Tag Archives: portraiture

Drawing women doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Berlin!

Giulia at Spitfire 2 by Suzanne Forbes March 27 2018What could be cooler?

My friend Giulia invited me to come draw her training at BJJ class. She is an artist and art teacher who also loves combat sports! Would you believe the gym is called Spitfire and they offer a discount to women who train there!!! Cause they want more women at the gym!!!!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Spitfire 2 Suzanne Forbes March 27 2018Giulia wears a gi from Fenom, who make BJJ wear only for women.

I learned so much today! I don’t think I’d ever drawn any martial art before. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is very grapple-y, and moves from slow to incredibly fast without warning.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Spitfire Gym by Suzanne Forbes March 27 2018The instructor made me welcome; one of the most charming parts of the experience was his twin girls, toddlers, roaming around the mat during the class.

If there are kids hanging around me I usually let them help with the drawing, and you can see several of these drawings are collaborations.

I kept it loose and didn’t try too hard to get details.

I wanted to focus on getting the movements as little wrong as possible! Just like drawing the tango, it’s inevitable that I will get movements and gestures matched up wrong.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Spitfire Gym by Suzanne Forbes March 27 2018I was right in the middle of the scene; it was just like being at a sex party or dungeon.

Just like at a sex party, I positioned myself out of the way but sometimes the action moved over to me and sweaty people bumped into me. At least nobody used me to brace themselves at Spitfire! And just like at a dungeon or play party, there were very clear boundaries, consent was asked and given, and I had to stay alert for flying bodily fluids.

Grapplers at Spitfire by Suzanne Forbes March 27 2018I didn’t realize how much force and power was in the movements until someone’s arm slammed into me.

Right after I drew this one of the grapplers got a bloody nose and had to walk off the mat cupping a handful of blood. Just like at a dungeon, action immediately came to a halt while the blood on the mat was cleaned up and the area disinfected. Safe combat!!

It was a great adventure, and I’m so grateful to Giulia for inviting me (here’s her Patreon!), Spitfire Gym for the hospitality, and my Patreon Patrons who make my documentary art possible. 

An art salon in West Berlin.

Moscow artist Katya Elizarova at art salon March 21 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThis week I was invited to the delightful art salon of curators Denis Leo Hegic and Michelle Houston, in the historic queer art neighborhood of Schöneberg.

This is Moscow graffiti artist and fine artist Katya Q in front of her latest work. There is a deliberately ephemeral work at the heart of these salons, a huge antique chalkboard that is turned into an artwork and then erased a month later.

H Geil at art Salon March 21 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThere was also a performance by H. Geil and R.L. Fardoe.

H. Geil sang the wonderful Marlene Dietrich song Wenn die beste Freundin, a lesbian anthem of the ’30s. He was accompanied on ukulele by Robert Lee Fardoe. It is a song about two married ladies going shopping and sharing secrets, revealing the intimacy of their relationship, and a very snappy number!

Hostess Michelle Houston and guests at West Berlin art salon March 21 2018 by Suzanne ForbesHere you see hostess Michelle Houston chatting with guests.

What a lovely evening, talking art, writing and cooking with creative people!

An evening at Barbiche, a woman-owned art space!

Alfred Ladylike at Barbiche March 18 2018 by Suzanne ForbesDo you know what Barbiche means? It means the little beard of the goat!

Isn’t that the best damn thing ever?? Barbiche is a new bar and art space created by artist Lena Braun, legendary Berlin queer gallerist, salon hostess and culture curator. I went there to see my friend Alfred Ladylike perform. Here she is rocking out onstage!

And below is woman rocker Kitty Solaris.

Performer at Barbiche March 16 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI took the bus in the snow to get there, which sounds onerous but was actually delightful.

I was bundled up and cozy, the bus comes every five minutes and is right on the corner, and the snow flickering down in the night was like glitter. And Barbiche is in the West! It’s a gorgeous space with lots of cool art on display. In Schöneberg, where the art scene is getting stronger and stronger. As per Lena: “In the west of Berlin,” she says, “something is happening again.”

Alfred’s consort Chris was petting their dog Georgie Boy here. One of my Patreon Patrons also makes an appearance in this drawing, as does the hostess herself, Ms. Lena Braun!

At Barbiche March 18 2018 by Suzanne ForbesIt’s totally normal to bring your dog to your gig in Berlin.

And Georgie is a good boy! You can see I’m drinking Fritz-Kola, the ubiquitous independent soda of Berlin, in my fave flavor, rhubarb. Pink vegetable soda, sweet doggos, original art, woman-owned art business, friends rocking out. It’s a damn good life.

Wandelism in Wilmersdorf!

 

limo destruction at Wandelism March 16 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI finally got out to visit the Berlin graffiti/street art community!

I’ve been wanting to start documenting this huge and crucial part of Berlin’s art scene since we got here. But it just hadn’t worked out until now.

This week I heard about an art installation, an Urban Art Temple, called Wandelism.

Denis and Marina at Wandelism March 16 2018 by Suzanne Forbes

And it was only three subway stops away! So I contacted the organizer and was invite to come by and make drawings of the artists at work. Work was wrapping up but I met some lovely folks and got to sketch some of the action. Everyone was super friendly and chill. I met Marina Zumi, one of the artists, who had the coolest Jessica Jones vibe going on, and Denis Leo Hegic, who was documenting the event with a camera guy.

Artist on scaffold at Wandelism by Suzanne Forbes March 16 2018I was very happy to begin connecting with this community, which is both so familiar and so different.

There is a great range of works in the Wandelism Temple. There are murals, pieces, large scale flaming sculptures made with played cans, scale models of trains (I want one for my action figure dollhouse so badly!) and entire rooms painted up by individual artists. You can reserve a time for a guided tour here, or come to the vernissage on Saturday March 17 at 3pm. You can see tantalizing pics on Instagram here!

Art team at Wandelism March 16 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI was shocked to see everyone wearing masks, like AT-8 and Damian Yves Rohde here.

In my day the idea of graffiti artists wearing masks just hadn’t occurred to anybody, and if it had, none of us would have had money for them. Although of course they could have been racked from Pearl Paint like cans, I guess!

Young artist at Wandelism March 15 2018 by Suzanne ForbesWe just called what you spit up after a long night “technicolor phlegm.”

Much better to protect your lungs and health, so you can have a long working life. My people died young, mostly, and there is grief in revisiting the graffiti world for me, but also hope and joy. Like the sight of this young woman artist, Alice Gruen, drawing in her book. I’m looking forward to the opening on Saturday!!

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!

Souls of Berlin.

M at Ludwig by Suzanne Forbes feb 28 2018M. posed for this drawing at Ludwig on Valentine’s Day, while telling us stories.

She was born on the same continent I was; nowadays she identifies as a “Citizen of the World”, and teaches German here in Berlin. She’s lived all over the planet; maybe all the experience is what keeps her so young. My friend Maurus, who owns Ludwig, calls the beautiful photos he takes of his guests “Souls of Ludwig“. I love the idea that we are all souls, meeting here in this world.

Sarah Omar and Sara at ESDIP Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Feb 28 2018I drew these folks at ESDIP Berlin during a meeting.

We were talking about the schedule for the Illustration Intensive course for the summer, when we get students from all over the world. Sara is from Spain, Omar is from Ecuador, and Sarah is from the UK. But we were all united by a discussion of how appallingly expensive, and yet wildly desirable, the new iPad Pro with the stylus is.

Berlin is a place for all souls to freely be themselves.

And I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to tell these stories.

Works in Process – drawing pastel clothing with pastels, yikes!

WIP VIva Lamour by Suzanne Forbes detail Feb 2018I’m working on these three pastel drawings from Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin veeeerrry slowly.

This first one is of the beautiful Viva Lamore, who wore a marvelous outfit with a cage hoop. Because the theme for this Dr. Sketchy’s was Broken Baroque, everyone was wearing ropes of pearls and masses of ruffles. Plus fluffy white cotton batting wigs.

WIP VIva Lamour by Suzanne Forbes Feb 2018I’m struggling to control the “dust sticks” as I call them and render some kind of believable volume with such pale colors.

I find it so hard to get any detail with pastels. Especially drawing things like pearls and lace. As you can see, for important areas like the models’ faces, I just cheat and use ink. I’m using both my beloved PITT brush pens and 50% grey scale markers here to add in darker values. For the pearls, I started using a white color pencil.

WIP Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Feb 2018As much as I’ve hated and ignored color pencils all my life, I can see how on paper this good, they can be a nice tool.

Each of these drawings is on a different shade of Mi Teintes paper, as I randomly chose from my pad of sepia, umber, and buff paper in order to provide “new experiences”. Mighta gone a little overboard on adding complicating factors there, as the effect of each color of pastel stick is startlingly different on light vs dark papers.

WIP Evilyn Frantic by Suzanne Forbes Feb 2018So I am working on them just a little bit at a time, trying not to set myself the overwhelming goal of “finishing” or “getting them right”.

You can see the drawings I’ve finished so far from this Dr. Sketchy’s here.

Thanks so very much to my Patrons on Patreon whose financial support makes it possible for me to explore new materials like this. You are the best.

February 2018 Unterwegs!

Woman in U Bahn by Suzanne Forbes February 5 2018As I have been very fatigued this month, I haven’t gotten out and about much.

So two of these unterwegs are from other months, drawings that started as quick sketches and were left unfinished. Often I’ll have a sketchbook that has some orphans in it, left behind when I ran out of empty pages.

This month I’m gathering up the orphans and finishing them!

Actually, pretty much every sketchbook has a sketch or two I forgot about or didn’t finish because I ran out of marker, lost my pastel, or needed some reference for a bicycle.

Unterwegs by Suzanne Forbes February 2018Sometimes a drawing is put on hold til I ride that particular model of train again!

I might need to check the layout of the car, see where the doors or handrails are. Orphans are generally dated the day I finish and sign them, which is why the woman with the tree in summer clothes is dated February 18.

Woman with tree in U Bahn by Suzanne Forbes February 20 2018You can see past Unterwegs here:

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

Baron Anastis and the Erinyes and a new drawing buddy, Miz K!

Drawing of Suzanne Forbes by Kristen Haas Curtis and of Miz K by Suzanne Forbes Feb 1 2018

Drawing of Suzanne Forbes by Kristen Haas Curtis and of Miz K by Suzanne Forbes Feb 1 2018

The drawers, drawn! AKA, women cartoonists unite and rule!

Last weekend my friends were performing in my neighborhood, just a couple blocks from my home. At a cool place I didn’t know about, an art gallery/music venue called Art Stalker!Baron Anastis by Suzanne Forbes Feb 1 2018

We don’t get much punk rock here in the Far West, ya know, so it was a big deal!

It was my first chance to catch an official gig of Baron Anastis and the Erinyes. Friend and muse Rah Hell is the drummer, veteran Berlin rocker Joe Sparkle is on guitar and Baron Anastis, punk titan of West Berlin, is the frontman and songwriter.

Joe Dochtermann by Suzanne Forbes Feb 1 2018(You can see my drawings from when I went to a rehearsal at their Sekrit Mystery Rehearsal Space here. )

Rah Hell by Suzanne Forbes Feb 1 2018To my delight, I also got to IRL meet Rah’s bestie, Switzerland-based American cartoonist Kristen Haas Curtis. Kristen is known as Miz K in the independent comics world, and she is a marvelous talent. I had been enjoying her warm and deft diary comics for a while, and was intrigued to see her at work in the wild.

Miz K and I settled down together to share a drawing table – she was doing Hourly Comics Day, which I didn’t even know was a thing!

It turns out it is, and damn, no way would I be able to do that. Would you look at this??

Hourly Comics by Kristen Haas Curtis AKA Miz K Feb 1 2018

Hourly Comics by Kristen Haas Curtis AKA Miz K Feb 1 2018

It was so nice to have a drawing buddy at a gig and the show was great. They played some of their terrific glampunk originals and some covers including a deliciously corroded cover of “Pure Morning” and a rollicking “Commando”. Everyone had a good time!

Afterwards we took a taxi since Rah and Miz K were transporting drums, and they dropped me off at my door like a fancy person. And then I read Kristen’s lovely comic done in collab with her daughter Bee, Princess Wolf and her Life of Darkness, which is really wonderful and if you have kids or like comics, check it out right here, I HIGHLY recommend it!

Follow Kristen on Instagram, see her previous hourly comics here, and follow Baron and the Erinyes here!

Thanks a million, million to my beloved Patrons on Patreon, who make it possible for me to show up and document events like this!

First unterwegs of the new year – January 2018 travel drawings!

Woman singing in the U Bahn by Suzanne Forbes Jan 17 2018As usual, I’ve seen all kinds of interesting things riding the Berlin transit system.

This woman was singing Tracy Chapman’s “Give me one reason” on a cold night, pretty late. Her voice rose up in the station, and she laughed as she got a little feedback howl.

Guys on weed mission U5 by Suzanne Forbes Jan 15 2018These two guys, one Russian and one British, were speaking English and having the loudest, most public discussion about buying drugs I’ve ever heard.

Brit: “Her message – ‘love gettin fucked with you'”

Russian: “And yours?”

Brit: “Gonna go get weed.”

Russian: “Aw that’s the sweetest thing to text to a girl!”

They had a long discussion where the Brit explained she had offered to get the weed, but he said he’d do it his own self, because “Gotta show I’m a provider”, which the Russian guy followed with this whole story of how when they had kids, there would be a little miniature boy who felt the same need to take care of supply maintenance, and then they rambled into how to split two bags for €15 three ways, which is not a math problem they were really up for. To be honest, I don’t know that they needed much more weed.

The German girl with the skateboard was laughing at them.

Little guy on the U8 by Suzanne Forbes Jan 12 2018This little guy sitting on his mom’s feet is named Miguel.

Little guy on the U8 by Suzanne Forbes detail Jan 12 2018I know that because he said to his mom, who was eating fries out of a deep-fried flour bowl (something I’d never seen before as a fry vehicle), “I NEVER get to do what I want!!”.

She replied, “Actually, Miguel -” and she enumerated some recent times when he’d gotten to do exactly what he wanted.

She said it in a very chill way, like she was just explaining something reasonable to a reasonable person.

And he kinda huffed, like, “Fair enough”, and settled back against her legs.

Small dog with large head on U5 by Suzanne Forbes Jan 17 2018This small dog had a really big, hairy head.

The little girl next to him was blown away by it. As her mom was herding her off the train, she was staring at me and I flipped my sketchbook around and showed her the drawing, and then she was even more astonished!

You can see previous unterwegs here:

December 2017

November 2017

September 2017

July bonus round

July

June

May bonus round

May round one

April

March 2

March

January

December

November

New Year’s Eve with Sunday Slips and Donut Heart!

Liliana Velasquez and friends at Sunday Slips by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017We went to the Sunday Slips Extravaganza at Lagari for New Year’s.

That’s right, we finally went out on New Year’s Eve, our third year in Berlin. What can I say, we like our house and we like staying home!

This year though, lots of our friends were performing/going to Lagari so we got on the M29 bus and went to Neukölln.

It was so wonderful to ride on the upper deck of my beloved M29 along the river of stars that is the Ku’Damm at New Years.

Cedric Till at Sunday Slips by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

Cedric Till at Sunday Slips by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

I felt ridiculously, absurdly fortunate to be riding the bus to friends with my husband in a city that was not just safe, but sparkling.

Well, exploding, really, but I like the noise and fireworks of Silvester! We arrived at Lagari around ten, just as the open mic session was ending.

The host of the event, Liliana Velásquez, is someone I drew previously at Folsom Europe. You can see her dancing with friends in the top drawing. As well as hosting the Sunday Slips, the weekly clubhouse of Freudian Slip Club, she is part of the Fetish Comedy group.

Her partner Wynton Kelly Stevenson is an amazing one-man band.

Wynton Kelly Stevenson by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

Wynton Kelly Stevenson by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

We were blown away by his sounds, created with harmonica, beatbox and Loopstation. And his sound is super danceable. Hubbin got up and danced a bit along with the folks of all ages who enjoy the chill Lagari scene!

Women dancing at Lagari by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017Here you can see Alfred Ladylike serenely conserving her energies for…

Alfred Ladylike by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017…the rocked to fuck show by Alfred Ladylike and Rah Hell of Donut Heart!

They were joined at the end by Liliana, who just learned to play the bass!

Alfred Ladylike and Rah Hell of Donut Heart by Suzanne Forbes Dec 31 2017

At one point Rah had to stand up and drum because her drum was trying to escape the pounding she was giving it. Wynton had to lie on it to hold it in place. Berlin is punk as fuck.

There were other performances like burlesque queen Viva Lamore coming out of a handmade giant Campbell’s Soup Can, and we received handmade banana hats in our goody bag. We had such a lovely time.

Berlin art and music fam, we love you!