Category Archives: Figure study

Marie Marfia, Maeve on the Beach, study, soft pastel on sanded paper, 5 in x 7 in.

Maeve on the Beach, study

I was looking at a cheat sheet that I got a number of years ago when I attended a Margaret Dyer workshop and I thought, I would like to do a pastel with a person in it, so I searched my photos for people and this picture of my granddaughter showed up.

The reference photo I used.

I wondered about the cropping on the photo, whether it would work as a painting or not and then I thought, who cares? and just dived in.

Here’s the time lapse video:

Maeve on the Beach, study.

I’ve been using an underpainting method that Lana Ballot teaches that’s mostly purples and I adapted it to the method that Margaret Dyer taught in her figure study class. I like the richness of color that the purple gives to the successive layers of pastel. I have another picture that shows more of the hat Maeve was wearing and I may combine the two in another, larger, version of this piece.

For now, it’s just fun to walk into the studio in the morning and paint whatever I want without thinking too hard about my choices.

Here’s the result of about a half hour session:

Maeve on the Beach, study, soft pastel on sanded paper, 5 in x 7 in.

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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 downloads in my Etsy shop or cards imprinted with a personal message and mailed for you in my Signed Cards store. Buy greeting cards, prints and stickers in my Square shop. Please contact me directly about purchasing original artwork. Thanks!

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My Hat, Squared WIP

My hat squared

I had to try this one again, but this time I decided to make it a square painting. I found a version of the photo reference where her hat was in the air instead of laying on the ground, which I like much better. This is still a work in progress, but I like the direction of it.

My Hat, Squared WIP
My Hat, Squared, 10×10″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. WIP

And here’s the final. I love spending time with my granddaughter.

Marie Marfia My Hat soft pastel on sanded paper 10x10
My Hat, soft pastel on sanded paper 10×10. $850.

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man sitting in a chair figure study 20 minutes charcoal on newsprint

Drawings from a model

Hurray! Weekly model drawing has started at the Ludington Area Cultural Arts center. I am so happy! I love drawing people! Now I get to do it every week!

Here are my drawings from today’s session. These are charcoal on newsprint. If you’re interested in any of them, send me an email. 

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pastel study of a man and his mother

Giving comfort

pastel study of a man and his mother

Steve and Diana, 5×7″ pastel study by Marie Marfia

This study is done from a photo that I took last Christmas of Steve and his mom, Diana, on the couch at my daughter’s place. She was just resting on his chest while watching some movie on TV. I wonder if she was pretending he was someone else.

Diana has dementia. She’s living in an assisted living facility. She has her own apartment, a two bedroom with a kitchenette, although she doesn’t cook anymore. She walks down to the dining room for her meals. When she’s walking back to her apartment she always says she lives in outer Mongolia because it’s such a long way away.

Diana doesn’t always remember who we are when we come to visit, so we always tell her as we’re coming through her door. “I’m your favorite daughter-in-law, Marie.” “I’m your oldest son, Steve.” That way, she doesn’t have to scramble to come up with names right off the bat. She’s pretty good at covering up her memory lapses right now, but that skill is slipping away, too, like everything else.

This is a hard thing to watch. She’s always prided herself on her intelligence. She got all As in school growing up and got a Masters of Library Science. She still speaks French sometimes and likes to play Duolingo on my iPad.

The place where she lives just called this week to tell Steve that she needs more care now, help with dressing herself, taking showers, doing laundry. It’s fine. Steve’s Dad made good investments and saved all his life before he died. She’s got plenty to cover the extra costs. It’s just that it’s another step down the road that you hate to have to take. We all gotta die. I get that. I wish it didn’t have to be like this, that’s all.

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Pelvis 3

Another in the series of human bones. It reminds me of a butterfly from this angle or maybe a ram’s skull or a bird in flight.

pastel drawing of a human pelvis
Pelvis 3, 5×7″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia.
pastel drawing of a human pelvis
Pelvis 3, detail, 5×7″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia.
pastel drawing of a human pelvis
Pelvis 3, detail, 5×7″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia.

Someone asked me today why I paint skeletons and bones. My first thought was, they make me laugh. Well, these don’t exactly make me laugh, but they are a challenge.

Bones. You think you know them, but you don’t, really. They’re hidden from your sight, unless you’re a surgeon or you happen to see someone’s broken bones or you look at them on an x-ray. Even then, they’re not your bones.

Bones are what I hang my me on. Without them, I’d be a puddle of flesh on the floor. I don’t give my bones enough credit for holding me up, giving me shape, form. But they’re there, inside, doing a lot of hard work. And they’ll still be there, long after I’m gone. Bones last.

Here’s a link to another pelvis sketch.


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!

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 downloads in my Etsy shop or cards imprinted with a personal message and mailed for you in my Signed Cards store. Buy greeting cards, prints and stickers in my Square shop. Please contact me directly about purchasing original artwork. Thanks!

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Pelvis 2

pastel drawing of a pelvis
Pelvis 2, 5×7″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia.
pastel drawing of a pelvis
Pelvis 2, detail, 5×7″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia.
pastel drawing of a pelvis
Pelvis 2, detail, 5×7″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia.

Another drawing of my/a pelvis. I mean, it’s supposed to be my pelvis, but I’m using a model, so I feel weird calling it my pelvis. It’s a pelvis, a human one, and it represents me, how about that?


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