Category Archives: Animals

Marie Marfia, Tails Up, 10x8in., soft pastel on sanded paper.

Tails Up

Marie Marfia, Tails Up, 10x8in., soft pastel on sanded paper.
Click to bid or buy • 10x8in. • soft pastel on sanded paper • starts at $100

My two dogs, both gone now, with their tails in the air, probably terrorizing some helpless woodland creature. I miss them.


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Marie Marfia, Dog in Shade, 10x8in., soft pastel on sanded paper.

Dog in Shade

Click to bid or buy • 10x8in. • soft pastel on sanded paper • starts at $100

My dog Roger in the shade of a large white pine on our property. He’s always doing his best.


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You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase my original art on Daily Paint Works or in my Etsy shop.

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Queen of All I Survey

Marie Marfia, Queen of All I Survey, 6x9in., soft pastel on textured gator board.
Click here to bid • 6x9in. • pastel • starts at $100

Our wonderful dog, Daisy, who passed away recently. She was awesome and we’re very glad to have had her for fifteen years.


Sign up for my Marie Marfia Fine Art newsletter! You’ll get regular updates about my latest work in the studio plus insights into my process. Plus, get a free downloadable print just for signing up!

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You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase my original art on Daily Paint Works or in my Etsy shop.

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Bird watching

Yesterday I was lying in a puddle on the back deck, hoping to get a clear picture of a bird nesting in a yard ornament that we’d bought at the art fair a couple years ago.

We’ve had birds try to nest in this thing before, but they usually decide there’s too much foot traffic or possibly the space gets too hot in the middle of the summer and it’s abandoned before a family is produced.

Honey, I’m home!

This year Steve and I know there are baby birds in it because the parents have been back and forth to the entrance of the thing with bugs and caterpillars. It’s fascinating. I never thought I would be a bird watcher in the last third of my life but now I find that I enjoy observing them when they show up at the feeders or whistling back to them when I’m out walking the dogs.

With the birds in the ornament, the main question has been, what species of bird are these?

“Is it a sparrow maybe?”

“Nah, it doesn’t have any of the markings for a sparrow.”

“Maybe a wren?”

“But it doesn’t hold its tail like a wren.”

Neither of us has the sharpest eyesight anymore, so we’ve been taking pictures of the birds with our phones, but the results have not been great and we couldn’t find any matching blurs in the bird books on our shelves. I thought maybe my old Nikon Coolpix L810 might get a good enough picture that we’d be able to ID the birds at last.

First I set up on the rail of the deck just outside the back door. But the bird on foraging duty proved a bit camera shy with me standing there and I decided I’d have better luck if I moved the camera to the floor of the deck and hunkered down behind it. Maybe the railing would hide me enough that my quarry would lose his inhibitions and resume making trips to the fish ornament. I propped the camera up with some sticks so that it was pointing right at the front of it. All I’d have to do is tap the shutter button to get a shot.

Eventually, the bird returned to the nest and I got some pictures of it, but I was still hoping for a side profile to complete the series and decided to hang out a bit longer even though it wasn’t exactly comfortable on the deck. I’d managed to lay down in a small puddle and mosquitos were whining in my ears. I thought about how wildlife researchers sat outside in all kinds of weather, fending off bugs and snakes and other horrible things, waiting for their subjects to make an appearance. At least it wasn’t raining. The air was warm and pleasant. I turned my head and watched fluffy clouds passing by overhead. I could do this. I just needed to be patient.

Bugs! It’s what’s for dinner!

I thought about the bird going back and forth endlessly. It couldn’t be an easy task, hunting bugs and worms for a hungry family. Did a bird ever think to itself, “This is taking so long! How come I’m always the one to make dinner! And the kids will probably hate it!”?

Anyway, on one of its return trips the bird spotted me behind the rail and started to chitter at me, first from the safety of a pine bough over the deck and then from the glider, which was between me and the fish ornament. “Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch,” he called, over and over, which I interpreted as, “I see you hiding there, you big human! Bugger off!”

I lay there, trying not to make eye contact, exuding calm and non-predatory thoughts. “I’m harmless, harmless, harmless. Look, I’m not even moving. It’s fine. Nothing to worry about. I’m a rock. Or a plant. Or some other inanimate, perfectly ordinary thing.”

He just kept yelling at me, and now I could smell dinner, a chicken and wild mushroom and green bean curry that Steve was making. What if he came to the door to tell me it was ready and scared the bird off before I could get my shot? Then I’d have to start all over again. It sure sounded like this bird wasn’t going to go back to his nest until I left.

Unfortunately, my camera was focused on the lawn ornament, not the glider. I didn’t know if I could move it and not startle him into leaving, but I decided I had to try. I had the camera set to “Pet Portrait” and I hoped if I pressed the shutter button it would automatically focus on my target.

Definitely a wren.

It took a few tries but it worked! I got up off the deck and brought the camera in to show Steve.

“What do you think?”

“That’s a wren.”

I was so pleased. We looked at the picture on the back of my camera all during dinner, which was delicious, by the way. No bugs or caterpillars at all.

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Pastel Portrait Class January 26

Hey, y’all. I’m planning to teach a pastel portrait class from 6-9pm on Wednesday, January 26, 2022 at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts, 107 S. Harrison St., Ludington, Michigan.

I will provide everything you need to make an 8×10″ pastel portrait on sanded paper. There will be paper already mounted on a board, there will be a large selection of pastels to choose from, although you can certainly bring your own (not oil pastels, though, cuz that’s a different can of worms). All you need to do is bring a reference photo of either an animal face or a human face.

Please note: the reference photo should be 8×10″ with the size of the head measuring at least 7″ from top of the brow to the chin. There’s some leeway here, but basically, I want you to be able to draw a face that’s large enough to easily put some details in.

We’re going to be using the grid method of making a portrait. So you’ll draw a 1 inch grid on your reference and then a 1 inch grid on your sanded paper. This will let you get a pretty good likeness right from the get go.

If you want to participate, you should go to LACA’s website, and register for the pastel portrait workshop. Cost is $25 for members and $30 for non-members. There is a limit of 6 people.

Here are a couple of time lapse videos showing the process.

Maeve Speaks Out, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10×8″. NFS.
Roger Dodger You Old Codger, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8×10″. NFS.

Hope to see you there!


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Sign up for my Bone Appetit newsletter! You’ll get regular updates about my latest work in the studio and insights into my process. Plus, get a free downloadable print just for signing up!

You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase my original art on Daily Paint Works or in my Etsy shop.

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Marie Marfia, Been There, Done That, Bought the Sweatshirt, acrylic on canvas, 6x6".

Fundraiser is Saturday

I have three small 8×8″ acrylic paintings available to buy in the Ludington Area Center for the Arts center Grab and Go fundraiser. Each is available for purchase starting at 10 am this Saturday, September 4, 2021.

From their newsletter: “…you’re invited to join us on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. for our 2nd annual Grab & Go Fundraiser… The Grab & Go is back this year with the theme of “Grab a Piece of Ludington.” Each 8×8 canvas artwork is available for only $35 on a first come-first serve basis. All proceeds go to LACA, thanks to the time and talent of local artists.”

Artwork will be available for viewing in person Friday, September 3 at 11:00 am.

Here are the three I donated to the cause:

Marie Marfia, Trash Pickin', acrylic on canvas, 8 in x 8 in
Trash Pickin’, acrylic on canvas, 8 in x 8 in
Marie Marfia, Been There Done That Bought the Sweatshirt, acrylic on canvas, 8 in x 8 in.
Been There, Done That, Bought the Sweatshirt, acrylic on canvas, 8 in x 8 in.
Marie Marfia, Morning Sam, Morning Ralph, acrylic on canvas, 8 in x 8 in.
Morning Sam, Morning Ralph, acrylic on canvas, 8 in x 8 in.

And here’s a timelapse of the second pass on “Morning Sam, Morning Ralph.”

Time lapse of the second pass on “Morning Sam, Morning Ralph.”

I tried to fulfill the requirements implied for a fundraiser with the theme of “Grab a Piece of Ludington,” without being too traditional. I played around with the naming and/or the composition for all three. I wanted Ludington landmarks but I wanted humor in there somewhere, because that’s just who I am. I like to laugh. A lot. Sometimes I’m the only one who gets the joke, but that’s okay, too.

Trash Pickin’ is all about the seagulls. I relate to them because I’m a trash picker, too. Ever hopeful that what I bring home from a thrift store or estate or yard sale is going to be useful for a future project, that’s me. I may end up throwing it right back out again in six months, but in the moment I am optimistic as hell.

Been There, Done That, Bought the Sweatshirt reminds me of a time when I and some fellow Rotarians brought visitors from Thailand to the Big Sable Point lighthouse and they asked whether the prices of the sweatshirts in the gift shop were reasonable. I opened my big mouth and told them, “If you want clothing that says “Ludington” on it, Goodwill has a lot of it and it’s a whole lot cheaper.” I understand that shortly after their thrift store experience the group learned about garage sales next and then insisted on stopping at every one of them on their way up to visit the Traverse City Rotary Club. A good time was had by all, and they got some really good deals to take home from their visit besides. A win-win.

For Morning Sam, Morning Ralph, I was nearly done with it when I realized the juxtaposition of the carferry and the barge in the composition reminded me of a Looney Tunes cartoon about Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Coyote. Remember them? How they punched in and out of a time clock before getting on with their daily work routines, Ralph trying to steal a sheep, and Sam trying to deter Ralph from a life of crime? Do they make cartoons like that anymore? Should they? Who’s they, anyhow?

Here’s all of the art available:

I got a picture of all 72 canvases (holy cow!) at the Member Show opening last night. Can you find my three?

You have to go in person to purchase, or possibly you could call LACA 231-845-2787 and tell them over the phone which canvases you’d like. But best to be safe and get yours in person. There might be a scrum! Wouldn’t that be cool?

UPDATE: All three of my small paintings have sold! Thanks to whoever it was that helped raise money for LACA. I appreciate your generosity! There are still more pieces available to purchase. Grab a piece of Ludington today!

Grab N Go fundraiser paintings for purchase
Grab N Go fundraiser paintings still available for purchase

Sign up for my Marie Marfia Fine Art newsletter! You’ll get regular updates about my latest work in the studio plus insights into my process. Plus, get a free downloadable print just for signing up!

You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase my original art on Daily Paint Works or in my Etsy shop.

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horse grazing pastel painting

Horse in the Paddock, pastel painting of a horse having breakfast

My husband and I are camping on a friend’s property for a week or so here in Tucson, AZ, and I’m taking the opportunity to paint horses!

This morning’s effort is a painting of a horse eating her breakfast in a small paddock.

I have always liked horses as subject matter, although I was never a riding enthusiast growing up. That said, when I was twelve or so, my sister and I pedaled our bikes for miles to a small farm every Saturday where we’d ride ponies all day long, stopping only for lunch. The farm belonged to Mr. and Mrs. S., friends of our parents whose kids had long since moved on to mini-bikes. They were happy to have us exercise the ponies. I didn’t much care for the long bike ride, although I’m sure my mother felt I needed the exercise. Mary probably would’ve have biked three times as far for half the riding time. She was crazy about horses.

I remember the air was hot and full of buzzing deer flies. We rode along mini bike trails out in the piney woods for hours. Socks was a dapple grey, the smaller of the two, and she took good care of me, patiently putting up with my considerable lack of riding skills. My sister’s mount was another matter. A beautiful appaloosa, Gepetta was almost horse-sized, very smart and an opportunist, as she regularly tried to buck Mary off at the first available sandy patch on the trail, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Once while we were eating sandwiches at the house, Mr. S. happened to overhear us telling Mrs. S. about Mary getting dumped. Mary hadn’t been hurt by the fall and we’d just followed Gepetta back to the house as usual and planned to go out again after lunch. But Mr. S. immediately went outside to where the ponies were hitched, and picked up Gepetta and threw her onto her back, saddle and all. She scrambled back up and stood there, shaking, while he yelled at her. Gepetta never bucked Mary off again, but I think Mary would’ve died before she’d have ratted Gepetta out to Mr. S. again anyway.

Eventually the ponies were sold or maybe I refused to bike over there, I can’t remember how or why we stopped going. Mary continued to find horses to ride, I continued to accompany her when she pestered me into it. I never have been a confident rider and in general I prefer to paint them, although our friend here put me up on her horse Easy last night and it was sweet. He’s a patient horse, too, very gentle, just how I remember Socks.

Horse in the paddock, pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia
Horse in the Paddock
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pastel painting of a white dog on a snowy road

White Dog White Road-pastel painting of my dog in the woods

pastel painting of my dog on a snowy road through the forest

This painting is based on a walk down a two-track road in the winter time. My dog Daisy stopped to sniff something in the road and I took a picture to use for a painting later. I love walking the woods in the morning with my dogs. It inspires my work.


Sign up for my Marie Marfia Fine Art newsletter! You’ll get regular updates about my latest work in the studio plus insights into my process. Plus, get a free downloadable print just for signing up!

You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase my original art on Daily Paint Works or in my Etsy shop.

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pastel painting of a fat little pony

Chunky pony – pastel painting of a fat little pony

Chunky pony

I drive by this field near my house almost every day and there are usually lots of cattle and horses and a couple of donkeys and some ponies out there. Now and again they’re close enough to the road that I can take a picture or two. I absolutely loved this chunky little pony and had to do a quick study.

pastel painting of a fat little pony

Chunky Pony – 6×9″ pastel painting by Marie Marfia ©2018.

If you’d like to purchase this 6×9″ pastel painting for $75, contact me. Thanks for watching!

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