Tag Archives: pastel drawing

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin delivers a gangbuster show for Berlin Burlesque Week!

Betty Fvck at dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018 second lookAnd I brought the drawing magic.

Check out Betty Fvck from Finland! Seriously, I am doing some of the best drawings of my career to date at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin.

Trixie Tassels 2 at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018Trixie Tassels at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018 detailThe superb models, the wonderful sets and music, and the gorgeous setting of Ballhaus Berlin all come together to inspire me profoundly.

Trixie Tassels, above and below, is a former professional life model.

She combined classic life modeling skills with her bombshell looks and amazing costume. What a fabulous treat!Trixie Tassels at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018

This show had more than fantastic showgirls- it had live singing by some of the best cabaret singers I’ve ever heard.

Among the many performances was an unbelievable version of “Fever” by Rachel Von Hindman, absolutely stunning. She sang classics from Cabaret too, with house-on-fire power!

Rachel Von Hindman at Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018Maya Full Power steampunk queen at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018I found Maya Full Power exceptionally lovely.

I was crazy for both her costumes, a steampunk princess and a hardcore full-on peacock look.

Maya Full Power at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018

And Betty Fvck had three different looks!

Sadly, I was only able to draw two of them.

Betty Fvck at dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018But I knocked it out of the park for both of them!

Mad kudoes to LalaVox and co-producer Syren Joey for this wonderful, wonderful time.

And I am so profoundly grateful to my Patrons on Patreon. Thank you so very much for making this sweet life possible by funding my art.

Anyone can help, for as little as a dollar/euro per month!

 

A portrait of E in pastels, on a Sunday in Berlin.

E Pastel Portrait by Suzanne Forbes May 6 2018 detailMy muse these last thirteen years was here this weekend.

We had a portrait sitting, and brunch. There was crying, as there often is, and evil laughter, and then we got to work. I had told her we would try the pastels, on dark paper.

I said that with her lilac hair she would “emerge from darkness, like a lily from a lake of blood.”

E by Suzanne Forbes May 6 2018 WIPI have always found E tirelessly interesting to try and make a picture of. I have been trying since I met her at the Folsom Street Fair in 2005, where she was wearing a vintage slip and white flowers in her masses of tentacley black hair.

I was so struck by her I went home and drew her from memory, something I very rarely do with portraits. In 2006 and 2007 she had more free time, and she sat for me often.

Then she got an important job and an athletic hobby, and has since become progressively more busy doing good, important work. In the intervening years our lives have been set on fire repeatedly, and we have survived the fire.

I have made so many pictures of her, and I would happily make a hundred more.

But for now, this one. E Pastel Portrait by Suzanne Forbes May 6 2018 edit

You can see my watercolors of E from summer 2016 here, and a drawing of her in Kreuzberg in 2015 here. And you can see the many, many paintings and drawings I made of her in the Bay Area here, and the story of our great collab “Defending the Electronic Frontier” here.

Or you can hear me talk about “D.E.F.” at Maker Faire in 2008 at the 4:32 mark in the video below.

Saturday night at the KitKatClub.

Dancers by the stripper pole at the KitKatClub by Suzanne Forbes April 29 2018Always lots of sexy people at the KitKatClub!

This gorgeous ponygirl was dancing in her own world, perfectly happy.

Alex Dermatis at KitKat by Suzanne Forbes April 6 2018Alex Dermatis of 6mmjute was doing his usual suspension art with a lovely, friendly model.

We had a quick chat before he covered her in oil and gold glitter like a statue of a goddess.

Coat check at the KitKatClub by Suzanne Forbes April 29 2018Coat check can be a wait by 4am.

I passed the time drawing some of the lovely coat check staff. Other drawings from KitKat here and here 🙂

Last Days of the Bassy Club.

Scotty the Blue Bunny at Bordello Bizarre 3 Bassy Club by Suzanne Forbes April 28 2018A Berlin institution is closing down, victim of gentrification.

The Bassy Club closes this weekend. This kind of thing happens everywhere, even in Berlin. Nothing is permanent in life except the cuteness of cats and the value of love. Still, it’s a heartbreaking loss of a ridiculously cool (though grubby) venue. It means events that have had a home there forever, like Chantal’s House of Shame, have to look elsewhere. (Chantal’s has moved to Suicide Circus as of May 3!)

Performer at Bordello Bizarre 3 Bassy Club by Suzanne Forbes April 28 2018And a newer event, Bordello Bizarre, was only on its third go last night, when I was invited to draw.

I had a great time at the previous Bordello Bizarre and I love the Limelight-in-1992-meets-Burning Man aesthetic of the party. This one was the last ever at Bassy, which closes its doors forever on Monday, April 30.

Dancer at Bordello Bizarre 3 Bassy Club by Suzanne Forbes April 28 2018Going out with a bang, it was emceed by Scotty the Blue Bunny!

You can see him at the top, wisely wearing one of the more sheer of his many blue bunny bodysuits. There were cool performances, a great band, and a gyrating mass of really gorgeous young people dressed in glitter and faux fur. Bassy is (was) a club that is always hot as hell, winter or summer, like hot yoga; the dance floor was packed body-to-body, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. It sucks that places like Bassy Club are displaced by what will likely be a greenjuice cafe for tech people. But change comes, whether we like it or not.

DJ Booth with Anto Christ at Bordello Bizarre 3 Bassy Club by Suzanne Forbes April 28 2018I was just glad to be there, documenting the moment, drawing like hell in the dark and smoke and sweat.

Multi-disciplinary art genius Anto Christ was wearing a new work of art, the second version of her “Anxiety Dress”. The little follicles are all entirely hand-crocheted, and she explained that when she feels anxious she can just finger them. I hung out by her and her husband in the front room for the last couple hours, catching a breeze from the street through the front door!

You can see my drawings from Chantal’s here and here, and the previous Bordello Bizarre here and here. More to come soon from last night!

Life Drawing at Lydia’s!

Collection of life drawings by Suzanne Forbes made on April 19 2018My friend Lydia and her housemate Flavia hosted the most glorious life drawing session.

They are both working professional artists and know a lot of amazing artists. The flat is gorgeous and was full of evening light.

Life drawing 2 by Suzanne Forbes April 19 2018Here in Berlin, where some of us have generous flats, artists can have models pose right in their homes and invite other artists to join in.

(I did it in October!) This was an absolutely fabulous session, and I am so grateful to Lydia and Flavia for organizing it and hiring such terrific models.

Life drawing 7 by Suzanne Forbes April 19 2018The modelling team, Eli and Louise, are absolutely great.

They are young and strong and beautiful and do wonderful dynamic poses as well as tender, intimate ones.

Life drawing 10 by Suzanne Forbes April 19 2018You can follow them on Instagram at Rosiichbinnackt, which means “Rosi I am naked!”.

Me and Daria and Marina were all in a row in the back, with the usual giggling and super-fast talking in Russian from those two hooligans.

Life drawing 8 by Suzanne Forbes April 19 2018Funny story: I have drawn naked lovers before, but never naked lovers holding still!

I’ve drawn beautiful naked young people together many times, but it has always been at sex parties or porn shoots, where they were actively engaged in having sex!

Life drawings by Suzanne Forbes April 19 2018So it was really cool to draw these two professional models, who posed for short poses and twenty minute sets, as well as traditional gestures.

Thanks a million to Lydia, Flavia, Eli and Louise! Visit my flickr for free downloads of these drawings and many, many, many more. Remember you’ll need to be logged in to a flickr account with adult safeties turned off to see some of them 🙂

And as always, I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to work and grow as an artist. You can help!Three life drawings by Suzanne Forbes made on April 19 2018

March 2018 Unterwegs: including the artist at work!

Self portrait on S Bahn by Suzanne Forbes March 29 2018I drew myself in this month’s unterwegs!

It’s good practice for a portrait artist to do regular self-portraits, but I did so many in school I can’t get excited about it. I know other people find it entertaining though!

Noodles on the bus by Suzanne Forbes March 28 2018This elegant young lady was having some hot noodles on her way home.

I loved her sneakers with stars.

Bubble gum by Suzanne Forbes March 10 2018This girl was really OVER her older sister.

Previous unterwegs are here:

February 2018 bonus round

February 2018

January 2018 bonus round

January 2018 round 1

December 2017

November 2017

September 2017

July bonus round

July

June

May bonus round

May round one

April

March 2

March

January

December

November

Works in Process – drawing pastel clothing with pastels, yikes!

WIP VIva Lamour by Suzanne Forbes detail Feb 2018I’m working on these three pastel drawings from Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin veeeerrry slowly.

This first one is of the beautiful Viva Lamore, who wore a marvelous outfit with a cage hoop. Because the theme for this Dr. Sketchy’s was Broken Baroque, everyone was wearing ropes of pearls and masses of ruffles. Plus fluffy white cotton batting wigs.

WIP VIva Lamour by Suzanne Forbes Feb 2018I’m struggling to control the “dust sticks” as I call them and render some kind of believable volume with such pale colors.

I find it so hard to get any detail with pastels. Especially drawing things like pearls and lace. As you can see, for important areas like the models’ faces, I just cheat and use ink. I’m using both my beloved PITT brush pens and 50% grey scale markers here to add in darker values. For the pearls, I started using a white color pencil.

WIP Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Feb 2018As much as I’ve hated and ignored color pencils all my life, I can see how on paper this good, they can be a nice tool.

Each of these drawings is on a different shade of Mi Teintes paper, as I randomly chose from my pad of sepia, umber, and buff paper in order to provide “new experiences”. Mighta gone a little overboard on adding complicating factors there, as the effect of each color of pastel stick is startlingly different on light vs dark papers.

WIP Evilyn Frantic by Suzanne Forbes Feb 2018So I am working on them just a little bit at a time, trying not to set myself the overwhelming goal of “finishing” or “getting them right”.

You can see the drawings I’ve finished so far from this Dr. Sketchy’s here.

Thanks so very much to my Patrons on Patreon whose financial support makes it possible for me to explore new materials like this. You are the best.

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin “Broken Baroque”!

Viva Lamore at Dr Sketchys by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2018I was super excited for this session of Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin!

There’s nothing I love like too much, and Broken Baroque is such a gorgeous theme. As always, LalaVox and Le Pustra did it up right. Above is the marvelous Viva Lamore as Mistress Overdone. She looked both beautiful and deliciously wicked! She is such an amazing performer, and her gestures are incredibly expressive. I brought my new pastels and drew with them!

LalaVox at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2018I always try and draw hostess LalaVox, as she brings her A game to her look every time. Like this ship-in-head!

Isn’t the sacque-back gown a perfect style for her?

Evilyn Frantic at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes 1 minute drawing Jan 28 2018I had been wanting to draw Evilyn Frantic for a long time, since I saw her in the street last year, introduced myself and told her I wanted to draw her picture.

This one-minute sketch was my first chance, more to follow as I clean up and finish up the pastel mess I made!

dr sketchys victorian spiritualism by maren michaelis-303

LalaVox and Suzanne Forbes at Dr Sketchys Berlin Victorian Spiritualism by Maren Michaelis.

Bonus stuff: here is a picture of me and LalaVox by photographer Maren Michaelis from the last Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin, “Victorian Spiritualism“. The setting of Ballhaus Berlin is so exquisite.

Also bonus: here is a drawing of Viva Lamore jumping out of a Campbell’s soup can, from the Sunday Slips New Year’s Extravaganza! She is wearing a handmade bra fashioned after the 1940s Schiaparelli design! How amazing is that?

If you’re interested in a similar design, last year there was a hand print bra and panty set made for the Bettie Page line by Playful Promises, the queer, trans, gender-fluid-, sex-worker-, body positivity- and diversity-embracing lingerie company. Viva Lamore jumping out of a Campbells Soup Can by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

Thanks so very much to my Patrons on Patreon whose financial support makes it possible for me to go to events like this. You are the best.

Previous Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin posts herehereherehere and here.

The Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin Instagram!

 

Finished mixed media pastel portrait of Shakrah!

Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Jan 11 2018I committed to the pastel learning journey!

When we had our first sitting for a planned pastel portrait, I knew I needed colors to depict Shakrah Yves. A 1920s jazz singer and former professional costumier, she has an absolute treasury of gorgeous outfits she has created, with matching accessories.Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Jan 11 2018 detail

Iris Perez by Suzanne Forbes Jan 2018There was no way I could do justice to her emerald sparkles with the nervous forays I’d made into pastel color thus far.

You can see the results of our first sitting, in sepia and umber colors accented with black and white, here.

I got two sets of new pastels, oil and chalk, and some mixing stumps, as a birthday gift. I took a trial run at adding color by enriching the portrait of Iris Perez, left, before her partner took it back to the Bay Area for her.

When Shakrah arrived for our second sitting, I was ready. SO many colors!

I rarely set up my paint palette with more than fifteen, and here I had at least 70. I added color to the drawing with chalk pastels first, as they are easier to remove, layer over and blend without muddiness. The chalk pastel also behaved well with the white gel pen highlights from the previous sitting. The gel pen ink seemed to act as a resist, sealing the surface of the paper. That meant I didn’t lose the highlights.

I’m using Canson Mi Teintes, which is gelatin-sized and has some kinda crazy microscopic hyper-surface-area (mechanical resistance) to attract and hold pigments.*

Then I put oil pastel over the chalk, because I am punk as fuck.

Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Jan 11 2018 detail cuI was careful because past experiences with oil pastels had taught me that things get muddy fast. You can lose color purity quickly with oil pastels, and wind up with tints you can’t shake.

While chalk pastel is close to painting in the sense that it has limited additive/subtractive properties, oil pastel is less flexible.

You can scrape it back down, but the surface will be permanently stained.

When you apply oil pastel over chalk pastel, the chalk slides like graphite dust under the stick.

It takes some focus to control the resulting mix, but it gives a rich color, including the deep darks I want from a picture. I don’t think I have the patience or discipline to become the kind of chalk pastel user who can get true dark values from chalks. Same way I don’t have the spoons left to properly learn watercolor. I love mixing media, though, and I feel like there are tremendous possibilities. Particularly in terms of the speed that is always of primary importance to me.

Of course I’m concerned about the archival properties of the works, particularly when using markers as solvents for oil pastels.

Star Trek the Original Series artwork by Suzanne Forbes AKA Rachel Ketchum AKA Rachel Forbes Seese

the effects of paste-up, non-acid-free tape and Letratone adhesive on some of my original Star Trek comic artwork.

The data that exists on the preservation of mixed media is not much more than a century old.

Gel pens are only a few decades old, and my hundreds of drawings made for Frank Wu are on printer paper and use correction tape, which isn’t intended for art material use at all.

Artists have the responsibility to be educated about the archival and lightfastness properties of their materials to the extent that the information exists.

As an artist who always intended to be a commercial artist creating work for reproduction, I’m willing to see some of my work deteriorate.

That the reproduction, or the digital record, is the true version of the work and the actual physical art is ancillary. And of course, when I sell these mixed media works, it’s crucial to be transparent about the fact that they may get Pollacky in a few decades. In the age of the digital record, collectors understand this much more easily. Time is a medium too.

So I am gonna keep experimenting!

With the layers of media and their varying specularities, this portrait is hard to photograph except in raking light. You can see a video of it on my Instagram!Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Jan 11 2018 angle

*reading about the properties of Mi-Teintes reminded me of learning about pasta-making at The Pasta Shop in Berkeley when I worked there in 1997. We had a superb employee education program, and during one lecture we learned that the best Italian dry pasta is still extruded from antique bronze dies, which create a microscopic pitting on the surface of the pasta. This sponge-like texture grips sauce far better than pasta extruded from steel dies.

All knowledge is worth having!

Working with a new muse, Shakrah Yves!

WIP Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Dec 27 2017There is nothing more thrilling than finding another woman I’m excited to make pictures of!

I met Shakrah at a Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin earlier this year, and immediately did my weird thing of being like “Hi total stranger, can I paint your picture?”.WIP Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes Dec 27 2017

She moved here from San Francisco a couple years ago, and has also lived in New York and Amsterdam.

She is a woman of many talents, including singing 20s and 30s jazz. She has an absolute treasury of gorgeous outfits she has created.

As you all know, an outfit treasury and the costume styling cognizance that goes with is very precious to me in a model!

You can see her singing in one of her marvelous outfits below, and hear her band The Cat’s Meow on bandcamp here.

When Shakrah arrived with her incredible emerald outfit for a planned pastel portrait, I knew I had to commit to the pastels.

Her outfit creation deserves full color. I already had a set of colored pastels in my Amazon cart and had added a bunch of pan pastels to my German Amazon art supplies wishlist. But I had been hesitating.

My childhood dislike of “dust sticks”, my concern that pastels would be…pastel, rather than the dramatic jewel tones and Manet-level darks I like, my fear of working with color and my concerns about my ability to manage color…

all those factors kept me using just black, grey, dark red and umber all year. Here’s what’s left of the sticks I bought early this year! So I’m gonna get some colored pastels and Shakrah and I will reconvene next week.

My US Amazon art supplies wish list is here, I think all the sellers ship to Germany! My 51st birthday is January 8 🙂

*why do you mostly paint women, Suz?

Men are too easy – women’s faces are much harder to capture.

Women’s stories and identities are most important to me in terms of the kind of creative legacy I want to leave.

I value making new woman friends enormously and painting a portrait of a woman I meet who I admire is a great way to get to know new people.

Men are somewhat less likely to have the kind of carefully crafted, creative performative identity (and attire to support it) that interests me.