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.
It was a bit of a bear to make this, but I’m glad I powered through!
In general, I prefer having miniature things to making them. And I am very good at sourcing things. But I couldn’t find a big, school-style blackboard from any of my usual miniature sources. It needed to be scaled to Dr. Hank McCoy, who is a big figure! So I built it from scratch.
Luckily, I save every single piece of miniature wooden trim!
I cut a backing board from illustration board and then framed it with several different trims to get the ledge for the chalk and eraser.
I had to miter cut the trim with my miniature miter-cutter, which I hate doing. I packed and moved the miter-cutter to Berlin knowing I would need it, and I have. But damn, it drives me nuts.
I pleated a piece of felt and glued it to a strip of trim, then cut it down, to make the eraser. Pesky!
For the board surface I used self-adhesive chalkboard vinyl.
It may not be as archival as chalkboard paint would have been, but it was neater and faster. I used two layers, for opacity, and I still only needed a tiny bit; I can give the rest to my friend with little kids.
And white gel pen was perfect for the writing – it even smears.
I did some work on the facade of the house today too; the whole thing is coming along. It’s damn near completely done, in just about a year. And then, the front garden, with gates. And then the Danger Room, underneath, and the Morlock subway tunnels under that, just like the laboratories and subway under the other dollhouse. I gotta make a custom Callisto…
I am not much of a play-goer, but Robert Farrar is one of the cleverest lyricists I know, so I was confident his drawing-room comedy would entertain! The set for the play was ingeniously designed and the venue was as old-school Berlin as it gets, full of character – the house dog has his own chair.
Drawing the actors was wonderful. I loved the range of expressions and the luxurious amount of time I had to draw everyone, especially after Berlin Burlesque Week when I had an average of four minutes to capture each performer! Above, left to right, Achim Krämer, Robert Farrar and Tom Eggert.
I had a marvelous time!
Above, Robert Farrar and Zofia Huddon. Working on these I felt great freedom from my usual pressure of perfectionism. There is a giddy spirit in them usually absent from my work. My art is increasingly political (all artis political) as I have more spoons available to be furious and horrified about much of the world. So it was nice to take a break and draw some comedy.
Above, Achim Krämer in final costume, or nearly final.
There was so much quick change gender-blender dressplay towards the end, it was hard to keep track!
It’s the monthly financial support of my gorgeous Patrons that allows me to make documentary art of Queer Berlin and distribute it for free.
If you can help to crowdfund me, by joining my Patreon or just by buying me an alcohol-free beverage or passing a hat when you see me out at a club, I will love you even more!
SUCH a beautiful party for the official release of the gorgeous coffee table book of photographs by Jo Pollux and text by Sadie Lune.
It was held at cherished all-inclusive queer art gallery/bar/clubhouse Ludwig Berlin in Neukölln, and featured the artist and her muses! The book showcases Jo’s Film Noir aesthetic and Sadie’s dark prose. In attendance were models from the book, including Sadie,Bishop Black, Manon, Finn Peaks, and more.
There was a wonderful crowd of queer Berliners, plus visitors from all over.
There were performances, including this one by Finn Peaks.
Finn had pink eye makeup on making him look even more like Anne Carlisle in Liquid Sky!
And afterwards the crowd retired to the back room to witness à la carte acts of dominant play by Sadie, always a huge hit.
My live-drawing of queer Berlin’s art scene is courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available! You can help for as little as a dollar/euro a month.
I’m working on some more drawings from the back room, but since they are sensual and involve passionate interactive I am not creating them for my Patreon. You will be able to find them on my other website, the one with my name, soon 🙂
The minute I met Berlin burlesque producer and performer Cadbury Parfait, I wanted to paint her picture.
She is exceptionally beautiful, and she has fantastic personal style, grace and power. She performs and produces wonderfully naughty, sexy, political, intersectional burlesque shows. Plus, she’s funny!
So we scheduled a sitting, which is challenging because she’s one of the busiest people in the Berlin burlesque scene, and got started. I had a fine large canvas given to me by one of my Patrons, and it is thrilling to be working large again.
I really prefer to paint on the biggest canvas possible for a home studio, so the subject’s figure is one third to one half life-size. We settled on her 1930s style Voodoo Vixen gown in sapphire blue velvet for Cadbury’s outfit, and kept everything else simple and natural.
As sometimes happen, I lost the thread during the process – I made good headway to capturing her likeness and proportions, then screwed it up. This is an almost inevitable part of the portrait painting process; there’s generally at least one point where I almost have it and then lose it, either by accident or design.
So while much of the structure you see is a good foundation, the essential spirit and humor of Cadbury’s personality is currently AWOL. Working back in forth in that uncertainty of recovering the good bit, tolerating the fact that you’ve fucked it up, is part of the process. Keats called our ability to tolerate uncertainty the “negative capacity”.
Whistler used to wipe down the canvas to a shadow after every sitting, then start over.
His process was the process of seeing the sitter and painting the sitter, and he stopped when he did it enough times to hit the sweet spot, know it and call it. I often have to explain this to my sitters, who may be startled that what looked like a really promising portrait has turned weird, or awkward, or lost an arm. Cadbury, who has a striking way with words, got it instantly and phrased it this way: “It’s like the Rubik’s Cube – you have to destroy it in order to fix it! You almost have it except that one orange square – but you have to break the whole thing to get that part right.”
That’s exactly, exactly how it is. I’m used to it, so I trust the process.
and all profits from this show are going to an LGBTQ+ cause! And it’s at beloved East Berlin queer clubhouse Monster Ronsons, which has some shitty A/C, which is 200% better than 99% of Berlin venues! Some of my very fave local performers will be onstage, like Noelinela Bouche, as well as breathtakingly gorg out-of-towners like Betty Fvck and LilyLustre, both of whom I’ve drawn once and been simply CRAVING to draw again!
From the beginning it was clear that teen mutant Doug Ramsey and Warlock, a techno-organic being who was identified as “he” upon arrival on Earth, were in love.
Art from New Mutants #21 by Bill Sienkiewicz and Glynis Wein, one of the most charming scenes from a charmed run.
You don’t call just anybody your “selfsoulfriend”. Doug Ramsey, aka Cypher, was the local computer nerd – until he met an alien teen robot who lived on lifeglow and they were suddenly thisclose and loving it.
One of the most wonderful things about the X-Men and New Mutants for me as a queer kinky teen in the 80s was how casually gay and freaky everybody was.
Sure, it’s totally ok to be in a deep psychically linked relationship with your (assigned as) same-sex team-mate, even if they’re sort of a robot and from outer space! Or a werewolf!
It’s all good, and safe, inside the X-Mansion.
The safe harbor that those 80s stories represented for queer teens reverberates forward through time, to the young people who continue to discover them.
I myself was extraordinarily blessed to live with a mother whose radical acceptance of me and my freaky friends created an IRL safe harbor.
I was blessed enough, in the 80s, to have a mom who would take me and my girlfriend to brunch.
But most queer teens didn’t have that in the 80s, and so many still don’t have it today.
Especially for trans kids, Warlock’s total control of his physical form is an exhilarating notion. His gender was clearly only assigned as male because of the limited thinking of the era; to today’s non-binary kids it’s obvious ‘Lock is a they. In the age of tumblr (RIP) and AO3, Doug and Warlock as lovers are an arena of profoundlycreative and experimental sexual ideation.
I wanted to honor those young people who love these characters by the way Doug and ‘Lock are represented in my X-Men dollhouse. And also gently acknowledge what a funny, square little geek Doug was in the ’80s. He had a wholesome quality that really flared against the teleological darkness of characters like Illyana. And his hair was SO 80s!
Spidey in civvies action figure custom by Jacobs Toys
He’d used a Tom Holland Spider-Man head and a Lex Luthor body to create a Peter Parker in civilian clothes.
The recipe, as action figure customizers call it, was perfect for my version of Doug. (‘Lock, a Build-A-Figure released last year, was already perfect).
Doug should be in civvies, of course – his uselessness in the field was legend. I don’t know why they ever gave him a uniform!
And Tom Holland’s face has exactly, exactly the boyish handsomeness of Michael J. Fox and Matthew Broderick in the 80s. He sells the wide-eyed mischief and wonder of a teen with super-powers in the most incredible way. (I loved Homecoming! Gonna go see the next one next week!)
Well, actually I also filled in the peg-holes on the bottom of his shoes and gave them sneaker texture, also with Apoxie Sculpt, because he’d be sitting crosslegged and I am slightly a perfectionist 🙂 And I also covered hair and shirt with Matte Mod Podge and then sprayed them with Matte Acrylic Sealer, as I learned on this excellent customizing site, to protect the paint.
I hope this sweet pair of lovebirds pleases the folx who love Doug and Warlock, and love their queer, trans, geek-robot love.
The Newcomer competition at Shimmy Shakedown was a Battle for the Best in Burlesque!
Newcomers from all over Europe and Germany competed for the title of ‘Burlesque Entertainer of the Year’. Above, you can see Noeline La Bouche, who won “Most BadAss” I believe!Here’s Setty Mois – she was my first drawing of the night and I wish I could have captured her in more detail.
I love hearts as a theme because I love love 🙂 Cadbury Parfait, who won “Most Classic”!
This performance was intensely moving. Watching The Velvet Unicorn use “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” in the Burlesque context, with their “costume” consisting of the kind of black hoodie that is so often racially profiled, was disquieting. As it should be.
As they stripped down and twerked I thought of both the appropriation of black dance moves by white performers and how white culture hyper-sexualizes people of color to other and alienate them. I was reminded of Karen Finley throwing glitter on her chocolate-covered, abused body at the end of “We Keep Our Victims Ready“ because “After everything they do to us, we’re supposed to get dressed and go out to dinner”. I was not surprised to learn The Velvet Unicorn works withsocial justice and trauma in their burlesque art. They have a radio show as well!
Here is beautiful CocoLectric, as a lovely flower during the Full Moon Cabaret “Nature” show! So many incredible performers traveled from all over the world to perform at Berlin Burlesque Week, and I was thrilled to meet them and get a chance to draw them.
This is AgathaFrisky, a gorgeous lady in a gorgeous outfit, as a Corpse Flower!!!
Her costume was exquisite, and she has an amazing shake!
With smiles for miles and legs for leagues, she lit up the stage. Meeting her I was so touched by her warmth, and her Instagram is full of powerful, compassionate social justice messages. She recently performed at Hubba Hubba Revue in San Francisco, where I cut my burlesque live-drawing teeth from 2005 to 2014!
Below, producer and hostess with the most, Viva Lamore.
Because of recentchanges in US law, I cannot create any drawings that show nudity, “implied nudity”, or breasts with pasties for my Patreon, which is how I have crowdfunded my free documentary art the last few years. I’ve created a new site for my documentary art about human sexuality and gender expression. I can’t link to it because of Patreon rules. Please don’t blame Patreon; blame SESTA-FOSTA. Maybe you could find the new site by googling!
There’s a post on my new site with new drawings from this Full Moon Cabaret too. It shows the breathtaking power and beauty of the performers at this show in all their glory. Skyclad, or in pasties.
I’ll continue to post on here too, sponsored and supported by my beloved, cherished Patrons, as right now that’s the only source of revenue for my art and I’ll always be interested in doing “work-safe” art as well as art with nudity such as life drawing. I’m working on a funding model for the new site.
Of course, you can always paypal me artist support money at suzanneforbes @ protonmail.com!
I had to sneak this portrait of her as she chatted with a friendly gay boy from Oz, because she looked so luminous. we went for Thai food beforehand and she looked like a movie star, I was like oh la lala, just havin some iced tea with my friend the movie star.
This is done in pastels, gel pens and other mixed media on Strathmore Toned Gray paper.
I love this paper but it’s too big for my scanner so I have to photograph the drawings and with their complex, mixed pigment surfaces they are hard to photograph. I am gonna have get a bigger scanner sometime soon!
Lady with a Baby
My friend S. with her little one, just a few weeks old. She has the most amazing kids. Seriously, the most amazing, beautiful, strong, full-of-identity from birth kids. I saw this one in the hospital and he was already right there. And the older kid- her glamour, character and self-possession are already legend among the Berlin demi-monde! “I saw her having lunch with Peaches one day, when she was just five years old”, someone whispered at a party. We are planning a portrait of mama and older child later this year.
This work, of making a record of the people I know, and telling the story of a moment in their lives – I cannot think of anything I am better suited to do, or any task more honorable.
I am so deeply grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose financial support makes it possible.
I started drawing this tender couple because I liked the shape of the left-hand partner’s coat and legs.
As I drew them, they sorted out movie plans and then things got very, very cute!
This guy was on the train I got on right after.
He was very tall guy with a very large instrument case, and he looked tired as hell. Whatever gig he was coming from must have been intense. I couldn’t figure out what the instrument was – it was like a guitar case, but oversized. Yet not big enough for a standup bass.
And this young woman in a sweatshirt dress was on the phone, on the bus.
Her phone call making her happy.
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!
It 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 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 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.
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!