I was recently in a group show at Schöneberg gallery The Ballery.
The works shown included a beautiful series of portraits by photographer Eva Brunner. Barbara, above, was the model. During the finissage evening of the exhibit, Barbara performed some deft comic numbers.
This is an example of a drawing where I could take my time with the background and really work out the details. As all my dear ones know, I love to draw people playing music and have had far less chances to do so this year, since I’ve been ill so much.
I added the color when I got home, based on memory and little scribbly notes on the drawings.
I swear to you that the colors appeared exactly as they do here: the glowing red light in the Ballery’s cloakroom, the oversize bottle of Campari, Barbara’s signature red/orange look, the red accent on her mike, and the red nailpolish in the portrait behind her. Other than that it was all grays and whites and blacks.
A marvelous scene I was lucky to capture, including Barbara’s gorgeous gams!! Thanks to my Patrons on Patreon, who make my documentary art possible <3
She is the Motha of the House of Bushwig, a LatinX punk and International Queen who came to Berlin to light things up this summer. I got a good likeness of her, but I could not find photo reference of her outfit, so the look I have drawn her in is a composite of several of her incredible pastel explosions of creativity. I hope the Queen will find that ok!
This extremely cute boy Nām was one of two backup dancers for queen Ocean.
As a guest of international NY/Berlin drag festivalBushwig this summer, I drew more performers in a single day than I have EVER drawn before, but I couldn’t draw everybody. I felt bad I couldn’t capture the beauty of the queen herself, but sometimes even the best stage-side seat doesn’t give me a decent view of a performer, and that was the case here.
ReveRso is a Berlin drag legend, bringing a very different style.
There was a whole other part of ReverRso’s performance, involving actual fireworks in personal areas, that I could not draw for this Patreon-sponsored site. Perhaps you will find it elsewhere 😉
I didn’t get this performer’s name but they danced tremendously in those sky-high boots!
This guy is incredibly tall and an amazing dancer, he was BEATING the stage into submission in the brutal heat, just moving and slamming. Drop splits!!
Cupcake in pink!
I am still working on finishing all the Bushwig Berlin drawings and spraying them with fixativ and scanning them! I actually still have another five performers. The first Bushwig Berlin post is here and the second is here.
As usual these drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) for all to share and enjoy!
In addition, I release the copyright on each drawing to the performer shown and they may use the drawings for their own profit and pleeeasssure in any way they choose.
As a fat, queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free.
Bishopis a multi-disciplinaryartistwho works incredibly hard in so many swim lanes! And he is fantastically handsome and muscular 🙂 You can see my drawings of him from the Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin Red Hot Love session here and here.
I was experimenting a lot with materials for this session (read more at this post) and struggling to resolve values.
Rendering skin tones and clothing shadows is something I can do easily in paint, but I am a novice at pastels and color drawing still.
A big part of the reason I’m adding color to my drawings now is to give performers of color a more vibrant representation. My approach is ever-evolving, and I always invite POC performers to check me if I get their undertones wrong!
I only got one drawing of beautiful mermaid model Gizem Akram, seen below, because my usual table by the dj stand just didn’t work well for most of her poses.
This happens occasionally wherever I draw; sometimes I just can’t get a good “shot” of one or more performers.
It’s challenging to draw scantily-clad people in multi-colored stage lighting, but I did my best; you know who is awesome at it?
Fabulous muse Noélinela Bouche shook it in purple, amazing as always. Afterwards I visited her at her booth where she sells her beautiful fascinators and headpieces – check her insta to see what shows she’s selling at.
You want your Suz to stay in Berlin, drawing your beautiful selves as you do your wonderful creative work, right?
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My loves, there has been a big mess with the visa office, and I have only a three-month visa to stay in Berlin now. Yes, this is happening when I just had surgery and have had a year of serious health problems.
I have an appointment to renew my artist’s visa or restore my spousal visa on November 20, and before then I need bank statements showing more income as an artist/more media coverage of my work.
How I am asking you to help:
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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 comic 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 was so excited to be a guest of international NY/Berlin drag festivalBushwig this summer. I knew superstar drag performer and makeup artist Hungry would be performing; I’ve been dreaming of drawing her for years. And I knew I’d get to see and draw a whole armada of international drag talents for the first time.
I got to speak to her briefly and show her my drawing after, and I have to admit I was a gibbering fangirl.
You just can’t imagine how beautiful, how ethereal, how meta-human and naiad-like and perfumed with colors she is.
Her makeup is painterly perfection, her skin glows, her brocade corset by MistyCouture has an extraordinary pipestem waist, her smooth bone-tattooed chest is flecked with gold leaf and petals. Her nail gloves were made by Vie of Unicorns Poop Glitter and they waved like undersea fronds in the air!
Hungry is simply a living orchid, a baroque marvel, and the kind of talent you meet only a few times in a lifetime. And she was so sweet and kind!
Read about the development of her style and her collaboration with Björk here.
I got to draw Europe’s Cheekbone Queen, the beautiful Betty Fvck, twice in one week!
Always a thrill to see this beauty work it. Drawing her at both Bushwig and Extravagant Shambles “Pride, Not Prejudice” was a total drawing Lotto win! Betty is so elegant!!
I was seated right up against the stage, and had such a great view of everyone. The venue, Festsaal Kreuzberg, is really lovely, a kind of industrial/tiki forbidden island on the river.
The variety and diversity of talent was marvelous.
This angel bby drag goblin is Dirt from the Ground. You can see them perform here!
I was very charmed by Frida Pussy, who was assigned acts of contrition for unsafe acts: “Repeat, ‘I’m on PREP it’s fine’ fifteen times”.
Nun to devil transformation is a classic for a reason, baby!
I loved Donna Trump, a sass queen from Manchester’s thriving drag scene.
I was pretty damn wobbly near the end of this show, as I have been sick on and off all summer and it was very, very hot in the venue.
I was lucky enough to have a kind stranger be my support team – basically as my health has deteriorated this past couple years the type of embedded, in-the-splash-zone, eight-hours-nonstop drawing I do has become much harder.
A stranger (or friend!) showing appreciation for the value of my work, offering to get me a non-alcoholic drink, helping to buffer my drawing hand against surging crowds, fanning me with a flyer, holding my seat while I hit the loo, giving me a Euro or two to help my crowd-funding – all matter so much. Thank you, Arthur!
The minute producer Cadbury Parfait announced a Pride Week show with an all queer-identifying lineup, I was in!
I love to go to shows at iconic venue Monster Ronsons, even though it’s on the absolute opposite side of town (and of course in the summer getting to the East is a nightmare because U-Bahn construction). Because, a) the place just feels like home, and b) Ronsons actually has some shitty air-conditioning, which puts it WAY ahead of basically every other venue in Berlin. And Pride, Not Prejudice was a can’t-miss Extravagant Shambles lineup!
Above, Eden Lost shakes off the patriarchy.
EdenLost is one of those performers who just blows my mind. They have the kind of star power and gorgeousness that comes off the stage in waves. I was so thrilled to meet them and have been following their adventures on the Insta, where I just saw they cosplayed 80’s Punk Storm!!! You must click!!! So good I am basically rolling around on the floor SHRIEKING.
I returned to my comic-book roots with this edition of Dr. Sketchys Berlin. I have a new tool, a giant PITT brush marker, and I just dashed the drawings out like a wild woman!! Using a combination of the PITT marker and my beloved white chalk marker on Strathmore Toned Gray paper, I was able to treat the drawings like paintings, working additive-subtractive. This method gave me tremendous freedom and confidence.
The models were Lucille Lehr and Sebastian Stone, two extremely muscular and fit humans who totally embodied cartoon heroes. They are both extremely talented multi-disciplinary artists, and they brought such marvelous energy to the show. Lucille’s resemblance to Jane Fonda was UNCANNY. I had SO MUCH FUN!!!!!
I also drew Dr. Sketchy’s house DJ, Berlin legend UFO Hawaii!
His sound is always the sickest in town. When he breaks out the T. Rex I get so happy!
I am so grateful to have Dr. Sketchy’s and the good folks who make it happen in my life.
I’m still catching up from the beginning of June, with events like this finissage at the Schwules Museum. It was a beautiful event for the closing of the incredible “Objects of Desire” exhibit, with two live performances.
Above, gorgeous model, makeup-artist and advocate Layanna Flaxx shows off her purple hair. I was sitting with my friend Sadie Lune and saying how amazing her makeup in her latest film was, and she was like “Yeah Layanna did it!”.
I also drew this young photographer who was documenting the live performance of LiadHussein Kantorowicz. I need to get the photographer’s name!
The performances involved nudity, so I can’t create those drawings for this site – look for them on my other site in the next few days.
I met up withSuzanne in Prenzlauerberg for a visit to the Circus Bar!
There are two circus bars, actually, kitty-corner from each other as we used to say in the Old Country.
Zum Starken August has burlesque Friday and Saturday nights, with an MC like Martini Cherry Furter, above. Toast Hawaii has bands and also something called Pornokaroake which I don’t know what that even is. Toast Hawaii, btw, is a disgusting German dish. Do not google it.
I’ve drawn Martini before and it is always SUCH a pleasure. She is so beautiful, all glamour and cheekbones and legs and sass. The straight boys she was teasing as I drew this were blushing like little kids.
Here’s performer La Loba Lucía, one of my favorite people in Berlin to draw!
She always looks like a super hero, even doing her gangster routine here. She brought the routine out of retirement just for this night so I was super excited! It was so important to me to be there on this night, and yet I was so sick I almost gave up and went home. Only the support of my friend and fellow artist Suzanne Wegh kept me there.