Tag Archives: portraiture

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.

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!

Another fabulous Uke Boogie!

Dara Star at Uke Boogie by Suzanne Forbes Nov 9 2017This month’s theme at Uke Boogie Berlin was X for Xtra-Terrestrial.

No way was I gonna miss that! Check out alien co-host Dara Star getting some psychic energy from her glowing eyeball orb.

Toby playing theremin Uke Boogie Nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesToby performed with his torso-mounted theremin, described by Crayon Jones as the world’s first Theremin Cock!

Rah Hell at Uke Boogie Nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesHost Rah Hell kept things running smoothly.

Follow her on the Instas and twitter for drum, ukelele and CAT FUN.

Women performing at Uke Boogie Nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesNice to see these lovely women singing German folk music again!

Dancers uke boogie nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesSome young folks were dancing.

Alfred Ladylike at Uke Boogie Nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesAlfred Ladylike was in fine form, rocking out on several songs.

Davepool at Uke Boogie Nov 9 2017 by Suzanne ForbesAt the end of the night, surprise guest Deadpool AKA Davepool!

You may remember David Hawkins performing at the Donut Heart video release party.

As always, a wonderful, free evening in Berlin at Uke Boogie. You can see the previous Uke Boogie drawings here. Thank you so much Rah and everybody!

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!

Miss Mosh performing at Vaudeville Variety Revue, Wintergarten Berlin.

Miss Mosh performing at Vaudeville Variete at Wintergarten Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Oct 27 2017I got to draw Mosh!!!!!

As a longtime fan of beautiful alternative model and burlesque performer Miss Mosh, I had always wanted to draw her. Sheila Wolf, the producer of Berlin’s fabulous Vaudeville Variety Revue, was kind enough to have me as her guest again.

This time I got to come five hours early and draw the dress rehearsal! It was wonderful to be in the beautiful Wintergarten Berlin when it was mostly empty; I got to take a really good look at all the gorgeous details. And I was able to make preliminary sketches of the performers and get a sense of their movements.

Here is Mosh using a screwdriver to adjust the struts of her enormous feather fans.

Miss Mosh preshow at Vaudeville Variety Wintergarten Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Oct 27 2017Like most beautiful famous people I have met in person, Mosh is tiny!

She is like a little absinthe fairy you can imagine perching on a wrought iron balustrade. And yet also, like most performers I’ve met, plainly and obviously strong as hell. She appeared onstage in an oyster silk playsuit and ballet flats, with her hair in rollers, and lit up the stage. I always want to draw dress rehearsal now, it is the best! You can see my drawings from the previous Vaudeville Variety Revue here! More from this one coming soon.

Thank you Sheila Wolf for your hospitality, Miss Mosh for your kindness, and my beautiful Patrons on Patreon for providing the financial support that makes it possible for me to make this work!

A portrait of my mom in Berlin!

Pat Ketchum by Suzanne Forbes West Berlin Oct 26 2017My mom came to visit! It was wonderful.

I made this portrait of her at Cafe Bilderbuch in Schöneberg. We were having coffee. We love coffee!  This is the first time I tried black ballpoint on the Canson Toned Gray paper, and I really enjoyed using a ballpoint on that surface.

It’s a heavy paper that feels smooth to the touch, yet accepts a lot of pigment from pastels, which usually need a surface with tooth. I added oil pastel and chalk pastel when we got home.

Pat Ketchum by Suzanne Forbes West Berlin detail Oct 26 2017Cat supervisors were on hand.

Our horrible Morgan and adorable Viviane enjoyed their time with Grandma, who is a Cat Person of the highest order, very much. Morgan hardly even bit her.

Finishing my big new portrait of Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux!

Portrait of Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux before bifurcation by Suzanne Forbes Oct 17 2017

Portrait of Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux before bifurcation by Suzanne Forbes, Oct 17 2017

I finished my biggest painting in like twelve years!

At 30″ by 80″ (76cm by 204cm), these conjoined canvases form a fine large surface. I could have gone the traditional route, setting my sitters deep within the pictorial space with plenty of air around them. But I wanted something more demanding of my abilities and more interrogative of the viewer, a compressed space with an exploded perspective that tips the viewer into the painting’s world.

Portrait Sadie Lune cu by Suzanne Forbes Oct 17 2017Into the dangerous, powerful air breathed by artists Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux.

Portrait of Sadie Lune by Suzanne Forbes Oct 18 2017I set up the perspective of the picture with the idea that Sadie and Jo should take up as much space in it as possible.

At some point in the 90s I read a quote from Roseanne Barr, where she advised young actresses to “take up as much space as you possibly can.”

I think this is a great idea for women, to just occupy space with our presence and authority and strength and certainty, and in Sadie’s case, coiled professional menace.

I had done a painting that utilized an exploded perspective in 2005, the portrait of Khris Brown that is still one of my favorite things I’ve ever done (below right).

I approached the portrait I did of Rah Hell this summer the same way, opening and flattening the pictorial space to force the viewer to acknowledge her carelessly confident drummer’s body (below left). Our Art Nouveau herringbone wood floors work even better for distorting the perspective than the floors in my Berkeley Craftsman did.Portraits by Suzanne Forbes 2005 and 2017

To get the exaggerated foreshortening of my model’s forms, I simply alternate between sitting and standing with the easel very close to the model.

Then I make decisions about scale and positioning, as described in the previous post, and position one foot to break the frame, my signature! This is a straightforward way of suggesting that the power of the woman in the portrait can’t be contained by the picture plane. And it also references my career in comics and my love for comic panel design.

You can see here how close I was to the model chair.After the third sitting Sadie and Jo WIP by Suzanne Forbes Oct 2017

During the long third sitting, Sadie and Jo and I talked about art and sex and power.

Sadie and I reminisced about the wonderful Oughts’-era climate for sex-positive kinky art in San Francisco. We talked about the many performances and shows we did for Madison Young’s queer art gallery Femina Potens and the events, like Sadie’s birthday party, at the Center For Sex and Culture. For a while the background of the painting looked like the Leather Pride Flag!After the third sitting Sadie and Jo WIP by Suzanne Forbes Oct 2017

Jo, who is a photographer, told us an amazing story of when she met Nan Goldin.

The whole process of making the painting has been nourishing and strengthening, a collaborative meeting of minds and talents. Sadie and Jo both brought their A game to the work, serving tremendous presence and face and great physical stamina.

Portrait of Sadie and Jo detail by Suzanne Forbes Oct 2017After the final sitting I dug in and sorted out the background and details. As much as I liked the Leather Pride colors, I wanted to paint the realistic space of my salon, to ground the figures in a real world and place the viewer in it with them.

I adjusted the perspective of the floor over and over, to give the immanence I wanted to Sadie and Jo.

And I repainted Jo’s hands like a million times, so they would only be substantial artist’s hands, not disorientingly large! I had fun painting the Autumn goddess head-dresses of leaves and rosehips Jo and Sadie wore to Folsom Europe for a performance this year.

I very carefully composed the shadows at Sadie’s feet to guide the eye to the vicious tip of her singletail, which actually is the dark blue and black colors I painted it.

I gave Jo a branch to hold because I was like, “Needs moar witch!” Once the details were done, it was time to separate the two canvases for transport to Ludwig, where they will be shown. I didn’t know what would happen once they were separated; the painting looked finished and resolved with them conjoined but….

With the canvases separated, the blue background wall panel behind Jo (right side) became a dead space!Portrait of Jo Pollux by Suzanne Forbes before and after Oct 18 2017I had to activate it visually with shadows.

Which was good, really, as it made the unused pink velvet boudoir chair more significant. I like to include pink velvet furniture, like my sadly lost dusty rose velvet model’s armchair, in my paintings. Not only is pink velvet a great visual reference to pussy, it references a powerful moment in my experience as an artist.

In 1993 I went to Philadelphia with my first husband. We went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where we saw the Cornells, Duchamp’s Étant donnés and the Degas known as both “Interior” and “The Rape”. I can’t begin to describe the impact that group of works had on me, but I can tell you the most important thing I carried away: that women need to make paintings of women.

Jo Pollux detail by Suzanne Forbes Oct 18 2017For decades I have been both inspired by the great male painters and furious that men have made most of the great paintings of women.

My spiritual master as an artist, John Singer Sargent, was not sexually involved with women. He made pictures of them as beings. Numinous, sensual, prickly, elegant, fearless beings. I am hoping in the next few years to really move into my abilities as a painter, and to begin painting women with all the strength I see in them.

It really helps to make big paintings, when you want to depict strength and grace, and I hope this diptych is a step towards that.

This work was made possible by the generosity of my Patrons on Patreon, who contribute monthly support to enable me to make art. I am so, so grateful.

You can help for as little as a buck a month!

In Berlin and wanna see it in person and hear me and Sadie talk about art, gender, portraiture as service and more? Come to Ludwig this Sunday, Oct 22, at 8pm for an artist’s talk and vernissage!

Sadie and Jo are both brand-new on Patreon, you can help them make feminist art!

 

 

The men of Folsom Europe!

Lovers at Folsom Europe by Suzanne Forbes Oct 13 2017FInally had a minute to finish the last of the drawings I made at Folsom Europe. I really enjoyed my time there.

It was a very comfortable and relaxed scene. On my way in I saw what I thought for a moment was security frisking backpacks. Then I realized it was just a group of uniform fetish players looking for their beer or gear or something!

Rope bondage at Folsom Europe by Suzanne Forbes Oct 13 2017

Folsom Europe really shines with Tom of Finland archetypes.

Because I was a child in Chelsea in the 70s, I really love the classic leather daddy and uniform looks. It feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket to see gay men rocking the old school Christopher St Clone style.

This performer, Georg Kroneis, was wonderful.

Georg Kroneis Folsom Europe by Suzanne Forbes Oct 10 2017However there were also plenty of casually dressed lovers just sporting crew socks and sweats, as seen in the first picture!

I was very casual myself, unlike my friend Sadie Lune who wore gorgeous high leather regalia and an Autumn goddess headpiece, which inspired the big diptych of her and her girlfriend Jo Pollux I just finished. You can see my previous Folsom Europe posts here:

Women of Folsom Europe 2017

Puppies of Folsom Europe 2017

Women who rock Berlin – Donut Heart at Arcanoa

Alfred Ladylike and Baron Anastis at Arcanoa by Suzanne Forbes Oct 20 2017I drew the Donut Heart folk at an amazing and magical Berlin bar, the underground wonderland that is Arcanoa.

The show was called the “Sunken Ship Show!” Check out Alfred Ladylike and Baron Anastis, above. I feel like I got a very good likeness of Baron, who is a professional life model as well as rocking out with both Donut Heart and Baron and the Erinyes.

Rah Hell and Donut Heart at Arcanoa Suzanne Forbes Oct 20 2017Pirate costumes were on point! Here is Rah Hell drumming in high seas style.

Donut Heart at Arcanoa by Suzanne Forbes Oct 2017Well and truly is it said that she is the sexiest and most amazing dork in all Berlin. Also kinda cool, the drawings form a panorama of the stage! By accident mostly, I’ve never done that before.

Natascha Artworx came down from Hamburg and she wore an amazing mermaid outfit she had made herself, much like she created her outfit for our A(RT)ffair.

I also wore an amazing mermaid outfit, although I only made the jewelry and headpiece of mine!

Suz Natascha Artworx and Alfred Ladylike at Arcanoa Oct 2017Here we are with Alfred Ladylike posing like merpirates or something!!

Check out how great we look and how cool Arcanoa is! There is a running stream built into the bar. It is probably neither safe not sanitary, but it is beautiful. Living in Berlin is heaven.Natascha Artworx and Suzanne Forbes at Arcanoa Sept 28 2017

Last but not least, the show opened with a thrilling oceangoing yarn spun by the shifty Old Tom Haggardy!

He belted out some fine sea shanties later as well.Tom Haggardy at Arcanoa by Suzanne Forbes Oct 20 2017

New Donut Heart video online here.

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!