Tag Archives: portrait drawing

From the Vaults: Courtroom drawings and the Case of The Frozen Head.

St Paul Russian gangster trial courtroom drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes approx 1992So you all know I used to be a courtroom artist.

It’s the only job I’ve ever had where people would immediately say, “Oh, that sounds so interesting!” and I would say, “Yes, yes it is.” It was also deeply traumatic, and wildly challenging, and sometimes deadly boring (embezzlement or early days of DNA testimony).

One of the more disgusting but less traumatic cases I worked on involved a pair of Russian gangsters who had moved to suburban St. Paul.

They were best friends, and their wives were best friends, vacationed together and so on.

An attorney courtroom drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes approx 1992But all good things must come to an end, and some business rivalry caused one of them to shoot the other, chop off his head and hands, and dump the body in a lake.

At this time, around 1992 or 3, I was driving a 1991 Toyota Corolla. It was a dealer demo return but still the closest thing I’ve ever owned to a new car, and only my second car.

So I was extremely proud of it and kept it clean, visiting the carwash downtown after a day working in court.

Back to the trial: the cops found the slushy head in a partially frozen lake, and eventually arrested the Russian gangster guy.

St Paul Russian gangster trial courtroom drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes ca 1992 detailHe was not the coldest human I ever saw in court, but definitely a really vicious sociopath. I have a drawing of a forensic pathologist using a pointer to indicate gunshot wound and axe marks on a slide of the decayed head, the headsicle if you will, but I can’t find it yet.

The prosecution utilized the shockingly cavalier way many murderers talk about their acts.

This guy was really just like, so he got the lease on the laundromat, so I chopped off his head. They always talk about it like, “Well I just did what anybody would you know.”

The thing is, the thing is, the guy put the body in his trunk to dump it. And then his nice suburban car was all bloody, so he took it to a carwash to be cleaned up.

He told the guys at the carwash that he had killed a deer. Not so unusual, in Minnesota.Witness courtroom drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes approx 1992

You know what, my dear ones?

It was my fucking carwash he went to. The guys testified and everything.

Narrator: And she never went back to that carwash. 

Only the top drawing is from the Frozen Head trial; I have no idea where the other two are from. I made hundreds of courtroom drawings from 1991 to 1993, and I have only a fraction of them. I was constantly selling them to people involved in the trials, prosecutors and defense attorneys and DNA experts and ballistics people and so on.

I didn’t have a camera, and of course there were no camera phones. So until this moment, the only documentation of these drawings that existed was the footage the WCCO-TV cameraperson shot for the night’s news. And the station kept all that footage on BETAMAX tape. So,

I am incredibly grateful to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.

Until today, no modern media record of these drawings existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

 

Last Days of the Bassy Club, part two.

Vicki at Bordello Bizarre at Bassy Club by Suzanne Forbes July 29 2018Wow it took me forever to finish these drawings from one of the very last parties ever at Berlin institution The Bassy Cowboy Club.

Maybe because they are such complex scenes to do in mixed media, or maybe because it’s always sad when a beloved venue leaves the cultural landscape of your city. Above, Vicki and her consort, on the right. I could not believe how beautiful she was.

Puck the hare at Bordello Bizarre at Bassy Club by Suzanne Forbes July 29 2018

Above, Puck the Hare dancing.

Puck is a terrific photographer and professional artist’s model who also makes cool costume art like the headdress she’s wearing. I first drew her at Kitkat, where I confused her rabbit ears for pony ears! I had a hard time drawing the transparent rain ponchos the guys in the band, Cloud Kinski, were wearing and I’m not sure I fully succeeded.Backstage at the Bassy Club by Suzanne Forbes July 29 2018

The darkroom/outer backstage area of Bassy Club was done up with real prison bars like a jail cell.

I imagine this clever conceit was more enjoyable for people who have not been to jail.

Last Days of the Bassy Club, Part One.

More Bassy:

You can see my drawings from Chantal’s here and here, and the previous Bordello Bizarre here and here

Extravagant Shambles, a packed-house cabaret in the North of Berlin.

Cadbury Parfait at Extravagent Shambles by Suzanne Forbes July 24 2018I’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 venue 800A, and it seemed like everybody else had decided to go too. Above, Cadbury Parfait performing as Cleopatra! Scotty the Blue Bunny at Extravagent Shambles by Suzanne Forbes July 24 2018Here’s Scotty The 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!Sarah Tonin and Ruby De Cadence at Extravagent Shambles by Suzanne Forbes July 24 2018

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.

More shaking it, from queen Noeline la Bouche!!Noeline la Bouche at Extravagent Shambles Suzanne Forbes July 24 2018

Dancers at Extravagent Shambles by Suzanne Forbes July 24 2018I 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!!

I make this live event art and share it for free because of my Patrons, and anyone can help for as little as a buck a month.

Lots and lots of my Creative Commons licensed, free, shareable burlesque drawings are here on flickr.

Night of the Living Drummesses – woman drummers rock Berlin!

Second drummer at Bei Ruth drum jam July 19 2018 by Suzanne ForbesMy first time going event drawing since the accident!

My friend-muse-Patron Rah Hell invited me to an incredible woman drummers’ jam concert at a very cool punk venue called Bei Ruth. It was 8 female-identifying drummers, 2 drum kits, and a hot summer night! Above is Jarita Freydank; you can follow her on Instagram, or visit her site.

Aine Fujioka at drum jam July 19 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThis is Aine Fujioka, who started her solo right after I arrived.

Rah Hell at drum jam July 19 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI was worried about finding the venue and getting there, since it was as far on the other side of town as it could be, but I printed several maps and set out. This was one of those special Berlin things that I just wasn’t willing to miss.

The setup was that there were two drum sets, and each drummer would start with another drummer. Then one drummer would step out, and the remaining drummer would solo for a few minutes. Then a new drummer would sit down at the empty kit. The two would play together for a bit. The drummer who had already soloed would leave, the new drummer would solo, and then a new drummer would join her and they’d play together.

This not only actually worked, it was AMAZING. The whole thing SHREDDED.

Oganiser Eilis Frawley at Bei Ruth drum jam July 19 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThis is the event’s organizer Eilis Frawley. Her site is here.

The energy level rose naturally until the end when all the drummers gathered around the sets to knock out a final group jam. As you can see, the windows of the space were filled with the delicious indigos of the Berlin summer twilight and the venue was full of black shirted rockers and punks. People were dancing and thrashing to the fantastic beat. Last drummer at drum jam July 19 2018 by Suzanne Forbes

And this is Katrina Martinez Marrupe. Such a fierce drummess! I am so lucky to get to go to things like this.

I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, who provide the financial support to make it possible. And so grateful my drawing hand is healing!!

Rah Hell has a nice thread on twitter with event photos. You can also follow Bang On Berlin, a collective of Berlin based bands, musicians, artists, and other talents. With a strong focus on female artists.

Berlin summer days on the KuDamm.

Roxy the dj at Berlin Classic Days by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018This is Roxy the DJ, she was so nice!

I went to an event called Berlin Classic Days, a car show/street fair that happens in our neighborhood.

Dancer at Berlin Classic Days by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018Here’s a dancer who was working with the street art crew.

The folks from Murales Berlin art collective had some of their graffiti/calligraphy/art-transformed cars on display.

Miss Natasha Enquist at Berlin Classic Days by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018 1My friend Miss Natasha Enquist was performing and I very rarely draw outside, so I wanted to take the opportunity.

Miss Natasha Enquist at Berlin Classic Days by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018 I was sitting in the shade in the tent with Roxie so I was drawing MNE from a new angle, her very lovely and hard-earned posterior!

I was intrigued by the way the straps of the accordion delineated her shoulders. An accordion is such a heavy, breathing instrument; I love to draw the way people play with their whole bodies.Miss Natasha Enquist at Berlin Classic Days by Suzanne Forbes June 10 2018 2

I especially like the fashion-illustration style of this last one.

I was gonna be a fashion artist before I discovered superhero comics. I don’t know how long it’ll be before I can draw live again or use a pencil/brush pen, because of the bus accident I was in. So these are the last new drawings for a bit! But my orthopedist says I should heal up just fine. Meanwhile, I’ll be finishing up other things and doing other kinds of art 🙂

Woman-fronted bands at the opening of the Berliner Kultursalon!

Das Fluff at Berliner Kultursalon April 30 by Suzanne ForbesA new cultural and artistic venue has opened in Berlin, the Berliner Kultursalon at Forum Factory.

I went along to see my friends in Das Fluff perform, and caught two other bands with powerhouse frontwomen. Das Fluff, above, was the final act.

Two Times Twice at Berliner Kultursalon by Suzanne Forbes May 20 2018The opening band was Two Times Twice.

With a fierce, howling frontwoman!

Feline and Strange at Berliner Kultursalon by Suzanne Forbes May 20 2018The middle act was Feline and Strange, a steampunk two-person band.

Also with a fierce, howling frontwoman! Hell yes.

There were also some wonderful dancers and I made drawings of them which I will post soon! Holy heck this has been a busy, amazing, productive month!

Mixed media portraits of women.

Portrait of Anna May 3 2018 by Suzanne ForbesA fellow New Yorker came over to visit and was kind enough to pose for several hours so I could make a careful study of her beautiful face!

Portrait of Anna May 3 2018 by Suzanne Forbes detailI can hardly believe it was less than a year ago I was so scared of adding color to my drawings that I thought it was a big deal to buy one pink pastel.

Now I am routinely adding color. Not a lot, not every time, but I keep gently pushing myself to experiment.

The drawing below is of my Beloved Friend-Muse-Patron Monique Motil, who came here to spend her birthday with me and her sister Marie!

We were dining at Restaurant Lutter & Wegner sei 1811, an amazing Charlottenburg treasure.

I discovered this beautiful little gem of a traditional German resto when I was hired to live-draw at a birthday party there earlier this year. This time I had Spargel for the first time, with sauce hollandaise.

Although Spargel looks like zombie dildoes or White Walker penises, it is absolutely delicious. Monique and Marie by Suzanne Forbes West Berlin May 12 2018

Seeing my beloved Monique and spending time with her and her amazing sister was a glorious time.

yes this is miniature and yes I own it thanks to my mom who I shipped it to and who sent it to Monique so she could bring it to me.

She is a cherished friend, fantastic human, AND one of the most gifted artists I’ve ever known, as well as one of my longest-time collectors and Patrons.

She brought me fantastic art treasures as well as the miniature LEDS and miniature defibrillator for the Dollhouse Underground Laboratory.

I was able to go out and do things with M&M, in the daytime (!!!!!!), thanks to the wonder of the HRT treatment I’m taking for my menopause symptoms.

You don’t have to settle for a shit quality of life, uterus/ovaries-having women of a certain age. You can be stronger, clearer-headed, better rested, full of energy.

Aren’t you worth finding out if HRT is for you? It’s working for millions of menopausal women in the UK and Europe and for so many trans women every single day!

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 🙂