Is this the creepiest thing I’ve ever made?

Insect Bas Relief Boudoir Stool by Suzanne Forbes May 2019It may not be the creepiest, but it was definitely one of the trickiest!

Insect Bas Relief Boudoir Stool by Suzanne Forbes May 2019It takes a LOT for me to give up on a project. I may delay it, it may take me twenty years to finish, but for me to outright give up on a creative piece in process and throw it out is incredibly rare.

It happened with this one, though – I got well into a first iteration of this creepy insect boudoir seat and had to give up.

It was a technical problem, basically. I’ve talked a lot about how my experiments with mixed media and bricolage are informed by my interest in action figure customizing.

I’ve learned a tremendous amount about how to prime and paint plastic items from action figure custom forums, over the last eighteen years.

In 2001 I used to sit at my desk at ESC, the visual effects company where I worked on the Matrix sequels, and read about “orange peel” and paint rub.

Painting plastic has evolved over the years, but it’s still unpredictable. And moving from the US to Germany meant everything I’d learned about Krylon and Rustoleum had to be thrown out the window and relearned with Dupli-Color. Dupli-Color, founded in the US but now the ubiquitous hardware store spraypaint of Europe, has several different formulations for priming and painting plastic.

For the last four years I’ve been trying to learn all their tricks; I talk a lot about techniques I used for my last bas-relief insect project here. So when I wanted to make a seat for our hallway, I felt pretty confident.Beetle boudoir stool back by Suzanne Forbes April 2019

Because we don’t have cell phones, but we do have a landline, we needed a little seat for the telephone in the hall.

We’re always dragging a chair in from the library when we need to call a doctor or something. I had the idea of buying a simple boudoir stool on Amazon and decorating it to fit the hall, which is perhaps the creepiest part of our whole creepy house. I ordered it and it arrived. I removed the seat, which I planned to re-cover, and wiped the whole stool down with cleaning wipes, then damp paper towels. I used the glue gun to adhere a bunch of plastic bugs and resin flowers around the existing bas-relief floral decorative elements. I had previously washed the bugs and primed them with Dupli-Color clear primer for plastic.

Then I used epoxy clay to really blend the new elements onto the base. Thinking I could expedite things (epoxy clay is a beautiful material for conjoining disparate materials, but expensive and slow) I also used some regular tube spackle for some of the big gaps. To smooth and unify all the surfaces, I painted many areas with Mr Surfacer500, a Japanese gap filler/primer product for model builders. Its grey surface is supposed to function as a primer, so I wasn’t worried about it not adhering or not accepting paint. Then I sprayed the areas with the bugs again, with the Dupli-Color primer. Here’s the original stool out on the balcony at that stage, last July.

Then I spraypainted the whole thing. WOOOOOO what a mess.

Yeah that did not work. There was some kind of reaction between the painted cast resin decorative elements of the stool and the plastic primer, or between the Mr Surfacer500 and the spackle. Tiny bubbles appeared all over the work I’d done, the areas where I’d filled crevices around the bugs to make them look carved from the surface.

Plus, the paint on the original resin elements had become tacky, which means disaster for a mixed-media work. It means there is a reaction preventing the curing of the paint, and that area will never harden and will attract dust for all time. Possibly a reaction between overspray of the Dupli-Color clear plastic primer, which is a chemical scuff, and the paint used on the resin elements.

My project was fucked. I took the picture above to show the chunky, unevenly cured surface, but you can’t see all the damn bubbles!

So I decided I’d remove the paint and re-prime the entire thing.

Guess what, I had primed the bugs and new flowers so effectively that the paint was virtually inseparable from them. And the original curliques and flowers just got gunkier with every solvent I tried. In the end I was trying orange oil and baking powder, which will take off damn near anything, and scraping sections with a dental probe, because I just hated the idea that this was a thing that had to be thrown away.

I could not get a clean surface. I could not get the paint off. I did salvage and scour one centipede, because plastic centipedes with a flat underside are hard to find. Here it is soaking in olive oil to remove the last of the paint.

Luckily, I got a new dollhouse which took my mind off the maddening primer/solvent/paint mess, and eventually I brought myself to throw the bug stool base out. Because it had so many different materials on it, it couldn’t go in any of our German recycling bins. It bothered me.

But it bothered me even more that we were still dragging a chair into the hall to use the phone!

So I decided to try again. I ordered the same stool, and set to work. But this time I tried a new approach, from a new action figure customizing blog. A bunch of incredible tutorials had gone up in December on a site called Action Figure Art. One of them suggesting sealing acrylic paint with Mod Podge! I was ready to try this new approach.

I had used Mod Podge as a primer for a plastic toy exactly once, back in about 2002, to prime a little cat figure for the top of a wedding cake I was making. But I’ve used it for various other projects over the years, mostly for decoupage. It is popular for furniture as a glue, primer, sealer and finish, and comes in different formulas. I ordered the matte finish  for the bug seat, because I wanted to paint on top of it with acrylic paints.

Of course I did the usual prep of washing the bugs with hot water and soap, and I used the glue gun to attach them again. I took my time filling in around and under the bugs with Apoxie Sculpt.

This second attempt was during my Make-Cation, so I had plenty of time.

Here you can see the stool in progress along with some other projects, including the Baroque Bug Frame, which I used the same technique for. Pictures of the frame finished here!Bug bricolage and metal crown projects wip March 2019 suzanne forbes artist

Mod Podge itself is a synthetic polymer, a polyvinyl acetate like white glue to be specific. That may sound scary, but like white glue, it’s very safe. Once I was done smoothing the bugs onto the stool with Apoxie Sculpt, and the Apoxie Sculpt was cured, I started painting coats of Mod Podge over everything. Evenly, over the whole surface of the panels of the stool, bugs and original elements and all.

Mod Podge is a like a rubbery plastic coat you are sealing everything under, a form of isolation coat. That’s why it prevents chemical reactions between plastics and paints. Because it’s thick, it also does some gap filling and overall smoothing. I used about five coats over the panels with the bugs. Then I spraypainted the whole thing, with Dupli-Color Next in Berlin Berry.Bug bricolage footstool wip painted March 2019 suzanne forbes artist

Dupli-Color Next is a “universal” spraypaint, one of the new class of acrylic lacquer spray formulas that’s supposed to go on almost anything without primer.

A similar product is Krylon ColorMaxx. I have found Next to be inconsistent in finish – some areas dry shiny, some matte – but it’s easy to use, with flexible recoating time and low-odor/toxicity. Since I was planning to put a gloss acrylic sealer coat over everything, I didn’t care about the problems with inconsistent finish. It took about two cans total to really cover the whole stool, which is a good example of how spraypaint is actually an inefficient and expensive way to paint things! However, the paint adhered to the Mod Podge finish really nicely.

Bug bricolage footstool wip with painted accents March 2019 suzanne forbes artistThen I started painting on the details.

Because Next spray is acrylic lacquer, not enamel, I could paint on top of it with regular artists’ tube acrylics. I did layers of black wash, then dry-brushing highlights, then lowlight passes. In between the accent paint layers, I added additional layers of Mod Podge. This ensured each batch of highlights was sealed under a protective coat. If I went too heavy with a highlight, I could wipe it off without disturbing the black wash underneath. I can’t even tell you how many layers of this I did – gotta be at least ten. Each Mod Podge layer helped the bas-relief, carved-on effect. 

I also did some sponge-painting effects and scumbling on the panels themselves, to give a nice Impressionist quality. You know how those Impressionists loved cockroaches.

At the very end I used an acrylic-based (rather than solvent-based) gold marker to add a few more highlights. Cause I’m so subtle. Then I let it all cure for a couple days. I had also spraypainted the legs of the stool, with the Berlin Berry, and let them cure too.

Then it was time to spray the fuck out of it with Gloss Acrylic Sealer Coat!

The outrageously comprehensive Mod Podge craft site Mod Podge Rocks repeatedly states that to truly get a hard, non-tacky finish on your Mod Podge project, you need to seal it. That seems pretty shady, since Mod Podge itself is supposed to be a sealer, but I wasn’t taking any chances at this point. Acrylic sealer it was, and four coats!

Finally, I attached the recovered seat with the incredible velvet death’s-head moth fabric.

killstar lydia nightlife dress deaths head moth velvetWow that fabric was a close call. It’s actually a cut-up dress from a goth clothes company called Killstar.

I ordered the largest size they had praying it would cover the seat without a seam, and it just barely did. Killstar have a lot of custom fabrics made and I knew I would never, ever find this fabric anywhere else. It was a hard call to buy a brand-new dress, for forty euros (of course I used a coupon, you know me!), and immediately cut it up. But I knew that the pleasure of seeing the fabric on the stool, day in and day out, would be far greater than having a dress in the closet.

The velvet-and-gilt purple upholstery braid I ordered from the UK covers the places the fabric doesn’t quite stretch!

Passementerie and a glue gun will save your gothic rococo interior decorating ass every time, just ask Tony Duquette! (sigh, you can’t cause he went to the great Paris flea market in the sky.)

Beetle Boudoir Stool by Suzanne Forbes April 2019So here is the telephone stool, in the hall, next to the ugly black plastic telephone that I will eventually replace or cover in holographic foil.

It looks like it’s always been there, right? You’d never know how tricky it was to make!

Queens, clowns, knife magic and Mr. Bear Congeniality at Big Broad Revue!

Nico at Big Broad Revue by Suzanne Forbes May 10 2019Another lovely event I attended the for the first time, in a very cool and glamorous venue.

Nico is Mr. Bear Congeniality, a Berlin Bruiser, and does stand-up with a twist.

This performance featured a strip and shake!

Dotti Moscati at Big Broad Revue by Suzanne Forbes May 11 2019Big Broad Revue is co-produced by Dotti Moscati, who gave a quick talk about how much she values diversity and inclusion in burlesque.

Same, queen! It’s all about the big, embracing tent. I love a show that welcomes all folx. The next BBRevue show is looking awesome too, I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it with the vast amount of medical procedures both hb and I have in June but I am gonna try like hell. The venue, Zum böhmischen Dorf, is very cool as well!

Liliana Velasquez at Big Broad Revue by Suzanne Forbes April 30 2019The other producer is Liliana Velásquez, the hardest working latex queen in Berlin!

Liliana did her new comedy routine about redacted cause spoilers, you gotta see it yourself and wore two different bespoke latex outfits! Sadly, I could only draw this transp. burgundy and black one. You can catch Liliana’s comedy every Sunday, no matter what, at Sunday Slips.

Miss Mokki at Big Broad Revue by Suzanne Forbes April 10 2019This is Miss Mokki , the doyenne of Iceland burlesque.

She is hilarious, sexy and luminous. She threw knives in her underwear.

We also enjoyed several other performers including local legend Cadbury Parfait and violin-playing contortionist Ellie Steingraeber, whose drawings I will get up shortly- I still gotta get some reference for their costumes 🙂

Wynton Kelly Stevenson at Big Broad Revue by Suzanne Forbes April 30 2019The show finished with a set from Wynton Kelly Stevenson, an amazing musician-sorceror-scientist.

Wynton mixes harmonica, synthesizers and vocals for a sound that is totally unique. I love to hear him perform. There was a rather drunk guy at the show who also clearly loved Wynton’s sound, and he got out of hand and started hollering about “One more! One more!” Liliana, who is both Latina and a former New Yorker, told the dude to chill out in a very firm way. Do Not Mess 🙂 More Liliana and Wynton drawings here.

It is only possible for me to create and share my documentary art of Berlin life because of my Patrons on Patreon. Their monthly financial support allows me to make this art!

You could help, for as little as a dollar/euro per month.

Drag Brunch in Prenzlauerberg!

Mx Aleppo Pepper at Drag Bunch May 3 2019 by Suzanne ForbesIt was a quiet Sunday afternoon when I glanced at Instagram and saw my friend Dia was about to perform at Tipsy Bär, on the other side of town.

I hadn’t seen Dia work their moves onstage since we lived in the Bay, so I grabbed my art tools and jumped on the train. I made it just in time to catch Dia’s second act as well some other fabulous people!Ebony Rose Dark at Drag Bunch May 3 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

Ebony Rose Dark danced so gracefully, so delicately on those 6″ heels. She was amazing!

And she casually kept them on after her performance! We had a minute to chat and she told me about some of the other performances she does, including one in pitch dark with fellow visually impaired performers. Now I really want to go to Worn and Felt and draw in the dark.

Vivienne Lovecraft at Drag Bunch May 3 2019 by Suzanne ForbesVivienne P. Lovecraft was a vision of serenity in opal pastels, performing about Steven Universe I believe?

Which is a tv show that so many people I love are into, but I have never seen. I feel slightly guilty about that!

During the trivia contest, the question “What do the H. and P. in H.P. Lovecraft stand for?” was asked and Dia yelled, “Highly Problematic!” Another audience member pointed out that Lovecraft was from Rhode Island, which is hysterical, during Drag Brunch.

Vanessa Jupiter at Drag Bunch May 3 2019 Suzanne ForbesI drew hostess Vanessa Jupiter at a Full Moon Cabaret back in February, so I had a sense of her face already.

I loved her rainbow flag stole and a tender performance to Björk’s “All is Full of Love”, where she came out and hugged all the audience members. It was really comforting and hopeful. As Ms. Jupiter pointed out, a Sunday afternoon drag show may seem silly, but taking space this way is always, always a political act.

I’m grateful I can document moments like this in Berlin, thanks to my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this art!

 

May 2019 Unterwegs, with bicycles!

Unterwegs April 25 2019 by Suzanne Forbes couple with bikeI am so bad at drawing bicycles.

It’s because I can’t ride one, I don’t understand the basic mechanics. But people bring their bikes on the U-Bahn, and their dynamics with the bikes are interesting, so I occasionally try to draw them.

Unterwegs April 15 2019 by Suzanne Forbes guy with bikeWhen I did the drawing above I was thinking about the looseness and easy mark-making of my pre-comics drawing style.

I recently scanned some drawings from 1990-91 for my archives, and realized how much rigidity I developed while I was formatting my drawing style for comic inking and printing. I want to try and rediscover that sketchy early 90s style.

I wouldn’t say this drawing succeeded at that, but it’s been a long road here and it’s ok for it to be a wander to try and go back a bit.

At least I drew this goofy hand, which is barely drawn at all!

Unterwegs April 23 2019 by Suzanne Forbes spare changeIn Berlin homeless people spare-changing on the U-Bahn announce themselves and say their names loudly as they enter the train.

That’s what the guy you see here is doing. There’s a sort of script panhandlers follow. It’s not clear to me if this is custom or required by some regulation. It does serve the purpose of giving people a chance to dig in their purses/pockets for change, if they are so inclined. I panhandled daily to support my heroin habit in the last year of my active using; I understand doing anything you can to ease the mechanics of asking strangers for money.

Speaking of money, I am deeply grateful to my Patrons, who crowdfund my documentary art project of Berlin public transit! You can help, with any amount you like per month, a dollar or euro is great 🙂

Previous unterwegs below. All unterwegs drawings are courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available!

March 2019

Jan 2019 bonus round

Jan 2019

Dec 2018

Fall 2018

September 2018

August 2018 unterwegs

July 2018 bonus round

July 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018 bonus round

February 2018

January 2018 bonus round

January 2018 round 1

December 2017

November 2017

September 2017

July bonus round

July

June

May bonus round

May round one

April

March 2

March

January

December

November

Portrait of Shakrah, third sitting.

Portrait of Shakrah Yves work in process third sitting by Suzanne Forbes April 29 2019Sometimes a portrait changes a lot during the process!

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

I was frustrated with this portrait of my friend Shakrah Yves because it’s on a small canvas (about 40x50cm) and I usually paint quite large.

I just couldn’t get comfortable with the composition.

Plus, during the second sitting, which was photographed by Mirella Frangella, I radically changed Shakrah’s pose and completely repainted her face.

But we convened for a third sitting last week and it came together, finally. WIP Portrait of Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes first and second sittings 2018

Here are the results of the first two sittings, above.

Really different right?? It’s not done yet, but Shakrah’s time-traveler beauty is emerging. In the ten months since we last worked on this picture, Shakrah and I have spent time hanging out, and I have come to know her face much better. I was truly feeling like her character and her beauty weren’t captured by the portrait to date, and seriously considering abandoning it. Plus, the pink velvet salon chair she was sitting on was destroyed by a giant hacker during our New Year’s Day epic brunch, so we needed to use a different chair!

But she was up for posing, after my work hiatus caused by the bus accident and after her very busy year, and I decided to see how it went. Because I know her face better, when I returned to the painting, I could see what was salvageable and good about the second iteration, and build on it. And we decided to remove her headpiece, even though she made it and it is beautiful, because its scale overpowered the small painting.

I’m glad I didn’t give up on this one! I posted the latest on my Instagram and one of my Patrons commented,

Portrait of Shakrah after third sitting detail by Suzanne Forbes April 29 2019 2

“Thank you for sharing your frustrations as a professional artist. It gives the rest of us newbies perspective and that we too should keep trying.”

I was glad to be of service, and also surprised. I started earning money as an artist when I was sixteen, so I’ve been working within my own insecurities and frustration my whole life. That’s why it’s WORK!

I guess I assume everybody knows that professional artists struggle constantly with not being as good as they want! Or not being able to resolve a piece! Or not being able to capture someone or something beautiful!

That’s the greatest frustration to me, that I can never capture the beauty of my subjects the way I see it.

I will never be able to show you exactly how beautiful and luminous and unique you are before me, but I will get closer and closer til the day I die, Goddess willing.

And I am able to do this because of the help of my Patrons on Patreon who provide the monthly sponsorship that allows me to tell women’s stories and grow as an artist!

 

Make-Cation part One: So MUCH Bricolage, Assemblage and Decoupage!

It was my beloved Friend-Muse-Patron Monique Motil who came up with the idea of “Make-Cation”.

Monique has always been my inspiration for mixed media and assemblage art, and I learned so much about how to trust my creative impulses around materials watching her work evolve over the years. I did my first Make-Cation in Fall 2017, and for eight days in March I did it again! It was a glorious time of renewal, full of energizing fiddling, fooling, fussing and gluing! Nothing makes me happy like taking a hacksaw to a plastic toyl!

Cernunnos crowns by Suzanne Forbes April 2019It may surprise some people but drawing and painting isn’t “fun” for me. It’s hard work where I put my whole identity on the line every time and demand the best I can possibly do from myself. Like going to the gym, it feels great in the sense of being healthy, rewarding and good for me.

Plus there is a huge added bonus in that it gives happiness to the people I document and helps to share their stories with the world. So it is deeply meaningful and feels like service, which I love.

However it’s hard work, and I do it pretty much all the time, so I took a week to do the art that feels like play – making stuff!

Touching and handling beautiful materials like velvet leaves, gold wire and garnet beads makes me feel nourished and exhilarated.

Metal crown project march 2019 Suzanne ForbesI started on Day One with these cheap pot metal crowns and the heaps of metal leaf charms and stampings I’ve had for years.

Assemblage fairie crowns by Suzanne Forbes March 2019I used beads and pearls and resin and glass leaves too, and sewed everything in with different weights of gold wire, then secured it with blobs of E6000.

I learned about using wire to secure decorative elements when I did a Halloween party with the help of a guy who had run commercial haunted houses, in 2001. He said anytime you want something to stay put, wire it in.

I figure people can wear the crowns whenever we finally have our Summer Solstice party.

Then I gave some bugs a bath.

One thing I have learned from action figure customizing folks and Burning Man art folks is that assemblage art lives or dies by its adhesives and primer coat.

The plastic bugs got a nice soak in very hot soapy water to remove any traces of mold release so they would accept paint and glue better.

Once they were completely dry I went bug crazy with the glue gun. I had been wanting to make a gothic rococo gilt frame with horrible insects for many years.

I recently found a €3,99 plastic frame at our local Woolworth’s (we still have those here!) to use as a base. I washed the frame in hot soapy water too, to remove any oils or dirt, and then attached the bugs and some resin flowers with the glue gun.

Bug Bricolage Gothic Rococo frame wip March 2019 suzanne forbes artistOnce the glue was cooled and set I used my precious Apoxie-Sculpt to unite the bugs with the frame, smoothing their edges into the surface so they look more carved or bas-relief. (You can read more about this here.)

Then I coated the whole thing with Mod Podge, which I’ll explain in the next Make-Cation post, and then I spray-painted it gold! Few things are as gratifying as gold spray paint.

Bug Bricolage and decoupage frame by Suzanne Forbes April 2019 detailI also cut some pieces of cardstock to fit some of the gaps in the frame, because I needed to reduce the visual detail after adding the bugs – I wanted to it read clearly from a distance. To help that, I also sprayed it from below with a light mist of black spray paint.

I am so pleased with how it came out. Look how nicely the plastic spider sits at the top! I made a little decoupage piece to go in it using die-cut butterflies and some Dresden trim moons I got at Castle In the Air like 20 years ago.

I Mod-Podged them right onto the black cardboard that was the backing of the frame, because I am a deeply lazy person.Bug Bricolage and decoupage frame by Suzanne Forbes side view April 2019

I also made some Cernunnos crowns, because you never know when you’ll need those.

Bricolage Cernunnos crowns by Suzanne Forbes April 2019I used “reindeer horns” I got on eBay and headbands from Woolworth’s for these, plus some velvet flowers and leaves and stuff that I had hoarded, some from like 1995.

I love how they came out, it is just so satisfying to use up these beautiful old materials and make them into actual things.

Of course I barely made a dent in my supply hoard, but there is world enough, and time, for more creepy assemblage art.

I  made two other things, a completely insane little seat for our hallway, and a little fascinator hat, and I will post those soon!

So much love to my Patrons, who support my creating and making, and made this precious window of creative play possible <3 You can see more of my multi-disciplinary mixed media projects here.

For the Archives: ballpoint portraits from the 90s.

Gabes birthday probably summer 1991 drawn in ballpoint by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesI looked through some of my art school notebooks and found these drawings!

They have never been scanned, photographed or copied; if we had a fire they would just have been gone forever. The one above is the birthday party of Gabriel, the son of a woman I knew in the recovery community. Gabe was what we would call a Spectrum kid nowadays, and there was not much understanding about how to support him, although his parents were devoted.

For some reason he adored me, and I was very fond of him and his older sister Shuli, and spent a lot of time with their family altogether. Based on the notebook this was found in, I am estimating it was done in the summer of 1991. I have only the haziest memory of drawing it!

Teacher at MCAD Fall 1991 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesAnd this is a teacher at MCAD, where I finished my BFA.

Kirk Kristlibas October 1991 ballpoint by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThis is a drawing done in class of my friend Kirk Kristlibas.

Kirk was a dear friend of mine in my last couple years of art school, a deeply creative and talented person whose personal style was amazing. The kind of self-directed polymath art-generator you only meet a few times in a lifetime. He was a fellow New Yorker and we would drive around in my car yelling about the fucking Minnesotans. I have not seen him in decades, but he is quite googleable and so I see he has written a book, gotten multiple art degrees, done theater work and apparently looks exactly the same?

I drew a lot in my school notebooks and a little bit in my journals.self portrait in bed with Jamie Jan 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

This is a self portrait of me in bed with a boy named Jamie.

In my bedroom in St. Paul, right after I’d been sober for a year. My roommate Anita and I had a party for our sobriety birthdays and I said to him, “You must be my birthday present.” He was a wounded soul, one of several survival sex workers I’ve been lovers with. Self portrait in Woullet uniform Spring 1990 Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

This one to the left is a self-portrait of me in my uniform from Woullet Bakery, where I worked for nearly a year when I was newly sober.

My roommate Anita had been forced to go back to prison, through some very fucked up drug testing stuff that was extremely unjust.

I was devastated; she was one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and an extraordinary muse to me right when I went back to art school, at MCAD. She posed for all my homework, and was an amazing cook, and gave me Neuromancer to read.

I’m going to start in soon on photographing some more of the many drawings and paintings I made of her in the short four months we lived together.

Looking back at the way I drew before I worked as a courtroom artist and then on Star Trek, I feel like something was lost.

The spring that I drew this picture, I did my first official tryout for Marvel, with Fabian Nicieza.*

One of Fabe’s critiques of my work was that I needed uniform, enclosed lines on all shapes and consistent, inkable shading. Which was good advice for superhero comics then, and maybe even now. Although in 1990 Baxter and Mando papers and Flexographic printing had long since become part of comic production, a lot of comics were still printed on newsprint, and artists were still being told to pencil for newsprint production.

I had to get rid of the multiple lines, the looseness, the brushiness of my drawing, unless I was gonna ink it myself, which I was never interested in. Comic colorists needed areas that were fully enclosed for each color, to be painted in carefully with Dr. Martin’s dyes, for the hand separated CMYK plates of the four-color printing process.  I believe nowadays it’s all done digitally, with digital shading, stored codes for costume colors, and there is a person in the production line called a flatter, who is somehow involved in preparing digital color files for printing.

My old style probably still wouldn’t work for comics, but it was beautiful and free. Since I don’t have to draw comics ever again (it was not good for my health), I would love to find my way back to that free style. You can see a collection of more older drawings I scanned during my last period of archiving work, in 2009, here.

I am incredibly grateful to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.

Again, until today, no modern media record of these drawings existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

*the splash page of the tryout script Fabe sent me was a picture of a dead woman, lying in a boat. I talk about some of the many ways women were deterred from working in superhero comics, even by well-meaning editors, here.

 

Not the burlesque you expect: more from Shimmy Shake Show at Ballhaus Berlin.

La Labo Balucia as Rorschach at Shimmy Shake Show at Ballhaus Berlin by Suzanne Forbes April 10 2019That’s right, Rorschach burlesque.

Performer and Shimmy Shake School burlesque teacher La Loba Balucia  blew my comic-artist mind with this. I was losing it with happiness but still managed to draw two pictures of her.La Labo Balucia performs Rorschach Burlesque at Shimmy Shake Show at Ballhaus Berlin by Suzanne Forbes April 10 2019

Ruby Skyscaper was a man-eating shark.Ruby Skyscraper at Shimmy Shake Show at Ballhaus Berlin by Suzanne Forbes April 10 2019

That’s some meta-textual feminist neo-burlesque for ya! Amazing costume, amazing shake.Noeline la Bouche at Shimmy Shake Show at Ballhaus Berlin by Suzanne Forbes April 10 2019

And legend Noéline la Bouche sang AND danced AND performed veil fans, while undressing!

Pretty darn fabulous! Noéline works really hard and performs all over, I try to catch her as often as I can.

Newbie performer at Shimmy Shake Show at Ballhaus Berlin by Suzanne Forbes April 10 2019Last but not least, this young lady Brianna was a newer performer. She did great and looked adorable!

Thanks so much to Shimmy Shake School and mâitresse La Viola Vixen for a lovely show, you can get tickets for the May edition right here!

And always, my deepest thanks to my Patrons, who crowdfund my documentary art project of a queer feminist intersectional lens on Berlin life! You can help, with any amount you like per month, a dollar or euro is great 🙂

My Patrons on Patreon give monthly financial support which allows me to make this free documentary art available for all to share!

A benefit for Berlin’s only Gay-Inclusive Rugby Team, the Berlin Bruisers!

Lola Rose at Violet Variete Benefit for Berlin Bruisers by Suzanne Forbes April 14 2019Sometime soon I’m gonna go draw the Berlin Bruisers actually playing rugby.Ben Meachum at Violet Variete Benefit for Berlin Bruisers by Suzanne Forbes April 12 2019

But first, I drew the fabulous performers at a benefit for the Bruisers, who are Berlin’s only gay-inclusive rugby team. The annual benefit is called Violet Varieté, and was held at epic queer nightclub and party space Schwuz. That’s beautiful Lola Rose, above!

On the left, comedian Ben Meachum, in his latex wrestling singlet 🙂

The event was hosted by legends of queer Berlin, Gieza Poke and Liliana Velásquez! Two of the hardest-working performers in town, they have contributed their talents to this fundraiser for years.

“I love to draw Liliana,” I said to her dear friend Fannie Headaek, “she has the elegant lines of a fighting swan.”Liliana Velasquez at Violet Variete Benefit for Berlin Bruisers by Suzanne Forbes April 10 2019

Does that make sense? I don’t know, but I stand by it! And check out co-host Gieza Poke!

Is Pansexual Pleasure Goddess Gieza’s outfit a yellow plaid bustier and plaid booty shorts topped with a yellow plaid cape with power shoulders and a yellow tam o’shanter fascinator? Yes, yes it is. Fucking amazing.Gieza Poke at Violet Variete Benefit for Berlin Bruisers by Suzanne Forbes April 12 2019

Also performing was The Darwish, an elegant neo-bellydancer.The Darwish at Violet Variete Benefit for Berlin Bruisers by Suzanne Forbes April 12 2019

Dunja, an incredible Guinness World Record setting hula hooper, (see below!) as Mia Wallace!Dunja at Violet Variete Benefit for Berlin Bruisers by Suzanne Forbes April 12 2019

And Evilyn Frantic, muse of Dr. Sketchys Berlin, who I have drawn many times before, but never while she was moving!Evilyn Frantic at Violet Variete Benefit for Berlin Bruisers by Suzanne Forbes April 13 2019

Plus Nana Schewitz, another local legend!

Nana Schewitz at Violet Variete Benefit for Berlin Bruisers by Suzanne Forbes April 12 2019Here’s some of the Bruisers in uniform, on the dance floor before the show!Berlin Bruisers at Violet Variete Schuz April 10 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

And here is Feline and Strange, with my beloved Friend-Muse-Patron Rah Hell on drums!Feline and Strange at Violet Variete Schuz April 10 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

Thanks to the Bruisers for inviting me! And always, my heartfelt gratitude to my Patrons, who crowdfund my documentary art project of a queer feminist intersectional lens on Berlin life! You can help, with any amount you like per month, a dollar or euro is great 🙂

My Patrons on Patreon give monthly financial support which allows me to make this free documentary art available for all to share.

And enjoy witnessing Dunja setting one of her hula hoop Guinness World Records!!!!

 

Women tattooing women at the Drink And Draw Berlin Tattoo Jam – on a boat!!

Lydia tattooing at Drink & Draw Berlin Tattoo Jam April 12 2019 by Suzanne ForbesWhat a lovely time we had!

This is Lydia, aka Lylicious Ink, tattooing a lovely lady, ON A BOAT. Lydia is a friend who is a fantastic artist who is now a tattoo artist, like Daria.

I went to the new Drink And Draw Berlin location finally, and holy heck it’s amazing. Drink And Draw’s classes and events are now held in a 90-year-old boat docked in the Historic Harbor by Markisches Museum. The atmosphere is so cozy, so charming, so superbly comfortable for drawing, I cannot even deal. I want to go back ASAP.

Here’s the Drink and Draw Berlin Insta, featuring ME!

Daria tattooing at Drink & Draw Berlin Tattoo Jam April 12 2019 by Suzanne ForbesDaria was tattooing in a mask, looking even more like an artist ninja than usual!

The woman Daria is tattooing is Fania Katz, an “illustrator and creator of weirdness from Berlin“. Fania is a native Berliner, and with Daria, a native Muscovite, and me, a Native New Yorker, sitting there, Daria said we had a mighty trinity.At Drink & Draw Berlin Tattoo Jam April 12 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

These two cool as hell friends of Lydia’s were talking about tat appointments, and one of them was also drawing.

I just was so happy there! There were groups of artists and tattooists working at tables and on couches throughout the boat’s comfy seating areas, and another woman tattoo artist, the fantastically badass Strix, working up on the stage, and people doing stick-and-poke.

Elliott doing stick and poke tattoo at Drink and Draw Berlin Tattoo Jam April 20 2019Suzanne ForbesThis is Elliott, stick-and-poke tattooing his own leg.

I knew people stick-and-poke tattooed themselves, as my incredible artist sister-in-law Caitlin has a number of beautiful works she has designed and done herself. But I’d never seen it happening live in front of me before! I was like, look, a hot boy stick-and-poking his own leg on a boat! What could possible be more Berlin? But then I remembered my friend Suz told me about a nonbinary person who stick-and-poke tattoos drunk club-goers on the party train U8 on Friday nights around 3am, and that is actually more Berlin 🙂

I had some lovely Fritz-Kola on the boat (local soft drink company well known for always sponsoring art events!) and altogether the nicest time.

Thanks, Drink and Draw Berlin! I’ll be back!

And always, my deepest and profoundest gratitude to my Patrons, who crowdfund my documentary art project of a feminist intersectional lens on Berlin life! You can help, with any amount you like per month, a dollar or euro is great 🙂

My Patrons on Patreon give monthly financial support which allows me to make this free documentary art available for all to share!