Tag Archives: pastel drawing

More experiments with pastels and mixed media.

Masks at Drink and Draw Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Aug 17 2017These are the last of the drawings from Drink and Draw Berlin’s Secret Society event, all finished up finally!

I took the opportunity to really experiment on these. Things like changing background color, adding large areas of midtones and heavy darks. Using pastels for the midtones and oil pastels to strengthen the blacks gives a really high-contrast image, much faster and more even than using markers.

I feel like I am getting much better at suggesting the atmosphere of dark clubs and parties!At Drink and Draw Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Aug 17 2017

You can see how this approach would have improved a drawing like this one from the Skin Two fashion show in London in 2007. Both the drawings above and the one from ten years ago are times when I don’t have enough time to get good visual information for the background of a scene.

Choosing areas to treat as dark values and midtones gives the scene much more energy and resolution.

I’ve switched from the beige Canson Kraft to a new Canson Toned Grey sketchbook, so I’ll be posting drawings done on an actual grey midtone soon. It’s like a 30% grey; maybe after I finish that sketchbook I’ll try one with black paper!

Previous Secret Society here and here.

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

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

Life drawing session at ESDIP Berlin: a very pregnant tattooed lady!

Martha reclining drawn by Suzanne Forbes at ESDIP Berlin Aug 4 2017I went to the life drawing session at ESDIP Berlin again and this time I drew a lovely model named Martha who is about to have her baby!

I think I drew a pregnant woman once, well actually twice in my whole drawing career before, I don’t have a picture of the second one which was a private commission of my friend Mindy.

Martha in blue wig drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 4 2017For part of the session Martha wore a flowing blue wig! Of course, no one with a comics background can draw a naked pregnant woman without thinking of the late Jeffrey Catherine Jones and her creation Idyl.

It was totally by accident that I drew her as a naked, tattooed, pregnant Whistler’s Mother.

Martha in blue wig drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 4 2017What a beautiful evening it was, with a crowd of three dozen artists quietly working hard to capture Martha in her immanence.

Mysteriously, the group was almost entirely women, many of us tattooed blue-haired women. It was very special. I’ve had a lot of luck of both kinds in my life. The night I accidentally found my way to ESDIP Berlin for the first time was one of the very luckiest.

You can see my previous life drawing session drawings here.Martha in turban drawn by Suzanne Forbes Aug 4 2017

Drawing Donut Heart for Pride Month!

donut heart at gay and lesbian festival july 15 berlin by Suzanne ForbesI went to draw Donut Heart performing again!

suz in pink dress july 2017 by Dan SchickThis time at the Lesbian and Trans* stage at the Berlin Lesbian and Gay Festival. The festival is one part of the Berlin Pride Month activities, which culminate the following weekend in Christopher Street Day.

There were a lot of stages, so I wasn’t sure how to find the Lesbian and Trans stage – until suddenly I walked into a crowd where I felt completely at home. Everyone had tattoos and brightly colored hair and they welcomed me with warm smiles.

I dressed up fancy! Photo by Dan Schick from when we went to see Spider-Man Homecoming earlier that afternoon – a charming must-see!

This is by far the most complicated color drawing I’ve done since college and my days as a courtroom artist.

I wanted to capture the details and vividness of the scene as much as possible. (DJ Chroma wasn’t actually performing at the same time as Donut Heart of course, I just added her cause she is so great looking!)

donut heart berlin july 15 detail by Suzanne Forbes

Detail before adding pastels on top of marker, pencil, colored pencil and ink.

I keep pushing the limits with the mixed media experiments on Canson kraft paper and it keeps going mostly ok.

Portrait of Tess and Colin Jan 2017 by Suzanne Forbes photo by Colin Fahrion

Portrait of Tess and Colin Jan 2017 by Suzanne Forbes photo by Colin Fahrion

I’m very confident with color when I’m using opaque paints, as in this portrait commission of loved ones from January.

But with additive transparent media like watercolor and markers I feel wobbly. There’s a pass at watercolor painting Ian so bad only my Patreon Patrons got to see the whole thing.

You can see the first drawing I did at the Lesben-Schwule Fest here; it has some colors added.

I grabbed a few Sharpies from my deskside drawer and spotted in a bit of pink and green.

I used color in my courtroom drawings of course, and those were on beige and buff illustration board.

Courtroom drawing by Suzanne Forbes working as Rachel Ketchum for WCCO-TV, 1992

Courtroom drawing by Suzanne Forbes working as Rachel Ketchum for WCCO-TV, 1992

 I think the midtone beige of the kraft paper helps to mediate my limited color skills.

Suzanne Forbes drawing Donut Heart July 15 2017 by Dara

Suzanne Forbes drawing Donut Heart July 15 2017 by Dara

Alfred Ladylike was wearing her silver dress from Loving the Alien, and the additive/subtractive nature of pastels worked pretty well for it. Not as much success capturing Rah Hell‘s gold sequin fedora!

I’m using two shades of grey and two shades of umber in regular pastels, white conte crayon, a black oil pastel and alcohol based DeSerres markers in shades of warm and cold grey, and a red-brown Caran d’Ache colored pencil.

Me and Dara, former Donut Heart bassist, by Dara!

All this goes over the PITT brush pens and .05 HB mechanical pencils I normally use, on Canson kraft paper. It has some tooth and a texture, like a cotton paper.

Most significantly maybe I am using the clear-ish “blender” shade of the DeSerres markers OVER the pastels. I run it over the black oil pastel and the solvent in it dissolves some of the pastel base, creating a wash.

I also use a blender marker or 10% grey over the chalk pastels, to help blend and incorporate. For this Donut Heart drawing I bought a pack of colored markers at the Euro-Store for one euro, and added those in.

It was scary experimenting like this, and it took me ten days to finish the drawing once I started adding color. I was nervous about making an ugly, muddy mess or a primary-colored cartoon. I’m pleased with the result though, and now I have colored markers….’cause-

I needed all the colors for the full rainbow of the Pride flag! donut heart drawing by Suzanne Forbes July 15 2017

Drawing my Cyborg Husband!

Physical therapy in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes July 17 2017 My husband got a cyborg upgrade.

Here he is doing physical therapy with the wonderful PT we found in our neighborhood. Health care in Germany is amazing and great and wonderful and we are so very glad we live here.

I make my drawing students at @esdipberlin work hard on foreshortening because you never know when you’ll need to draw some drastically foreshortened body!

Dan at the eiscafe by Suzanne Forbes July 22 2017And here he is eating ice cream or “eis” as we call it here in Germany.

I am starting to feel like maybe…I might want to use some watercolors or even colored pencils on these Kraft paper drawings? Even though that’s crazy talk!

Live Drawing at “Loving the Alien”, Monster Ronson’s Berlin.

Shlomi Wagner as Anastasia at Loving the Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017

Shlomi Wagner as Anastasia at Loving the Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017

I finally went to Monster Ronson’s!

Iggy swan song at Loving The Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017

Iggy’s swan song at Loving The Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017

After a year and a half of passing it whenever I went to and fro from teaching at ESDIPBerlin!

Loving the Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017I went with Suzanne Wegh, to see “Loving The Alien”, a musical that several folks I know are involved in. Delighted surprise when a woman I know was also manning the door!

Iggy and Mandy by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017We were kindly seated in the front row, so I could draw.

It was a great show with really terrific songs, a cracking band and fabulous dancers.

Spaceman at Loving the Alien by Suzanne Forbes July 20 2017Lots of homage not just to Bowie but to other icons of glam like my beloved T. Rex.

Afterwards I went backstage and finished my drawings while the performers changed, just like Degas or Toulouse-Lautrec, except gayer and with more glitter!

Further info with performer name links as I get them sorted, the drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivs and can be downloaded here.

July unterwegs Nr. 1 – Love on the U-Bahn

love bugs by Suzanne Forbes July 6 2017I had to draw these two!

These beautiful mid-life German lovebugs were clearly tourists from a smaller town, consulting directions and reassuring each other.

tween by Suzanne Forbes June 20 2017 This poised tween was reading a paper book and wearing 80s style jeans.

Ah, the cycle of life.

You can see the drawings before adding mixed media on my Instagram, and previous unterweg drawings here:

June

May bonus round

May round one

April

March 2

March

January

December

November