Tag Archives: Suzanne Forbes art

A new year of portrait painting.

Portrait of DIa by Suzanne Forbes Jan 4 2017I’ve known Dia for years, and made a very good drawing of them at the Edwardian Ball back in the Oughts.

Portrait of Dia by Suzanne Forbes Jan 4 2017Dia came to my Halloween party in this outfit, dressed as Desire, and I was like “Oh HELL yeah!”

I wanted to seize the opportunity to make a portrait while Dia was still in Berlin, before they headed off to New York for a new job doing important work protecting civil liberties.

I am as giddily pleased with this rock-solid powerhouse portrait as I’ve ever been with anything I’ve done. I think it’s a good indication for the New Year.

My work has always been deeply committed to queer and trans visibility, and I pledge to work as hard as I can on representation with love and respect in 2017.

If you’d like to help support my work, please visit my Patreon!

https://www.patreon.com/SuzanneForbes

If you’d like to see more of my work representing diversity, queer love, trans visibility and body positivity, click over to my flickr. Some of the drawings are VERY explicit drawings of queer love and sex, so to see all 98 images in this album you’ll have to have your “adult” safeties off!

Unterweg Drawings Nr. 2- December!

senior ladies by Suzanne Forbes December 2016 Berlin

I love how older ladies carry themselves in Berlin. So composed, so collected, so unafraid.

Working on these relaxed, experimental unterweg drawings has really given me new skills and creativity around handling backgrounds, using pattern to differentiate shapes and dropping in blacks.bus-guy-by-suzanne-forbes-2016

I saw this guy during the summer, on the bus that goes to the airport, then found the drawing and finished it just this week.

I’d like to talk more about my work, I’d like to offer more helpful insight into my process, I’d like to be more useful- but this year, this month, this week, it’s just more than I know what to do with right now. I managed to make art this month, and that took all the energy I had.

Drawing musicians is good medicine.

I love drawing musicians.

As a completely non-musical person, they are like sorcerers to me. They possess dynamic energy and their movements are both repetitive and startling. I drew this guy on the U both because I love banjos and because of his young-Frank-Zappa good looks! banjetar man november 2016 by Suzanne Forbes

These two guys performed at the delightful holiday party for the wonderful company my husband works for. It was at a totally wonderful, secret venue hidden behind a hof full of bins. I’ll get their names after the break, right now everyone is off for the holidays.aklamio-holiday-party-dec-13-by-suzanne-forbes

Fearless Pink Gay Santa and his Jolly Ally Reindeer: a holiday dream of love.

Fearless Pink Gay Santa by Suzanne Forbes Dec 2016I got this pink Santa, with his lavender combat boots, in the 75% off bin at a Beverly’s store in Alameda.

Fearless Pink Gay Santa by Suzanne Forbes Dec 2016I had to have him, obviously, and I had a vague notion he could hang out with my Snow Queen and her reindeer, when I finished her.

That was in 2014, and I’m hoping to have the Snow Queen done by my 50th birthday on January 8th of 2017. Projects take what they take, it’s fine.

Meanwhile, a couple weeks ago I found these adorable fuchsia flock reindeer at TK Maxx, the German version of TJ Maxx. They were 1,99! Obviously, I was supposed to buy them.

As soon as I got them home I knew they were Pink Gay Santa’s reindeer.

But they needed to be fancified. Ever since I finished my workshop I’ve been tearing through long-unfinished projects, because I have instant access to all my lifelong hoard of materials. Every bit of ribbon I ever saved, every scrap of velvet, every tube of fingernail decals.naked-reindeer-editedpink-gay-santa-in-process-suzanne-forbes-edited

I’m like a cross between Smaug and Divine.

santahacksaw-editedI had to use a hacksaw on Santa’s base to fit him into the sleigh, then build the fur trim on his coat to fit the sleigh with epoxy clay.

I was so inspired in this project, and all my bricolage work, by Elizabeth McGrath. I discovered her in Culver City in 2005 at her exhibition Altarwise by Owl-Light.

I feel like she really opened my eyes and my heart to the idea that art could be both silly and mysterious, glittery and meaningful, pink and terrifying.

I love her work for showing me serious art can be completely covered in Swarovski crystals and fake fur, and for its mythic stories and secret chambers of hilarious fucked-upness.

I got on Instagram recently, and starting following her and other “Pop Surrealist” or “modern Outsider” artists. I found Mab Graves, who also makes pink things that are scary, and can both draw superbly and sculpt/make/craft. I discovered the astonishing work of Caitlin McCormack, who crochets skeletal creatures out of dissolving lacy thread. I get to keep up with the work of Jessica Joslin, an art hero of mine for years.

I’ve been finding a web of validation and confidence in the work of women artists who are successful making art that is both pretty and hideous, cute and political.

reindeerpartway-editedI’ve had so much to do the last couple months, and I’ve been so shaken by the terrible events in the US.

I fell into the sweetness and hope and joy of this project like it was a feather bed. Doing anything else felt overwhelming. Though of course I did a lot anyway.

I’ve felt that my job as a working artist who simply does some work, any work, was so essential these last five weeks.

Maybe it’s foolish to think art matters at such a precarious time, but you know, I live in Berlin.

I’ve felt a deep desire to renew my commitment and lifelong work of supporting visibility for the “othered”. I want to spend 2017 documenting queer and trans life with more beauty and tenderness than ever. I know how much the work of the Weimar artists mattered, and I am inspired to try and matter too.

Fearless Pink Gay Santa is a vision of hope and love, the Santa I pray will land lightly on a million roofs this year. He is photographed with one of my mom’s beautiful crochet pieces!earless pink gay Santa by Suzanne Forbes December 201

His list holds “Safety”, “Freedom to Love”, “Marriage Equality”, “Health Care”, “Kids”, and space for other things.

I’m mostly just an ally; I can’t know what LGBTQIA people are putting on their wish lists this year. I’ll be listening, though.

Sacred Heart: Only Love.

I started working on this project after the tragedy of the US election.Sacred Heart mixed media milagros by Suzanne Forbes 2016

This piece is about how our love and passion and true, yearning hearts are indelible, unsurrendered.

I had no idea when I started it how it would be transformed by fire. I was already so desperately, wildly grateful to be here, to have escaped the unbearable precarity and pressure of Bay Area living.

“I feel like we were pulled from a burning building”, I wrote in my journal just two weeks before the Ghost Ship fire.Sacred Heart mixed media milagro by Suzanne Forbes 2016

There has been a terrible tragedy in the artist community in Oakland. We lived there for years, and it could have been any of us, or any of our friends, any time.

Sacred Heart mixed media milagro by Suzanne Forbes 2016The situation is devastating and unbearable. We could barely save ourselves from it; we needed every ounce of help our community could give to get to a far safer home in Germany. And yet all the strength, all the great love in my heart, is bound up with our loved ones there, and I yearn to see them safe too.

I made this heart and frame and framed two others while I was thinking about that fierce love we have for each other and our work.

It is a prayer that we can fight to keep doing what we must, despite the election results, despite everything. A prayer for our community to find the strength to keep going in the new USA.

The Oakland Ghost Ship Fire is a synecdoche. It is what it is, and it is everything about the life of artists in the United States.leonard cohen album cover

The older generation of artists and musicians is dying at a shocking, anguishing rate this year.

MIlagro_Heart_Embroidery_Suzanne_Forbes_2015We must save every single one we can of the new generations. All I can do is help you with bureaucracy if you move to Berlin- but I will help with that! Come to our house for a moving-to-Berlin workshop on New Year’s Day, if you’re in Germany for CCC.

People are creating fantastic tools to help people take action to become safer in DIY spaces. These tools are priceless.

Please remember, though, that the disabled, the disenfranchised, the traumatized, the depressed, the sick, are limited in how much they can use tools.

We do our very best, always; we’re exhausted, not lazy.

Those who are feeling stronger can help by setting up support teams and buddy sessions to facilitate making spaces safer.

It’s always easier to deal with someone else’s problems; make a commitment to help a friend go over their space for risk factors. Ask a friend to role-play negotiating with a scary landlord with you. Form a triad of mutual support and meet weekly with two friends to work on your safety action list.

Understand that those who are fighting daily to survive need help to do anything more than they’re already doing.

“People will always seek what spaces like Ghost Ship offer,” Aaron Muszalski, an artist who has spent the past two decades living and working in warehouses across the Bay Area. “What we need are solutions that don’t seek to eradicate these spaces, but which allow them to come safely into the light and support them economically in becoming safer and more accountable — something that is impossible so long as we pretend they don’t exist.”

-Aaron Muszalski interviewed in The New York Times.

The YouCaring fund for the survivors and families of the fire victims.

Ian Baker’s fire and emergency safety for warehomes post.

Gui Cavalcanti’s guide to fire safety in industrial spaces.

The response site SaferSpaces. Harm Reduction for DIY Venues google doc.

Gabe Meline on KQED, It Could Have Been Any One of Us.

About the human beings lost, and why they chose to be there at that moment.

I copied the idea of making a frame from a candy-box heart lined with velvet from my beloved friend-muse-Patron Monique Motil. She does it with far more richness, beauty and mystery than my little attempts; you can see her mandala-form meditations on love and death in heart-shaped boxes here. I find them deeply consoling and spiritual.

 

Cautionary She-Krampus, a Creative Commons Holiday Gift for you!

I made this drawing of a fierce She-Krampus for folks to share, re-post and use.SheKrampus by Suzanne Forbes Dec 8 2016 CC BY-NC 4

It’s licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International, aka CC BY-NC 4.0.

That means it belongs to you, but not to Urban Outfitters! You’re welcome to use it for your holiday cards, adapt for your coffee-shop chalkboard, print on a t-shirt or cloth napkin, whatever, under the license terms. (just leave my signature on the image and don’t be a dick.) Daria did the word balloon cause she’s amazing at text!

You can find a larger version on my flickrstream.

Drawing people makes me love them.

When I draw someone, I always find myself caring for them.On the platform by Suzanne Forbes Nov 18 2016

Seeing them, every detail, with eyes of compassion. A throughline to the better angels of my nature.

It’s like a lens of mercy is placed over my usual impatient, irritable, judgemental self. Guy on the train Nov 14 2016 by Suzanne ForbesEveryone I draw is so beautiful and interesting to me.

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

Halloween Doll Custom: OOAK Bride of Frankenstein!

I made a fabulous gothic burlesque outfit for my Bride of Frankenstein doll!Suzanne Forbes Sideshow Bride of Frankenstein custom

Suzanne Forbes Sideshow Bride of Frankenstein customSuzanne Forbes Sideshow Bride of Frankenstein custom doll corsetI just finished this project barely in time for round one of our Halloween week celebrations, and I am so proud of her!

This is a Sideshow Collectibles Bride of Frankenstein that i’ve had for like a decade.

I originally got her mostly for her laboratory accessories, for my dollhouse laboratory.Suzanne Forbes action figure dollhouse laboratory

Young Elsa Lanchester Burlesque RevueI loved her face, but the slightness of her base figure model and her outfit, though very screen-accurate, bored me. Elsa Lanchester is just much more fierce.

I wanted to reference her dance training, her cabaret and Victorian numbers from her burlesque revue days.  She and Madeline Kahn had so much in common as performers, and yet you only see a glimpse of it in “Bride of Frankenstein.” She plays Mary Shelley as well, in the “Bride” prologue. Shelley calls her “an angel”, and the devil is the corner of her mouth as she smirks, “You think so.”

Sideshow Collectibles Bride of Frankenstein Doll or action figuremadeline-kahn-young-frankenstein

 

I always had the idea I’d do a custom outfit for my Sideshow Bride, something sassy and exciting.

As I began to make my Horribella dolls, I amassed tiny doll-making trims and miniature buckles.Suzanne Forbes Sideshow Bride of Frankenstein custom doll corsetSuzanne Forbes Sideshow Bride of Frankenstein custom doll corset

Suzanne Forbes Sideshow Bride of Frankenstein custom doll bootsI got stuff from model horse tack suppliers Rio Rondo (boy, don’t try to load that site on your phone!) and BJD clothing-making suppliers all over the world.

I got amazing tiny silver leather trim from a handbag company in Los Angeles. I saved every bit of ribbon from every bag of fancy cookies, every inch of silver elastic from a dress tag, for my Snow Queen project (reveal next year!). For my mermaid doll and my corset customizing projects I got a zillion different kinds and sizes of Swarovski crystals, beads, sequins and chains.

I learned how to bulk out the hips of a figure and smoothly sculpt them with epoxy clay when I was making the tiny doll corsets for my Horribella dolls.

I give them big curves to match the silhouette of a Modern Edwardian underbust, my own favorite corset style. Then I draft a tiny corset pattern and cut and glue a miniature corset over them.

Suzanne Forbes custom doll corset

Suzanne Forbes Sideshow Bride of Frankenstein custom

Now that my workshop is complete, I keep powering through long-awaited projects.

So I finally made my Bride of Frankenstein Gothic Burlesque Elsa Lancaster Showgirl!

Isn’t she marvelous?