Category Archives: figures

Stealth sketching

I decided to try to get some sketching in while I was waiting for my number to be called at the Tax Collector’s Office today.

It felt kind of funny to be one of the only people out of about fifty-some that wasn’t on a cellphone. It was just me, a couple of elderly ladies, and a toddler or two. The toddlers looked like they would have liked to play on a phone. The one that was directly in front of me settled for poking at the walker belonging to the old lady next to me.

I haven’t yet worked up the nerve to ask someone to let me take a picture of them to use to draw with. My friend Cynthia does this all the time. I swear I’ll do it. One of these days.

This was fun, though. The first one is of a young woman who was intent on her smartphone. She had lightning fast texting skills. The other was of a woman leaning on the counter to my left. I liked the way her shirt draped in folds across her back.  These are the first of more sketches to come, I hope. I want to do more of it, whenever I can, instead of automatically going for a distraction, like sudoku puzzles or imgur.

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Yellow Bikini

I painted this last week, while I was working my shift at The Attic. I liked the contrast between the woman’s dark skin and the bright bikini and really, really liked both against the cool blues of the water. She was so relaxed, sitting in the surf and letting the waves wash over her. I think I was wearing shorts or jeans or something and I remember feeling a little jealous. Why wasn’t I sitting in the water like her?

woman sitting on the beach in a yellow bikini

Yellow Bikini, 6×9″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of a woman on the beach

Yellow Bikini, matted and framed, $269.

Yellow Bikini, 6×9″ pastel on paper, matted and framed, $269.

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pastel painting of two boys on the beach

Beach Boys

Beach Boys

This is a quick study from one of my very favorite pictures of Sam and Nick. They were probably 5 and 8 years old. Sam has his hands in his ears and Nick has a smile on his face. We were at Stearns Beach in Ludington, Michigan, probably late in the day. I used to haul the kids to the beach nearly evening during the summer, starting in May.

I remember the white imprints of small feet by the back door, made from Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder and beach sand, a mixed media artwork that lasted all summer.

Here are the final pics:

pastel painting of two boys on the beach

Beach Boys, detail, 6×9″ pastel study on illustration board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of two boys on the beach

Beach Boys, detail, 6×9″ pastel study on illustration board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of two boys on the beach

Beach Boys, detail, 6×9″ pastel study on illustration board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of two boys on the beach

Beach Boys, detail, 6×9″ pastel study on illustration board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of two boys on the beach

Beach Boys, 6×9″ pastel study on illustration board by Marie Marfia

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pastel painting of a man searching for shark teeth on the shoreline

Searching for Shark Teeth

Searching for Shark Teeth

Here’s a pastel of my husband, Steve, loosely rendered. He’s looking for shark teeth on the beach at Mickler’s Landing, in Ponte Vedra, FL.

I loved the contrast between the hot orange of his shirt and the deep blues of the surf. The sun was low in the sky for this picture and so all the foam was creamy where the light hit it. Delicious!

After the craziness of all those portraits, it’s kind of nice to relax and do some low key painting for a while. Since my life is only going to get more hectic as I go, what with getting our house ready to sell and moving back to Michigan, I think I’ll do beach scenes for a while. They’re calming, a good place to put my head.

Searching for Shark Teeth, 6×9″ pastel on illustration board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of a man searching for shark teeth on the shoreline

Searching for Shark Teeth, detail, 6×9″ pastel on illustration board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of a man searching for shark teeth on the shoreline

Searching for Shark Teeth, detail, 6×9″ pastel on illustration board by Marie Marfia

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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.


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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?


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!

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Skelly Dance at Bougival, WIP

Coming along, coming along. I hope to finish it up by tomorrow. I’m doing a lot of squinting and taking pictures and squinting some more. Since I tend to work all over the place, it’s easy to miss spots because my brain fills in the blanks. When I look at it from my camera’s lcd screen, the omissions jump out at me.

Skelly Dance at Bougival, WIP, 24×12″ pastel on Canson paper.

I am going to be leaving on vacation later this week, so posts may be sparser (is that a word?) for the next week or two. I think I’ll bring just pastel pencils and a sketchbook this time, since I’m flying and space is at a premium.

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Skelly Dance at Bougival, wip

A start on another skelly painting, this an homage to Renoir’s Dance at Bougival. I love this painting so it’s a pleasure to copy it. Look at that swooshy pink dress! And the red hat! With fruit! Love it.

The initial sketch was charcoal and then I made a quick grid and went over it with a sangquine pastel pencil. I wasn’t too far off except for the placement of her head.

Blocking in colors. I love the guy’s shoes. So fancy.

More pink, really going after the suit colors.

Getting serious about the skull on the left, now. More to come!

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