Monthly Archives: May 2020

From the archives: Hands and Feet.

Hands acrylic on paper horizontal prob fall 1989 or early 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesDrawing and painting so many, for so long.

People have a hard time with hands when they start drawing, because hands are very complex. There are a lot of techniques and instruction on how to draw hands – here’s mine– but actually just doing it is the biggest part of learning.

Hands 2 acrylic on paper horizontal prob fall 1989 or early 1990 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThese paintings are from my first year at MCAD, winter 1990, I think.

Multicolor hands study by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes fall 1990From Fall 1991 at MCAD, I believe.

Sketchbook Winter 1990 Minneapolis hands 6 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesFrom early 1990, found in a sketchbook. 

Sketchbook Winter 1990 Minneapolis hands 4 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes1990, a class assignment – probably to draw hands using volume created by light and dark.

Sketchbook Winter 1990 Minneapolis hands 3 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes1990. Always gotta draw all kinds of hand positions, not just flat.

Sketchbook Winter 1990 Minneapolis hand by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes1990. A strong light source helps to understand the structures.

Seriously, I put everything I know about hand structures into this tutorial on how “Thumbs ruin everything.

Sketchbook Winter 1990 Minneapolis hands 1 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes1990. Gotta draw foreshortened poses, too. 

Fist studies prob 1985 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesComic class notes, probably around 1985.

I was searching for the image above for this post, knowing I had scanned and edited it, knowing it had “fist” in the filename, and let me tell you, well, most of the drawings with “fist” in the filename in my archives are quite different. My comic teachers often said the superhero fist resembles a Dixie cup from many angles. A reference which probably dates me! 

I tell you this: if you are struggling with drawing hands, read all the books, watch all the Youtube videos, but most of all, draw your hands. It’s free, and they’re there.

Foot study drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes circa 1985And feet. Gotta draw feet nearly as much as hands.

These are from the late 80s I think, and they’re definitely my chunky little feet. I’m sure more will turn up as I archive. While feet have less moving parts than hands, they are still complexly structured. Because they receive so much impact, they change shape dramatically as a person moves. So you need to understand the bones and the tissue volumes underneath.

footstudy by Suzanne Forbes 2016In 2016 I made some studies of the basic volumes and shapes that make up the feet for my drawing students.

None of these drawings had ever been photographed; until now, no record of them existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

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

Performers when they’re not performing!

Michele Frances Clark at Crack Bellmer by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2020

Here are two drawings from the last two live shows I went to before self-isolation.

I made this drawing of fellow New Yorker Michele Frances Clark and Sky of @skyandmichele, at the Velvet Creepers show at Crack Bellmer!

I don’t usually draw performers when they aren’t performing, but I looked across the dark club and saw Michele’s character and style and beauty shining like a lamp. I hope I have captured that feeling a little bit. I am sorry I didn’t get her partner, amazing hooper Sky, from the front, but her signature long hair is there!

The Pain Proof Priestess in the dressing room at Torture Garden by Suzanne Forbes Then just a week later I wound up drawing in the dressing room at Torture Garden Berlin.

I made this picture of fantastic, majestic performer Bertoulle Beaurebec, The Pain Proof Priestess, before she changed into her costume. The dressing room was VERY SMALL, and VERY CROWDED. It was simply packed with beautiful people climbing in and out of costumes, mostly latex and leather. I was squished on a little vinyl loveseat with a boy who was threading laces into the gauntlets Sylva Hattington of Bubbles and Frown made to go with the spectacular headpieces she created for the main show. Sylva was frantically busy working on getting people dressed and made up!

I don’t usually go into the dressing room or draw performers when they aren’t fully in costume and on-stage or at least in their public personas. This is because I really value the effort that they make to create their stage selves, and want to honor that as a completed vision. However, in this instance, Ms. Beaurebec was clearly in her priestess self. She was so serene and mighty in her giant boots and robe-like gown, I felt like I was drawing an aspect of the priestess.

Fifi Fantome and Lucille Spielfuchs at Torture Garden July 14 2020 by Suzanne ForbesAnd I was in the dressing room because I was exhausted and feeling overwhelmed some of the night and there weren’t really any chill spaces at the venue, the gorgeous newly-reopened Metropol. I also drew Fifi Fantôme and Lucille Spielfuchs in the dressing room, above! Fifi was changing from a cabaret goth-clown look to a fetish look and I captured her in transition. Fifi has a Patreon now btw, with all kinds of cool stuff!

Also, I want to share a story about what happened at that Velvet Creepers show at Crack Bellmer.

Crack Bellmer is a gorgeous, marvelous venue in the RAW site in Friechrichshain. It reminds me of beloved Oakland warehouse spaces like The Vulcan. There is a sort of deck to the left of the stage, with a huge black couch on it, and that is where I was set up, with my friend and colleague Daniel Paikov. While I was drawing Michelle, a young woman came up to us.

It was during intermission, and the music was loud. The young woman leaned over and said to me, yelling, “Do you have any speed?” Because I was seated on a raised platform and leaning forward to hear her, the spray of spittle from her mouth went right over my glasses and into my eyes.

I was jolted from the shock, and at the same time, Daniel and I both cracked up because she had asked the single person in the room least likely to have any speed. Do people even do speed anymore? We laughed hysterically at her, but at the same time, my mind was racing, trying to remember everything I knew about saliva transmission of Hep C. Apparently, this girl had been going up to every single person in the club and asking if they had speed. Yelling. Probably at a hundred people, mostly drunk.

I knew about SARS-CoV-2, but I was well aware it wasn’t in Berlin yet. It was Friday, February 21st, three days before Jen Spahns announced coronavirus community spread had begun in Germany.

March 1, the morning I came home from Torture Garden at 4am, the first patient in Berlin was announced. I knew that night it was the last event I’d be going to for a long time. Both Sadie, who was sitting with me at TG, and I got sick after the party, and were sick the first week of March. But just colds. Lucky and blessed. It’s unlikely I will go to a public event without a face shield again, which is an acceptable price to pay.

I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support lets me keep working safely at home.

Previous TG Berlin drawings here and here.