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 started drawing this tender couple because I liked the shape of the left-hand partner’s coat and legs.
As I drew them, they sorted out movie plans and then things got very, very cute!
This guy was on the train I got on right after.
He was very tall guy with a very large instrument case, and he looked tired as hell. Whatever gig he was coming from must have been intense. I couldn’t figure out what the instrument was – it was like a guitar case, but oversized. Yet not big enough for a standup bass.
And this young woman in a sweatshirt dress was on the phone, on the bus.
Her phone call making her happy.
Previous unterwegs below. All unterwegs drawings are courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available!
It’s because I can’t ride one, I don’t understand the basic mechanics. But people bring their bikes on the U-Bahn, and their dynamics with the bikes are interesting, so I occasionally try to draw them.
When I did the drawing above I was thinking about the looseness and easy mark-making of my pre-comics drawing style.
I recently scanned some drawings from 1990-91 for my archives, and realized how much rigidity I developed while I was formatting my drawing style for comic inking and printing. I want to try and rediscover that sketchy early 90s style.
I wouldn’t say this drawing succeeded at that, but it’s been a long road here and it’s ok for it to be a wander to try and go back abit.
At least I drew this goofy hand, which is barely drawn at all!
In Berlin homeless people spare-changing on the U-Bahn announce themselves and say their names loudly as they enter the train.
That’s what the guy you see here is doing. There’s a sort of script panhandlers follow. It’s not clear to me if this is custom or required by some regulation. It does serve the purpose of giving people a chance to dig in their purses/pockets for change, if they are so inclined. I panhandled daily to support my heroin habit in the last year of my active using; I understand doing anything you can to ease the mechanics of asking strangers for money.
I wound up having to take a lot of transit this week cause I had medical tests at various doctors, so I had more unterwegs time. There were actually two more women, on either side of these three, also with bent heads reading screens or books, but only these three had bags with rectangular bases in their laps. I imagined the young woman on the right to be a fashion student or designer. She was wearing these cream-colored wide-legged pants that were so striking and unusual for January.
Here you can see me being mesmerized by all the textures and shapes of how people bundle up.
As I mentioned in the first unterwegs of this month, it blows my mind how wrapped up people stay on the warm train!
edit. to add one more train drawing, which I did on the way to yet another doctor appt!
Previous unterwegs below, all unterwegs courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available!
Drawing a foreshortened face is always a good challenge.
I appreciate people who are reading a book very much for this! I have a tutorial about drawing skulls here where I talk about my approach to the face in perspective.
People in Berlin are all so bundled up in the winter!
Thanks to menopause I run hot and wear about half as much wrapping as most people. Sitting on the cozy subway and buses and trams, I marvel at their bundling. Many people do not even open their coats on the train! While I get on and am immediately clawing mine open 🙂
edit. to add one person who DOESN’T bundle up: this very tall pole dancing guy I’ve seen several times on the U7!
All the thanks to my beautiful Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial contributions make it possible for me to make documentary art of life in Berlin.
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.
This 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!
I know there haven’t been many unterwegs this Fall!
I have been having some autoimmune issues with my health and I am sometimes terribly weak, so I haven’t been out and about anywhere near as much as I’d like. It took me ages to finish this drawing of two guys with very different style on the S-Bahn!
And this is a very sweet couple, the lady enjoying her bouquet and her attentive companion.
I am so incredibly grateful for the support of my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial contributions make it possible for me to work as I can, when I can. My documentary art is licensed Creative Commons and free for all!
The thing about this guy with the phone on the bus was…
He was really excited about the phone call he was trying to get his friend to listen in on, and his friend was extremely “whatever” about it. Also, I don’t think I conveyed it in the drawing, but the phone was the thinnest I’ve ever seen, an absolute wafer.
This young woman had very large shoes.
And patterned pants that were definitely skating the edge of being Hammer Pants.
I actually drew these two bears lovin on each other during the summer.
I saw them on the U7 at 4am, during CSD weekend. Christopher Street Day is the big Gay Pride weekend in Germany. They were headed home, like me, and the one with the Yankee hat was definitely German, but I guess the Yanks transcend nationality. The one with the curly hair had a Bear flag pendant, but I couldn’t figure out how to show it.
This is an example of a drawing I didn’t finish for a long time because I was frustrated with it; it’s not my best draftswomanship, coming at the end of a long night. And I am rarely pleased with my execution of horizontal compositions, which I why I rarely do them. However I loved these two and so I finally sucked it up and did my best to finish it. Not my best drawing, but two of my sweetest subjects!
Thank you, my Patreon Patrons, for making it possible for me to draw these Berlin people and share their stories. People are fucking beautiful, and it brings me the purest joy to tell you about them.
This punk mom was hustling her sporty son off the U because she wanted to hit her vape pen, ready in her hand!
She was too polite to smoke it on the train, I guess?
The scene below was a classic Berlin moment: subway car dance party.
Just as the doors closed at Warschauerstrasse, two guys hopped on the car. As soon as it pulled out of the station, they cranked up their boombox and one was rapping while the other danced. Most people were dancing, watching or filming the scene, like the woman with the gorgeous Afro. But the guy next to her, with the model-type looks, remained still and his face was masklike in repose. I imagined he had just come home from a big shoot for Calvin Klein in Dubai and was completely exhausted…
Thank you, my Patreon Patrons, for making it possible for me to draw these Berlin moments and share these stories. People are so cool.
This young dad got off the S-Bahn with his family before I could draw the face of his sleeping baby.
The whole drawing was hard because I was so enchanted by the little girl and how pretty her dress was that I didn’t look that carefully at the handsome dad, who anyway was wearing all white which is hard as hell to draw!
Plus, they were only on the train for two stops. So I had to kind of fake it. I was planning to use photo reference of babies, although you know I never use photos for anything but objects. Babies are so challenging, though, I was willing to get some help. I let it simmer for a while.
Then this weekend we were riding the S-Bahn again, I was working on some other drawings in that sketchbook, and I had a flash of recall. So I drew the baby’s little face in two seconds from memory. I think they came out okay!
Thank you, my Patreon Patrons, for making it possible for me to capture these Berlin moments and tell these stories. It is so precious.
I have some new unterwegs in progress from this month but they will have to wait til I ride the S-Bahn again and can get the architecture in!
I 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.
But 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.