucky to enjoy visitors from the Bay Area so often here in Berlin.

Our dear friend Nathan was in town and was joined by powerful creative force Iris Perez. I asked her if she would pose for a quick painting and she said yes.

However, on the night she arrived for painting, my perimenopause fatigue was severe.

suzanne forbes drawing iris perez dec 2017I didn’t have the physical energy to set up a palette or the strength for the larger arm and shoulder movements of moving around the long brushes I use.

Fortunately I’ve been gradually experimenting with pastels for the first time since childhood this year.

Suzanne Forbes drawing Iris Perez with Morgan Dec 2017And I have a nice large pad of legendary Canson Mi Teintes, a pad of various sepia and buff toned papers with marvelous tooth.

Just like I had at the Art Students League during Summer Drawing for Children in 1977!

Portrait of Iris Perez by Suzanne Forbes Dec 17 2017 detailThis year I came to feel that pastels could have the kind of power I want in an image, and the kind of creepy sexy cool style I love. It happened through seeing the work of artist Barnaby Whitfield on Instagram . There are some other pastel artists I am enjoying as well, like Elena Pancorbo who has really impeccable technique.

I can’t say I will ever become anything like a real pastel painter, but I am enjoying experimenting with them as part of my mixed media toolbox!

Iris is wearing a Dollymop for Dark Garden corset and leather glovettes by Xenolux.

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!

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin: The Haunted Medium and the Ghost Bride.

dr sketchys Berlin drawings by Suzanne Forbes Nov 26 2017Dr. Sketchy’s here in Berlin features elaborately costumed models, fabulous sets, and often multiple skits and wardrobe changes.

Dr Sketchys Berlin Haunted Medium by Suzanne Forbes Nov 25 2017I really enjoyed the saga of the medium who is possessed by the ghost of a bride.

And working on different transparency techniques for the bride’s veil!

Dr Sketchys Berlin Ghost Bride by Suzanne Forbes Nov 26 2017

As you can see I purchased my first white gel pen and used it for the first time on these.

Like all other tools I use, my crude multi-media “technique” will quickly contaminate it with chalk particles and destroy it! But it sure was fun to have something precise to make marks on the Strathmore Toned Gray paper with. It was so much like using the Pentel White Paint Markers that first appeared at Pearl Paint around 1981-1982. They were the biggest thing ever for us NYC graffiti writers!Dr Sketchys Berlin Ghost Bride and Haunted Medium by Suzanne Forbes Nov 26 2017

I had to photograph this one rather than trim it for the scanner cause there was just too much going on at the edges!

I should either get a bigger scanner or start not using the whole page, which is unlikely since “use the whole page” was drilled into me at Parsons from age seventeen.

Previous post from this session here. Thank you LaLaVox and Le Pustra for another incredible night! What a gift you give us!

And thanks to my Patrons on Patreon whose financial support makes it possible for me to go to events like this. You are the best.

Previous Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin posts hereherehere and here.

 

 

Genderqueer Berlin at its finest: Vaudeville Variete Revue favorites!

Lou at Vaudeville Variete Revue by Suzanne Forbes Nov 25 2017Finally got a minute and I’m finishing up the last of the Vaudeville Variety drawings.

Here’s showboy Lou Henry Hoover, of Kitten N’ Lou. Lou is a tremendous performer but I confess I did not know the pop song or get the joke of this act; everyone else was laughing though!

Dusty Limits at Vaudeville Variete Revue by Suzanne Forbes Nov 25 2017And Dusty Limits, singing the Cabaret classic “Don’t Tell Mama”.

Dusty was the emcee and very charming. I attempted to persuade him and his creature to move to Berlin.

Epiphany Get Paid at Vaudeville Variety Revue by Suzanne Forbes Nov 25 2017Epiphany Get Paid opened the show singing a customized version of “Science Fiction Double Feature”.

It was torchy and lovely and had callouts like “Miss Mosh was there in silver underwear”. Epiphany is on the Instas here!

Previous drawings from this event herehere and here, and the last few to come as soon as I get a second to finish them! Having the extra hours of dress rehearsal really gave me time to get into each performer’s style.

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!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beau Belle Brothers!

The Beau Belle Brothers at Vaudeville Variety Revue by Suzanne Forbes Nov 4 2017I got to meet and draw the Beau Belle Brothers in October at Vaudeville Variety Revue!

What a thrill! They are the most gorgeous, creative boylesque pin-up models. I have been a fan of these multitalented muses since I discovered them through the work of master gay erotic artist Ali Franco. He has made a whole series of amazing paintings of them, collected in this beautiful calendar which I got myself earlier this year.

Beau Belle Brothers usherettes Wintergarten Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 4 2017The Beau Belle Brothers started three years ago as an art project for a photo shoot. Now they are muses to artists all over the world!

Deathbirds makes incredible costumes and loves comics, like me! Mybeautyspace is the genius hair and makeup artist behind their superb vintage aesthetic, and also loves comics.

The Beau Belle Brothers by Suzanne Forbes Nov 5 2017I had never drawn twins before, and it is a perfect challenge for a portraitist!

The Brothers are the kind of inspiration that make artists gleeful with happiness. And they are super nice!! It took me forever to finish these drawings, because I was wanted them to be perfect and to do justice to their beauty. I’m still not sure if the colored versions are better than the black and white.Beau Belle Brothers by Suzanne Forbes Oct 15 2017 wip

So I am just very much hoping to get a chance to draw them again sometime soon, perhaps at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin 🙂Beau Belle Brothers and Suzanne Forbes at Wintergarten Berlin Oct 2017

More drawings from Vaudeville Variety Revue here, here and here; thank you Sheila Wolf for having me as your guest!

BTW, If you like hot, tender, superbly rendered man-on-man love, check out Ali Franco’s Patreon!