Author Archives: Marie Marfia

Song of the south

You may or may not know this, but I lived in Florida for ten years. I moved back to Michigan in 2016.

Sketch for my next skelly painting.

Florida is… different.

We had a house on the south side of Jacksonville, Florida. When we first moved there, it was early July and hotter than hell. The first thing we noticed was that there were no people outside. It felt spooky, like that scene in the Andromeda Strain where the guys in hazmat suits are walking around this little town and there’s no noise at all, no movement.

Before we left Michigan, all our friends shared their favorite horror stories about Florida. How there were snakes everywhere, giant face-sucking spiders, and millions of alligators. I spent most of our first year hiding in the house.

Eventually I stopped worrying about animals and insects. In fact, I discovered it was the human wildlife that was mostly likely to kill you and not a giant prehistoric reptile.

For instance, I found out someone was feeding raw chicken to an alligator in a retention pond around the corner from us. The pond was behind a chain link fence but if you walked too close to the edge the gator would scramble out from wherever it was hiding, looking for fresh meat.

Our time there wasn’t all dismal. I came to enjoy walking around in the preserve near our house. I saw an abundance of wildlife, including otters, javelinas, raccoons, foxes, snakes, and deer. North of town we visited the St. Johns River delta, which was flat out gorgeous. Once I walked out onto a long wooden pier into a sea of grass and felt like I was floating. There were beaches littered with driftwood and cloud-filled skies that went on for days. I loved how you could feel so small and yet so infinite at the same time.

Anyway, the background of this latest skeleton painting is inspired by some of that beautiful scenery that I used to paint when we lived there. I hope you like her. I’ll continue to post progress pictures, so stay tuned.

P.S. Any ideas for a title for this one? If I pick your suggestion I’ll send you a free print, so email me your ideas asap.

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We have a winner!

I had a booth at the Gold Coast Arts & Crafts Fair in Ludington, Michigan this past weekend and I’m in the process of putting my studio back together. Man, I made such a mess!

But it was so worth it.

Who won “Bone to be Wild?” Read on…

First off, thanks to everyone who made it out to see me at the show. You guys rock! It makes my heart sing to see people looking at my stuff and laughing and giggling and then running back to grab their friends and relatives and bring them over so they can laugh and giggle, too. You’re my kind of people. I’m so glad we found each other.

Overheard in my booth:

“It’s not ‘inappropriate,’ it’s funny.” One young boy to his friend.

“Is it weird that I’m re-evaluating my life choices because I think this card is hilarious?” A woman holding “The Very Last Supper.”

Also, many thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway! I asked my neighbor down the hall to draw a name and the winner is (drum roll, please):

Scott Hackett!

Scott, congratulations on winning the “Bone to be Wild” matted print. I’m going to be contacting you via email for a shipping address, so watch your in-box.

For everyone else, I’m extending the good deal on my skelly greeting cards for one more week (today through August 19, 2019), as a special thank you.

Buy 3 or more cards, get 33% off the total (it’ll show up in the shopping cart). Sale ends midnight on Monday, August 19, 2019.

Thanks again for coming out. You’re the best art fans ever.

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Gold Coast Artisan Fair is this weekend!

I’m kind of excited.

As you can see, I’m still trying to work out the flow in my booth… Flow is so important.
I kind of like the idea of hanging cards on paracord, like little flags waving in the wind. (Oh, god, I hope there’s not too much wind!)
To bring the skeleton table and chairs or not to bring the skeleton table and chairs… It’s a conundrum.

The question that still haunts me

I am still gathering together the inventory for this show. I have never exhibited here so I don’t know quite what to expect. Should I bring mostly Old (Dead) Masters? Or skeleton couples? Skelvis? I just don’t know. I guess I’ll bring a little bit of everything and see how it goes!

I’ll have stickers at the booth!

The giveaway

I’m going to give away a large print of one of my skellies after the show. I haven’t decided which one it’s going to be or whether I’m going to let the winner choose. (Email me your opinion and possibly confuse me even more!)

To enter, just stop by my booth (Section B, space 8) and fill out a form. While you’re there you can also get on my mailing list, but that’s totally optional. You don’t have to be on my mailing list to enter the contest. (But it’d be awesome if you were.)

The important stuff

What: Gold Coast Artisan Fair
Where: Rotary Park, downtown Ludington, Michigan
When: Saturday, August 10, 10-5 and Sunday, August 11, 10-4

The call

Come on out! Say hello! Sign up to win a skelly print! And tell all your friends!

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Location, location, location

I moved my studio/gallery/office this past spring. Same building as before, but now I’m in the way back. Like, really far back. Like, so far back that no one really knows I’m there yet.

This way to my new space!

Which is kind of a relief.

To be honest, the space at the front of the building, with the big plate glass windows, felt too exposed. Anyone could see in.

Sometimes I’d put the closed sign on the door, just so I could relax a little bit. You know, roll out the yoga mat, do some stretches, take a nap, adjust my attitude.

There were days when I dreaded going in because the place was such a wreck. When I paint I have this tendency to pick pastels up and then drop them on any available surface and then it might be a day or two before they all got put back where they belonged. Yes, all right, it took months sometimes.

This was a problem because someone might see. But I couldn’t seem to stop making a mess. And then I’d feel embarrassed. Which is wrong, because a studio has to be able to be messy. That’s when the creativity happens for me. When every possible thing is floating around inside and outside my head. When it’s all loose.

But the old space was also a retail space and an office. So I was feeling some pressure to keep it looking nice.

The new space is not so nice, if you know what I mean. The brick walls are crumbling in spots. The drywall on the ceiling needs to be painted. The floor is plywood with gray paint on it. I’ve got frames and paintings everywhere.

My handy husband made me this huge table from two by fours and a varnished closet door and I’ve spread all, and I mean all, my pastels out on it. I can see every color of the rainbow all the time! It’s like living in a Froot Loop fairyland.

Anyway, I hope you stop by and visit the new digs. I plan to make lots of art and a ton of messes and I don’t care who sees.

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Daily paintings

I did a study on regular Canson paper and then a larger one on sanded paper. I’ve been reading Carlson’s book about painting landscapes and it’s really helping me a lot.

This is the one on Canson paper, 6×8″.
This is the one on sanded paper. I also started with a warm (red, orange, yellow) alcohol underpainting with this one. 11×14″.
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I’ve moved!

If you’ve been by my shop recently you may have wondered if I’m still around. Especially given there’s a “For Rent” sign in the window and the giant “Bonafide Gallery” sign on the front window is gone.

Fear not! I still exist! Just on a different plane now.

I’ve moved, lock, stock and barrel, to the back of the same building.

To get to my shop you need to go in the front door (next to Cosmic Canine Creations) and down the hall and up the ramp. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can park in the newly created city parking lot behind 307 S. James Street off Filer Street and walk into my shop through the back double doors.

I’m loving it in the way back. There’s lots more room to spread out and paint! Plus I’ve made a new display for my skellies.

I’m still moving things around, trying to get the best, most efficient use of all this space. One question I’ve gotten over and over since my move: how the heck did all this stuff fit it into the considerably smaller space up at the front of the building in the first place? Answer: No freaking idea.

Hours are still 10ish to 5ish Monday through Friday, unless I’m outside painting plein air (most mornings) or going to figure study class (Thursdays) or doing a hundred other things. Magpie brain, you know. It rules my life. Regardless, you can still come enjoy the art on the walls in the hall and have a peek at my studio.

Here’s what it looked like right after I got everything in there.

What a lot of stuff!

I’ll post a video of my finished space soon!

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Skelly on the Half Shell parody of Botticelli's Birth of Venus

Skelly on the Half Shell – On Sale!

Finally done! Yay!

pastel painting of Skelly on the Half Shell, a parody of Botticelli's Birth of Venus
Skelly on the Half Shell, done! Yay!

This piece took a while but it was totally worth it, if I do say so. She is fabulous!

At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle the entire painting by Botticelli and I thought maybe I’d just do Venus. But it was going to be awkward because she’s not really standing in the center of the shell and I’d have to cut something off so I thought, oh the hell with it, I’ll just do the whole thing.

Coincidentally, I happened to read about a method using pastel pencils to create portraits that really kind of glow so I thought I’d try it out on this particular work. Lo and behold, it ended up being awesome, but it also took a loooooooong time to do!

So apologies for making you wait so long for the latest in my Old (Dead) Masters series, but wasn’t it worth it? I think so!

To celebrate, I’m offering 25% off paper prints and 10% off canvas prints of Skelly on the Half Shell from April 30 through May 6, 2019!

Again, thanks for your patience! Enjoy the sale!

Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 1
Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 1.
Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 2
Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 2.
Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 3.
Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 3.

Click to go to the Skelly on the Half Shell page in my shop!

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What we leave behind

I love walking in the woods in the spring. No wearing three layers of clothing, no mittens to keep track of, no boots! I can just slip into my regular tennis shoes and a jacket, throw the dogs in the car and off I go.

Unfortunately, when the snow melts the other thing that’s out in the woods besides me is garbage. I don’t mean beer cans, although there are a ton of those out there. I mean garbage like television sets, shingles, plastic containers, tires, diapers… Just crap, really. A whole ton of crap.

I go from euphoria at being outside all the way to absolute fury at the way some people use the woods as their personal dumping ground.

I wish there was a place where people could drop off all their crap. Oh wait! There is! It’s called a dump! But it costs money to take your crap to the dump or to have someone haul it away and it’s so much cheaper to drive down a two track out in the forest somewhere and throw it out there.

I wish I had a superpower that would let me zap all the crap in the woods so that it would disappear from the forest and reappear in whoever’s house it belonged to. Right on their living room floor. Or maybe on their bed. Yeah! Take that, you littering litterer!

Anyway, after walking the dogs I was so depressed at all the fresh garbage out there, I got out my pastels and painted a scene from another walk I’d taken recently with my family. A beautiful day on the Pere Marquette River, sun shining, water flowing, birds twittering. A gorgeous, gorgeous day.

Of course, we also found snarled fishing line, bait containers and cigar wrappers along the banks. Wherever you find beauty I guess you can also expect to find evidence of thoughtless humans. We picked up what we could on the way out.

I guess I’ll start bringing a garbage bag with me on my daily walks. It’s little enough, but it makes me feel a little better to at least clear the areas where I love to wander. Painting also helps. Although having a crap zapper superpower would be nice, too.

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Rainy Day

Lately, I’ve been driving out to the state park in the mornings before I settle in at the office. Today it was raining but I just parked in front of some dunes, rolled down the passenger side window and zenned right out.

Rainy Day, 9×6″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2019 Marie Marfia.

This painting will be available on eBay starting tonight at 9pm. Ten percent of the proceeds from each of my auctions goes to benefit AFFEW, a local group dedicated to saving the planet.

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I’m back!

A month of painting on location equals a lot of new work!

Lots of plein air paintings!
Look at all the pretty paintings!

You know what the biggest surprise was from my time away? How much I enjoy painting outside.

To be honest, I haven’t done a lot of plein air painting because I just always thought it couldn’t help but be a pain. First of all, you have to lug around a lot of stuff. The weather can be brutal. And what if you forget something important, like paper? What if it’s windy out? What if there’s bugs?

But it was either paint outdoors or don’t paint at all on this trip and we planned to be gone for a whole month, too long to go without pastels. So I decided to make an effort because art is important, dammit.

I prepared as well as I could by fitting everything into one big backpack and trying it out once or twice before we left to make sure I had everything. I also did some research on southwest color palettes so that I’d have the right pastels for the job. I cut up a lot of paper to take with me, with different textures and tones to keep my flittery fluttery mind engaged. I ran into one snag at the beginning when I discovered the foam core boards I’d brought to work on were too small, but I clipped two of them together and it was fine.

The only day it was too windy to paint was while we were traveling through New Mexico on day four. It’s pretty scary pulling a trailer in winds gusting to 70 mph. After an hour of that we were only too happy to find a place to wait out the weather. We ended up sitting in a gas station parking lot in Vaughn for seven hours. I doodled semi trailers in my sketchbook and Steve and I took turns watching the cover over the gas pumps to see if it would break loose and go flying off across the prairie.

After that we had non-stop beautiful weather right up until we headed north again. We put off visiting Taos on the way home because camping in the snow is just not a viable option at our age. Most of the time, though, I was up bright and early and working in my pajamas, coffee in hand. It was lovely.

As for bugs, I saw exactly one while I was painting, and that was a bombardier beetle at Las Cienagas National Preservation area. He came perilously close to running into my foot, aimed his butt at me for about five seconds while I held my breath, and then went on his way. Everyone’s a critic.

So now that I’m back I’ve decided to get out there and do more painting outdoors because who doesn’t have as much fun as they can? No one, that’s who. I have to say I like the look of my landscapes much better when they’re done on location than from photos in the studio. I’m looking forward to doing a lot more. It’s going to be awesome.

I’ve posted the best of my southwest USA plein air efforts on eBay this week, so be sure and check them out, a new painting every day at 9pm for the next week or so, and then it’s back to local landscapes, but with a new (for me) outdoor twist. If you see me out there, be sure to stop and say hello!

Don’t I look relaxed? It was a gooooood vacation.
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