Suzanne Forbes, an expat New Yorker in Berlin. Made possible by the generous support of her Patrons. https://www.patreon.com/SuzanneForbes. Former DC Penciller for Star Trek, former courtroom artist, painting portraits and teaching drawing.
She was born on the same continent I was; nowadays she identifies as a “Citizen of the World”, and teaches German here in Berlin. She’s lived all over the planet; maybe all the experience is what keeps her so young. My friend Maurus, who owns Ludwig, calls the beautiful photos he takes of his guests “Souls of Ludwig“. I love the idea that we are all souls, meeting here in this world.
We were talking about the schedule for the Illustration Intensive course for the summer, when we get students from all over the world. Sara is from Spain, Omar is from Ecuador, and Sarah is from the UK. But we were all united by a discussion of how appallingly expensive, and yet wildly desirable, the new iPad Pro with the stylus is.
Berlin is a place for all souls to freely be themselves.
And I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to tell these stories.
It wouldn’t be February without creepy dolls, right?
Here’s a little dollhouse shadowbox I made. I customized a vintage Living Dead doll by giving her antlers and the shiny chrome arm projecting from her chest I’ve always wanted myself.
Come on, haven’t you ever wanted a slightly smaller, heat resistant velociraptor arm that pops out of your chest to grab the spilling pot when both your hands are already full?
The antique dolls are wearing little dresses I made them.
I also made a couple of bug shadowboxes, cause you can never have enough of those!
And more bug earrings, with tiny cast glass cicadas I found. You can see the Valentines Monster Doll Armada, which I was consumed with making for much of last February, here. Some of them are still available to purchase. The February 2016 Scary Mermaid doll post is here. And the previous batch of bug bricolage is here.
These two little dudes, with their matching undercuts, were very excited about a game.
It was the hour of the day when the subways are full of kids taking the train home from school, as I used to do myself.
Now pay attention!
It was not at all clear that the two younger women knew the senior lady who was informing them of something very important. But they were listening seriously nonetheless.
Crowded bus standup drawing.
I made this in a seriously crowded bus, surrounded by all different people of Berlin, filled with gratitude for this place. As you can see the guy right next to me had his headphones on and paid me no attention at all.
This first one is of the beautiful Viva Lamore, who wore a marvelous outfit with a cage hoop. Because the theme for this Dr. Sketchy’s was Broken Baroque, everyone was wearing ropes of pearls and masses of ruffles. Plus fluffy white cotton batting wigs.
I’m struggling to control the “dust sticks” as I call them and render some kind of believable volume with such pale colors.
I find it so hard to get any detail with pastels. Especially drawing things like pearls and lace. As you can see, for important areas like the models’ faces, I just cheat and use ink. I’m using both my beloved PITT brush pens and 50% grey scale markers here to add in darker values. For the pearls, I started using a white color pencil.
As much as I’ve hated and ignored color pencils all my life, I can see how on paper this good, they can be a nice tool.
Each of these drawings is on a different shade of Mi Teintes paper, as I randomly chose from my pad of sepia, umber, and buff paper in order to provide “new experiences”. Mighta gone a little overboard on adding complicating factors there, as the effect of each color of pastel stick is startlingly different on light vs dark papers.
So I am working on them just a little bit at a time, trying not to set myself the overwhelming goal of “finishing” or “getting them right”.
You can see the drawings I’ve finished so far from this Dr. Sketchy’s here.
Thanks so very much to my Patrons on Patreon whose financial support makes it possible for me to explore new materials like this. You are the best.
Finally finished this drawing of dancers and smoochers!
These lovely boys were crowding the dance floor at Chantal’s House of Shame. It took me a long time to finish this one because at Bassy Club I always sit on a stool in the raised loge area and it makes my perspective of the dance floor a slight, tricky downshot. Eventually I figured out the foreshortening and how to fill the space. More drawings from this night here!
Bartender at the KitKat club.
This friendly young bartender reminded me of my boyfriend Richie Barton in the 80s. This is from the night Miss Natasha Enquist and I went to KitKat; more drawings here!
Five minute gesture drawings from ESDIPBerlin Friday night Life Drawings!
With excellent model Luciano. You can see more of these here.
As I have been very fatigued this month, I haven’t gotten out and about much.
So two of these unterwegs are from other months, drawings that started as quick sketches and were left unfinished. Often I’ll have a sketchbook that has some orphans in it, left behind when I ran out of empty pages.
This month I’m gathering up the orphans and finishing them!
Actually, pretty much every sketchbook has a sketch or two I forgot about or didn’t finish because I ran out of marker, lost my pastel, or needed some reference for a bicycle.
Sometimes a drawing is put on hold til I ride that particular model of train again!
I might need to check the layout of the car, see where the doors or handrails are. Orphans are generally dated the day I finish and sign them, which is why the woman with the tree in summer clothes is dated February 18.
On February 14, a small group of female-identifying people gathered at Ludwig Berlin to make art out of a pile of magazines, glue and scissors.
With the help and support of Suzanne Wegh, I tried paper collage for the first time. What a startling process!
It was not at all like I thought it would be! It was confusing, and mysterious! I thought it would be challenging, but it was in fact quite a bit harder than it looks.
First of all, it never occurred to me that you could move the pieces of the picture around before you glued them down.
Until Suzanne explained that’s what she does! I was as startled as I was the first time someone showed me windows being minimized and moved around on a computer, in 1996. With my bricolage shadowbox projects, I glue each thing down as I go.
This idea of fluid composition broke my brain!
Then, it didn’t go the way I planned. I had some ideas, and a color scheme, and the first collage I did was actually the complete opposite of them.
I saw this greyed out pastel flower paper and wound up choosing a palette of images and materials related to it, and then making this rococo chicken being ridden by a chicken princess.
I wanted to make a Baba Yaga! What the heck??
So I decided to just go with the process, even though for someone as afraid of artistic failure as me that was pretty scary. I’m learning things I never expected to about composition, pattern and color from my bricolage and mixed media work. I can see how those things could be put to work in making collage art, but I’m a long way from being able to do it.
photo by Suzanne Wegh from Galentines Collage night Feb 14 2018
I was really amazed at how the other women could make their collages look like something so easily. I mean, make them look like resolved images. The one below, which Suzanne made, is just beautiful. You can read about her experience of our collage adventure on her Patreon here.
Collage by Suzanne Wegh Feb 14 2018
The Medusa with butterflies at the top was actually the third I made, and the only one I felt sort of resolved into an actual picture. And that expresses my style, with its beetles and jewel colors! Why is Megan Markle’s head on fire? I have no idea! It just happened!
I don’t know if I’ll try collaging again right away; it was pretty disorienting for me. But I’m so glad and proud we created a safe space for me to try it.
Drawing of Suzanne Forbes by Kristen Haas Curtis and of Miz K by Suzanne Forbes Feb 1 2018
The drawers, drawn! AKA, women cartoonists unite and rule!
Last weekend my friends were performing in my neighborhood, just a couple blocks from my home. At a cool place I didn’t know about, an art gallery/music venue called Art Stalker!
We don’t get much punk rock here in the Far West, ya know, so it was a big deal!
It was my first chance to catch an official gig of Baron Anastis and the Erinyes. Friend and muse Rah Hell is the drummer, veteran Berlin rocker Joe Sparkle is on guitar and Baron Anastis, punk titan of West Berlin, is the frontman and songwriter.
(You can see my drawings from when I went to a rehearsal at their Sekrit Mystery Rehearsal Space here. )
To my delight, I also got to IRL meet Rah’s bestie, Switzerland-based American cartoonist Kristen Haas Curtis. Kristen is known as Miz K in the independent comics world, and she is a marvelous talent. I had been enjoying her warm and deft diary comics for a while, and was intrigued to see her at work in the wild.
Miz K and I settled down together to share a drawing table – she was doing Hourly Comics Day, which I didn’t even know was a thing!
It turns out it is, and damn, no way would I be able to do that. Would you look at this??
Hourly Comics by Kristen Haas Curtis AKA Miz K Feb 1 2018
It was so nice to have a drawing buddy at a gig and the show was great. They played some of their terrific glampunk originals and some covers including a deliciously corroded cover of “Pure Morning” and a rollicking “Commando”. Everyone had a good time!
Afterwards we took a taxi since Rah and Miz K were transporting drums, and they dropped me off at my door like a fancy person. And then I read Kristen’s lovely comic done in collab with her daughter Bee, Princess Wolf and her Life of Darkness, which is really wonderful and if you have kids or like comics, check it out right here, I HIGHLY recommend it!
Follow Kristen on Instagram, see her previous hourly comics here, and follow Baron and the Erinyes here!
Thanks a million, million to my beloved Patrons on Patreon, who make it possible for me to show up and document events like this!