Category Archives: Old (Dead) Masters

Closing in on done

The Skelly Dance, WIP

The Skelly Dance, WIP

Do you ever get to a point in a project when you just want to be finished? That’s where I am right now. But I know it’s not finished yet. So I’m going to set it aside for a while and figure out what’s bothering me about it and really be done when I say I’m done. I’m close, but there are still lots of parts of this that I’m not happy about. If I didn’t think I could fix them, I’d quit right now. But I can do this.

So you’ll be seeing this one again, but it might take a little while. Some things come clear after you let go of them for a bit. This feels like that sort of project.

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The Skelly Dance, work in progress

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The Skelly Dance, work in progress

The Dance by Henri Matisse

The Dance by Henri Matisse

I have begun another in the Old (Dead) Masters series. This is based on Henri Matisse’s The Dance, which is another classic work that I love.

I think what I like best about this painting is the dancing, of course. I also love how their arms make a heart shape. I love the colors, red against cool blue and green. I love that they’re naked. It’s interesting that once I make them into skeletons, there won’t be any way to tell what sex they are.

I did another version of this back when I was in college, but this is the first time I’m tackling it with skeletons. It’s also the largest pastel I’ve ever done. Matisse’s work was around a hundred inches tall by a hundred fifty inches wide. Mine will be 20 x 30″, only a fifth of the size of his. I think about how much canvas he covered and it makes me want to paint really big, too. I swear, before the end of the year, I will find a way to make something enormous-sized. I want to use my whole body to draw.

I’m going for the same primitive feel for my skellies as Matisse used in his painting, so trying to limit the detail. It’s a lot of fun, as usual. Can skeletons ever not be fun?

Here’s some progress shots. More to come, so stay tuned!

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All framed up…

 

Madame X-Ray, framed up and ready for the show!

Madame X-Ray, framed up and ready for the show!

….and some place to go. She’s such a little drama queen. I think putting her in an ornate gold frame was a good idea. It’s the perfect finish and gives her a truly Old (Dead) Masters feel. I took a picture of her in the garden behind my house. She’s looks quite the coquette, hiding behind those purple leaves.

Madame X-Ray will be at The Red Sable beginning on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 along with three others from the Old (Dead) Masters series, plus seven paintings from Greetings from St. Augustine and three Skelly Dancers. They’re going to be there all October, along with matted 5×7″ prints and small notecards. I’ve already sold one piece from the O(D)M (I’ll tell you all about it on a later post), but Madame is available for $270, which includes her splendid gilded frame. Contact me if you’d like to purchase her.

You’ve got some place quiet and secluded for her to be, don’t you? She won’t want to compete with anyone else for space. And even though she’s small, just 10 inches wide by 14 inches tall with the frame, she’s going to command a lot of attention. Drama queen, remember?

 

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au moulin rouge with skeletons homage to toulouse-lautrec

Au Moulin Skelly

pastel painting of Au Moulin Rouge with skeletons

Au Moulin Skelly, 19×17″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. This painting is available for purchase, $625. Email me to arrange payment and shipping.

So Au Moulin Skelly is done, done and done! While working on it I got to thinking about bars and how I used to enjoy going to them when I was younger. You know, BK (before kids). I remember looking forward to the weekends, getting dressed up, dancing with my friends, drinking to excess…

Those days are way behind me now, but painting this nightclub scene, with all these skeletons clearly having a great night on the town, reminded me how much fun that used to be.

I can’t help but imagine the stories behind all the figures. Like the guy at the top left looks like he’s either on his way to the men’s room or he just got rebuffed by the two beauties primping in front of the mirror. What do you suppose they’re all talking about at the table in the middle? And why is that woman photo bombing the picture from the right? Let me know in the comments what you think! Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec probably had a lot of fun painting the original. I know it was fun to recreate it peopled with skeletons!

Pretty happy with the way this turned out. I hope you all like it as much as I do. Click the link if you want to learn more about the Original Red Mill (Au Moulin Rouge).

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More Moulin Skelly, WIP

Filling in the details on the other heads.

Nearly done!

Nearly finished with this one. It’s been such a great challenge! So many figures. You really come to understand better how brilliant Toulouse-Lautrec was in the way that he arranged the people in this painting, and made decisions about colors and values. My palette for this was twelve NuPastels, by the way. I wasn’t sure about using black, but in the end, I did it and I’m glad. It really pushed the forms and added so much to the painting overall.

I still have some tweaking and cleaning up to do, but the next time you see this, it will be done, done, done. Here are the progress pics:

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WIP, Au Moulin Skelly

Au Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Lautrec

What I’m working from: Au Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Lautrec

More work on this Toulouse-Lautrec homage today. I got the block in done and used some packing peanuts to rub in the first layer of pastel. I’ll probably work on this over the weekend and maybe finish it by Monday. It’s coming along pretty well.

This is the stage that’s hardest. Some people call it the ugly stage of a pastel painting. I just think of it as the foundation for the rest of the piece. I noticed that Toulouse-Lautrec used a blue-orange palette in this painting, which coincidentally, I was reading about earlier today. Nothing is new, it seems. Even color palettes.

I like the teal colors along the mirrors at the back of the room and shadowing the skelly’s face on the right. Contrasted with all the warm, golden floor color and the orange-y bar that shoots across on the diagonal in front, I just know this is going to get good.

If you want to see the initial sketch stage, check out my previous post.

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Next up in the Old (Dead) Masters series: Au Moulin Rouge

Au Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Lautrec

Au Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Lautrec

I have copies this painting before, way back when I was in college. Back then I made a wood cut print and turned all the figures into punks. It was awesome. My brother and his wife have one of my artist’s proofs framed in their home. I thought it’d make a great entry in my Old (Dead) Masters series, so I’m tackling it again in pastel.

I love Toulouse-Lautrec. His paintings are surreal looking, especially this one, with the ghostly green face of the woman on the right, the crazy angles of the bar and the floor boards. I love the young ladies preening in front of the mirrors along the back of the room. It’s a great painting and I feel lucky to be able to screw around with it.

Here’s some work in progress pictures of my initial sketch for this painting. Notice that I started this the first time with the paper the wrong way up. I had to wipe out the first charcoal drawing and turn it 90 degrees and start again. Oh well. It’s my brain. It remembers things just fine, but usually kitty-whompus, like I’ll remember colors but complementary to the ones that are actually there. I’ll substitute blue for orange and red for green. In this case, I remembered wrongly which side was longer. Weird. Check twice, draw once.

 

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