Tag Archives: urban sketching

More mixed media experiments on some life drawings from Drink and Draw Berlin.

Masked woman by Suzanne Forbes July 30 2017Just playing around, experimenting wildly with mixed media, composition and values.

Well, wildly for me. Since I spent my six-plus years of art school totally focussed on becoming a comic book artist, I never experimented with anything unless they forced me to, as a student.

I had some left over unfinished drawings from when me and Daria and Marina went to Drink and Draw Berlin earlier this year. I thought I’d finish them up by adding some big dark areas and sharp contrasts. I was like, hey, this mixed media stuff is mostly going well, why don’t I add paint to the drawings? Daria adds paint and ink and watercolor sticks and even coffee and tattoo ink to her drawings all the time and they come out absolutely beautiful.

Shhhh girl by Suzanne Forbes July 30 2017Ha ha ha NO. I added some highlights in unbleached titanium, which seems like a pretty innocuous thing to do…

It looked clumsy and awkward and tragic. Oh well! Pastels have some limited additive/subtractive properties so I just covered up the paint! It was on the top and bottom ones, for the curious. I think they look fine now.

Honestly, I think they look terrific. I’m having a blast. An artist I know from Instagram, an extraordinary young French courtroom artist and illustrator named Emilie Oprescu, said nice things about them. Since I have mad enormous respect for her work, I feel good about these playful experiments.

boy drawing by Suzanne Forbes July 30 2017Gonna keep messin around! It’s just art! Nobody’s heart is open on the table!

One of the producers used to say that, when I worked as a production coordinator at a VFX studio. He’d say, “It’s just a movie! Nobody’s heart is open on the table!”. Wise words.

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

June unterweg drawings!

Transit doggy by Suzanne Forbes June 26 2017Here’s some of the drawings I’ve made while travelling about Berlin this month.

In Berlin, where dogs are allowed on the subway at all times, dogs understand about missing or catching the train. They actually hustle to get to the doors before they close. Which I find just amazing.

Maps by Suzanne Forbes May 31 2017There are maps on the ceiling of the subway cars, which is sensible!

I am doing so much experimenting with tone, pattern and value areas in these unterwegs. They are my safe space to expand my style and way of documenting things.

Suitcase by Suzanne Forbes June 15 2017This drawing was made from a quick mental snapshot.

I glimpsed this woman wearing the HELL out of a jersey wrap dress, with great hair style, as she hustled for the M10 in Friedrichshain. I was going to the U1, and I got on the train and then realized I had no pencil or even a ballpoint for the sketch I usually do before putting down ink. However I did have a white conte crayon stick and I used that to quickly rough in the gesture and forms. You can see the faint traces of white lines if you look carefully. I could have pimped it up later with background and tone and white highlights, but I just liked the simple lines so much.

You can see previous unterweg drawings here:

May bonus round

May round one

April

March 2

March

January

December

November

May unterwegs and the Berlin Music Video Awards

Amanda at the Berlin Music Video Awards by Suzanne Forbes May 18 2017Miss Natasha Enquist invited me to see her perform at the Berlin Music Video Awards opening, but I missed her!

I was teaching at our ESDIP Illustration Program, and there are no cabs in Friedrichshain! At least not at 6pm on a Thursday. I thought I could just come out of Grunberger Hof and grab a cab, like you can where we live in the West.

Nope! Seriously, in our neighborhood you can get a cab in 30 seconds. Not in the East! So I got to The Nuke Club late. But I saw Natasha in her wonderful golden sequin hot pants and fishnets outfit, and met Amanda, who let me draw her, seen above.

Tomibaez at Berlin Music Video Awards by Suzanne Forbes May 18 2017I asked her if I could draw her portrait, and she was like, no I’m sorry I’m working, I manage the VIP bar, I’m just grabbing a smoke and a drink and a snack then I gotta go back to it.

I was like, “Don’t worry! I can easily draw you in the time it takes you to have a snack and a smoke!” She was super-nice and friendly. Her mom is a painter!

I also got to draw this nice young man, who caught my eye for his gingery coloring in the Berlin sun. He was shooting for the event, so he filmed me while I drew him!

This is one of the fastest portraits I’ve ever done, less than five minutes in the crowded courtyard at Nuke Club!

I finished up two May unterwegs as well on Thursday. How I love the faces and characters of Berlin.Unterwegs butch by Suzanne Forbes May 18 2017Unterwegs femme by Suzanne Forbes May 18 2017

You can see more Unterwegs here!

April

March 2

March

January

December

November

Unterweg drawings Nr 1

There is a bit of a thing among Berlin drawing folk, urban sketchers and life drawing people and so on, of “Unterweg” drawings.Fluffy boots by Suzanne Forbes Nov 28 2016They’re the drawings you make on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, bus or tram, as you’re underway.

I find that I’m using these opportunities to draw regular people going about their day as a place to practise techniques. I can drop on a half-finished drawing and decide to add dark values, or detail, or a second person, in the most relaxed and experimental way.Headphones guy by Suzanne Forbes Nov 28 2016

You get as far as you get with an unterweg, then the person you’re drawing gets off the train, or you do, or they notice you drawing and you have to stop. Often children gather to watch, and adults murmur, “Schon!”

It’s a wonderful way to pass the time, and try new things.

Our Drawing Adventure

Me and Daria had an adventure day in Kreuzberg.

Photo by Daria Rhein drawings_of_Suzanne_Forbes_and-Daria_Rhein_May_28_2016

Photo by Daria Rhein

We had Tibetan food at Little Tibet, and ice cream down Yorckstrasse- i had jogurt-maracuja (passion fruit) and lemon-basil-strawberry; Daria had kokonuss and the darkest dark chocolate sorbet I’ve ever seen.skatepark by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2016

Scooter stunt in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2016Then we went to the Park am Gleisdreieck and walked along, seeing the last of the lilacs and many wildflowers I know from New England, like Queen Anne’s lace, goldenrod and blue lupine. Goldenrod is considered an invasive species here, and Daria was surprised to learn you can make dye from it.

There were vast bushes of wild roses. I was startled to see actual poppies growing wild here as well, unlike the US where they are policed up.

We saw a unicorn. We saw glades of birches growing in the old railroad tracks and Daria hugged them. I did not know birches were so identified with Moscow; I think of them as a New England thing! We looked up another tree and learned it was Quaking Aspen.Rollergirl by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2016

After 18 years of silver-grey California foliage, I am so glad to be among the flora of my childhood again. There were people wandering about everywhere, in the muggy Berlin semi-sun. It was so relaxed.

Eventually we came to this skatepark, where there was a cafe in what looked like an air-traffic control tower. We got Fritz-Kola (tagline: For the night from Thursday to Sunday. Much much caffeine.) and Wostok (tagline: To Friendship and Space Travel!). I had rhubarb and Daria had plum-cardamom!

skater by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2016 BerinWe made some drawings, and we came up with a new art motto:
NO ART SHAME!!

Daria has a new portfolio site up. It is beautiful and full of gorgeous things. She is the kind of versatile art talent you meet only a few times in a lifetime.

I LOVE BERLIN!