Category Archives: Emotional Landscapes

pastel landscape with trees and sky

Ambushed

I try to do yoga every day. It’s meditative, it lowers my blood pressure, it keeps me flexible. I do it using an app called “Yoga Studio,” which works great for me. I’ve been on the beginner level for more than a year, and so far, no injuries, which is awesome, and I’m still not annoyed by the instructor’s voice, a miracle in itself.

Sometimes, though, when I’m in the middle of breathing, I’ll recall something from my past that is hurtful or some worry or anxiety will leak through and just knock me on my butt. It’s never anything I can predict, it doesn’t happen all that frequently, but when it does, it’s like a gut punch.

I think maybe it’s because when I’m practicing yoga, I’m trying to let go of tension in my body and there are some things in my head that I’m hanging onto as well. When I reach a point in a pose where I finally let go, other things come out, too.

I guess it’s a good thing. These tight spots in my mind aren’t helping me by staying lodged in there. It’s just surprising when it happens. And I need to take a little time to look at what’s shaken loose and resolve it.

Today’s episode involved a memory I had from when I was a child, about being buried in the sand by my brothers, who, after tamping down the area around my body so that I couldn’t move, pretended to leave me there. I know I was upset because I can still recall fighting down panic. What if they didn’t come back? I remember struggling to escape and failing and crying. I remember being teased again when they came back to free me because I was being such a crybaby. In hindsight, it was a shitty thing to do and it reminded me that this was my family’s M.O. Torture someone until you got the reaction you were looking for and then blame the victim for not being a good sport about it.

I had a long conversation with myself after I was done with yoga. Part of me was disgusted that I was such a whiner. That’s the younger me, who didn’t know any better. The older, wiser me felt compassion for her and offered comfort.

pastel landscape with trees and sky

Ambushed, 5×7″ pastel on crescent board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase.

Share
pastel landscape of Lake Michigan and the end of US-10

End of the Road

When I knew we’d be moving away, back when I lived in Ludington, I would walk down to the end of US-10 every day with my camera, right where the road met the water. I’d stand there and starting with the view on my left, I’d take a series of photos, ending up with the view on my right. I hoped to have a series of panoramas when I was done, a scene from every season, something to remember where we used to live.

In the end, all those pictures were uploaded and then forgotten on numerous hard drives. Every once in a while I’d run across them and think, “Oh yeah, that project,” and then promptly move on to something else that seemed more pressing.

The thing is, we didn’t think we’d ever have to leave there. We planned to stay and finish raising our family. Moving to Jacksonville, Florida was a lot like moving to Mars. It was so bloody hot, for one thing, and there was no one around to talk to. I mean, everyone was indoors. Even though we lived in a nice residential area, in a nice house, with a big yard, it felt completely isolated compared to our old life, in our old town, where everyone knew us and we knew everyone.

The first year I spent in mourning, sometimes going to bed at 3 in the afternoon and staying there until the next day. I’d get up to fix dinner or do a little computer work, maybe, but I never went outdoors, I didn’t drive anywhere I didn’t absolutely have to. The kids were depressed as well. The schools were huge compared to what they were used to, and they felt lost. The second year, I started homeschooling with the boys and things got better. We met nice people, made friends, began exploring where we lived. Homeschooling probably saved all our lives, come to think of it.

But I still miss the landscapes I used to know. Now that I will be returning, I allow myself to imagine what it will be like to be back in the friendly woods, to be on the shore of Lake Michigan, to be racing leaves in the Pere Marquette River.

Sometimes, when I’m doing yoga and I lay back on the mat with my eyes closed, it’s as though I’m floating in familiar waters and I feel weightless. There is no hidden danger waiting to grab me from below, only the sun on my face and the feel of soft waves, lapping at my skin.

pastel landscape of Lake Michigan and the end of US-10

End of the Road, 5×7″ pastel on Crescent board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase.

Share
pastel landscape

Nothin’ But Blue Skies

“Nothin’ but blue skies…” the song in my head, now that the inspection is over. No matter what happens, I can handle it, as long as I’ve got my potato…

So, over Memorial Day weekend, the pump went out, which sounds terrible, until you realize that it could’ve been so much worse. Like, what if the well had gone dry and that’s why the pump wasn’t working? Oh. My. God. See, we had this inspection coming up Tuesday morning (that’s today), and all along I’ve been telling Steve, “Let’s sell this place before something goes wrong with it,” and then, whoosh, no water on Sunday, and I’m thinking, “This is that something going wrong I was worried about,” but as it happens, Steve’s philosophy degree, the one that he got before he got his chemistry degree, continues to pay big dividends. He called the friendly Ace Hardware man and got a replacement pump and put that sucker right where the old one was, and voila! we had water again!

I was very happy about this for a couple of reasons. One is, you don’t really appreciate toilet water like you do when there’s a sudden lack of it, and two, snaking a long hose over to the neighbor’s house for water is a sure way to discourage interest in someone looking to buy a house. I was watching people slow down and speed up as they drove by all weekend. Ah well. We only need one buyer anyway, and he seems very nice. Young. My god, how young, he can’t be thirty years old yet, but very nice. He and his broker and the inspector showed up bright and early this morning and Steve and I loaded up the dogs and left them to it.

Now, it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon, no word on the inspection results, but no matter what they are, they could have been so much more disastrous. I can imagine the little post it notes on every faucet in the house, “Sorry. Ran out of water on Saturday, but we plan to get a new well dug soon. No worries.”

Yes, yes, it could have been far worse. So I’m giddy, and that’s what this little painting is all about.

pastel landscape

Nothin’ But Blue Skies, 5×7″ pastel on Crescent board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase.

Share
small pastel landscape of fall leaves

Dreaming of Fall

small pastel landscape of fall leaves

Dreaming of Fall, Emotional Landscape series, 5×7″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Please contact me to purchase.

With this pastel, I am thinking about my move back to Michigan and four season living again. In Florida, there’s warm and hot, as opposed to cool, hot, crisp and cold up north. I miss the seasons, and yes, I even miss the snow. But fall is my favorite season. The trees are brilliant, the fields are golden and the sky is a warm blue with far off wisps of clouds. Autumn is awesome.

Share
landscape in pastels

What’s Past

landscape in pastels

What’s Past? 5×7″ pastel on Crescent board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. To purchase, contact me.

I was laying on the extra bed this morning, resting. I’ve been fighting with a cold for the past few days. WIth my eyes closed, my mind begins to wander and I find myself re-playing, re-living events from my past, things that I regret doing, things that I’d rather not think about, especially when I’m feeling low already. I got to thinking that if my future is a black and white cocker spaniel named Mike, what is my past? Is it a neurotic Irish setter named Ginger? This was another dog I remember from childhood. She was on a chain in the back yard and we stayed clear of her because she’d scratch us with her paws. Poor thing. She probably just wanted to be loved. Maybe my past is like her in that I should be viewing it with compassion for the person I was, regardless of things that I did or didn’t do. That makes more sense than pretending it doesn’t exist and ignoring it.

Share
pastel painting of my emotional landscape

Grass is Greener

pastel painting of my emotional landscape

Grass is Greener, 5×7″ pastel on Crescent board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase.

When I started this pastel, I planned to do a cool landscape, similar to a painting that Karen Margulis had posted this morning.

So I took out all the reds and oranges from yesterday’s palette, and added in some cool darks. What I ended up with was a painting where the green in the distance seems to be the star of the show, so I named it after an old adage, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” or, in this case, the other side of the path.

Share
pastel of a landscape

Because I’m Happy

One good thing about doing a series based on the same scene is that the biggest question is already answered, which is, “What am I going to paint?”

With that out of the way, I’m free to do whatever I want with the subject. Today I decided to use a palette based on a print I bought about a year ago. The print is of a beach scene done in bright, cheerful colors, which is what drew me to it, more than the subject matter. I liked the graceful swoops of the artist’s brush work, too, and that’s something that I can do with pastels, especially if I start with a board that I’ve brushed pumice onto, like this one.

It also helps that I just got off the phone with my brother Joe, one of my favorite people in the whole world.

pastel of a landscape

Because I’m Happy, 5×7″ pastel on gessoed Crescent board by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase this painting.

Share
pastel of a landscape in the Julington Durbin Preserve

Day at the Shop

pastel of a landscape in the Julington Durbin Preserve

Day at the Shop, 5×7″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase.

Last Sunday was a good day to be at the Attic. There were a lot of people coming in with their kids to look at the Fletcher Middle School artwork—jellyfish, portraits and sculptures hanging from the ceilings, on the walls, and along the perimeter of the room. Some of the kids weren’t crazy about having their pictures taken in front of their creations, but were persuaded that it was for their mom, so that made it all right.

Towards the middle of the day, a pair of sisters came in wearing pretty hats and with flushed cheeks and snappy repartee (“We had wine with our lunch today!”) and bought three skelly greeting cards. That, and a bracelet of Bonnie Beaver’s (beautiful earth tone glass beads with a tiny gold heart clasp) were the sum total in sales for the day.

I don’t mind when it’s not busy. I like to talk to the people who come in to browse, or who ask about how they might become one of the artists there. And it gives me a chance to work on a pastel in between posting to Facebook and sweeping, dusting and wiping off the table and chairs out front.

I did this pastel just before packing up all my stuff to leave. I chose from colors that I used while working on “Ground-skel,” my parody of Edward Hopper’s classic painting.

Share
pastel painting of a landscape

Spicy

One of the things that Karen Margulis talks about with her landscape paintings is adding “spice” at the end. In this case, I think I over did the spices. But it’s still a pleasing little study. Next time, either pink or turquoise, but not both! It’s likely to lead to indigestion!

pastel painting of a landscape

Spicy, 5×7″ pastel on gator board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. To purchase, please contact me.

Share