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 love to draw Liliana,” I said to her dear friend Fannie Headaek, “she has the elegant lines of a fighting swan.”
Does that make sense? I don’t know, but I stand by it! And check out co-host Gieza Poke!
Is Pansexual Pleasure Goddess Gieza’s outfit a yellow plaid bustier and plaid booty shorts topped with a yellow plaid cape with power shoulders and a yellow tam o’shanter fascinator? Yes, yes it is. Fucking amazing.
Also performing was The Darvish, an elegant neo-bellydancer.
Dunja, an incredible Guinness World Record setting hula hooper, (see below!) as Mia Wallace!
This is Lydia, aka Lylicious Ink, tattooing a lovely lady, ON A BOAT. Lydia is a friend who is a fantastic artist who is now a tattoo artist, like Daria.
I went to the new Drink And Draw Berlin location finally, and holy heck it’s amazing. Drink And Draw’s classes and events are now held in a 90-year-old boat docked in the Historic Harbor by Markisches Museum. The atmosphere is so cozy, so charming, so superbly comfortable for drawing, I cannot even deal. I want to go back ASAP.
These two cool as hell friends of Lydia’s were talking about tat appointments, and one of them was also drawing.
I just was so happy there! There were groups of artists and tattooists working at tables and on couches throughout the boat’s comfy seating areas, and another woman tattoo artist, the fantastically badass Strix, working up on the stage, and people doing stick-and-poke.
This is Elliott, stick-and-poke tattooing his own leg.
I knew people stick-and-poke tattooed themselves, as my incredible artist sister-in-law Caitlin has a number of beautiful works she has designed and done herself. But I’d never seen it happening live in front of me before! I was like, look, a hot boy stick-and-poking his own leg on a boat! What could possible be more Berlin? But then I remembered my friend Suz told me about a nonbinary person who stick-and-poke tattoos drunk club-goers on the party train U8 on Friday nights around 3am, and that is actually more Berlin 🙂
I had some lovely Fritz-Kola on the boat (local soft drink company well known for always sponsoring art events!) and altogether the nicest time.
Thanks, Drink and Draw Berlin! I’ll be back!
And always, my deepest and profoundest gratitude to my Patrons, who crowdfund my documentary art project of a feminist intersectional lens on Berlin life! You can help, with any amount you like per month, a dollar or euro is great ?
My Patrons on Patreon give monthly financial support which allows me to make this free documentary art available for all to share!
I took an eight-day Make-Cation, where all I did was bricolage and assemblage.
It was so relaxing and fun! So I was strong and ready to dive in the second sitting with Daria.
To the left you can see the portrait about halfway through our second sitting, after an hour or so.
It is easier painting someone you know well, someone you have spent hundreds of hours with. It doesn’t actually feel easier, but better results happen without being aware of how.
So this challenging foreshortened facial view, with Daria’s head bent over her ipad, and part of her face obscured by her hanging hair, was very doable.
I expect we will finish in one more sitting!
You can see the first sitting here and Daria’s website and Instagram here. Her witchy boots are starting to emerge, below! I still need to paint in her jewelry and tattoos.
As always, this portrait is painted alla prima (without any preliminary drawing or underpainting), in straight-from-the-tube acrylic mixed only on the canvas. I am continuing to tone my canvas with acrylic paint to an even 50% grey before painting and absolutely loving the results as it increases my speed even more. The large painting seen below is about five hours total work.
This was my first time making it to the Shimmy Shake Show, which features students, graduates and teachers from Berlin burlesque school The Shimmy Shake School. It is held at the beautiful vintage venue Ballhaus Berlin, where I go multiple times a year for Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin.
You can call the bar to order a drink with the antique telephones on the tables, though the bar is always too busy to bring you a beverage when I’ve been there!
As you can see, the audience members were dressed for the show.
I was invited to draw at the show by Shimmy Shake teacherLa Loba Lucía, who I became a mad fan of after I saw her perform at Extravagant Shambles. She is the most leonine, ferocious, superheroic burlesque performer I have seen so far. Drawings of her act coming soon!
Meanwhile, here is another instructor, Anja Pavlova, performing a ballet-like burlesque that had a rococo Rites-of-Spring feel!
Daria, who has been the heart and the jumpstart of my life in Berlin, is moving to Hamburg.
They warn you when you come to live here, it’s a transient city, you make friends and then they move away. We haven’t seen that much, luckily, because most of our community loves Berlin like we love Berlin. Not Daria, though. Daria, who is from Moscow, hates Berlin like I hated San Francisco, being from New York. It’s completely hilarious how much her disdain for the way Berlin does city is like my mine for SF. She even makes the same face I do.
I have always understood that Daria’s talent is too big for Berlin, where nobody has any money.
I want her to have the massive success and fame she deserves even more than I want her to be near me. I want her to get to live in a city she loves, like I do.
She likes Hamburg, and moreover, she works with a tattoo studio there that is the right scale for her exploding career. She needs a platform that suits her expanding clientele. So that’s right, and as it should be, and I know I will see her when she comes to Berlin to see clients, because she’ll be sleeping on our couch!
As we are closing on the date she and her partner leave for their new city, we are making time for a portrait.
Like the portraits of our Bay Area loved ones that hang all over the house, a portrait of Daria will be a companion and comfort. We had talked about doing a glamorous one too, but with time growing short the highest priority was this vision of her. Like a Russian ballerina witch ninja vampire, absorbed in creating – she is editing photos on her iPad. Like I have watched her so many times in so many cafes all over the city that I came to know with her. Our next sitting is in April, and hopefully that will finish it; if not, we’ll finish it when she’s sleeping on our couch!
Plus, there’s a mooning contest which is pretty exciting!
So I was psyched to see this show and I was not disappointed.
Behind 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.
Below, more lovely audience and attendees!
That’s Chika, above helping with the mooning-hole!
and below with legend Vanessa Jupiter in the long gloves who is a trained massage therapist and was doing massages for the guests.Viva and her crew are so vibrant and sexy, and there is a kink vibe to the shows so I feel right at home!
This was one of those events where I wanted to draw everyone a dozen times.
The 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.
I 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.
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 🙂
Wow, 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 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!
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.
Hello 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!
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!
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,
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.
I 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 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.
Their 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.
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.
Anyway 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.