Category Archives: art business

Marie Marfia, Old Barn and Queen Annes Lace, 6x8in., soft pastel on sanded paper.

Interview on Daily Paintworks

If you haven’t joined Daily Paintworks yet, I’ll give you one more good reason. You could win a pastel painting by me!

Here’s the pastel I’m giving away:

Marie Marfia, Old Barn and Queen Annes Lace, 6x8in., soft pastel on sanded paper.
Old Barn and Queen Anne’s Lace

Click here to go to the interview. Click here to go to the giveaway.

My interview will be up for about two weeks, so you have lots of time to enter. Good luck!

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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.


Crap photos

“Remember to send pics!”

Whenever I’m on vacation, this request always makes me feel bad, because I usually don’t take good vacation photos. When I’m taking pictures on vacation it’s almost always because I’m planning to use them for a painting reference and not because I want to share them.

I feel a teensy bit guilty about this. Even when our kids were little, most of my photos of them were because I was trying to capture an interesting composition for later, and not because I wanted a record of visiting giant sequoias in California or camping in the U.P. or throwing clay bombs in the Gulf of Mexico.

As a result, most of the pictures I take while on vacation are crap for sharing. The people in them are more likely to look like they’ve just eaten a bug instead of like they’re smiling for the camera.

This painting, Laurie by the Pool, is a case in point. In the photo reference, which I am not going to share because I love her too much, she looks like she’s in mid-rant, which she may have been, I don’t remember what she was talking about at the time, because I was too busy noticing the saturation of the color of her shirt, the turquoises in the water, the color of her skin and the dramatic shadows behind her. All these things prompted me to take a photo and I didn’t bother telling her I was going to take it because I never intended to share it with her or anyone else. It was meant to be used later for a painting or a collage or something.

Then, when someone asked me to send pics of our time in Tucson, I frantically searched through all the photos I had and couldn’t find any, not a one, that was suitable for sharing. Story of my (vacation) life.

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!

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.

I'm retiring!

What’s next?

Retirement. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. This is the year I’m going to quit doing graphic design and be an artist full time. It worries me a bit because I’m starting all over again and there are some things that I have to put in place if I want to be happy with my decision down the road.

The one thing that I have had as a graphic designer that I won’t have as a fine artist is instant feedback. When I save the day for a client by putting an ad together in fifteen minutes using only a low res bitmap file and a logo scanned off a cocktail napkin, I get a little surge of serotonin in my brain that feels like, “Oh, yeah! Who’s the kickassingest graphic designer now, baby? You, that’s who!” followed by an email thanking me in ALL CAPS WITH MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!! I mean, woot! It’s the best feeling and I’ve gotten used to that after 30 years. I crave it, even. What do I have to replace it with? Nothing! Or at least, nothing that doesn’t involve a controlled substance like alcohol or potato chips. 

So I need to build those attagirl moments into my day. I need rewards!

Something like the little ditty that plays after I’ve successfully completed a crossword puzzle, or the maybe a little “Genius!” icon that appears whenever I get all the points for a Spelling Bee game. I don’t know. But I need something that triggers a deep sigh of satisfaction and a feeling that all is currently right with my world.

Painting is hard. I never know what I’m doing. Each painting is one stroke away from disaster, although to be honest, sometimes I don’t notice I’ve wrecked it until I’m many strokes past the destined-for-the-trash threshold. 

With graphic design, I know how to do everything. And if I don’t, I know where to go to find out. With painting, I don’t know anything and every artist on the internet has a different idea about how to solve a problem. 

I was teaching a pastels class for Deb Borema at LACA last week and there was a seven-year-old in the class, the youngest person in a group of eight kids. He’d never used soft pastels before and he was curious about what you could do with them. He started out by doing the same painting that every one else did and then he started seriously playing. He tried smearing the chalk with his hands. He used a stomp. He splashed water on the paper. He folded the paper. He did everything to the paper using the chalk that he could think of. He went through several sheets and tried all the different kinds of pastels there were to use. And then suddenly he was done with pastels and made shrinky dinks for the last fifteen minutes of class. 

All the other kids were very careful with their materials. They all wanted to make a good picture. Even though they were welcome to use as many of the pastels and sheets of paper as they wanted, nearly all of them did one piece and one piece only. They felt they had to do it correctly, and a few asked for help so it would look more like the demo. The youngest kid did not want any help. He wanted to do it all by himself.

Young kids can really teach you a lot as an artist. They don’t care whether they get a good picture or not. They’re playing with the materials. They’re exploring everything about it. They use their hands, they try out all the tools, they use lots of colors, textures. They play.

And when they’re done, they’re satisfied. They don’t say to themselves, “I need to master this medium,” or “This stuff is expensive, so I better make it last,” or “I’ve put so much time into this picture, I’ll be sad if it doesn’t turn out.”

The playing is the reward for them. How do I change so that playing is its own reward for me? The way I look at it, my new job will be figuring that out.


Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Congratulations to Hannah on winning a signed, matted print of Neverending Love Story! Luckily for me, Hannah works in downtown Ludington, so I was able to bring her prize to her right away! She’s very happy to have won!

Congratulations also to a certain subscriber on my email list who also won the same signed print! Please check your inbox for a note from me asap. It’s my way of saying thank you to those who are with me on my art journey. You’re all the best!

Me and Hannah and Neverending Love Story, together at last!

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.


Art Show wrap up, new pastel painting

To wrap up last month’s Art Show in three words, I’d use “breezy,” “grateful,” and “normal”. The weather was breezy both weekends, and the shoppers were grateful to be able to do something normal for a change.

Art show wrap up painting "A Little Bit of Normal" 8x8" pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia.
A little bit of normal, 8×8″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. $250.

This is a pastel of my booth with some shoppers in it and their very patient doggy waiting in the front. He was a lot more interested in what was happening in front of him than behind. Since he’s facing the check out tent, maybe he was attracted by all the flapping tissue paper as we attempted to wrap up the more fragile items without everything flying away from us. It was sunny, yes, but also very windy! One of the perks of living near Lake Michigan is there’s almost always a breeze to be had.

All in all, it was a pretty successful couple of weekends. One of the things we heard over and over was how nice it was to do something “normal.” Normal in this case being an art show. So many events got cancelled this year, it was nice to have a show and put up signs and sell stuff. So I’m calling this piece “A Little Bit of Normal” because that’s what it meant to so many people.

Laurie says she’s done with art shows after this year, so I may have to stage one of my own. Stay tuned. I have some ideas about this and they involve a new studio space in my own front yard! It’s going to be so cool. I can’t wait.

Thanks for coming out and supporting us. It’s one of my favorite memories from this year so far.

If you’re interested in purchasing this piece, email me.

The Very Last Supper, Old (Dead) Masters show

Old (Dead) Masters show October 2020

Hey, now’s your chance to see my Old (Dead) Masters show up close and in person at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts in October!

The timing for this show is too perfect! When I got a message from Ludington Area Center for the Arts saying they had a last minute cancellation and could I possibly bring in my Old (Dead) Masters paintings to display in the Performance Hall Lobby, I said yes, yes, yes!

I love this time of year. Of course, skeleton art is appropriate at any and all times of the year, in my opinion, but especially in October. It rocks!

This show features all the Old (Dead) Masters pieces that I have, each in a beautifully appropriate skull themed frame. You have to see them, they’re too cool!

So if you’re looking to get into that spooky skeleton mood this year–not that there’s anything not terrifying about 2020 so far, mind you–please make the trip to see my beautiful Old (Dead) Masters show. The art is fun and not too scary, so appropriate for all skeleton lovers, no matter their age. And it’s only up through October!

Bonus activity: see if you can correctly identify each of the famous artists/works that I parodied for each piece!

The details

Performance Hall Lobby, Ludington Area Center for the Arts, 107 S. Harrison St., Ludington, Michigan.

Through October 2020

Tuesday thru Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays, noon to 3 p.m

Parking everywhere, but there is some construction going on right now so you may have to get creative in your approach.

Happy Halloween!


The key to Yart sale success

Laurie tapes a sign to Craig's chest during our successful yart sale last weekend.

If you want to get people to come to your yart sale, you have to give them a sign. About 30 of them, actually.

Laurie Carey, who hosted the sale on her front lawn, is an absolute genius about making signs that draw people in. These were hot pink, stenciled with the days, times and address and with huge black arrows on them pointing the way. We put them at every major intersection leading into town and they did a great job bringing people in to the sale!

All weekend long, people would come up and say to us, “The signs were awesome!” I swear, Laurie ought to teach a class because she sure knows how to host a sale.

We all sold a ton of art, met a lot of new fans, and had a great time doing it. Best Yart Sale ever! Let’s do it again next year!

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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.

pastel of a skeleton carferry captain

Old Carferry Captains Never Die…

Yesterday an older gentleman stopped by while I was out in front of my studio, writing at my little café table. He’d been walking around town all morning and needed to rest for a bit before returning home. He asked if he could sit down. “Sure,” I said.

We got to talking and he told me he’d worked on the carferries for 30 years in the engine room. “20 days on and 8 days off,” he said. “But sometimes the boat would get stuck in the ice and you couldn’t start your time off until they got to the dock. That was hard.”

I liked listening to him and imagining what Ludington looked like when there were seven carferries sailing to three different ports on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan–Milwaukee, Manitowoc and Kewaunee. He listed all the boats on his fingers, “The Pere Marquette 21, the Pere Marquette 22, the Spartan, the Badger, the City of Flint, the City of Saginaw and the City of Midland.”

I thought about how the town harbor must’ve bustled with people and trains and boats. It’s still a little bustly with the Badger running half the year here.

The man that sat down to talk didn’t ask about my skeleton art but I got to thinking about it and I wonder if he’d have liked the commission that I painted early this spring, about a skeleton carferry captain racing back to port. The owner of a local restaurant wanted me to paint a skeleton picture that had Ludington, the carferry and House of Flavors Restaurant in it. Oh, and could I do it in ten days because the giftee was leaving town?

I’m a glutton for punishment so of course I said yes. As it turned out I also had to get the piece printed as a canvas wrap in time for the going away party, but once the original was done that part was easy peasy. I love it when a plan comes together! Bonus, it was a really fun piece to do.

Do you suppose the old guy I was talking to yesterday would appreciate a card with that piece on it? If I see him again I’ll be sure to find out!

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.

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!

Loon's Moon Studio

Thank you to everyone who came out to Art Ramble!

Art Ramble in the Woods was last week, and truthfully, I wasn’t expecting a lot of traffic. Loon’s Moon Studio, where Deb Albrecht and I were set up, is pretty far out in the pickers. It’s off Stohlberg Road, which is so small that you can’t even call it tertiary, much less secondary, and then 32nd Street is a quarter mile long dirt driveway that goes all the way down to Tallman Lake. It’s absolutely lovely once you get there, and Joan’s gourd art is sublime, of course, but there’s tall grass, a downed tree and mobile home trailers mixed in with the cottages and cabins, so a pretty unusual spot to have an art show.

Deb Albrecht's work

Deb Albrecht’s awesome stuff.

Laurie and Craig’s place, The Art Full Codgers Gallery, is a bit easier to find and Lonni Pratt’s The Art Shack is right around the corner from them. Of course, without Laurie’s terrific signage, we’d all probably still be out there, twiddling our thumbs and wondering where everyone was!

It sure was heartwarming to see how many people came out for the event. They drove in steadily in ones and twos all weekend. I’d ask them, “How did you hear about us?” and they’d say, “Well, we were curious about all those green signs in the neighborhood,” or “We saw the story in the paper,” or “It was all over Facebook,” which was really great to hear, because everyone worked their butts off to advertise this show.

tie dyed shirts

Steve’s tie dyed shirts

Art shows are up against some tough competition any time of the year, but especially in the summer. People are busy. There are reunions, weddings, vacation plans and just a lot of regular ol’ stuff, you know? So it was sweet to see people come out to say hello and even buy some art.

And then this happened: Saturday afternoon we were standing around, talking with some folks who’d come all the way out from Baldwin, when we heard noises coming from the lake. There were loons calling and when they started getting louder and more frantic-sounding, we quickly walked over to the water’s edge to see what all the fuss was about. High over the lake was a bald eagle, which was pretty cool all by itself, but it turned out he was interested in some loon chicks that were out swimming with their parents.

We watched, spellbound, as over and over again, the eagle dove down towards them. One adult loon stayed with the young ones, and whenever the eagle got too close all the chicks would dive under the water.

The other adult loon positioned itself about twenty feet in front of the family, between them and the oncoming eagle. At the last moment he would rise up out of the water, trying to knock the eagle down or off course. (We learned later that if the eagle got his wings in the water, he’d be at the mercy of the loons, because he wouldn’t be able to easily take off again.)

It was pretty intense to watch, and, unlike a television show, we didn’t know how long the loons would be able to fend off the enemy. He was so huge compared to the tiny loons. Eventually though, the eagle called it quits and flew off over the trees. Whew! The loons were safe, but the drama lasted for several minutes and it was truly one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen. I’ll never forget it.

I guess you just never know how things will turn out. But if you try really hard and work your butt off, sometimes fantastic things happen. I’ll never forget all the love we got last weekend and the drama on Tallman Lake was the perfect capper to a wonderful weekend. Thanks again, from the bottom of my out-in-the-pickers heart.

original pastel art work