Tag Archives: portraiture

Drawing portraits of young Berlin folx at queer art space Ludwig.

S at Ludwig Sept 7 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI went to our much-loved art hangout Ludwig on Friday for my friend Sue’s birthday.

Sue is an artist and curator and we have done lovely art events at Ludwig, however this time we were just checking out the current show and chilling. I made drawings of some friends who were there. S. was wearing their internal clitoris necklace from a local Berlin artist!

Super pleased with this likeness of E., who I was meeting for the first time.

E at Ludwig Sept 7 2018 by Suzanne ForbesAnd as always, incredibly grateful to my Patreon Patrons, for making it possible for me to make portraits of these Berlin folx and share them. 

Ok not much else to say cause I got SO MANY drawings to finish and scan and post from the rest of this Big Gay Weekend!

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.

 

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.

First unterwegs of the summer! Post-accident, drawing on the train again.

Unterwegs July 20 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI couldn’t draw on public transit for quite a while.

Plus, I have become quite cautious about using the bus, always making sure to be seated and holding a rail or handle before the bus starts moving.

Which means I have to hustle; part of the efficiency and speed of the bus system here is that the bus driver does not wait for you to be settled and secure. The drivers just take off after a certain number of seconds, even if there are older folks looking for seats. They do pause for wheelchair users and baby carriages to get arranged and strapped in the wheeled area, at least.

Unterwegs July 19 2018 by Suzanne ForbesBut everybody else is on their own, and passengers are alert to help seniors and mobility aid users find a seat and be safe. So someone like me, who looks perfectly healthy, is not accorded any concern whatsoever, and my scramble to be seated in the regular seating may look a bit unseemly or neurotic.

I don’t care, because my hand feels terribly vulnerable, and it’s my job to protect my livelihood and my ability to contribute to society. I didn’t take transit much at all while I had my cast on; it’s only the last week or so I’ve been out and about.

This Tuesday was the first time I brought my drawing kit with me since the accident. It was fantastic to sit and draw from life again, I felt like a horse let out of a stall, running around the paddock like a fuckin maniac. Drawing isn’t “fun” or pleasure for me – it’s the exercise of the strongest muscles, the best skills I have, and using those skills is like working out.

It feels fantastic to use these powerful muscles, and at the same time it feels like work. Doing my job. Telling people’s stories.

I was put here to do this work, I believe, and doing it again makes me feel useful and strong. On Thursday, headed to the Drummess Jam, I was so caught up in working on the top drawing I didn’t realize I’d taken the wrong train til I had passed several unfamiliar stops!

Thank you, my Patreon Patrons, for making it possible for me to do this work and tell these everyday human stories. I am so grateful to be back to work.

Previous unterwegs are here:

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

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.

Work in progress: Painting Shakrah, while being photographed by Mirella Frangella!

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Shakrah and I had our second sitting for the new portrait the day before I was in a bus crash.

Work in Progress portrait of Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes June 2018It was very lucky timing, as we had also scheduled with amazing portrait photographer Mirella Frangella.

Mirella is a career photographer whose personal work focuses on intimate character studies.

My friend Miss Natasha Enquist met her when Mirella’s photos of gauchos in South America were exhibited at The Ballery.

Mirella did a shoot with Miss Natasha, and was looking for other artists to photograph. Natasha suggested me!

Mirella came to the house and photographed me in fancy clothes the week before last.

She wanted to do another session, while I was actually working, so we set up a time with Shakrah, who I had recently started a second portrait of.

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

I love Mirella’s work and her way of using available light and her handheld flash to capture a close and realistic view of her subject.

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

We were so relaxed and comfortable with her presence as she worked.

During the sitting, at one point Shakrah was lounging elegantly on my boudoir chair while Mirella shot some close-ups of me.

I looked up and saw her and I yelled, “THAT is the look!” and grabbed my brush to make superfast big changes to the painting.

I changed her pose from standing to sitting in about ten minutes!

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

As you can see, I changed the painting quite a lot. I don’t often make such big changes between the first and second sittings, unless some new aspect of my model just captivates me. Or I accidentally painted my model standing on the wrong leg, like in this portrait of my beloved Friend-Muse-Patron Ramon!)

WIP Portrait of Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes first and second sittings 2018Somehow I feel like you have more of a sense of Shakrah as a singer in the new version even though I haven’t painted the mike in yet, like she’s pausing by your table in the cabaret.

You can hear Shakrah singing vintage jazz here and see Mirella Frangella‘s beautiful portraits here.

We had such a lovely time working together with Mirella, it was amazing. Once my hand is healed enough for the cast to come off Shakrah and I will reconvene and finish the painting!

You can see our first sitting here and the previous portrait Shakrah and I did together here. Thanks so, so much to my beautiful Patrons on Patreon for providing the monthly sponsorship that allows me to tell women’s stories and collaborate with women artists!

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!

 

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 🙂