Category Archives: painting a day

pastel painting of two dogs in the woods

Daisy and Roger Listening – pastel painting of dogs in the woods

pastel painting of two dogs in the woods

Roger and Daisy Listening, 18×12″ pastel on paper. ©Marie Marfia. Available $210.

I really like how this turned out. I tried to keep it simple. Wasn’t sure about adding the dogs on the first day but then walked in this morning and thought, “Why not?” So that’s what I did. I like all the gestural lines around the dogs. I love the dark tunnel ahead of them and the light filtering down through the tree canopy. Enjoy!

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pastel painting on paper of a tree in the woods

Through a Screen of Pine – pastel painting of a tree in the woods

pastel painting on paper of a tree in the woods

“Through a Screen of Pine” 9×6″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. Available $110.

This is a painting from my walk in the woods today. I had turned a corner and was struck by the patterns of light and shadow through a screen of pine boughs. I love the way the branches swoop down over the tree in the background. Love living here and walking in the Manistee National Forest every day.

Here’s a time-lapse vide of me making this piece:

Details of the painting:

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walk in the woods with my dog pastel painting

Morning Walk with Daisy – pastel painting of my dog on a path through the woods

walk in the woods with my dog pastel painting

Morning Walk with Daisy, 9×6″ pastel on paper. Available $110.

This is a pastel painting of my dog Daisy, walking along a path through the Manistee National Forest. This road in particular is one of our favorites. It winds along the Pere Marquette River for about a mile and goes past a couple of really awesome camping areas. They’re usually full of campers on the weekends, but now that it’s after Labor Day I’ll probably come here more often.

Here’s a video of me working on this piece:

Some detail shots here:

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Synchopation – pastel painting of the Manistee National Forest

Synchopation, 9×6″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. Available $110.

Synchopation – pastel painting of the Manistee National Forest

I went out walking after the rain this weekend. So good to be out in the woods! I love my little cottage in the forest, but you know, it’s awful nice to be able to stretch your legs every day in such beautiful surroundings. I’m trying to soak up as much as I can.

Here’s a video of me creating this piece.

 

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Coming at you

Smiling dog in the woods pastel coming at you

dog in the woods coming toward you happy

“Roger Coming at You” 18×12″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia..

This is a pastel of my dog, Roger. He’s the one that always comes at you for a pat after he’s finished investigating whatever was in the ferns on the side of the road. Daisy goes around you, but Roger comes right at you. He’s a very good boy.

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pastel painting about a walk in the woods

A pastel about a walk in the woods

pastel painting about a walk in the woods

A Walk in the Woods, 18×12″ pastel on paper. Available $210.

I love to walk in the Manistee National Forest. The trees make a tunnel over my head and at the end of the road there’s a bright light shining. I always feel better after spending time in the woods.

Enjoy a video of me creating this pastel!

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pastel painting of a path toward the river

Towards the River

Walked around the Custer cemetery today after dropping Sam off at work. I like all the towering pines there and the dogs have lots of things to sniff. We skirted the cemetery proper and made our way down an almost completely overgrown path leading to the river. Alas, there were people fishing along the opposite bank and I didn’t want to disturb them (Roger went on full alert as soon as he heard humans talking). So I settled for a picture of an angler through the trees and we made our way back to the car and home.

This is a study based on a photo of the light through the trees. The river is just beyond the tree line.

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plein air pastel set up

You never know what kind of fauna you’ll meet in the woods

I promised myself to do more plein air painting this summer and so last weekend I brought along my backpack full of pastels when I went walking in the woods with my dogs.

I really like going out into the Manistee National Forest. You can see deer and chipmunks, porcupines and ‘possums. There are tons of birds calling. Sometimes I whistle back to try to lure them in closer so I can identify them. I take pictures of everything that catches my eye. Bees buzzing on the roadside flowers, the way the sky angles down to crack open the tree line, a 2-track wiggling around a corner. It’s peaceful, relaxing, meditative. The perfect start to a weekend.

I drove to a nearby intersection in the woods just off south Walhalla Road, spritzed myself and the dogs liberally with bug spray (it’s never not deerfly season), and traipsed down the path. All too soon I heard the telltale whine of a small engine and quickly led the dogs to one side. We watched as a dirt bike zipped past us. “Haha, that was close,” I thought.

A bit later, I heard the sound of a dirt bike again. We stepped off the two-track but this time there were two bikes instead of one. I couldn’t tell whether or not either was the same person as before but I decided that probably the first one had met up with the second one and they were out exploring the woods together. Kind of sweet, really. One of them even waved at us.

Within ten minutes they were back, going the other way, only now there were three of them! Hmm. It was getting kind of busy out in the woods. I considered going back the car and calling off my plein air practice day. Were dirt bike riders more aggressive in groups?

I kept on, though, determined to get a painting day in. A couple more times I thought there were bikers coming but it turned out to be just the echoes of their engines as they criss-crossed the trails all around us. We waited in the tall grass, listening to what sounded like a veritable hornets’ nest fading away in the distance.

Eventually, I found a spot to set up. It was beautiful, the morning sun dappling the ground, kissing the ferns and foliage all around. A perfect place to paint.

I tied up the dogs far enough off the path to keep them out of harm’s way and unpacked my kit. Where to start? I picked a scene with sun coming through the trees and lighting up the forest floor and began to do a black and white thumbnail sketch. Then I taped a piece of paper to my foam board and began blocking in my painting.

Roger and Daisy, my faithful plein air painting companions.

Within ten minutes I heard the now all too familiar buzz of approaching bike engines. Skipping to one side, I counted riders as they zoomed past. One, three, seven, eight! Where were they all coming from? Was there a spawning ground around here?

Increasingly nervous, I quickly finished my first study, stopping and listening every few minutes, in case I needed to move off the path again. For the next study, I lost my meditative groove completely, went right past the preliminaries, and dove straight into the painting. Another group of riders whipped by, leaving clouds of dust and two-stroke exhaust in their wake.

I decided to pack up and get out during a lull. Should I try to make it to a main road and walk back to my car from there? Except it would add another mile or two to my hike and all I really wanted to do now was go home where it was quiet and have a cup of coffee. I shortened the leashes and we quick-marched back the way we’d come.

I saw three more sets of bikes before I got to the car, one with a go Pro camera on his/her helmet. I wonder if I’ll make the final cut?

In hindsight, I should have been painting dirt bikes all along, of course, since that’s what was the most plentiful thing out there, but it was my first time. I was nervous about drawing their attention, so to speak.

At least I managed to get a picture. Here’s Dirtus Bikus Plein Airus Interruptus out in the wilds of Fountain, Michigan. Ride on, you magnificent brute, ride on.

dirt bike in the woods

Dirtus Bikus Plein Airus Interruptus

Oh, and here are the two studies I managed during my Saturday morning paint out. The art life is full of adventure, isn’t it? Who knew?

Manistee National Forest 080418 No. 1

Manistee National Forest 080418 No. 2


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Curious Cow

acrylic painting of a cow face

Sunny Cow, No. 5, 6×6″ acrylic on canvas. ©2018 Marie Marfia

Curious Cow

No. 5 is a quickie because I have to go down to Grand Rapids to meet up with my brother and his wife. We’re going to plant flowers in the family cemetery plots today. It’s always a great time to catch up. Joe says he wants to stop at a flea market that’s on the way, not to buy anything, but just to look at stuff and think about them. I can get behind that!

 

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