I’ve been meaning to do another romantic skeleton Old (Dead) Master piece and I think I have my inspiration.
Isn’t it awesome? I first heard the reference for this story in another book series that I have loved for about oh, 30 years or so. The story of Nicolette and Aucassin is mentioned in one of the Chronicles of Lymond series books by Dorothy Dunnett. If you’ve never read them, don’t waste any more of your life. I think they’re fantastic.
The books would be reason enough to do the parody, but I also really love this work, not least because it’s by a woman, yay, but also because the story is in itself a parody.
So right now I’m just sort of studying this to see how I might tackle it. I always learn so much from these. But anyway, just wanted to give you a heads up on what’s coming. Wish me luck!
Ever since I moved into my space at the back of 307 S. James St. I’ve been meaning to put something in the window that overlooks the office where I work. The truth is I like to take naps in there every once in a while and it makes me feel a little too exposed to lay on the floor on a yoga mat and know that anyone walking by the window can see me snoring in there. I could have just hung up a curtain but why settle for fabric when I can make something awesome instead? So naturally I decided to make some skeleton window art.
It took a little longer than I hoped and this was because I had to order more leading strips and paint colors directly from the manufacturer (Plaid Gallery Glass) and their cheapest shipping option turns out to be very slooooooooow. But oh well. I was busy doing other things, if you recall. It got delivered eventually and then the whole project was finished up quickly after that.
Step 1: Make a sketch
First I needed a design for the window. I settled on the classic Uncle Sam army recruiting poster as a starting point. Not hard to convert to a skeleton version. If anyone is interested in doing the same thing for themselves, just let me know and I’ll send you a scalable pdf file that you can use as a template.
Step 2: Convert to scalable vector art
Once I printed out the template I taped it up to the back side of the window and then started putting leading strips on the front side of the window, cementing them in place with a drop of liquid leading.
Step 3: Do the fiddly bits
I made the skull, hand, stars and lettering separately on clear plastic sleeves using the liquid leading. That’s because they were too detailed to do using the leading strips on a vertical surface. You can bend the strips into large, simple shapes but anything smaller and they don’t hold the curves. They peel off the glass when my back is turned and it’s frustrating as hell.
Step 4: Decide on a background
The next question was what to do with the background? It needed to cover the whole window, but the original Uncle Sam poster was just plain white. I wanted something kind of gothic. So I ended up using radiating stripes in purple and lilac.
Step 5: Break up the big shapes
Step 6: Fill in the rest of the color
Step 7: Enjoy my cool window art!
So this is it! This is my Uncle Skelly Wants You for the Skeleton Army window. What do you think? Pretty cool? I think so, too. And best of all, I can nap in peace!
Almost done! I still have a few little things to do before my skelly cowgirl and her trusty gator steed are finished, but she’s pretty close!
Hope you love it. I had a fine time putting this one together. Below are some of my progress shots.
As far as a title goes, I’ve decided on Forever Your Gator Girl, which I made up on my own. Usually I have a title in mind before I start a skeleton painting, so this was a little tougher but it’s all good now!
If you would like to purchase the original, contact me. Forever Your Gator Girl will be available for $500, including shipping anywhere in the continental USA. I’ll have prints and cards in my web shop next week, so stay tuned!
I am still gathering together the inventory for this show. I have never exhibited here so I don’t know quite what to expect. Should I bring mostly Old (Dead) Masters? Or skeleton couples? Skelvis? I just don’t know. I guess I’ll bring a little bit of everything and see how it goes!
I’m going to give away a large print of one of my skellies after the show. I haven’t decided which one it’s going to be or whether I’m going to let the winner choose. (Email me your opinion and possibly confuse me even more!)
To enter, just stop by my booth (Section B, space 8) and fill out a form. While you’re there you can also get on my mailing list, but that’s totally optional. You don’t have to be on my mailing list to enter the contest. (But it’d be awesome if you were.)
The important stuff
What: Gold Coast Artisan Fair Where: Rotary Park, downtown Ludington, Michigan When: Saturday, August 10, 10-5 and Sunday, August 11, 10-4
Come on out! Say hello! Sign up to win a skelly print! And tell all your friends!
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!
Featuring six of my most popular skelly dancers, dressed for the holiday season and ready to spread skeleton cheer! Each box has six different skelly dancers in it, envelopes included. Go get yours! They’re on sale this week for $9 per 6 cards, includes shipping!
Bone to be Wild, pastel painting of two skeletons riding a motorcycle on the beach.
Bone to be Wild on sale this week!
On sale this week, “Bone to be Wild,” a special motorcycle skeleton couple that I did for Bike Week one year. Still one of my faves! On sale this week for 25% Off, including cards, prints and canvas wraps. Sale ends Sunday, October 28, 2018. Go get one!
I Just Fed You – pirate skeleton and parrot on sale this week!
So you should totally buy one of my pirate skellies to celebrate! Here’s “I Just Fed You” on sale this week only, September 17-23, 2019. Comes in lots of different sizes to fit anywhere in your captain’s cabin or poop deck or down in the bilges! Aarghh!
It’s hard not to take it personally when I hear comments like these floating through the door at my studio. Maybe putting The Very Last Supper front and center in my shop window has something to do with it?
I could place a more traditional piece there, like a landscape or a still life or a portrait, and people would walk by and never say a word. But poke fun at a religious icon and suddenly everyone loses their minds.
The Very Last Supper, detail, by Marie Marfia
I could try to soft-pedal the subject matter by combining genres. For instance, skeletons with vases of flowers or skeletons in the landscape would be more palatable maybe. But I’ve found that skeletons are pretty polarizing as a general rule. People either really, really like them or they really, really don’t.
My mom was one of the latter group. Whenever I told her I’d sold another piece of skeleton art I’d have to preface the news with an apology. “Hi Mom, I’m sorry but I sold a skeleton painting today.” She’d always wrinkle her nose at the news, as though I’d just farted in front of her. “Oh, Marie,” she’d say, and sigh. She’s gone now, but I can still hear her sighing like a mournful ghost.
Certainly the skeletons don’t mind whether or not people like them. They’re glandless creatures and so they don’t have feelings that can be hurt.
The question is, can I live with some people not liking what I do?
The urge to please everyone all the time is a real issue for me. I come from a large family and I spent a good portion of my life trying to make people like me in order to get attention, which I craved. It was only when I hit menopause that I stopped caring quite so much. Once my body realized I was done reproducing, my brain took over and said “I’m in charge now,” and that was that. (See? Biology is another thing skeletons don’t have to worry about. More reason to love them!)
The bottom line is, I’m trying to learn how to paint. Studying the classics is a really good way to do this and adding skeletons makes it more fun.
But some people are not amused by skeletons, and they’re especially not amused by biblical scenes with undead people in the starring roles.
(I confess, I deliberately put that print in the window hoping to persuade a couple of political organizations, which shall remain nameless, to set up their tents elsewhere instead of directly in front of my studio during Friday Night Liveevents. And it worked, sort of. At least, the next weekend, they’d moved across the street. With them a littler farther away I figured I had a better chance of attracting my target demographic—people with a sense of humor who aren’t afraid of death.)
So to answer the question about what I can live with, while it bugs me when people openly sneer at my work, I absolutely adore the people who love it. They say things like, “These are so cool!” “That’s hilarious!” and my personal favorite, “I’ve gotta buy this.” So I’m going to focus my attention on them and everyone else, including my dead mother, will just have to deal.
Thank you to everyone out there who keeps laughing along with me. You know who you are. As long as I know you’re out there, giggling, I can handle a hater or two.
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