Category Archives: skeletons

Skelvis!

pastel painting of Elvis as a skeleton doing the Jailhouse Rock

Skelvis! 24×18″ pastel on paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia.

Skelvis rocks!

When I was in college I did a lip synch video to Elvis’s immortal “Devil in Disguise.” I enlisted the help of my sister and a friend, dressed one like an angel in a pretty white frock and the other in  red flannel underwear with a tail and horns. They took turns dancing on my shoulders throughout the song through the use of video magic (well, it was magic back then). I was dressed as a tele-evangelistic minister in a sharp suit and tie, with my hair slicked back and holding a leather-encased bible.

Flash forward to this week when someone asked me if I’d yet done Elvis as a skeleton. The suggestion immediately brought back all the fun we had making that video. Truly, it was the highlight of my college career, not even kidding.

When my dad saw it later, I heard he laughed himself silly. High praise indeed.

To paint The King, I needed just the right reference photo. I didn’t find Devil in Disguise but I did find Jailhouse Rock. Looking it over, it occurred to me that a ribcage can look a lot like a striped uniform shirt, and well, he came together pretty quickly after that.

Here’s a couple of videos of the process:

And now all that hip-shaking sexiness is available for you to have for your very own! The original (18×24″ on paper, unmatted and unframed) is $600 and in my shop. You can also have him to grace your walls as a canvas wrap print, paper print, or a greeting card.

Do you know someone who loves the King and skeleton art? Please share.


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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

Pastel spoof of Frida Kahlo self portrait with skeletons

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.

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When disaster strikes…

The Skelly Dance at the framer’s. It got a little wet.

…it’s best to have an insurance policy already in place. Failing that, a positive attitude can take you a long way.

“Marie, I have some bad news.”

A couple weeks ago the framer called to tell me one of my paintings for Art Prize had been accidentally destroyed. A pipe had burst in the ceiling over his shop and mine plus eight other people’s projects had gotten drenched. Tim, the framer, was distraught. I was the last person he’d called that morning and he’d been sick three times already.

I went over to his store and looked at the piece, decided it wasn’t salvageable, took a picture for my records, and reassured him I wasn’t upset. Then I went back to my studio to think about what the next step would be.

Since this piece was slated for Art Prize, it would be one of three things:

  1. Alert the venue that The Skelly Dance had met with an unfortunate accident and ask whether or not I could substitute another piece in its place (fortunately, I’d just finished Bona Lisa the same week);
  2. Tell the venue that The Skelly Dance had met with an unfortunate accident and just go with six pieces for Art Prize;
  3. Re-do it, in which case I needed to order supplies.

You’ll notice that nowhere on this list is the step in which I panic. At the time I thought it was odd that I wasn’t more upset about the loss, but then I thought, “You’ve been through this before.”

Deja flooping vu

It’s true. Last year I lost four original skelly paintings and a slew of prints during the flooding in St. Augustine from Hurricane Matthew. That was pretty ouchy, but at the time, the gallery owner thought she might be able to arrange compensation through her insurance company.

As I should have guessed, flooding, which is what happened to my skellies down south, doesn’t count as compensatable damage. I think the hurricane actually has to leave a signed confession before an insurance company will agree that it will cover any losses due to one coming ashore for a visit.

Back to the drawing board, er, easel

After mulling it over, I went with steps 1 and 3. I alerted the venue and they agreed to take the Bona Lisa in lieu of The Skelly Dance, but then I decided to re-do The Skelly Dance anyway.

I’ve got time, after all. Art Prize isn’t until mid-September. Also, I’m a little leery about substituting art work without clearing it with Art Prize first. I’ve heard of people being disqualified from that show for small infractions. I could try to get a new piece juried in, but it’s way past the deadline now, so I will happily forgo opening up that can of worms altogether and count myself lucky this happened when it did.

Onward and upward

Besides, if there’s one thing I’ve learned since I started making art every day, it’s if you did it once, you can do it again.

Nothing is so precious that it can’t be re-worked, or re-designed, or re-made from scratch. It was painting every day that taught me this lesson and I’m grateful for it. Because of this I can let something like the destruction of a piece roll over me like water off a duck’s back.

But I’ll tell you something—I went out and got an insurance policy for my art last week, because while a positive attitude can take you a long way, cash money makes for a smoother ride.

 

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painting of skeleton couple

Nos. 16-17, 100 Portraits in 100 Days

Nos. 16-17, 100 Portraits in 100 Days

painting of skeleton couple

Nos. 16-17, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 8×10″ pastel on UArt 400 sanded paper, mounted on foam core, by Marie Marfia. Available $200 plus $12 shipping.

Here’s a cute couple. From the reflections in their sunglasses, I think they must’ve been at a park when they took their picture. Awesome! I’m a nature gal, myself. Although, I can get my fill in an hour or two. I love walking the trails, but I don’t want to be out there all day! I got stuff to do! Places to go! People to see! Know what I mean?

You’ll notice that on this portrait I opted to use a distorted grid. Couldn’t resist. It was such a twisted sort of skeleton portrait to do.

Here’s the progress pics:

Read more about my 100 Portraits in 100 Days project, and follow along on Facebook or Instagramor TwitterSign up for my newsletter and be the first to see my portraits as I finish them!

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pastel painting of 2 skulls just getting engaged

Nos. 12-13, 100 Portraits in 100 Days

Here is Liz’s selfie of her and her fiancee, showing off the big rock on her fourth phalange. Oh happy day! They’ve since gotten married. I fell in love with her blue hair while working on this piece.

pastel painting of 2 skulls just getting engaged

Liz and Fiancee, Nos. 12-13, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 8×10″ pastel on UArt 400 sanded paper mounted on foam core by Marie Marfia. This painting is available, $200 plus $12 shipping. Contact me to purchase.

Read more about my 100 Portraits in 100 Days project, and follow along on Facebook or Instagramor TwitterSign up for my newsletter and be the first to see my portraits as I finish them!

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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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pastel painting of homage to Reginal Marsh's High Yaller

High Skeller

Whew! She’s done and I’m so glad. You ever have a project that you want to finish but you just can’t seem to move forward on it? That was me last week.

Finally, I sat down and wrote a short piece about a person named Marie who just got down to it and finished the painting she’d been wanting to finish. Then I decided to hold myself accountable by live streaming the process. And it worked! Something about having someone in the room watching me actually do the painting really motivated me to finish it.

So, I’m very happy to present my beautiful skelly in yellow for your viewing pleasure. See the guy in the back? He’s enjoying her, too.

pastel painting of homage to Reginal Marsh's High Yaller

High Skeller, 20×16″ pastel painting on gator board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia.

Here’s my Work in Progress pics.

And if you’d like to purchase my darling girl, you can do that in my shop. She’s all dressed up and ready to go! She’s also available as a 8×10″ print or a 5×7″ greeting card.

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pastel painting of a boat on the water based on Edward Hopper's Ground Swell

Ground Skel

pastel painting of a boat on the water based on Edward Hopper's Ground Swell

Ground Skel, 16×20″ pastel on gator board with pumice ground, by Marie Marfia.

I thought about Ground Skelly, but then I went with Ground Skel because I love puns.

This piece was a joy to build, from start to finish, but I think I’m definitely going need more blue pastels soon! I love the swoop of the sloop and the way all the angles work within the composition. The clouds make this cunning dotted line across the sky and the waves roll forward like folds in a blanket. Steve asked me what was holding the sailors’ pants up and I said it was the same magic that allowed them to sail a boat!

I have to tell you, this Old (Dead) Masters series has given me so much pleasure, just in the few that I’ve done. I can’t wait to get on to the next one and see what I’ll learn from it.

Here are a couple work in progress pics for your viewing pleasure.

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The charcoal sketch.

IMG_3447

Skeleton crew.

Here’s the link to the original in my shop, and here is the greeting card. I’ll have prints available at The Starving Artist and The Attic soon.

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My first art show with the Skellies was skeltacular!

Highlights

Best reason to explain to your mom why you’re buying skeleton art:

“You’re dead a lot longer than you’re alive, so you may as well have fun with it.”

Best reaction to working out creative issues with skeletons:

“I am a practicing psychologist, my dear, and I have to tell you, I’ve been coming to the Shrimp Festival for years. I’ve seen mermaids, turtles, seascapes and octopi, but I have never seen dead people dancing on the beach before. Congratulations. Your art is unique.”

Best reason to have a huge canvas print of two skeletons on a motorcycle at the front of the booth:

reaction-shot

Reaction to Bone to be Wild at the Shrimp Festival.

Best use of noodles in a booth (even if it didn’t rain)

steve-noodles

Steve inserting swim noodles in the corners in case of rain, which we didn’t get, but better safe than sorry!

Skelly lovers are the best!

I sold a ton of cards, some prints and one new painting (thank you, Doug!). I met so many nice people, who bought my skellies for gifts and for fun and for giggles. It was a glorious two days. Hard work, but so worth it. Thank you for coming out to the Shrimp Festival. Thanks for buying my art. Thank you for all the compliments and the smiles and the laughter. You all made my weekend.

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Productive day at the Attic

I am really enjoying the longer shifts (11am-6pm) fewer times per month there. I get at least two Saturdays off a month with the new schedule, so that’s great, plus I have more time to put a painting together while I’m working.

Yesterday I got most of the way through this little pin up skelly girl that will be part of the Skeleton Crew I’m bringing to Amelia Island Shrimp Festival this year, April 28-May1, 2016. I’m excited to have new art to show, and I have been busy planning on just how to offer it. I want to have 5-7 original paintings for sale (pin-up, seiner, shoveler, sorter, captain, ship with crew, cook, zombie shrimp), matted and framed prints of each painting that I will take orders for to ship after the show, and one print that I’ll give away at the end of the show. I may also offer cards of each painting, but I’m still deciding about that. It’s nice to have different price points but printing the inventory is a pain, since I do it myself, and it may also keep people from buying the prints instead, which is what I want to sell the most of.

This girl still needs a little more tweaking as well a title, though. I was thinking about “You’re the shrimp in my grits,” or something like that. Any ideas? Put them in the comments!

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