Category Archives: Old (Dead) Masters

New skeleton painting in progress

Hey everyone! I’m working on a new skeleton painting, another in the Old (Dead) Masters series. This one is based on Maxfield Parrish’s illustration for the Dinkey Bird poem which features a beautiful figure swinging from a tree limb with a magical looking castle in the clouds behind. It’s a lovely picture and I am delighted to skeletonize it. I’ll be posting time-lapse videos of my progress here so check back often.

I am really loving all the colors in this piece! All my favorites in one painting. I’m over the moon.

Blocking in the painting.
Adding more color.
Working on the castle, sky and foliage.
Narrowing my focus a little bit.
Working on the skeleton.
Getting a lot closer now!


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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 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. You can purchase my original art on Daily Paint Works.

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Marie Marfia, Neverending Love Story, soft pastel, 12x16.375

Nicolette and Aucassin progress

Thought I’d share some progress on the the latest skeleton Old (Dead) Masters painting. It’s coming along. I’m doing some refining right now, and that’s going to take a bit. I like doing these because they’re like a real intense workshop on the style of the artist whose work I’m copying. That’s definitely the case with this one.

grid and sketch of Nicolette and Aucassin
Grid and sketch of Nicolette and Aucassin
initial block in
Initial block in
Easel shot
Easel shot
Work in progress…
As of April 3, 2021.
Here’s a video tour of where I’m at with this one. (Can you tell I’m listening to NPR?)

Here’s the final!

Marie Marfia, Aucassin and Nicolette, soft pastel on sanded paper, 12x16.375
Neverending Love Story (Aucassin and Nicolette parody), soft pastel on sanded paper, 12×16.375″.

Finally! These parodies always take forever to finish. I have so much respect for the original creators of the pieces I copy. And I learn a ton while I’m working.

So, no official title for this one yet. If you have a suggestion, please send it along. Of course, puns are given first priority and if I pick your title to use, I’ll happily send you a print as a thank you. Email me, marie@mariemarfia.com, and tell me your idea!

As soon as I have a title for this one I’ll be adding it to my Etsy downloads and my Fine Art America shop, so I’ll keep you posted.


UPDATE! I have decided on a title. It’s going to be Neverending Love Story. It’s because it’s all about the story that never ends. Also, this particular couple is based on a story–Nicolette and Aucassin–which is also referenced in one of my favorite series of books ever.

Thanks to everyone who submitted ideas for the title. They really helped me a lot to come up with something that I liked and seemed fitting. You’re the best fans ever!


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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

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

When:
Through October 2020

Hours:
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!

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Skelly Godiva – skeleton pastel painting

Skelly Godiva, finished pastel painting of a skeleton on a horse, homage to John Collier's famous work.
Skelly Godiva, 17×22″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. Sold.

Yay! All done. That was quick. Sort of. Compared to the last one, I mean. Skelly Godiva was a challenge in more ways than one but I’m very pleased with how she turned out.

Actually, it might have been worse. Fortunately for me, Collier’s original included a beautiful red blanket covering most of the horse, so I wasn’t faced with a second ribcage to render, hah! It’s the little things that keep me from going insane on these pieces.

This probably took me close to 40 hours to finish. The Old (Dead) Masters paintings often require a lot more craftsmanship, just because I’m going for a pretty accurate copy, otherwise the joke falls flat. Well, maybe it does anyway for some people, but those aren’t the ones I am painting for!

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. You can purchase my original art on Daily Paint Works.

Thanks again, Megan, for the idea to do a Lady Godiva skeleton painting!

Here are some time-lapses of my latest work in progress, Skelly Godiva. This is number 19 in my Old (Dead) Masters series and it’s based on a classic painting of Lady Godiva by John Collier. Enjoy!

There are more time-lapses for this piece are on my YouTube channel.

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Skelly on the Half Shell parody of Botticelli's Birth of Venus

Skelly on the Half Shell

Finally done! Yay!

pastel painting of Skelly on the Half Shell, a parody of Botticelli's Birth of Venus
Skelly on the Half Shell, done! Yay!

This piece took a while but it was totally worth it, if I do say so. She is fabulous!

At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle the entire painting by Botticelli and I thought maybe I’d just do Venus. But it was going to be awkward because she’s not really standing in the center of the shell and I’d have to cut something off so I thought, oh the hell with it, I’ll just do the whole thing.

Coincidentally, I happened to read about a method using pastel pencils to create portraits that really kind of glow so I thought I’d try it out on this particular work. Lo and behold, it ended up being awesome, but it also took a loooooooong time to do!

So apologies for making you wait so long for the latest in my Old (Dead) Masters series, but wasn’t it worth it? I think so!

Again, thanks for your patience!

Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 1
Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 1.
Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 2
Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 2.
Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 3.
Skelly on the Half Shell, detail 3.

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 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. You can purchase my original art on Daily Paint Works.

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Marie Marfia, Skelly on the Half Shell, soft pastel on paper, 15 in x 24 in, sold.

Skelly on the Half Shell, WIP

Work continues… enjoy these time-lapse videos of my work in progress!

So. Much. Hair.
So. Many. Bones.

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. You can purchase my original art on Daily Paint Works.

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pastel painting of the Mona Lisa with a skeleton

Bona Lisa is on Sale this Week! – skeleton mona lisa

pastel painting of the Mona Lisa with a skeleton

Bona Lisa, 12×18″ pastel on paper. $600. Skeleton Mona Lisa by Marie Marfia

Bona Lisa is on Sale this week!

Who doesn’t love the Mona Lisa? But haven’t you wondered what she looks like under that enigmatic smile of hers? Inside, I bet she’s grinning from ear to ear!

She’s on sale this week in all her iterations–original, prints, cards–through Sunday, November 11, 2018. Go get yours!

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Now comes the hard part

The smoke cloud fading behind our house.

Summer’s gone now. The trees are starting to turn. I saw a pair of brilliantly colored trees, red and orange, on my way down to Grand Rapids to drop the skelly paintings off for ArtPrize Nine.

I’m sorry summer’s done but I’m enjoying the cool mornings for walking in the woods with my dogs and it’s nice having seasons again. Makes me think of football games, raking leaves and the smell of burning stuff in the air.

Last week one of the neighbors had such a big burn pile going that it made a fog over our entire back yard. The sun was low in the sky and it lit up the smoke, throwing the trees in silhouette.

Part of me was thinking, “I hope I don’t die as a result of all this toxic smoke in the air,” and the other part was thinking, “This is so cool looking!” I ran in to get my phone for a picture but by the time I came out again, most of the smoke had dissipated. I can still picture what it looked like, the branches all backlit and peeking through that huge cloud of smoke.

Signed, sealed and delivered

Frida Skelly with Monkeys, 12×18″ pastel on sanded paper.

You’ll be happy to know all seven Old (Dead) Masters paintings are officially delivered to the bitter end coffeehouse and by this time next week lots and lots of people will have a chance to see them up close and personal. I’m excited and nervous and feeling a lot of dread right now.

Kind of like I used to feel right before a particular fundraising auction in my previous life as a Rotarian. Back then I’d have nightmares about nobody showing up and then to add insult to injury, I’d get what I called my “Christmas Cold Sore” on the day of. It never failed.

My contact at the bitter end wasn’t there when I arrived but his father, Mike, was. Mike told me that when he and his son, John, first saw the skellies they knew right away they were perfect for their place.

“We’re on the fringe of ArtPrize so we appreciate art that’s also kind of out there,” he said. “We had another exhibitor a few years ago, and she had twelve pieces featuring the role of underwear during the course of a person’s life. It started out with diapers and it ended with them, too.”

I think I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect place to exhibit skeletons in, don’t you? Meantime, I keep feeling my lip for impending cold soreness. So far, so good.


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 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. You can purchase my original art on Daily Paint Works.

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Vincent Van Skelly

Vincent Van Skelly

Another in my Old (Dead) Masters series, Vincent Van Skelly is my homage to the wonderful Vincent Van Gogh and his Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear.

I liked the original piece because it’s all complementary colors, green and red and orange and I liked that he chose to paint himself with his bandaged ear foremost. Like he was saying, here I am, with all my faults, now deal with it.

I imagine he was sorry that he’d lost his temper, and in the process, a good friend, Gaugin, because of it. I can relate. I have a quick and violent temper myself, although I’ve been a lot calmer lately. I think it’s because of yoga every day. I wonder if Vincent would have been happier with a daily yoga practice? Well, probably non-lead paints would have helped, too.

Want to know something interesting? On the page opposite this picture in the book Van Gogh’s Van Goghs, there is a picture of a skull that Van Gogh painted. How do you like that? I’ll bet he wasn’t working from an anatomically correct resin repro either. I wonder how hard it was to get a real skull to work with back in those days?

Here are the progress pics:

The original Vincent Van Skelly is available in my shop, and also as a signed 8×10″ print, a signed 11×14″ print and a greeting card.

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