Suzanne Forbes, an expat New Yorker in Berlin. Made possible by the generous support of her Patrons. https://www.patreon.com/SuzanneForbes. Former DC Penciller for Star Trek, former courtroom artist, painting portraits and teaching drawing.
I saw this red-headed woman and her enormous Cerberus and just HAD to draw them, I was drawing so fast because of course you never know how long you’ll have, what station the person will get off at. I was lucky and got a decent amount of time to get the details.
This punk as fuck guy was having some lager at 10 a.m.
I’m not normally out in the world before one in the afternoon at the earliest, but I had an endocrinologist appointment so I was on the U6 with the morning folks. Which included this very tall dude, who drained one pint can, crushed the can and immediately opened another. Ah, Berlin!
It is my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial contributions make it possible for me to work as I can, when I can. Given how rocky my health has been this year, with multiple autoimmune illnesses and a bus accident that busted up my drawing hand, it’s an indescribable blessing. I am so grateful to you!
My documentary art is licensed Creative Commons and free for all!
I’d been hoping to draw beautiful performer Cadbury Parfait for months, so I was delighted when she invited me to her first cabaret production.
It was my first time visiting Wedding venue800A, and it seemed like everybody else had decided to go too. Above, Cadbury Parfait performing as Cleopatra! Here’s ScottyThe Blue Bunny head and shoulders above the fray before the show.
It wasn’t the most crowded club I’ve ever been in, but it was pretty close!
There were a variety of performers, and an MC called Sera Tonin.
Ruby de Cadence is on the right, shaking it! Speaking of shaking, it was warm in the club but I got an excellent shaken iced coffee at the bar, where I ran into one of my hub’s former colleagues working. The bartender was kind enough to wash the cocktail strainer to make sure it had no traces of alcohol, when I expressed my concern.
I didn’t get to draw everybody, but I got most of the performers.
Here is Mademoiselle Rififi on the left and Elektra Bellefleur on the right, above. I love burlesque names. I hadn’t been to live drawing at a burlesque show in ages, and I had such a lovely time. Thank you Cadbury for having me as your guest!
And thank you, my Patreon Patrons, for making it possible for me to do this work and draw these beautiful people!!
They are young and strong and beautiful and do wonderful dynamic poses as well as tender, intimate ones.
You 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.
Funny 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!
So 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!
Portrait of Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux before bifurcation by Suzanne Forbes, Oct 17 2017
I finished my biggest painting in like twelve years!
At 30″ by 80″ (76cm by 204cm), these conjoined canvases form a fine large surface. I could have gone the traditional route, setting my sitters deep within the pictorial space with plenty of air around them. But I wanted something more demanding of my abilities and more interrogative of the viewer, a compressed space with an exploded perspective that tips the viewer into the painting’s world.
Into the dangerous, powerful air breathed by artists Sadie Lune and Jo Pollux.
I set up the perspective of the picture with the idea that Sadie and Jo should take up as much space in it as possible.
At some point in the 90s I read a quote from Roseanne Barr, where she advised young actresses to “take up as much space as you possibly can.”
I think this is a great idea for women, to just occupy space with our presence and authority and strength and certainty, and in Sadie’s case, coiled professional menace.
I had done a painting that utilized an exploded perspective in 2005, the portrait of Khris Brown that is still one of my favorite things I’ve ever done (below right).
I approached the portrait I did of Rah Hell this summer the same way, opening and flattening the pictorial space to force the viewer to acknowledge her carelessly confident drummer’s body (below left). Our Art Nouveau herringbone wood floors work even better for distorting the perspective than the floors in my Berkeley Craftsman did.
To get the exaggerated foreshortening of my model’s forms, I simply alternate between sitting and standing with the easel very close to the model.
Then I make decisions about scale and positioning, as described in the previous post, and position one foot to break the frame, my signature! This is a straightforward way of suggesting that the power of the woman in the portrait can’t be contained by the picture plane. And it also references my career in comics and my love for comic panel design.
You can see here how close I was to the model chair.
During the long third sitting, Sadie and Jo and I talked about art and sex and power.
Sadie and I reminisced about the wonderful Oughts’-era climate for sex-positive kinky art in San Francisco. We talked about the many performances and shows we did for Madison Young’s queer art gallery Femina Potens and the events, like Sadie’s birthday party, at the Center For Sex and Culture. For a while the background of the painting looked like the Leather Pride Flag!
Jo, who is a photographer, told us an amazing story of when she met Nan Goldin.
The whole process of making the painting has been nourishing and strengthening, a collaborative meeting of minds and talents. Sadie and Jo both brought their A game to the work, serving tremendous presence and face and great physical stamina.
After the final sitting I dug in and sorted out the background and details. As much as I liked the Leather Pride colors, I wanted to paint the realistic space of my salon, to ground the figures in a real world and place the viewer in it with them.
I adjusted the perspective of the floor over and over, to give the immanence I wanted to Sadie and Jo.
And I repainted Jo’s hands like a million times, so they would only be substantial artist’s hands, not disorientingly large! I had fun painting the Autumn goddess head-dresses of leaves and rosehips Jo and Sadie wore to Folsom Europe for a performance this year.
I very carefully composed the shadows at Sadie’s feet to guide the eye to the vicious tip of her singletail, which actually is the dark blue and black colors I painted it.
I gave Jo a branch to hold because I was like, “Needs moar witch!” Once the details were done, it was time to separate the two canvases for transport to Ludwig, where they will be shown. I didn’t know what would happen once they were separated; the painting looked finished and resolved with them conjoined but….
With the canvases separated, the blue background wall panel behind Jo (right side) became a dead space!I had to activate it visually with shadows.
Which was good, really, as it made the unused pink velvet boudoir chair more significant. I like to include pink velvet furniture, like my sadly lost dustyrosevelvetmodel’sarmchair, in my paintings. Not only is pink velvet a great visual reference to pussy, it references a powerful moment in my experience as an artist.
In 1993 I went to Philadelphia with my first husband. We went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where we saw the Cornells, Duchamp’s Étant donnés and the Degas known as both“Interior”and “The Rape”. I can’t begin to describe the impact that group of works had on me, but I can tell you the most important thing I carried away: that women need to make paintings of women.
For decades I have been both inspired by the great male painters and furious that men have made most of the great paintings of women.
My spiritual master as an artist, John Singer Sargent, was not sexually involved with women. He made pictures of them as beings. Numinous, sensual, prickly, elegant, fearless beings. I am hoping in the next few years to really move into my abilities as a painter, and to begin painting women with all the strength I see in them.
It really helps to make big paintings, when you want to depict strength and grace, and I hope this diptych is a step towards that.
This work was made possible by the generosity of my Patrons on Patreon, who contribute monthly support to enable me to make art. I am so, so grateful.
Wow, I have made SO MUCH ART this month! Thank you, amazing Patreon Patrons, for making this possible.
Here are some more drawings from the Anita Berber Salon Session of Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin. Above, Bridge Markland portraying Anita Berber amid a group of young women drawing. The life drawing scene in Berlin is absolutely being taken over by women!
For this one I pulled out my Winsor & Newton Series 7 Sable No. #7, which I have kept and cared for since I bought it when I was a student at Parsons in 1984. It is beat to shit but still shakes out to a nice point and holds a wash like nobody’s business. I haven’t done a wash drawing in decades and have no ink, so I used a bit of black acrylic (bad! don’t use acrylic on a sable brush!). It came out lovely I think! The craft paper isn’t sturdy enough to hold up to a wash so I had to press the drawing under a bunch of my doorstop Rose Levy Beranbaum cookbooks after.
Here’s another drawing of the amazing Bridge, illuminating beautiful Cafe Kalwil with her classic art modelling chops.
Seriously, nukes could fly any second. The world is ON FIRE because of some dimwitted psychopaths. Life has returned to 80’s conditions, a world of “tomorrow I’ll ____, unless nukes. Thursday I’ll _____, unless nukes.”
And yet, I am full of joy, and I got to see an amazing show, and I made art.
“Teckel” means “dachshund” and there has never been a bar as dachshund-themed as Posh Teckel ever in the history of the world.
It is pretty damn delightful, and also it is a bar that cares a lot about music. It is smaller than our flat but charming. The music sounded great. Alfred performed a few songs but I only made one drawing because it was entirely red and dark and very, very hot in the music part of the bar!
Luckily the music space cooled off a bit as the evening went on. I asserted my needs and dragged in a bar chair to sit on in front of the stage. No-one minded. It’s Berlin, we do what we like.
Then Moldover played and wow he is a crackerjack musician and terrific live performer.
He was really just extremely good. I knew pretty much nothing about controllerism, or that Moldover is known worldwide as the Godfather of Controllerism. But I know musicians, and I know performers, and I was just thrilled to see such a terrific show out of the blue on a Thursday night in Berlin when we might all die in a nuclear firestorm tomorrow.
Boy howdy, I sure hope I get to go back and read this six months from now and say “wasn’t it scary, thank heavens things are better now.”
Because this is the sweetest and brightest and most joyful and meaningful my life has ever been and I’m drawing like blue hot holy hell. I headed home at midnight; I stopped at our all-night bistro to get ice-cream. Mango eis in the velvet dark and coolness of the summer night, our neighborhood still quietly bustling. I was so happy I scared the cats my husband by dancing in the front door. It would be a shame to get radiation sickness at a time like this.
Anyway, If you like me going around and documenting Berlin life and art, you can help make it possible by supporting me on Patreon. It’s easy and you can pledge as a little as a buck a month; I’ll be thrilled! Moldover has a Patreon too and is on bandcamp and boththose corporations are being pretty decent world citizens, as corporations go, so far. So you could go support this fine musician here on Patreon (I did!) or buy his music and music devices on bandcamp. And watch this video, where Moldover wears a tinfoil jumpsuit and performs inside a giant computer chip.
Or maybe he’s really tiny? Whichever, check it out.
Our friend Nathan, who was hub’s acupuncture doctor in the Bay, was in Berlin for re:publica, working his awesome new Makerspace networking startup, MakerNet.
He took care of Daria’s headache problem! One of my old lovers who lives in Berlin came and bought a piece. Our friends Ben and Ursula came and took the hubbin over to Santa Cantina, and returned with delicious Mexican food for me to nom.