Category Archives: Landscape

Carving Time

pastel painting of dunes and snow, lake and sky

Carving Time, 6×9″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

I like how the shadows carve out the snow. Or is it vice versa? I like it, anyway.

So I’m finding that having a clear horizon is important to me right now. That’s why I’m putting the lake out there. Cool, blue and attainable. I just have to get over these dunes first.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.



Getting There

pastel painting of dunes and lake michigan and sky and clouds

Getting There, 9×6″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

This version is with a warm blue underpainting and pink and purple shadows. There are dunes between me and the water, but I can see it from here. I know I’ll get there.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.



Back in the Swing

pastel painting of a pair of dunes, sky and clouds

Back in the Swing, 9×6″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

Had a very nice weekend with friends up in Leelanau County. It sure is pretty up there. Steve took some pictures of the lakeshore. We were hiking around on Lake Michigan, looking for ice caves. Saw a few but I generally stay away from the edge of the ice. I have a fear of being trapped under ice. When Steve used to take the kids out to look at ice caves I would stay home and worry. It was easier than going along and worrying.

Anyway, we hiked around and played some games and celebrated an old friend’s birthday. This is her last year as a fifty-something. Hope it’s a fabulous one.

I’m going to try to step up my daily painting game in anticipation of our vacation coming up at the end of March. I’d like to have enough daily paintings to keep seven at auction the whole time I’m away. We’ll see. If I go back to my old practice of two a day, I should have plenty stockpiled by the time we leave on March 18.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.




Funner than I Thought

Pastel painting of dunes, snow, beach grass, sky, clouds, snow

Funner Than I Thought, 9×6″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

That interview I did with Mason County Press was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I have a tendency to worry about things like that. I anticipate all kinds of weird things going wrong and have to work pretty hard to calm myself down beforehand.

I suspect a lot of people are just like me, nervous of looking foolish in front of everyone. And to be honest, I didn’t realize I was quite so Midwestern sounding until I heard myself speaking. Kind of hoot, really.

I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback from friends, and even met some new people who saw the interview and stopped by the studio to say hello.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.





pastel painting of trees and dunes, grass and sky and snow.

Inspired, 9×6″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

I met the nicest couple today. I was just putting a few final touches on a larger pastel and getting ready to begin work on this one, when I turned around to see them looking in my picture window. I poked my head out to say hello to their two little dogs and they all came in and we got to know one another a little better.

Dick is retired but has been painting for quite some time. “Just for fun,” he says. But he’s also managed to get 600 paintings done, so obviously his fun is pretty focused! He’s been accepted into several Art Prize exhibitions, so if I needed proof that practice makes opportunity, here it is. His wife, Kathy, is so supportive of his painting, kind of reminds me of my own beloved, Steve.

Dick, intrigued by my pastels, said he was going to go right home and order a set to play with. On their way out the door he thanked me for inspiring him. I should have told him it works both ways.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.



Of Two Minds

pastel painting of sand dunes and sky, snow and Lake Michigan in the distance

Of Two Minds, 9×6″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

Finally heard from my youngest after what felt like years but was probably only a month and a half. He’s been struggling to find work for almost a year. I had high hopes that this month he’d found something because we hadn’t yet got word that he needed rent money. Now I’m thinking we ought to reconsider whether or not to send it.

I am of two minds about this. I want to continue to provide for him because I’m his mother, it’s what I’ve done for twenty plus years. But I want him to stand on his own two feet. I can’t continue to be his safety net because as long as I do that he can’t call himself independent.

The pros to cutting him off: He lives in Florida, so if he has to live in his car, he won’t freeze to death. He’s got friends who will let him couch surf if he has to. He’s smart and resourceful, he can solve his own problems.

The cons: I feel like I’m throwing my baby out of a moving car. If he does end up on the street and something terrible happens I’ll never forgive myself. If he reneges on his lease, our name is still on it and they’ll come after us.

But you know what? there are all sorts of things that I already can’t forgive myself for, so really, what’s one more thing? And while it feels really crummy to cut him off on Valentine’s Day, any other day will feel just as bad. Probably.

Sigh. Children. I love them but it’s so hard to do the right thing. I suppose if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.


She Texts!

pastel of three trees on top of a snow covered dune.

She Texts! 6×9″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia.

It might not seem like much to you, but it means everything to me. My daughter texted today.

You know how it goes. Your kids are grown. You don’t want to be a pushy mother. You wait for them to call you, to let you in on their lives. Sometimes you’re lucky and you get a whole phone call to yourself.

It’s weird. I know it’s weird. I remind myself that back in my parents’ day, they were lucky to get a postcard twice a year from their kids and that includes me. And I tell myself all the time that if they needed me for anything they’d let me know. That no news is good news.

But I’m a hover mom, I admit it. Even now, when they’re all in their twenties, I want to know what they’re doing every minute of the day.

It’s probably got something to do with menopause mind. I didn’t used to be so needy. I think my body chemistry, including my brain chemistry, is all kitty whompus. It’s not me, it’s my hormones!

But those are just as much me as anything else. I guess I don’t have an excuse when you get right down to it.

But I have a cure! See this painting? See those trees? How excited they are? Those are me! Those shivering, shimmering branches on the top of the very highest dune in the park. It’s by way of being a very good day.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.



pastel painting of a road, snow and lake

Convergence, 6×9″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

I did not want to come in to the studio today. If you didn’t know, three weeks ago I fell while walking in the woods and my leg has been achy ever since. It’s maddening to still be limping around, gobbling ibuprofen and whining all this time later.

When I woke up today and the pain hadn’t magically disappeared overnight (again!) I wanted to crawl back under the covers and sleep the day away. But I remembered I had a bag of trash that needed to be set out on the alley, and I needed to paint a pastel for the day (hadn’t brought home my travel pastel kit), and oh, half a dozen other things.

On my way to put out the trash I noticed the door to one of the apartments in the building next door had swung open sometime overnight so I closed it because I’m a good doobie. I stopped and caught up with Hannah, who has the dog grooming business up the street from me. I got this painting done and I like two things about it (the line of red brush and the sky).

I named it Convergence because of random events that happen when I set myself on a path and because I’m attracted to compositions that meet up somewhere off center. I’ve noticed that a lot of my landscapes feature roads or paths that end before they reach the horizon and that’s something worth thinking about. I have a pretty good hunch about it. I’ll let you know when I have it sorted out in my head.


Walking my dogs makes me a better painter

At least it gets me off the couch in the mornings. Truthfully, if I had my way, I’d spend all day on the couch eating bonbons and flipping through Imgur on my iPad, but the dogs aren’t going to let themselves outside and since our yard isn’t fenced (yet!), I have to go with them.

This involves piling them into the back of my minivan and driving out to the woods. See, I’d walk them around the neighborhood but there are too many potential pitfalls involved with this, i.e. other loose dogs. So my preference is to drive about five miles south on Walhalla Road, turn off onto any one of half a dozen “seasonal roads” and tromp around the Manistee National Forest for an hour.

The dogs get to sniff and dig around, I don’t have to clean up after them (although I’ve unofficially adopted the first two miles of 6890 because, let’s face it, people are pigs), and we all get some fresh air and exercise.

Sometimes we see deer, sometimes a dead snake, and once Roger thought for sure a cat walked out of the ferns not six feet in front of him, but it was a skunk and he was not allowed to get any closer to it although he fussed a bit about my decision. I held firm, though. You should see the divots my feet left in the road even two weeks later. I held on for dear life, I’m telling you.

So how does this make me a better painter?

It provides subject matter, of course. I won’t tell you how many pictures of my dogs are on my Google drive right now, but it’s a lot. Like thousands. Sometimes I keep my finger on the camera button, snapping pic after pic of Roger digging in the dirt just to get that one glorious moment when he leaps back into the road to try to catch up to whatever he’s smelling off in the distance.

It lets me paint wonderful scenes of my dogs enjoying the great outdoors. I used to think I went out to the woods for me, but really, I go out there for them. They’re the ones that are having the great time.

I guess I’m jealous. Here I am, covered in Deet to keep off the bugs and checking for ticks and bears and swiping at deer flies and those two are just loping along with their tongues hanging out, having a grand old time. Every. Stinking. Morning.

I love it. I love them. I’m a lucky girl to have these lucky dogs.

©2017 Marie Marfia “Roger and Out” 6×9″ pastel on paper.

©2017 Marie Marfia “Daisy in the Dark,” 9×6″ pastel on paper.

You can find more of my daily paintings on ebay including the ones pictures here. They start at 99¢ and the auctions last for 7 days. Good luck and happy bidding!

Pastel painting of a tree with pink blooms


Pastel painting of a tree with pink blooms

Pinked, 5×7″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. $90.

I was driving into town to work today and was gobsmacked by the flowers on all the trees. You know those pink ones with the really giant blooms on them? I love those things. If I had one in my yard I think I’d just stare at it all day so long as the flowers lasted. I took a lot of reference photos just in case the wind blew all the blooms away and then I did this little painting when I got in my studio. It’s fluttery and windswept and pink, just like those trees.