Tag Archives: art in berlin

Portrait of the artist’s mother in West Berlin.

Portrait of Pat Ketchum by Suzanne Forbes work in Process Oct 11 2019Got a chance to paint my precious mama on this visit, which was her longest so far.

I did a drawing on each of her previous visits – here and here– and this time I wanted to try a painting even though I have very little strength these days.

Painting takes a lot out of me physically, and with the endless upper respiratory infections I’ve had on top of my Hashimotos this year, I am always at zero physically.

I was willing to go into spoon-debt and suck up the recovery time for this though!

We did the sitting on the last night of her visit, so I could collapse after taking her to the airport the next day.

Here she is sitting in our salon, reading her Kindle.

Books are such a huge part of my mom and me’s life together, from the beginning. We shared books when I was a teen – Ed McBain, Dean Koontz, Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, and most of all Dick Francis. In the 80s, we read every single thing every one of those writers had written.

And every Christmas there were stacks of paperbacks under the tree for me, all the Anne McCaffery and Isaac Asimov and Larry Niven and Heinlein. (Problematic as hell, but geek teens took what they could get!)

My mom still reads voraciously and lightning-fast, though I no longer do – I am too tired most of the time.

She discovers new writers, or new to her old writers, and burns through their work. The Kindle is great for her, as it is for another power-reader loved one, my Friend-Muse-Patron Barbara North.

My mom wore this pink striped sweater earlier in the week, and I asked her to wear it again for the sitting, I thought it would be nice against the pink model chair and the purple of her Kindle.

I need to do some finishing work on her sweater and paint in her hands properly, but I’m well satisfied with the likeness and how much I got done in the two-hour sitting. I took some photos of her jewelry and sweater for reference – as you all know, I never take reference photos for faces.

Even if I didn’t have a principle against it, I got enough of that on Star Trek!
Portrait of Pat Ketchum by Suzanne Forbes work in Process Oct 11 2019 detail
I did some work on the backgrounds of two other paintings in progress the next day, even though I was dazed with tiredness – the portraits of Shakrah and Cadbury are now much closer to done. Having a palette with fresh paint on it was too much to resist!

I’m so grateful to my Patrons (including my mama and mom-in-law!) for supporting my work and making paintings like this possible.

Carnivorous Plant Month teaser! With air-dry clay tips.

Carnivorous alien plants by Suzanne Forbes Oct 28 2019

Little Workshop of Horrors!

Carnivorous alien plants made of air dry clay WIP by Suzanne Forbes Oct 28 2019I‘m having a rest day so I‘m doing art that feels like play and gives me energy. I made a bunch of leaves using my fondant decoration orchid veiner and air drying DAS modelling clay, then painted them and glossed them with gel medium.

You can see me handling the teeny teeth with a wax rhinestone pick-up pencil in the video below. This is a craft/costumier tip I learned about from incredible head-dress maker @bubblesandfrown and damn it changed my decor game!!!

I‘m using a glue gun to apply this batch of teeth, stick in the tongues and clamshell the leaves together.

The gluegun glue is great because its fast setup lets me position the tongues and angle the openness of the mouths on the fly.

Carnivorous alien plants in process by Suzanne Forbes Oct 28 2019Fast-worker tip I learned: you can speed-dry air-dry clays and paperclays in the oven!

That is a GAME CHANGER if you are a fucking impatient person like me. However, that is not what I did here. Once I learned heat would speed up the drying without releasing any fumes, I just put ’em on the radiator. There are two modern radiators in our kitchen/my workroom, and they can be adjusted, so I put the leaves on there! Apparently these clays scorch easily so care is required when putting them in the oven, while the radiator top is visible from my worktable.

Air-drying clay is super-absorbent, so it sucks the paint right in.

I was able to coat and recoat these in a very short time. Then I coated everything with gel medium, for a creepy gloss. (I talk about sculpting materials and glossing substances here!) I’m not totally confident in the gel medium’s tack-free curing, so I may spray them all over with spray acrylic varnish later. But first the thick medium is getting another day to cure.

This is only the first iteration for what is gonna be Carnivorous Plant November around here!!!

Drawing Shine Louise Houston in Berlin!

Shine Louise Houston teaching film at Altes Finanzamt Oct 26 2019 by Suzanne ForbesA great regret from the Bay Area era of my documentary work was that I never got to draw film-maker Shine Louise Houston.

She is the powerhouse creative force behind revolutionary queer studios CrashPad Series and PinkLabelTV, and an amazing QPOC artist.

Shine Louise Houston teaching camera technique at Altes Finanzamt Oct 26 2019 by Suzanne ForbesYesterday I got to meet and draw Shine, and what a thrill!

Shine Louise Houston‘s camera work and film workshops are incredibly popular and sell out like lightning, but I was able to get in as a documentary artist and record her teaching the class.

Shine Louise Houston and students at Altes Finanzamt Oct 26 2019 by Suzanne ForbesShine started out with some gems about filming adult media that I never would have thought of!

I was absolutely fascinated to hear her talk about the secrets of a happy set and how to troubleshoot when things go sideways. Shine on IMDB here! You would not believe how much creative work she has done as a producer and director of sexy erotic cinema.

“There is power in creating images, and for a woman of color and a queer to take that power… I don’t find it exploitative; I think it’s necessary.” – Shine Louise Houston

Shine Louise Houston and Jiz Lee at Altes Finanzamt Oct 26 2019 by Suzanne ForbesHere’s Shine with Jiz Lee, demonstrating the concept of the 180-degree Line.

Although all I know about film-making is what I’ve seen on queer porn sets, I know this concept from my career as a comic-book penciller! I drew Jiz Lee often in the Oughts in the Bay, because we both donated lots of time to benefits for local sex-positive institutions like The Center for Sex and Culture. I keep up with them daily on twitter and Instagram, because Jiz is always on top of news and opportunities for sex-positive activism and education.

Jiz Lee at Altes Finanzamt Oct 26 2019 by Suzanne ForbesSeriously, if you want to be learning and growing about how to support trans and nonbinary folx and QPOC erotic cinema, Jiz Lee is your first stop.

They were the first out nonbinary person I knew IRL, and their clear voice is always educating me on how to be of use and of help. Step one: PAY FOR YOUR PORN!!!

Suzanne Forbes photographed by Jiz Lee at Shine Camera Work class Oct 26 2019

Jiz Lee took this cool over-the-shoulder shot of me drawing!

Shine Louise Houston teaching camera work at Altes Finanzamt Oct 26 2019 by Suzanne ForbesIt was a total treat that one of the demo models for Shine’s class was Bishop Black!

Always a pleasure to see that gentleman creative, who is one of the hardest working artists in Berlin’s incredibly rich queer life.

Shine Louise Houston teaching at Altes Finanzamt Oct 26 2019 by Suzanne ForbesPeople I know have been shooting with Shine Louise Houston forever!

Sadly my health got worse and worse in my last years in the Bay, and I never managed to be somewhere Shine was working. It was an honor to at last document her historic and powerful artistic presence. I loved hearing her talk about intuitive and spiritual approaches to cinema; even if you’re not a film-maker the class is so interesting and I highly recommend it!

These drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

That means they’re 100% FREE for all to share and enjoy! In addition, I release the copyright on each drawing to the performer shown and they may use the drawings for their own profit and pleeeasssure in any way they choose.

As a fat, queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free. 

You can join my Patreon Patrons, for as little as a dollar/euro a month, to keep me making my documentary art of Queer Berlin as Free Art.

Barbara at The Ballery.

Barbara at The Ballery by Suzanne Forbes Oct 10 2019I was recently in a group show at Schöneberg gallery The Ballery.

The works shown included a beautiful series of portraits by photographer Eva Brunner. Barbara, above, was the model. During the finissage evening of the exhibit, Barbara performed some deft comic numbers.

This is an example of a drawing where I could take my time with the background and really work out the details. As all my dear ones know, I love to draw people playing music and have had far less chances to do so this year, since I’ve been ill so much. 
Barbara at The Ballery by Suzanne Forbes Oct 10 2019 detail

I added the color when I got home, based on memory and little scribbly notes on the drawings.

I swear to you that the colors appeared exactly as they do here: the glowing red light in the Ballery’s cloakroom, the oversize bottle of Campari, Barbara’s signature red/orange look, the red accent on her mike, and the red nailpolish in the portrait behind her. Other than that it was all grays and whites and blacks.

A marvelous scene I was lucky to capture, including Barbara’s gorgeous gams!! Thanks to my Patrons on Patreon, who make my documentary art possible <3

Berlin X Brooklyn Drag Exhilaration!

Horrorchata at Bushwig Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Oct 10 2019This is Horrorchata.

She is the Motha of the House of Bushwig, a LatinX punk and International Queen who came to Berlin to light things up this summer. I got a good likeness of her, but I could not find photo reference of her outfit, so the look I have drawn her in is a composite of several of her incredible pastel explosions of creativity. I hope the Queen will find that ok!

Nām at Bushwig Berlin by Suzanne Forbes July 30 2019This extremely cute boy Nām was one of two backup dancers for queen Ocean.

As a guest of international NY/Berlin drag festival Bushwig this summer, I drew more performers in a single day than I have EVER drawn before, but I couldn’t draw everybody. I felt bad I couldn’t capture the beauty of the queen herself, but sometimes even the best stage-side seat doesn’t give me a decent view of a performer, and that was the case here.

ReveRso at Bushwig Berlin by Suzanne Forbes July 30 2019ReveRso is a Berlin drag legend, bringing a very different style.

There was a whole other part of ReverRso’s performance, involving actual fireworks in personal areas, that I could not draw for this Patreon-sponsored site. Perhaps you will find it elsewhere 😉Dancer at Bushwig Berlin by Suzanne Forbes July 31 2019

I didn’t get this performer’s name but they danced tremendously in those sky-high boots!

Performer at Bushwig Berlin by Suzanne Forbes July 31 2019This guy is incredibly tall and an amazing dancer, he was BEATING the stage into submission in the brutal heat, just moving and slamming. Drop splits!!

Cupcake at Bushwig Berlin by Suzanne Forbes July 30 2019Cupcake in pink!

Cupcake is a performing artist, theatre-trained actor and a member of the Queer Arab Barty collective. I enjoyed their performance immensely!

I am still working on finishing all the Bushwig Berlin drawings and spraying them with fixativ and scanning them! I actually still have another five performers. The first Bushwig Berlin post is here and the second is here.

As usual these drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) for all to share and enjoy!

In addition, I release the copyright on each drawing to the performer shown and they may use the drawings for their own profit and pleeeasssure in any way they choose.

As a fat, queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free. 

You can join my Patreon Patrons, for as little as a dollar/euro a month, to keep me working and releasing my documentary art of Queer Berlin as Free Art.

The Sea Salts of Berlin!

Sirens singing sweet songs at Ballhaus Berlin!

I adore the delicate and sophisticated (and sometimes naughty) sound of Lorelei la Voix and Syren Joey, and it’s a thrill to see them perform in full sea-worthy costume. This session of Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin featured the Sea Salts duo performing quite a few lovely numbers. Above, Lorelei in her “blangmange” costume, a marvelous pink hoopskirt froth with a mermaid tail.

Syren Joey of Sea Salts Berlin with rapier by Suzanne Forbes Sept 29 2019Plus, lady with a rapier! Always love a woman with a sword.

Syren Joey is a great performer and I always love to draw her. However, I was struggling quite a lot with these drawings, as I am pushing iterations of my mixed media technique and experiencing the danger of over-confidence. “Don’t get cocky, kid!”Syren Joey of Sea Salts Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Sept 29 2019

Using chalk markers, pastels and india ink pens, I’m developing an additive/subtractive approach to drawing that lets me work in a more painterly way.

I’m constantly changing and correcting as I draw. It’s actually a derivative of the correction-tape method I developed when doing pen-and-ink work on Guidolon. If I made a mistake, I ran the correction tape over it and was redrawing on top in seconds. It worked great for drawings that were being scanned and transmitted digitally, because no-one ever saw the tape. Not so good for art people are gonna buy the originals of! (and they do; if you want to buy one of my existing drawings from an event, go here, towards the bottom.)

The chalk markers, with their tremendous opacity and extremely fast dry-down, give me similar powers to correction tape. And at the previous Dr. Sketchy’s, with just two models in neutral colors, I was flying! But Sunday I jumped in with the same fearless vigor, and a lot went wrong. Damage to the surface of the paper from too much water in the brown chalk marker, problems with my line as I moved too quickly even for myself, and weird scumbling effects from the pastels I was using.

I just kept rolling, working and reworking the same drawings, trying to figure it out, because I am invested in the process.

It did mean, however, that I didn’t make nearly as many drawings as usual. There are these three of the Sea Salts, and a couple portraits of Bishop Black, and one of beautiful Gizam Akman, and that’s it!

You can see the drawings of Bishop and Gizam here.

All the thanks to producers Syren Joey and Miss LaLa Vox aka @lalavox, UFO Hawaii, @pixie.scarlett and Matthias for all their hard work, and @marenmichaelis  who takes the amazing photographs, and to @lepustra and the hardworking team at the gorgeous vintage venue @ballhausberlin!!

And so much love to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support allows me to make this art and make it available as free art!

 

Bushwig Berlin 2019 – more incredible performers!

Amber Alert at Bushwig Berlin Sept 17 2019 by Suzanne ForbesI was honored to be a guest of international NY/Berlin drag festival Bushwig this summer.

The lineup was astonishing, and I stayed in my stageside seat by the piano, supported by kind stranger Arthur, for a good six or seven hours. There was no way I was leaving before drawing Hungry and Betty Fvck!

Check out Amber Alert, above! What a stunner! Amber talks about the early days of Brooklyn’s innovative drag scene and her drag journey here on Huffpost.

Rhama at Bushwig Berlin Sept 17 2019 by Suzanne ForbesRhama is so lovely!

An elegant nonbinary singer and dancer, you can see them on youtube here. Their latex dress is by a designer named Florian Máthé.

Wanda Cookie at Bushwig Berlin Sept 17 2019 by Suzanne ForbesHere’s Wanda Cookie, having a spectacular tantrum!

I really appreciate all the performers who traveled to be here in Berlin.

And I don’t know this performer’s name or links but I’m working on it 🙂

Thanks to the chill-as-heck venue Festsaal Kreuzberg. And to Bushwig for having me! And to DJ Hannah Lou, an incredible professional who managed the music for a huge lineup impeccably.

As usual these drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) for all to share and enjoy!

In addition, I release the copyright on each drawing to the performer shown and they may use the drawings for their own profit and pleeeasssure in any way they choose.

As a fat, queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free. 

You can join my Patreon Patrons, for as little as a dollar/euro a month, to keep me working and releasing my documentary art of Queer Berlin as Free Art.

Scenes around town: In the Warteraum.

Lady in the waiting room Sept 4 2019 by Suzanne ForbesThere’s nothing as convenient for us ladies of a certain age as a rack of pamphlets to fan ourselves with!

Perimenopause is a journey of arriving in rooms that are much hotter than you could possibly anticipate, like my GP’s office last Wednesday.

Warteraum paperwork filler outer Sept 7 2019 Suzanne ForbesDoctor’s offices mean paperwork everywhere, particularly in Germany!

In our orthopedist’s Thursday I had to sign a stack of papers for my upcoming knee surgery. Including a prescription for crutches – the co-pay is 5 euros, and some Germans find this outrageous!!!! Our orthopedist is a hilariously brusque guy. When I told him I didn’t want a prescription for opiate painkillers, he was like, “HA HA we don’t give you those! Live with it! Use ice!!” Which is fine. My pain level after my previous surgery here was negligible.

Warteraum reader Sept 7 2019 Suzanne ForbesThis guy!

What a character, right? Always bring a book!

In the 80s my boyfriend Paul and I had this thing, not a joke thing, about always carrying a paperback. In case you were arrested copping and stuck in the Tombs for a 72-hour hold. When I did get popped during a sweep in January of 1989, just two weeks before I got sober, I was so glad to have that paperback in my pocket. I read it three times over as I detoxed cold turkey in the jammed cell. It was either Larry Niven or Norman Spinrad, and it was not very good. For decades I remembered the exact title, even though I never read it again, but I have now finally forgotten it.

My documentary drawings of everyday Berlin life are courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available

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Pride, Not Prejudice: an all-queer Extravagant Shambles – Wrap-Up!!

Noeline la Bouche at Pride Not Prejudice Sept 7 2019 by Suzanne ForbesThe last batch of drawings from Pride, Not Prejudice at  Monster Ronsons!

Fabulous muse Noéline la Bouche shook it in purple, amazing as always. Afterwards I visited her at her booth where she sells her beautiful fascinators and headpieces – check her insta to see what shows she’s selling at.

Felicity Felicis at Pride Not Prejudice Sept 7 2019 by Suzanne ForbesRock’em sock’em showgirl Felicity Felicis!

She is so gorgeous and sassy!

Skirt Vonnegut at Pride Not Prejudice Sept 7 2019 by Suzanne ForbesA thoroughly Longbottom routine from Skirt Vonnegut!

They told me about this routine in advance but I am a movie-potter not book Potter person so I may have missed some subtleties!

Lily Lustre at Pride Not Prejudice Sept 7 2019 by Suzanne ForbesAnd the rose of English Roses, Lily Lustre!

I was so thrilled to draw her again that I didn’t even mind getting earwormed with Wuthering Heights at Monster Ronsons for the second time.

Thanks to producer Cadbury Parfait for having me as your guest at this Pride Week show with an all queer-identifying lineup!

See more Extravagant Shambles events!

An important note to all my lovelies: I’ve been at home finishing all these drawings from way earlier this summer while I have a horrible case of strep throat AND bronchitis.

As a fat, queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work. 

You can join my Patreon Patrons, for as little as a dollar/euro a month, to keep me working and releasing my documentary art of Queer Berlin as Free Art.

Bushwig Berlin, Baby!!

Hungry at Bushwig Berlin Sept 4 2019 by Suzanne ForbesWhat a glorious thrill ride of drag magic!

I was so excited to be a guest of international NY/Berlin drag festival Bushwig this summer. I knew superstar drag performer and makeup artist Hungry would be performing; I’ve been dreaming of drawing her for years. And I knew I’d get to see and draw a whole armada of international drag talents for the first time.

That is Hungry at the top; the crowd went WILD.

I got to speak to her briefly and show her my drawing after, and I have to admit I was a gibbering fangirl.

Hungry at Bushwig Berlin Sept 4 2019 by Suzanne Forbes face detailYou just can’t imagine how beautiful, how ethereal, how meta-human and naiad-like and perfumed with colors she is.

Her makeup is painterly perfection, her skin glows, her brocade corset by Misty Couture has an extraordinary pipestem waist, her smooth bone-tattooed chest is flecked with gold leaf and petals. Her nail gloves were made by Vie of Unicorns Poop Glitter and they waved like undersea fronds in the air!

Hungry is simply a living orchid, a baroque marvel, and the kind of talent you meet only a few times in a lifetime. And she was so sweet and kind!

Read about the development of her style and her collaboration with Björk here.

Betty Fvck at Bushwig Berlin Aug 29 2019 by Suzanne ForbesI got to draw Europe’s Cheekbone Queen, the beautiful Betty Fvck, twice in one week!

Always a thrill to see this beauty work it. Drawing her at both Bushwig and Extravagant Shambles “Pride, Not Prejudice” was a total drawing Lotto win! Betty is so elegant!!

I was seated right up against the stage, and had such a great view of everyone. The venue, Festsaal Kreuzberg, is really lovely, a kind of industrial/tiki forbidden island on the river.

Dirt the drag goblin at Bushwig Berlin Sept 4 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

The variety and diversity of talent was marvelous.

This angel bby drag goblin is Dirt from the Ground. You can see them perform here!

I was very charmed by Frida Pussy, who was assigned acts of contrition for unsafe acts: “Repeat, ‘I’m on PREP it’s fine’ fifteen times”.

Nun to devil transformation is a classic for a reason, baby!

Frida Pussy at Bushwig Berlin Sept 4 2019 by Suzanne Forbes devil style

I loved Donna Trump, a sass queen from Manchester’s thriving drag scene.

She has a new weekly cabaret happening! You can get her goodies on DragQueenMerch here.Donna Trump at Bushwig Berlin Sept 6 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

Sookie Sterling at Bushwig Berlin Sept 6 2019 by Suzanne ForbesAnd check out Sookie Sterling of the Sterling Sisters, a full-on legend.

You can see her on her Insta here.Tyler Ashley at Bushwig Berlin Sept 6 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

Tyler Ashley, a trained dancer, hit the stage like a comet.

She is like a divine blend of Liquid Sky and Xanadu and is known as the dauphine of Bushwig! DJ Hannah Lou at Bushwig Berlin Sept 6 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

DJ Hannah Lou is an incredible professional who managed the music for a huge lineup impeccably.

She was in an amazing silver space angel look.

As usual these drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) for all to share and enjoy!

In addition, I release the copyright on each drawing to the performer shown and they may use the drawings for their own profit and pleeeasssure in any way they choose.

As a fat, queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free. 

You can join my Patreon Patrons, for as little as a dollar/euro a month, to keep me working and releasing my documentary art of Queer Berlin as Free Art.

I was pretty damn wobbly near the end of this show, as I have been sick on and off all summer and it was very, very hot in the venue.

I was lucky enough to have a kind stranger be my support team – basically as my health has deteriorated this past couple years the type of embedded, in-the-splash-zone, eight-hours-nonstop drawing I do has become much harder.

A stranger (or friend!) showing appreciation for the value of my work, offering to get me a non-alcoholic drink, helping to buffer my drawing hand against surging crowds, fanning me with a flyer, holding my seat while I hit the loo, giving me a Euro or two to help my crowd-funding – all matter so much. Thank you, Arthur!