Tag Archives: watercolor portrait

Painting, or not painting, Ian in Berlin.

I am very new to using watercolors.

unfinished-failed-watercolor-do-not-share-editedThat means I sometimes makes mistakes, and with a watercolor you can quickly reach a point of no return.

One of our friends from the Bay Area, a very handsome and dashing fellow, was in town. I was super excited to paint him, as I’d never had a chance in Oakland.

He came over, dressed in a sharp suit, and I gave him some wine (we still have tons left from the housewarming) and set to work. He posed extremely well, with great brio, but I couldn’t get a light source that worked. And once I started painting, the situation devolved.

I can draw myself or paint myself out of just about any corner in an additive-subtractive medium; my knowledge of anatomy, structure and values is sufficient to recover from most wrong directions. But with watercolor, you can’t go very far down the wrong road.┬áunfinished-failed-watercolor-do-not-share-edited-1

An old friend of mine, a master watercolor painter, once said, “I’ve never won an argument with a watercolor.”

I tried everything I could think of to resolve the portrait, including opaque white to recover lost lights, but it was a no-go. Eventually I called it and we started over. I asked my model to change his pose, I changed the light source, and I switched to drawing, only lightly tinted at the end with watercolor. I captured his Leyendecker profile this time.Ian September 24 2016 by Suzanne Forbes

So I was able to produce a decent likeness that had a good sense of the sitter, but only by divergent means. I scanned the horrific failure, excerpted here, but only my Patrons get to see it ­čÖé

Watercolor painting with Daria in Sch├Âneberg!

Daria at Cafe Bilderbuch Sept 2 2016 Suzanne ForbesI love┬áSch├Âneberg.

It’s our neighbor neighborhood, just to the East and a quick bus or subway ride. Blixa Bargeld, Marlene Dietrich and Helmut Newton were all born there. Bowie, Iggy Pop, Klaus Kinski and Christopher Isherwood lived there. It’s old-fashioned and not uptight, with lots of amazing food and lots of relaxed mature bears.

Daria decided the Cafe BilderBuch, or Storybook Cafe, is the perfect meetup place for us because it’s halfway between her place in Neuk├Âlln and our place in Wilmersdorf. We met there for the second time yesterday. I love to walk from the M29 stop at Nollendorfplatz, through the ancestral queer neighborhood and down towards the new hip specialty food joints.

Daria made this beautiful watercolor.Daria Rhein watercolor at Cafe Bilderbuch Sept 2016

We went to Jones Ice Cream first, because Jones Ice Cream is beyond belief incredibly delicious.

The ice cream is American style, with big, soft chewy American cookies also available. This time I had lemon ice cream with blueberry jam and lemon-mint sorbet. The day before I had cucumber and tonic and pink grapefruit/Earl Grey. All are amazing, although the cucumber and tonic is some particularly next level business.

Daria Rhein watercolor at Cafe Bilderbuch Sept 2016 cu Daria, who actually studied watercolor in art school, is going to teach me some techniques soon so I can make real watercolors. Meanwhile I made a kind of illustration/drawing hybrid of her ­čÖé

Here’s another pic of her Bilderbuch picture. You can see more of her work at her site┬áand now secret works at her brand-new┬áPatreon!

Another watercolor portrait!

We’ve had a few undesirably hot days here in Berlin, and today was the hottest.

I bought a portable A/C from a Brit who was leaving town last year, because we don’t do well with heat. I set up the A/C in the library and painted the hubbin while he did whatever he does on Reddit.Dan McArdle by Suzanne Forbes Aug 28 2016 Berlin

This watercolor thing is getting to be FUN. Probably if I’m gonna keep doing it I should buy a better watercolor block than this one from the stationary store around the corner, and maybe some real watercolors. Maybe even a new Windsor & Newton Series 7 Sable, nobly though the one I bought when I was at Parsons┬áthirty years ago has served.

Maybe I should actually take a class and learn HOW one does watercolors.

Dan McArdle by Suzanne Forbes Aug 28 2016 Berlin - close upI had one class where we had one watercolor assignment, in school. Unfortunately I didn’t think painting in colors was worth my time, then; it was just an useless tangent for a person who was going to be a comic book penciller and have a colorist to take care of such things.

So I did a sloppy job of the assignment, and showed up late and drunk to class, with my very drunk boyfriend Richie tagging along.

My teacher was furious. I felt at the time that he was furious about the banal quality of the green grass I’d painted. It seemed like he was just really disgusted that I’d painted such bad grass. But I know better now. I still think the grass really bothered him, but I bet it bothered him more that I had wasted a priceless opportunity to work and learn.

I forgive you for yelling at me, Parsons teacher whose name I’ve forgotten. I forgive you for being a medium I didn’t know how to use, watercolors. I forgive you for being drunk and sloppy when you were 20 years old, Suz.

Sometimes both life and art are long.

Painting Mitch Altman at 3am.

Mitch was here in Berlin, so of course I had to ask if I could paint his picture! He was a great model, and this watercolor thing is SO FUN!Mitch Altman in Berlin By Suzanne Forbes Aug 22 2016

Watercoloring my Never-Muse.

When you live in Berlin, lots of people visit.

My Never-Muse comes to Berlin all the time. I had been planning watercolors of her since she went pastelgoth last year. I hadn’t painted a watercolor portrait in a very, very long time- 25 years. I did do a little watercolor experimentation to warm up earlier this summer.
E in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes August 19 2016

Eva in Berlin August 19 2016 by Suzanne ForbesI started the painting above, then set it aside to dry for a while and did this other one. When I came back to the first painting, we were talking about some very heavy things, and that’s why she looks so sad.

I feel like sadness is a part of life and sharing it with friends is a way to make peace with it, so I don’t mind that she looks sad.

I’m glad we did two though.

I was so happy to spend a day making art with my Never-Muse again.

 

My first watercolor in 25 years!

Aktion drawing party Alte Finanzamt by Suzanne Forbes April 3 2016I bought a watercolor set yesterday.

One of my beloved friend/muse/patrons has pastel hair at present, and I feel like watercolor is really the medium with which to approach this phase of her beauty.

I did maybe two watercolors in all of my art school career, and three after, and i haven’t touched them since.┬áBut seeing what Marc Taro Holmes is doing on CitizenSketcher.com has really inspired me, as has working with so many beautiful transparent colored materials in my mixed media work.

DR in neukolln by Suzanne Forbes April 3 2016Today I went to Neuk├Âlln to meet up with an amazing artist I met through one of my classes, Keir, then went to an Aktion Drawing Party to meet my artist friend Daria Rhein. Here she is drawing at the event, which was at the Altes FInanzamt art collective.

It was lovely, with a bunch of artists playing around with different materials, dogs and babies on hand, music of course, and two old-school projectors for live psychedelic wall art. As you can see above!

The watercolors felt easy and comfortable to use until I abruptly relearned how important it is to have a lot of water to keep your brush clean and the colors from getting muddy. The cup of tea I was using wasn’t making it, so I switched back to ink to draw Daria. But it was a fun experiment well out of my comfort zone.

On the way back I was so relaxed and loose I could see the big forms and shapes that make up a scene really clearly, and they seemed so beautiful to me. So I made this super-fast sketch of the people on the U-Bahn. It pleases me greatly although it’s quite obvious I don’t understand how bicycles work.
Sunday U7 Suzanne Forbes 2016

Berlin is basically artist heaven.