I have been meaning to go to one of Alexandra’s drawing sessions for YEARS!
Alexandra is a terrific artist who organizes drawing meetups, sessions and classes all over town – museum days, bar nights, life drawing and more. Just by accident last night I saw a post from Chiqui Love of the BSC, who said she was about to model for one, burlesque themed! I dropped everything, packed up my new gear and skibbled across town!
For years I have been loving the watercolor washes other artists use for life drawing.
Alexandra does a particularly nice job. So I decided to take a step towards that approach, and ordered a bunch of watercolor brush pens, and some Strathmore Toned Gray paper for wet media. I figured it might be a disaster, but what the hell!
This session was put on by Alexandra and Liana Gilman, who share a studio space called Sketcherei, where they also host drawing.
The venue was a bar near Gorlitzer Park called “It’s A Bar”. The night was dark and rainy and I was not a little skittish about being closer to Gorli than I ever have on foot – not that I am afraid of drug dealers, I just don’t have any reason to interact with them.
I found the bar though, and made my way down the most rickety flight of stairs I have ever seen, into an underground chamber seemingly carved out of several random basements and infrastructure.
People say Berlin is gentrified now, but they don’t realize how different gentrified here and gentrified in the States is. Berlin is like West Oakland in 1997, plus a war.
There’s no visible awareness of law enforcement, building codes, fire safety regulations, or secondary exits in most places, and people have just been digging out the rubble and building shit for 75 YEARS. It’s like the East Village in 1984.
There is still a lot of magic in Berlin. And still a lot of accessibility issues. I am more aware of the access issues all the time.
Alexandra had kindly reserved the one chair with a back for me, and I made it down the stairs once, but no way was I trying them again for a beverage or the toilet! Most of the Barsketcher crew is lovely young people, who skittered up and down the coffin-like stairwell like mountain goats and sat comfortably about the levels of the underground grotto.
The secret space made a terrific drawing area and the lighting was bright and clear. Chiqui is a wonderful model, and she had excellent costumes and tunes.
I had no idea how to manage my watercolor brush pens, my water glass for refilling the water reservoir, plus my usual tools. And no idea how to use the brush pens! Which was great.
It’s terrific to use new tools, because I am VERY stuck in my routines. It was kinda hilarious though, water flying everywhere, me pouring water in my palm and then just smearing it across the lines to get a wash. I also quickly found myself scruffing the nylon bristles of the brushes across the smooth paper.
I’d love to see how the brush pens perform on paper with some tooth.
I would have liked to do more quick gestures, but the only sketchbook I brought was the Strathmore Mixed Media, at a almost a euro per page, so the loose sketches are actually on the backs of the finished drawings!
I also wish I’d brought just sepia, brown and beige watercolor pens, rather than having a whole color palette. I don’t have the transparent media color mixing skills, especially under club conditions! On the grey paper, with transparent media, I definitely felt the absence of a high white value.
So I added white chalk marker and pastels to the watercolor pen drawings.
I’m not sure about the results – I feel like now they just look like my regular marker and pastel drawings. Which is not bad, it’s just the native temperament of the watercolor is lost. Also @chiquilovelovelove looks a little stocky here, and she is actually muscular but slimmer.
So adding the whites changed the visual impact of the forms in a way it doesn’t with my usual style. Fascinating!!
I want to try the watercolor approach again, but on white not gray paper. The Strathmore toned gray mixed media paper held up really well though.
Thank you @barsketcher and Liana for the lovely drawing sesh!
And always, always thank you so much to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to experiment and grow as an artist, and to document Berlin life.