Tag Archives: portraiture

The Hunger Moon at Full Moon Cabaret!

Viva Lamore at Full Moon Cabaret Hunger Moon event by Suzanne Forbes Feb 28 2019This was my first time at one of Full Moon Cabaret’s secret suppers.

I have been to Berlin’s most transgressive burlesque show before, in another very cool secret venue, and I love to draw producer Viva Lamore, who is a fellow New Yorker. (That’s her above with her gong! She told me she was having so much fun with “the fucking GONG!”) The acts are always fierce and freaky.

Chika at Full Moon Cabaret Hunger Moon event by Suzanne Forbes Feb 28 2019Plus, there’s a mooning contest which is pretty exciting!

So I was psyched to see this show and I was not disappointed.

Guests at Full Moon Cabaret Hunger Moon event by Suzanne Forbes Feb 28 2019Behind a secret door was a long room with a stage, lined with a very long dining table.

I took a seat on the sidelines so I could draw. (I learned my lesson about trying to eat and draw simultaneously at a LOTR-themed immersive dinner theater event put on by the Greater Bay Area Costumers’ Guild in 2005 or 6!) Most of the Full Moon attendees were in ’30s finery and there was a crew of gorgeous performers in really wonderful Shanghai 1930s style. That’s stage manager Maylisss standing in the background above; she is an expert at vintage clothing and costuming. Chika at Full Moon Cabaret Hunger Moon event by Suzanne Forbes Feb 28 2019Performers at Full Moon Cabaret Hunger Moon event by Suzanne Forbes Feb 28 2019Viva and her crew are so vibrant and sexy, and there is a kink vibe to the shows so I feel right at home! That’s Chika, above and helping with the mooning-hole, and legend Vanessa Jupiter in the long gloves who is a trained massage therapist and was doing massages for the guests.

Marianne Cheesecake at Full Moon Cabaret Hunger Moon event by Suzanne Forbes Feb 28 2019This was one of those events where I wanted to draw everyone a dozen times.

Marianne Cheesecake, performing with a very badly behaved dragon puppet, was SO beautiful!

The finale performance, by Crystal Tassels, was fantastic. Sadly, I cannot show you the drawing on a Patreon post. (It involved a cake and a chair!)

As always, I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to document Berlin life and art!

New portrait painting: Lolita in Latex!

Work in process detail Lolita Vavoom by Suzanne Forbes Feb 26 2019The moment I saw Lolita Vavoom performing, I knew I wanted to paint her.

She is a VERY busy person, with producing the Berlin Burlesque Week, Jews! Jews! Jews! and touring all over as a performer, so it took time to schedule. We got started with a first sitting last night though, with Lolita wearing custom latex by a local artist.

Work in process face detail Lolita Vavoom by Suzanne Forbes Feb 26 2019I actually took pictures of the process periodically, which I don’t often remember to do.

I thought my Patrons on Patreon, who provide the funding for my art, might enjoy them.work in process 4 stages of portrait of Lolita Vavoom by Suzanne Forbes Feb 26 2019

I reconvene with Lolita at the end of the month, as she’ll be touring all over between now and then.

Here’s her Insta for peeks! Meanwhile, if you’re in Berlin, mark your calendars for Berlin Burlesque Week in May! Here’s the Instagram for updates and news! And here’s my first drawing of Lolita, performing with Full Moon Cabaret – speaking of which, some pretty exciting Full Moon drawings coming soon 🙂

BEDx at Lovelite!

Cameryn Moore at BEDx by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2019Wow, what lovely cozy queer community there is in Berlin!

I was a presenter at Cameryn Moore‘s BEDx, a mini-conference for sex-geeking. My hub and I taxied across town (first taxi of the year! luxury!) to the gorgeous, welcoming venue, Lovelite. I had an absolutely wonderful time and so did my hub, who said it was like SF in the old days. It really was like the events he and I used to go to together at places like Femina Potens and the Center for Sex and Culture. Everyone relaxed and friendly and supportive, and so kind.

I talked about my work doing documentary drawing at events like play parties and dungeons. It was my first time doing a presentation with slides, but Cameryn set it all up for me and there was a lovely AV person named Yasmin who worked with me running them, and I think the slides were very appropriately filthy 🙂 That’s Cameryn in the top drawing.

Erin Bell at BEDx by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2019Erin Bell talked about (and briefly demonstrated!) the practice of “Thinking Off.”

I was very interested because I am reading a book called “The Body Keeps the Score” and am learning that breathwork has healing potential for trauma survivors. Erin is a delightful personality and knows so much about somatics and sex-positive bodywork!Jane Flett at BEDx by Suzanne Forbes Jan 28 2019

And Jane Flett read her amazing poetry!

Wow, she is a terrific writer. I was knocked out by the power of her words. So vivid and fierce, in the warm red-lit room. Really Lovelite is an amazing venue for queer performance.

Altogether a lovely evening out for us and thanks so much to Cameryn for including me! You can check out Cameryn’s other events like the incredibly popular Smut Slam on her Facebook I believe, follow her on twitter and support her on Patreon!

My work documenting queer culture in Berlin is made possible by my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support allows me to make art. 

You can help, for a little as a dollar/euro a month! My live documentary art is licensed Creative Commons and free for all to share and print, you can read about how that works here.

Roundup of my open-source crowd-funded documentary art for 2018!

Suzanne Forbes crowd funded open source art 2018Hello all my dear ones, readers/friends/muses/Patrons/collectors! It’s my 52nd birthday!

I made over 250 individual pieces of finished documentary art in 2018, despite a year of health challenges (including being in a bus accident that busted up my drawing hand, ongoing menopause & auto-immune problems and my hb’s health issues!). That’s right baby! More diversity, representation and beautiful human stories than ever! 

The only reason it was possible: the financial support of my Patrons on Patreon. Thank you, my darlings!!!!!!!

As always, the best birthday present you can give me is sharing and tweeting and facebooking my Patreon and Ko-fi!

For the biggest boost of all, totally free to you!!!, PLEEEEAASE, I beg you, submit my documentary artwork project to Colossal, BoingBoing, LaughingSquid, My Modern Met, BoredPanda, Women’s Art on twitter, and/or any of these other sites. Starter text at bottom to give you an idea how to do that!

I don’t make art if I don’t get paid. I don’t have the strength to make art for free.

To me, there is no greater validation of my work than getting money (to use for food and medicine) for it. So the last three and a half years on Patreon have been amazing, a total revelation in how happy and fulfilled I can be. You can help on Patreon, for as little as a dollar/euro a month. Or chip in on my account on Ko-Fi, the dumbest-named artist support platform ever!

https://www.patreon.com/join/SuzanneForbes?

 

I love you all so much, and I’m so grateful to you for supporting my work. 

I am not giving up and I will keep working. Despite advancing arts censorship in the US and UK, I believe crowdfunding and releasing my art open source is the way for me. And of course I am available for private portrait commissions too 😉

Yours in love, hope and solidarity,

my best wishes for 2019,

Your Suz

Sample text/project descriptions for submission to art news websites:

  • Former courtroom artist makes a life’s work of open source documentary art, live-drawing scenes from sex parties to the Berlin subway.
  • Former DC artist documents alternative culture by drawing live on the scene, then distributes her work open-source.
  • Huge open source queer and alternative culture art archive in jeopardy from SESTA/FOSTA.
Suzanne Forbes is an expat New Yorker by way of the Bay Area, using the skills she developed as a courtroom artist to live-draw queer, trans and alternative culture. Much like the embedded combat artists who traveled with troops in World War One, she draws live on the scene for public distribution. Instead of newspapers, her drawings are published open source for anyone to print and share on flickr and her blog. Her documentary art project has been running since 2005, and is crowd-funded through Patreon. Her mission is to tell unique human stories, with a focus on visibility and representation.

A “Reserved Parking for Eliza” OOAK spell doll!

Eliza Gauger doll by Suzanne Forbes Dec 30 2018 with Problem GLyphs bookI made this doll as a sort of summoning spell/eidolon/telepresence device for my friend Eliza Gauger.

Eliza lived in Berlin at one time, and may return someday. The idea is that the doll holds a space for her here, whenever she’s ready to return, and when she does arrive she can have it as a gift. Until then, it will sit on my shelf with my Alien figures from a beloved friend/muse/Patron and cards from friends.

Eliza is, of course, the artist/creator of the Problem Glyphs open source art project and book. Which is a healing spell of love and sacrifice, a work of sustaining power.

Eliza Gauger doll by Suzanne Forbes Dec 30 2018Eliza was also one of the people who sent us money when we were desperate, the first couple months in Berlin, cause Dan couldn’t work and we had to pay cash for my meds.

And Eliza had a hard year, this year. You can support her work on Patreon and download open source Problem Glyph art here, buy your own copy of the Problem Glyphs coffee table book here, buy Problem Glyph t-shirts here, request a sigil for your own problem here, buy original art and prints here, and follow her shitposts on twitter here.

I started the doll months ago, when I noticed one of the porcelain fairy heads I bought at a craft store in St. Paul, Minnesota in the early 90s reminded me of Eliza. At the same time, in the doll parts drawer, my gaze fell on a little leather jacket. It was from a Living Dead Doll I bought in the early Oughts, which I had cut up and redressed for some other project. The vision of the Eliza Reserved Parking doll came together in minutes, scrabbling through the drawer.

But – there were no arms in the doll drawer! Just a grubby baggy of taxidermy weasel feet.

Video of this disappointing moment on my IG video here. I found the fairy mint-colored ones, from a Monster High body sold withouten any head, online. The arms have ball joints and pegs, which I inserted into shoulder pieces of epoxy clay, thus meaning the doll has some posability.

Weasel feet in the doll parts drawerTheir body (the doll is definitely non-binary) is made with the traditional batting-stuffed cotton body, and their legs are porcelain ballerina legs that I made stockings for and gave boots from a totally different Monster High doll. I used grey nail flocking, just like the flock I used on the White Witch’s reindeer’s ears, to give the doll’s head some pale, glinting texture. Adhesive testing for micro rhinestuds Suzanne Forbes Dec 30 2018

During the time I was making the doll, Eliza got a dog.

A gallumphing nightmare beast of a lolloping moor-rambler, with glowing eyes and black fur. Luckily, while searching through a box of action figure bases for Sentinel parts for my upcoming Danger Room project (which will go under the School for Gifted Youngsters), I found a nice black wolf. Maybe he came with a Wolverine figure? Idk.

Terror Goggie for Eliza doll modified by Suzanne Forbes Dec 30 2018Anyway I had exactly enough left of the deep purple glove leather trim I got from an LA handbag manufacturer on etsy back in 2005 to make the terror goggie a harness. And while I used silver Sharpie and a bit of drybrushed gray acrylic to reduce the albedo of the micro-rhinestuds on the doll’s jacket, I left the ones I glued on the dog’s eyes alone. Hence, the glittering.

So here it is, “Parking Space Reserved for 3Liza”, a work which will hold a space of love and protection here until such time as Eliza collects it. 3Liza doll on shelf by Suzanne Forbes Dec 30 2018

An immigrant family at the AuslÀnderbehörde.

Immigrant family at the visa office Dec 18 2018 by Suzanne ForbesWe had to go to the visa office, nowadays known as the LABO, to get the hub’s work visa renewed.

As I have said before, the “foreigners office” is not really that bad a place. Although in winter there are no families picnicking on the grass outside, there are still lots of folks eating and drinking. The fact that food and beverages are allowed is such a humane detail. People buying snacks from vending machines and eating vegan salad from Scoom make it seem normal, not terrifying, to be waiting there. It’s also pretty shabby, with this random desk shoved in front of an unused door, in our waiting room. As you can see in the picture. The seats are stained, and everyone is pretty casual about their kids running around.

It’s all of a piece with our experience of German bureaucracy, which has been that they care about getting the procedure correct, getting you what you need, and getting you outta there, not about denying you. The agents in the offices are generally irritated, at you, but not cruel. Their end goal is the same as yours.

Following correct procedure is seen as a public good, so if you don’t follow correct procedure, you are inconveniencing everyone, and why would you do that? Hence the irritation. We actually screwed up, for the first time, forgetting Dan’s most recent paystub, but they found a workaround for it. His visa was renewed, and off we went. I hope things worked out as well for the sweet family I had a few minutes to draw while we waited.

In the waiting room Dec 2018 by Suzanne ForbesSometimes in Europe you see very European things, like this guy in another waiting room.

I was waiting at the gastroenterologist office and saw this fellow in the most totally bland minimalist Swiss look. I drew him because I liked the geometry of his folded legs and the boxy chair, even though his style choices were putting me to sleep.

More visa office

More medical waiting rooms:

Charité one and two

December 2018 Unterwegs!

Enormous dog and his human on the U Bahn Dec 20 2018 by Suzanne ForbesPersephone phones home.

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.

Day drinker on the U6 Dec 18 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThis 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!

Previous unterwegs are here:

Fall 2018

September 2018

August 2018 unterwegs

July 2018 bonus round

July 2018

April 2018

March 2018

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

Almost finished: a portrait of our friend Sebastian!

Sebastian with his portrait by Suzanne Forbes work in progress Oct 30 2018And just in time, as Sebastian has gone home to Australia.

Portrait of Sebastian by Suzanne Forbes work in progress Nov 28 2018Our family will miss him a lot, and we hope he comes back to Berlin soon.

In the meantime, he’s posting awesome pictures of Melbourne graffiti!

I still want to work on this some more, as his arms need resolution, the background is a little unresolved and there is some teeny tiny thing I need to fix with his face.

He is wearing his mom’s scarf and arm warmers she knitted, which I think is so nice.

And I’m sorry I can’t get a better picture, it’s Berlin in the winter and it is very dark in our house 🙂

We like it dark but it does make taking photos challenging!

Portrait of Sebastian detail by Suzanne Forbes work in progress Nov 28 2018I hope to do some more work on this next week, as I’m feeling a little better than I have for most of November.

New portrait painting in progress: Sebastian in brights.

Portrait of Sebastian by Suzanne Forbes work in progress Oct 30 2018I am super pleased with how this portrait of a new friend is coming along.

Portrait of Sebastian by Suzanne Forbes work in progress Oct 30 2018 detailSebastian is a circus performer and producer who comes from the Oz steampunk scene and has some fabulous outfits.

He calls this one his “Snow White” colors and I love how the brights pop against the soft colors of the salon.

I have had more of a challenge finding people who are into dressing up for fun in Berlin than I did in the Bay Area. This isn’t a dress-up town, alas.

I love people who love clothes and fashion and performative identity and was happy to find another collaborator!

Above is after the second sitting. Here’s after the first.

Using a canvas toned gray the way Sargent did has speeded up my painting even more. You can see the edge of the gray along the right side below!

Portrait of Sebastian by Suzanne Forbes work in progress Oct 30 2018 first sitting

This portrait will be done in one more sitting I expect.

And then I need to get back to the painting of Shakrah, which was interrupted for a long spell by the bus accident and my hand injury!

 

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.