Tag Archives: pastel drawing

Portraits of loved ones.

Portrait of Clear and Jen Sept 5 2019 by Suzanne ForbesMy absolutely cherished Beloved Friend-Muse-Patron Clear was in town with his lady companion Jen.

I have a lot going on right now, and I still have strep, but I can work under damn near any conditions, and there was nothing on this earth I wanted to do more than have the sacred, precious drawing-time with these two. There is a connection when I work with people, when we sit together and I draw them, and we talk, that is like nothing else I’ve experienced.

It creates a bond, the bond between artist and muse, that lasts and connects. I get to see them through the merciful eyes of a Higher Power, illuminated by their beauty and character. Their faces move and shift, and the portrait is a gestalt of all the moments that pass between us as we work.

I say we because my portraits are a collaboration, the result of the work of being together and their work being visible to me. It’s the most precious and important thing I know. And of course it’s why I don’t do portraits from photos, only from life. We gotta hang out!

Portrait of Clear and Jen Sept 5 2019 Suzanne ForbesThis image is the drawing halfway through, before I added pastels. My technique is evolving and developing in a very unorthodox way as I figure out how to “paint” with a combination of toned paper, chalk markers, greyscale and sepiatone markers, and pastel. I am figuring out how to make the drawing process additive-subtractive with these new tools. It means rather than pass/fail, this-mark-is-final, I can keep shifting as I would with a painting.

I described the changes that have happened in my drawing style since Clear came for my 50th birthday two years ago and brought me my first set of greyscale markers. How then my Beloved Friend-Muse-Patron of 44 years, Victoria, gave me a set of pastels and I started shyly, almost apologetically, adding touches of color. How Lydia loaned me a chalk marker at a life drawing session in her home in 2018 and I fell in love with its painterly qualities.

“It sounds like you’ve been iterating really fast,” said Jen, who is very smart as well as funny and beautiful. “Yeah, I guess I have”, I said. It’s the hothouse environment of my Patreon, I realized; it lets me feel so supported I can take risks. It was so wonderful to have this time with these two, and to document them together. Clear’s been commissioning¬† portraits from me since 2006!

Portrait of Dan Sept 3 2019 by Suzanne ForbesAnd this is the other portrait I did this week, of my husband at the visa office, where we got startling bad news!

He is always gracious about posing, even though he really dislikes having his picture taken and being seen or shown on social media. I’ve been carrying this little Kraft paper sketchbook around this week, and it was the perfect size for a quick drawing. Although I generally like to work as large as possible, sometimes a little drawing is just right ūüôā

A night at the Circus – Martini Cherryfurter MC’s!

Martini Cherry Furter at Zum Starken August by Suzanne Forbes July 27 2019I met up with Suzanne in Prenzlauerberg for a visit to the Circus Bar!

There are two circus bars, actually, kitty-corner from each other as we used to say in the Old Country.

Zum Starken August has burlesque Friday and Saturday nights, with an MC like Martini Cherry Furter, above. Toast Hawaii has bands and also something called Pornokaroake which I don’t know what that even is. Toast Hawaii, btw, is a disgusting German dish. Do not google it.

Martini Cherry Furter at Zum Starken August by Suzanne Forbes July 27 2019I’ve drawn Martini before and it is always SUCH a pleasure. She is so beautiful, all glamour and cheekbones and legs and sass. The straight boys she was teasing as I drew this were blushing like little kids.

La Labo Balucia at Zum Starken August Suzanne Forbes Aug 29 2019Here’s performer La Loba Luc√≠a, one of my favorite people in Berlin to draw!

She always looks like a super hero, even doing her gangster routine here. She brought the routine out of retirement just for this night so I was super excited! It was so important to me to be there on this night, and yet I was so sick I almost gave up and went home. Only the support of my friend and fellow artist Suzanne Wegh kept me there.

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.

New Portraits of friends!

Portrait of Shakrah Yves at Ballhaus Berlin By Suzanne Forbes May 31 2019My friend Shakrah Yves, dressed in emerald velvet at the Jews!Jews!Jews! show of Berlin Burlesque Week.

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 May 9 2019 by Suzanne ForbesLady 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.

Red Hot Love at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin!

Valentina Demonia and Martini Cherryfurter portraits at Dr Sketchys Berlin Feb 17 by Suzanne ForbesOh, what a gorgeous show this was!

Another absolute knockout of a Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin production from LaLa Vox and Syren Joey, at the beautiful Ballhaus Berlin. The models were Valentina Demonia, who I’ve drawn many times, Martini Cherry Furter who I was discovering for the first time, and BiszhopBlaczkx. I had been wanting to draw¬†@thebiszhopblaczkx¬†for YEARS!!! I was sick for the last¬†#drsketchysberlin¬†he performed at and no way was I missing this one!!!

biszhopblaczk at Dr Sketchys Berlin Feb 17 2019 by Suzanne ForbesAnd he wore flowers on his head!!!

Valentina Demonia detail at Dr Sketchys Berlin Feb 17 2019 by Suzanne ForbesI just loved everything about this session.

Many of the poses and outfits were too racy for a Patreon sponsored post, so I’ll finish those drawings and you’ll have to find them on my flickr ūüėČ

I especially loved Valentina’s pasties and red thigh-high boots look, and Martini’s red and black corset! Most of Biszhop’s outfits consisted of his extreme good looks, a pretty accessory and a smoky gaze. His bits were covered, but not by much!

Martini Cherry Furter both posed and performed, an exhilarating number involving the audience setting her on fire!

Martini Cherryfurter detail at Dr Sketchys Berlin Feb 17 2019 by Suzanne ForbesShe has incredible stage presence. She¬†¬†looked so good I actually lost all decorum and shouted, “Girl you are SO BEAUTIFUL!!”. She accepted that as her due, with a gracious smile.

thank you so much to these amazing artists who brought their hearts and souls to the show, it was a privilege to draw you!

Thank you again, @lalavox and @syrenjoey and @ballhausberlin !

and thanks so very much to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support allows me to make art!

Previous Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin posts:

Kabarett der Namenlosen one

and two

Hansel and Gretel

Baba Yaga, posts one and two

Viva Lamore, à la Baroque

Betty Fvck, Trixie Tassels and More, Berlin Burlesque Week

Broken Baroque

Victorian Spiritualist edition with Valentina Demonia and Syren Joey

More Victorian Spiritualist edition

Weimar Berlin, with Le Pustra and Bridge Markland

More Weimar Berlin

and my first Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin with Viva Lamore, Syren Joey and live painting outdoors!

A portrait of the artist’s mother on the River Spree.

Portrait of Pat Ketchum on the River Spree by Suzanne Forbes Oct 24 2018My mom came to visit and we went on a boat!

We took one of the widely available and affordable boat cruises on the Spree, the river that winds around Berlin. It was a beautiful October day, and the river is incredibly peaceful. There’s pretty much nobody on it but cruise boats at this time of year! We sat by the windows and looked out at the city I love so much. My mama is holding an audio aid to her ear, learning about Berlin landmarks.Portrait of Pat Ketchum on the River Spree by Suzanne Forbes Oct 24 2018

I want to do portraits on the boat all the time now, it’s so restorative!

If you want your portrait drawn or painted, on a boat or elsewhere, you can learn more here.

Hansel and Gretel at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin!

Evilyn Frantic as the Witch Dr Sketchys Berlin Oct 24 by Suzanne ForbesSecond in the Fairy Tale series, and full of witchy goodness.

I had a lovely time as always at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin. Wonderful costumes and posing by models Banbury Cross (Gretel), Hedoluxe (Hansel) and Evilyn Frantic as The Witch.Banbury Cross and Evilyn Frantic Dr Sketchys Berlin Oct 24 by Suzanne Forbes

Hedoluxe and Banbury Cross at Dr Sketchys Berlin Oct 24 by Suzanne ForbesAt one point the witch got a bit less clothing, in gorgeous vintage lingerie.Evilyn Frantic as the Witch en dishabille Dr Sketchys Berlin Oct 24 by Suzanne Forbes

Co-organizer LalaVox and The Narrator, Marijn van der Waa.
LalaVox and Marijn Van der Waa at Dr Sketchys Berlin Oct 24 by Suzanne Forbes

My mom was here visiting and got to see the beautiful and historic Dr. Sketchy’s venue, Ballhaus Berlin.

Thanks again to Le Pustra, LalaVox and all the performers/models/crew for another lovely time at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin! Here’s the Insta ūüôā

and thanks so very much to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to make art!

Here’s the previous Fairy Tale session, Baba Yaga, posts one and two, and

previous Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin:

Viva Lamore, à la Baroque

Betty Fvck, Trixie Tassels and More, Berlin Burlesque Week

Broken Baroque

Victorian Spiritualist edition with Valentina Demonia and Syren Joey

More Victorian Spiritualist edition

Weimar Berlin, with Le Pustra and Bridge Markland

More Weimar Berlin

and my first Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin with Viva Lamore, Syren Joey and live painting outdoors!

More drawings from Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin Baba Yaga session!

Marin van der Waa Narrates at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes sept 23 2018Marijn was the narrator, reading a spooky fairy tale in a voice that filled the room like smoke.

I have drawn Marijn before at Dr. Sketchy’s and was pleased to be able to do so again. Having a narrator really added to the experience of the show! Marijn is an illustrator herself, and you can follow her on the Instas here or check out her website here.

Women artists at Dr Sketchys Berlin Sept 27 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI also drew some of the artists this time!

I wound up sitting right next to the organizer of Berlin Museum Crew, artist Samantha Stover, (her mane of 60s movie star hair was covering her face alas!) and several other young woman artists. That’s Lucille Lehr with the two-colored hair! Plus my dear friend, artist and art teacher Giulia Caruso, was just a few seats away! That’s her with the fuschia streak and tattoos ūüôā

Models at Dr Sketchys Berlin Sept 21 2018 by Suzanne ForbesAnd the one sketch I made of the other model besides Valentina Demonia, Hurricane Irina !

Another amazing Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin, thanks¬†to¬†LalaVox¬†and¬†Le Pustra.¬†So excited for the Hansel and Gretel session, October 21 at Ballhaus Berlin!

More drawings from this session here; previous Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin:

Viva Lamore, à la Baroque

Betty Fvck, Trixie Tassels and More, Berlin Burlesque Week

Broken Baroque

Victorian Spiritualist edition with Valentina Demonia and Syren Joey

More Victorian Spiritualist edition

Weimar Berlin, with Le Pustra and Bridge Markland

More Weimar Berlin

and my first Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin with Viva Lamore, Syren Joey and live painting outdoors!

Thanks so very much to my Patrons on Patreon, and welcome to the new Patrons who joined this month! You make it possible for me to make this art and share it open source, licensed with Creative Commons for all to share, print and enjoy.

Witch Power at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin.

Valentina Demonia as Baba Yaga by Suzanne Forbes Sept 23 2018 detailsI was sooooo excited about the Baba Yaga session at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin.

And as always, LalaVox and Le Pustra came through with a gangbusters event. There were a variety of marvelous models in wonderful costumes, but in my current mood, I only had eyes for the witch.

Berlin performer Valentina DeMonia as Baba Yaga just thrilled me!

Valentina Demonia as Baba Yaga by Suzanne Forbes Sept 23 2018 It was so great to draw her in her cocoon of power and hair.

Valentina Demonia as Baba Yaga by Suzanne Forbes Sept 23 2018 with staffValentina Demonia as Baba Yaga by Suzanne Forbes Sept 23 2018I used my Canson Mi Teintes toned paper, my Faber-Castell PITT brush pens, dark umber markers, black oil pastel, white pastel and white gel ink pens to make these drawings.

Valentina Demonia as Baba Yaga Suzanne Forbes Sept 23 2018 kraft paper 2And I drew these little ones in a Kraft paper sketchbook.

Valentina Demonia as Baba Yaga Suzanne Forbes Sept 23 2018 kraft paper 1Thanks so very much to my Patrons on Patreon, and welcome to new Patrons S. and I. who joined this month! You make it possible for me to make this art.

A big pastel drawing finished!

Viva Lamore by Suzanne Forbes detail pastel on Mi Teintes June 26 2018Using pastels on dark paper is so weird.

I started this drawing of Viva Lamore at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin “Broken Baroque” session quite a while back. She is the producer of Full Moon Cabaret as well as lots of other artistic projects, and a frequent Dr. Sketchy’s model; I love to draw her. I worked on this one a good bit at home, but couldn’t figure out how to resolve it.

So I tabled it for a while, to see if I got more comfortable using pastels.

One of my beloved Friend-Muse-Patrons sent me a box of Prismacolor Nupastels for my birthday. Those were my favorite pastels in college, if I could have been said to have a favorite in a media I do not love. They are square in profile rather than round and both harder and more waxy than most pastels. I find them much easier to control and they lay down a lot of pigment on my toothy Canson Mi Teintes paper.

Viva Lamore by Suzanne Forbes mixed media 32cm x 41cm June 26 2018I also knew I needed a workable fixatif to freeze each layer of color as I laid it on.

But I was having trouble finding the kind of workable fix I used in art school.

Eventually I figured out that Winsor and Newton “soft fixative” is the same product. It’s sold as Professional Fixative now in the US, I believe. It’s a (virtually odorless! brave new world!) spray fixative that holds the dusty pigments in place, and creates a new layer of tooth for the next layer of pastel to catch on and adhere to. I ordered some and went back to the picture of Viva this week.

Portrait of Viva Lamore in media media and pastel work in process by Suzanne Forbes 2017 to 2018

The process of adding layers of Prismacolor Nupastels to a portrait on Canson Mi Teintes paper by Suzanne Forbes, 2018

Pastels are imprecise anyway, so I can use them fairly well with my injured hand.

The problem with workable fixatif, or any fixatif, is that when you spray them on, they adhere the pigment particles to the paper with an adhesive medium. Which has the effect of darkening the pigments. I hadn’t had much trouble with the Lascaux fix I’d been using, but the new can totally knocked out my highlights.

Portrait of Viva Lamore in media media and pastel work in process by Suzanne Forbes 2017 to 2018After each spray of fix I had to go in and restore the highlights. The paper got coarser and coarser, although as promised the fix does build a new layer of tooth. You can continue to add pigment on the surface for a long time. The lightest values in the drawing you see in the photographs aren’t properly fixed; they could easily be rubbed or wiped off. But that is a problem for another day.

I feel like this is a nice depiction of Viva’s beauty and mischief!

Thanks so very much to my Patrons on Patreon whose financial support makes it possible for me to experiment and grow as an artist. You sustain me.

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.