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.
Just some drawings of friends on an evening in West Berlin.
I actually started another drawing on this particular evening but got derailed by talking to folks and being social, which happens at friends’ houses more than out at events.
Drawing live is the perfect substitute for alcohol for an introvert like me.
Usually I start drawing at a party to have something to do while other people are drinking, or to make a personal record of a great moment with dear folks. At the home of a friend where I feel safe and comfortable, I don’t *need* to do it, so sometimes the drawing trails off as I get drawn into conversation! Glad I managed to finish these two anyway 🙂
My friend Giulia invited me to come draw her training at BJJ class. She is an artist and art teacher who also loves combat sports! Would you believe the gym is called Spitfire and they offer a discount to women who train there!!! Cause they want more women at the gym!!!!
Giulia wears a gi from Fenom, who make BJJ wear only for women.
I learned so much today! I don’t think I’d ever drawn any martial art before. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is very grapple-y, and moves from slow to incredibly fast without warning.
The instructor made me welcome; one of the most charming parts of the experience was his twin girls, toddlers, roaming around the mat during the class.
If there are kids hanging around me I usually let them help with the drawing, and you can see several of these drawings are collaborations.
I kept it loose and didn’t try too hard to get details.
I wanted to focus on getting the movements as little wrong as possible! Just like drawing the tango, it’s inevitable that I will get movements and gestures matched up wrong.
I was right in the middle of the scene; it was just like being at a sex party or dungeon.
Just like at a sex party, I positioned myself out of the way but sometimes the action moved over to me and sweaty people bumped into me. At least nobody used me to brace themselves at Spitfire! And just like at a dungeon or play party, there were very clear boundaries, consent was asked and given, and I had to stay alert for flying bodily fluids.
I didn’t realize how much force and power was in the movements until someone’s arm slammed into me.
Right after I drew this one of the grapplers got a bloody nose and had to walk off the mat cupping a handful of blood. Just like at a dungeon, action immediately came to a halt while the blood on the mat was cleaned up and the area disinfected. Safe combat!!
It was a great adventure, and I’m so grateful to Giulia for inviting me (here’s her Patreon!), Spitfire Gym for the hospitality, and my Patreon Patrons who make my documentary art possible.
Moving to Berlin was the best decision we ever made. I am so happy and so grateful every day for the fantastic life we have here. The amazing creative community. The security and sanity of our healthcare. The great company my hub works for. Our beautiful home. My profoundly meaningful and fulfilling work.
Thank you so very much for making this sweet life possible. I love you!
Watch til the end for the middle-aged lady getting showered with flowers!
Glücklich in Berlin by Anna Depenbusch
Hello, how nice to see you here, it seems to go well
I think you are happy in Berlin
Your big dream, for many years seems to be finally true
Part of me wishes you good luck
And a part of me wishes back here you
Yeah, it’s nice if you tell me who you meet so and what do you play
in this city you know you made
I mean who longs as home?
A part of me is very happy for you
And a part thinks: Berlin would not be good for me
Too big, too small, too close, too far
One thing goes, the other stays
That I envy you would somehow lied
But it is Great, you pulled the big ticket
You say you’re in the middle of it now, because everything else makes no sense
Because here the big world starts and that’s how real life sounds
Part of me wonders what the whole search is for
And part hopes you’re satisfied
Too big, too small, too close, too far
One goes, the other stays
A part of me wishes you happiness with all my heart
And a part of me wishes you back here
Too big, too small, too close, too far
One goes, the other stays
A part of me wishes you good luck
Part of me wishes you back
To envy you would be kind of sad
But it’s great, you have the big one jackpot
Hello, how nice to see you here, it seems you good to go
I think you are happy in Berlin
This week I was invited to the delightful art salon of curators Denis Leo Hegic and Michelle Houston, in the historic queer art neighborhood of Schöneberg.
This is Moscow graffiti artist and fine artist Katya Q in front of her latest work. There is a deliberately ephemeral work at the heart of these salons, a huge antique chalkboard that is turned into an artwork and then erased a month later.
There was also a performance by H. Geil and R.L. Fardoe.
H. Geil sang the wonderful Marlene Dietrich song Wenn die beste Freundin, a lesbian anthem of the ’30s. He was accompanied on ukulele by Robert Lee Fardoe. It is a song about two married ladies going shopping and sharing secrets, revealing the intimacy of their relationship, and a very snappy number!
Here you see hostess Michelle Houston chatting with guests.
What a lovely evening, talking art, writing and cooking with creative people!
I’ve had the plan for it for at least a decade, and the specific structure set up for a good six years. And I’ve had some of the props for it for TWENTY FREAKING YEARS.
Well, I like to say that the older I get, the longer my game gets.
Sometimes in art it takes as long as it takes, and that’s fine.
I figured out how to build the wheeled base for my action figure dollhouse back in Oakland, using IKEA Kallax bookshelves.
I assembled them, and hired a taskrabbit to help me with the construction of a platform to attach them to so they could support the dollhouse.
But it seemed crazy to ship IKEA furniture to Berlin, so I took the base apart when the dollhouse was professionally crated, and we sold the Kallax shelves on Craigslist.
“Doc, it hurts when I go like this!” “So don’t go like that.”
That meant I had to get new ones here, assemble them, and then build a new base. (I did keep the high quality wheels with brakes I bought!)
For a person who is as deeply lazy as me, I have created a life that often involves a fucking lot of work.
For the past two years I’ve been working on getting all the other projects I brought with us done, and finishing the full-size house (still at 95%). Most importantly, I’m making new art, working on building our community and growing my Patreon.
Finally, the dust is clearing enough to tackle the laboratories.
I have so much cool stuff to put in them! There’s just a bunch of diorama-building, model-building, scratch-building and electrifying work to get them ready to hold my two decades of collected weird body-horror, super-power, Island of Dr. Moreau mad scientist STUFF.
I’m not really crazy about the actual construction part of model and dollhouse-building, but I value the workout it gives my brain. Since everything is scratch-built or Frankensteined from components of other things, each part requires a new solution. I have to learn about new materials, source them as cheaply as possible, figure out what I have that can be salvaged, scrapped or rebuilt. And everything has to be customized to work together.
This is an example of how existing stuff can be enhanced: these amazing display screens are accessories for figures from a Dr. Who spin-off show.
However, all Dr. Who toys are 5″ tall or approximately 1/18 scale, rather than the normal dollhouse scale of 1/12 (one inch to one foot).
So I built up the bases to make them the right height for 6″ action figures. I just need to paint them to match.
Same with the little water cooler; I built it a styrene platform. I hadn’t used styrene in a long time, and I’d forgotten how amazing it is.
You score it and it breaks perfectly cleanly; you can glue it or paint it so easily. I used balsa wood for the kitbash of the dollhouse itself, and only got into styrene during the sleigh build. Going forward I plan to use styrene a lot more.
I built the bases and the upper platforms, which make it easier to see the things at the back of the deep cubbies, out of foamcore.
Foamcore is a material I’m not experienced with, but in this case it’s a good solution. The dollhouse-scale molded tile floors (I got the beige and black one for the Tube Room at least eighteen years ago, and have been saving it!) are attached with double-sided carpet tape. Almost any glue will heat up enough during curing to warp the thin, vacuum-formed plastic.
The side walls are illustration board covered with white vinyl contact paper, which gives a nice satin sheen. It’s cheaper and faster than dollhouse wallpaper, and perfect for this kind of industrial/medical look. The ceilings will be foamcore with leds embedded in them for lighting. When I built the dollhouse I learned to solder and used tapewire, but miniature lighting has improved tremendously in the last twenty years.
LEDS, which don’t heat up, last practically forever, come in the tiniest sizes and all kinds of colors, can be embedded directly in surfaces.
Because anything you mail from the US takes forever and/or gets lost. Seriously, don’t ever mail us anything bigger than a postcard.
I’ve been waiting for some Tacky Wax (museum wax) I ordered from Amazon, thinking it shipped from the EU, for three weeks.
I used aluminum tape to get some clean metal stripping here and there.
It’s tricky to use and tends to mark up and wrinkle over large areas, so I’m sparing with it. Same with the clear styrene panels that divide the upper and lower areas: it scratches easily so I use it mostly as an accent. I have rhinestuds that will become rivets, fine yellow wire for extension cords, and so much weird stuff to put in the cabinets, once I get my dang Tacky Wax.
I took the bus in the snow to get there, which sounds onerous but was actually delightful.
I was bundled up and cozy, the bus comes every five minutes and is right on the corner, and the snow flickering down in the night was like glitter. And Barbiche is in the West! It’s a gorgeous space with lots of cool art on display. In Schöneberg, where the art scene is getting stronger and stronger. As per Lena: “In the west of Berlin,” she says, “something is happening again.”
Alfred’s consort Chris was petting their dog Georgie Boy here. One of my Patreon Patrons also makes an appearance in this drawing, as does the hostess herself, Ms. Lena Braun!
It’s totally normal to bring your dog to your gig in Berlin.
And Georgie is a good boy! You can see I’m drinking Fritz-Kola, the ubiquitous independent soda of Berlin, in my fave flavor, rhubarb. Pink vegetable soda, sweet doggos, original art, woman-owned art business, friends rocking out. It’s a damn good life.
I finally got out to visit the Berlin graffiti/street art community!
I’ve been wanting to start documenting this huge and crucial part of Berlin’s art scene since we got here. But it just hadn’t worked out until now.
This week I heard about an art installation, an Urban Art Temple, called Wandelism.
And it was only three subway stops away! So I contacted the organizer and was invite to come by and make drawings of the artists at work. Work was wrapping up but I met some lovely folks and got to sketch some of the action. Everyone was super friendly and chill. I met Marina Zumi, one of the artists, who had the coolest Jessica Jones vibe going on, and Denis Leo Hegic, who was documenting the event with a camera guy.
I was very happy to begin connecting with this community, which is both so familiar and so different.
There is a great range of works in the Wandelism Temple. There are murals, pieces, large scale flaming sculptures made with played cans, scale models of trains (I want one for my action figure dollhouse so badly!) and entire rooms painted up by individual artists. You can reserve a time for a guided tour here, or come to the vernissage on Saturday March 17 at 3pm. You can see tantalizing pics on Instagram here!
In my day the idea of graffiti artists wearing masks just hadn’t occurred to anybody, and if it had, none of us would have had money for them. Although of course they could have been racked from Pearl Paint like cans, I guess!
We just called what you spit up after a long night “technicolor phlegm.”
Much better to protect your lungs and health, so you can have a long working life. My people died young, mostly, and there is grief in revisiting the graffiti world for me, but also hope and joy. Like the sight of this young woman artist, Alice Gruen, drawing in her book. I’m looking forward to the opening on Saturday!!
As always, I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to document Berlin life and art!
Grandpa and granddaughter stop by the bakery to see if there’s anything good left.
I saw these two do a Breakfast Club style slide up to the windows of the bakery downstairs from us, look in the window and take off again. I knew exactly what was going on – our bakery is both French and German, so they’re not here for you. They make what they make, they run out when they run out, and they close when they feel like it. You may or may not get what you want on any given day. I’ve done the same thing myself many times: casing the window display and seeing only a lonely croissant.
Our waitress, relaxed and cool on a Tuesday night.
She was pleased to be drawn.
My hubbin, during dinner with a friend in Mitte.
The friend moved here from the Bay Area, and was very grateful to us for being so encouraging about a move to Berlin, as it is working out really well for him!