Tag Archives: life drawing Berlin.

Truly underground model drawing, with Barsketcher Alexandra Ru and Chiqui Love!

Watercolor marker drawing of Chiqui Love in red by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2020I 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!

Watercolor marker drawing of Chiqui Love by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2020For 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!

Watercolor marker and ink sketch of Chiqui Love by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2020This session was put on by Alexandra and Liana Gilman, who share a studio space called Sketcherei, where they also host drawing.

Watercolor marker and ink sketch of Chiqui Love by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2020The 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.

Watercolor marker drawing of Chiqui Love by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2020 detailAlexandra 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.

Mixed media drawing of Chiqui Love in red by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2020So 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.




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!