Monthly Archives: April 2016

Eagle 19, Alone in the Dark

This morning I woke up hearing Joni Mitchell singing “Help me…” in my head. The last couple of days have been a slog. I seem to be crabby all the time and I can’t make myself do anything about it. I want to crawl back into bed and forget about everything I still have to do for this show coming up. I don’t feel like walking or shopping or framing or painting. I just want to sit in a puddle and feel sorry for myself.

Here’s the thing, though. I write it all down, just how crappy I feel, puking it all out on paper, and eventually, I feel better. Not 100%, but better, maybe 30% better. I write a little more and pretty soon I’m giving myself a pep talk about how everything will work out okay if I’m patient, if I take things one step at a time. Gradually, I begin to feel like I could do one of the things on my list.

So, I went online and spent about $500 for everything I’ll need for next weekend. I’m excited, a bit daunted, but at least I have a plan. 50 prints, 150 cards, 7 paintings and 1 giveaway, plus a partridge in a pear tree, or a beer in a tree, depending on where you’re from and who you listened to growing up.

It’ll all be okay. I just have to remember that when I’m feeling alone and helpless, I have the power to make it better. I can do things, write things, make things. It’s enough.

pastel painting of two eaglets asleep in the nest

Eagle 19, Alone in the Dark, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia


Eagle 17, Attitude Adjustment

pastel painting of a bald eagle on the nest with eaglets

Eagle 17, Attitude Adjustment, 6×9″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia.

Eagle 17, Attitude Adjustment

When we lived in Ludington and Steve was working long hours, I was faced with making dinner every night after work. I was so depleted at the end of the day that coming up with a meal was just too much on top of everything else. So I enlisted the kids to take a day a week and decide what to make for dinner, then I’d help them put it together. That plan was in place for probably three weeks, which in the overall scheme of things, isn’t very long, but it helped. I got a break, they felt like they were contributing, so it was good.

Parenting for me so far has been a series of short experiments. I’ll try this new approach to discipline that I just read about on the internet, and next week it’ll be a how to talk to your teenager book I found at the library. The week after it’ll be something my girlfriend told me about that worked for getting her kid to clean up his room. I am always trying to improve my parenting self.

One of the first things I remember figuring out was how not to be funny at my children’s expense. You know how it is when you’re telling a parenting story and it starts to sound like complaining but it’s funny and you can’t stop. Pretty soon people think your kids are awful, when actually, they’re just being kids.

I decided one day to just tell people, if they asked, that my kids were perfect. Because they were. They were perfect examples of children. At least, that’s how I thought of it.

Instead of actively taking notes about how hard it was being a mom, I started memorizing all the good stuff. Instead of telling the story about Alice walking on her baby brother when I wasn’t looking, I told the story about how she cuddled him in her arms. Instead of whining about how Sam kept me up all night, I talked about how much he loved to be held. Instead of talking about Nick sneaking into the health department building after hours with his friends, I bragged about how he had built-in GPS and always knew where he was.

My friends started telling me they wished I’d been their mother. And this always stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t think of myself as a good mom. I just practiced thinking of my kids as good kids.

Maybe I can take that early lesson about my attitude toward my children and apply it to myself. Rather than make a daily catalog of my failures, what would happen if I made a list of my successes instead? If I started toting up all the examples of what makes me a perfect example of myself, it would maybe change how I feel about me. It’s worth a try.


Eagle 16, Loose

pastel of a bald eagle on a nest

Eagle 16, Loose, 6×9″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia.

I was going for loose with this one, so what I did was, I made a pencil sketch and then painted from that. And it helps to keep things lighter and fresher. You can only be as detailed with the painting as you are in the sketch. I set my timer for 25 minutes for both and managed to finish the painting by the time the bell rang. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the face of him/her, but I like the composition. It looks less like an aerie and more like a robin’s nest, I think. I’ll have to try it again.

Today started out productively enough. I found a few more frames at the Hospice Thrift Store on Beach Boulevard. Happily, everything was 50% off. They must be catching on to the fact that people are buying the frames and not the art because some of the pieces I was interested in were in the $80 range or better. Oh well. It’s still a savings versus buying them new.

I got my point driver in the mail yesterday so I should be all set. Just a few more frames to try and find. I still haven’t found anything big enough to handle The Skelly Dance, my homage to Henri Matisse. Something will turn up, though.

I’m trying to stay loose about the upcoming show, trying not to wind myself up, trying not to overcompensate for my imagined shortcomings. Read: spend money on things I convince myself I need in order to do well. Calm, calm, calm. This is supposed to be fun, remember?


Eagle 15, My Favorite Fish!

pastel painting of a bald eagle and eaglet

Eagle 15, My Favorite Fish! 6×9″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia, $129. If you’d like to purchase this painting, email me.

My Favorite Fish!

This is the third attempt at this painting. Here are the other two.

Eagle 15, number 2

Eagle 15, number 2

Eagle 15, number 1

Eagle 15, number 1

Part of the problem was focus. I was very conscious of the fact that a camera was pointed at my back. The other problem was that this is a very difficult composition for me. But I think the last version came out pretty well. It helped to think of it as an illustration rather than a piece of “art”. Sometimes, a picture is just a picture and not “art,” you know?

It also helped to do it several times. I could try things and refine the shapes, make choices about how much importance I wanted to attach to the different elements. I still feel like I could fade the large branches back a bit.

Anyway, I like it. I like the strong diagonal from parental head to progeny tail. I like the pale yellow nest, I like the tangle of larger branches behind. I like the strong dark of the eagle’s legs.

Tomorrow I’ll post the video.


Steve in a Green Shirt

Pastel painting of a man on the beach

Steve in a Green Shirt, 10×7″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. $129, unframed. Email me to purchase.

Steve in a Green Shirt

Of course, you know that he was wearing a tie-dyed shirt, right? I elected to simplify it to plain green. He looks good in it.

I am thinking about experimenting with this one, doing it on a really, long, skinny piece of paper. First I have to find the right frame, and then I’ll do it to fit.

Today was the meeting at The Attic gallery. We talked about things to do to get some more people through the door. I absolutely have to go back tomorrow and re-stock skelly cards. And then I’m going to walk around to all the hotels and put some postcards at the concierge desks. Maybe that’ll help bring some people in.

It’s a bit frustrating. But that’s natural. Anything by committee is. And probably less than half of the people who are in the gallery care whether they sell anything or not. I offered to write the PR for the gallery in order to keep my art on the walls, after we move and I can’t work there anymore. I think I’d like to put a newsletter together, too, and then see what everybody thinks. If we sent one out once a month, it would help draw people back in more often.



I feel for these birds. I have a house to live in. They don’t. They’re out in the open air. They get rained on, snowed on, shone on. I’ve watched as they stoically put up with freezing cold and high heat, always providing a barrier between the elements and the eaglets. They spread their wings and their young crowd underneath.

They probably don’t think about how the weather is maybe nicer somewhere else. They don’t wish they lived someplace else.

I think I’d like to be more like an eagle. I don’t mean I’d like to live outdoors, but I’d like to be less bothered by the things I have no control over. If I were more like an eagle I wouldn’t worry about what other people think, whether or not my house will sell, whether or not my art will sell. I would let those things roll with off my back like the rain rolling off the back of this eagle. I wouldn’t let uncontrollable things ruffle me. I would accept them as beyond my control and move on.

pastel of a bald eagle

Eagle 14, Unruffled, 10×7″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. $129, unframed. Email me to purchase.


Eagle 13


pastel drawing of an eagle on a nest

Eagle 13, Patience, 6×8″ pastel on gator board by Marie Marfia. $65, unframed. Email me to purchase.

Steve and I are trying to sell our house here in Jacksonville. It’s a long process, especially the cleaning! I am so tired of sweeping! We have two dogs who love to play outside and they bring it indoors with them. Sometimes, after Daisy has been resting in one spot, there will be actual ripples of dirt on the floor. You can’t keep up with it, not really. I sweep every day and still there are little drifts of fur floating around the periphery of the dining room. Oh well.

We have to be patient. Somewhere, someone will fall in love with this place, just like Steve did (I didn’t fall it love with it right away, but I’m a cynical so and so and harder to please), and we’ll get an offer and we’ll move! Meantime, we’re in limbo.

This eagle, sitting on the nest in the rain, the eaglets cozy and dry underneath the canopy of her feathers, knows how to be patient. There’s nothing she can do about the weather. She makes herself as comfortable as she can and waits. I can relate, baby. I can sure relate.


Eagle 12

Symbol of what?

Eagle's head in pastel pencil

Eagle 12, Symbol, 6×8″ pastel on gator board by Marie Marfia

What do I like about this piece? I like the bright orange and yellow part of his beak where it was backlit from the sun. I like the little green highlight at his back. I like the energy of the pastel pencil marks.

Eagles are a symbol of patriotism in the USA. I think patriotism is like religion in a lot of ways. Too much of either makes people stop thinking.

If I paint enough bald eagles and I paint them well enough, maybe I will stop thinking of them as symbols of patriotism and just see them as color and form and shape and light. That’s my goal for this series.



Eagle 11, Siblings


eaglets in a nest

Eaglets, Rivalry, 6×8″ pastel on gatorboard by Marie Marfia, $65 unframed. Email me to purchase.

The larger of the two eaglets wakes from a nap and pecks at the smaller one. The smaller eaglet turns away and makes itself still. I worry if it will survive. It’s already learning to keep its head down. I close the browser window. If it’s about to be killed by its older sibling, I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to know.

Funny, I spend all this time drawing symbols of death (the skellies), but I can’t face it when it’s right in front of me. When the nature programs on pbs show the cheetah chasing down a deer, I automatically reach for the clicker. It doesn’t bother me to see it being eaten because then it’s just meat. It’s the struggle that I can’t bear to watch. The triumph of one over the other.

Maybe it’s because I empathize so much with the helpless. One of my earliest memories is  seeing snarling faces in a piece of furniture just visible in the light beyond my bedroom door and being frozen by fear. If the bed had been on fire, I couldn’t have escaped then, couldn’t have gotten past the wolves in the hallway.

I can’t watch an eaglet being pecked to death or pushed out of the nest because it feels so personal to me. I’ve been scared to death. I can’t be an impartial observer.

My sister says it’s because space is an issue. If there’s enough space in the nest, they won’t turn on each other. This makes sense to me. We were raised in a pretty big house, and still there were plenty of times when I wanted to kill someone. All that vanished once I’d left home. I wasn’t competing for resources then.

I hope the smaller eaglet survives, but I know it’s not up to me. I’ll keep watching and drawing because I want to do it, want to have a series of eagle paintings. But this is hard. You always hope for a Disney ending. But life isn’t fair and sometimes the eaglet dies.