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Skeleton window art

the final skeleton art window painting
This means you! Final window art over my office.

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

sketch
I changed the bottom line to “for the skeleton army” because it’s closer to the original. Also I didn’t want it to seem like I was being a money grubbing jerk.

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

template

This is what my template looks like. I have the colors on separate layers in Adobe Illustrator. It took about 16 letter-size pages which I then taped together.

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.

making a skeleton art window painting
I am using an exacto knife to trim away the little blobs of dried liquid leading that I used to anchor the strips. See my office through the window? I have plans for later on next spring, so stay tuned. All I’ll say right now is it’s not going to be white when I’m done with it.
skeleton art window painting
Here he is with the head, hand and lettering on the window. See all the little blobs of trimmed off liquid leading on the sill? The floor was covered with them by the end.

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.

skeleton art painted window
Here’s where I had to stop because I ran out of leading strips. Also, I needed more colors to finish than what I had in my studio.

Step 5: Break up the big shapes

I’m breaking up the big shapes in order to be able to apply the paint and not have the weight of it cause it to drip down the window. This meant there were a lot of places to dab the liquid leading and subsequently a lot more trimming to do.

Step 6: Fill in the rest of the color

Finally filling in the colors! This is the fun part and it goes pretty quickly, although my right shoulder needed a long soak in the tub after I was done. The guy that appears at the end was asking whether I liked the idea of food trucks parked on Filer St. next summer. I said I was all for more food choices in town ;).

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!

skeleton art window
I Want You for the Skeleton Army painted glass window, 34″x34″, by Marie Marfia, ©2019.
detail of skeleton window art
Detail, I Want You for the Skeleton Army window art by Marie Marfia
looking down the hall from skelly window art
Detail, I Want You for the Skeleton Army window art by Marie Marfia

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Boom! time-lapse pastel painting of a tree in my back yard

Watch me work on Boom!

This is a pastel painting of a tree in my back yard. I should say, my new back yard.

I am really enjoying the changing scenery right now. You know what I like best? There’s so much space. I guess I didn’t realize how closed in I felt walking in the woods until I had a place to walk that’s a mix of wide open spaces and clusters of trees. I could wander around here all day. The dogs sure wouldn’t mind it.

It’s so beautiful that it’s really hard to make myself go in to my studio in the mornings. But go I must because that’s where all my pastels are!

And of course the biggest reason to go is I get to paint stuff like this! So, yes, it’s a compromise, but it’s worth it.

Man. I can’t wait to see how everything changes once the snow comes…

Boom! pastel painting of a tree in morning sun

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plank with a saying on it

I can sing the national anthem in 1:30

I know this because I’ve added planking to my morning routine and it takes me exactly a minute and thirty seconds to get to the end of the The Star Spangled Banner. To get to two minutes I have to sing it over again, up to “…were so gallantly streaming.”

This is all occurs in my head, mind you. I don’t sing it out loud because Steve is still asleep and he’d be cranky if I woke him up, no matter how patriotic I’m being.

Every time I do this I flash back to the days when I would tell my children to brush their teeth while humming the anthem. The dentist recommended two minute long brushing twice a day and I thought that having them sing a song they knew would be more fun than a timer.

I settled on the Star Spangled Banner because, a) it was a song they ought to know, and b) I was pretty sure the song was two minutes long.

I’d tell my kids to sing it “with reverence,” hoping if they sang it like a dirge it would be enough time for their teeth to get thoroughly clean.

It worked well enough, I guess, although now I bet they probably can’t sing the song at all unless they have a toothbrush in their mouths.

Funny how the things you do because you’re being a mother of invention come back to haunt you. Sorry, kids! I didn’t mean to make you associate the national anthem with dental hygiene for the rest of your lives! I should have done more research and found a different song! One that was longer and that you’d probably never hear again except in an elevator sometimes!

As for me and my morning planking, the anthem works to take my mind off the burning in my stomach muscles, so I’m sticking with it until and if I ever make it to 3 minutes of planking. And then I think I may switch to this one.

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Walking a new path

This morning I slipped on my old shoes, gathered up the dogs and stepped outside to wander around my new back yard. Steve and I moved last weekend to a house sitting on ten acres of what feels like park land. There are trees and deer and grass and It. Is. Awesome.

No one else around. The world is brand new. There are scenic vistas everywhere I look that just beg to be painted. So many maples! This fall will be gorgeous. And I can’t wait to see it in the winter.

I could get used to this.

I just wanted to share some pictures I took this morning, one or two of which are soon to be landscape paintings.

Take a break with me and just breathe for a while.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/CekKTbWtRp6yVrEo9

Photo from my new back yard.
Click to see more of my new back yard!
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Up, up and away – pastel waterfall painting

pastel painting of a waterfall in Michigan
Tahquamenon Falls, 8×10″ pastel painting of a waterfall in Michigan by Marie Marfia. Available $175.

My husband and I traveled north last weekend to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We hoped to see some fall color and relax a little before the next big event in our lives (we’re moving to a new house in another week).

It was a great trip, not least because we had no internet access for three whole days.

I got a lot of reading done, found time to paint, spent a good portion of the weekend walking around on the Lake Superior shoreline, visiting waterfalls that I vaguely remembered from my youth, and just enjoying the outdoors.

We stayed in a little place called the Handshake Motel and Peninsular Patchworks. The owners, Ronnie and Tom, bought the cottages twenty years ago and named them for the early retirement plan that Tom took advantage of. Ronnie is a divinely talented quilter (that’s the Patchworks part) and she’s got a studio full of quilts and wall hangings and just anything you can think of to do with textile art. I was quite jealous of her space. It’s huge.

The cottage we stayed in was paneled in knotty pine, the bed was large and comfortable, and there was a big kitchen table suitable for playing Bananagrams, so perfect for us. They’re in Hulbert Lake, a tiny little town relatively close to White Fish Point and Grand Marais and a ton of state campgrounds, which we checked out for future camping trips.

We had an adventure getting back from Lake Superior on Sunday morning when a storm moved in on the beach where we were collecting rocks and soaked us and the dirt road we had traveled on to get there. We were in the Focus rather than the Silverado, so no four-wheel drive, but Steve has had a lot of practice in less than optimal conditions. We made it back okay and I only was terrified for probably ten minutes at the most.

On the way home on Monday, the end of the trip was marked by my phone dinging and buzzing as the messages/alerts/emails that piled up during the weekend came in all at once on the Mackinac Bridge. Of course I had to look, but I was already half missing the quiet.

Here’s a time-lapse of a painting from one of my photos of the upper falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

Time-lapse of Tahquamenon Falls, 8×10″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia.

Man, it’s pretty there. Not many people came out in the rainy weather so we had a lot of the place to ourselves. We did all the stairs and my calves are still stiff! But it was worth every riser.

Would you like to purchase this painting? It’s available for $175 in my shop, along with prints and cards.

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Location, location, location

I moved my studio/gallery/office this past spring. Same building as before, but now I’m in the way back. Like, really far back. Like, so far back that no one really knows I’m there yet.

This way to my new space!

Which is kind of a relief.

To be honest, the space at the front of the building, with the big plate glass windows, felt too exposed. Anyone could see in.

Sometimes I’d put the closed sign on the door, just so I could relax a little bit. You know, roll out the yoga mat, do some stretches, take a nap, adjust my attitude.

There were days when I dreaded going in because the place was such a wreck. When I paint I have this tendency to pick pastels up and then drop them on any available surface and then it might be a day or two before they all got put back where they belonged. Yes, all right, it took months sometimes.

This was a problem because someone might see. But I couldn’t seem to stop making a mess. And then I’d feel embarrassed. Which is wrong, because a studio has to be able to be messy. That’s when the creativity happens for me. When every possible thing is floating around inside and outside my head. When it’s all loose.

But the old space was also a retail space and an office. So I was feeling some pressure to keep it looking nice.

The new space is not so nice, if you know what I mean. The brick walls are crumbling in spots. The drywall on the ceiling needs to be painted. The floor is plywood with gray paint on it. I’ve got frames and paintings everywhere.

My handy husband made me this huge table from two by fours and a varnished closet door and I’ve spread all, and I mean all, my pastels out on it. I can see every color of the rainbow all the time! It’s like living in a Froot Loop fairyland.

Anyway, I hope you stop by and visit the new digs. I plan to make lots of art and a ton of messes and I don’t care who sees.

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I’ve moved!

If you’ve been by my shop recently you may have wondered if I’m still around. Especially given there’s a “For Rent” sign in the window and the giant “Bonafide Gallery” sign on the front window is gone.

Fear not! I still exist! Just on a different plane now.

I’ve moved, lock, stock and barrel, to the back of the same building.

To get to my shop you need to go in the front door (next to Cosmic Canine Creations) and down the hall and up the ramp. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can park in the newly created city parking lot behind 307 S. James Street off Filer Street and walk into my shop through the back double doors.

I’m loving it in the way back. There’s lots more room to spread out and paint! Plus I’ve made a new display for my skellies.

I’m still moving things around, trying to get the best, most efficient use of all this space. One question I’ve gotten over and over since my move: how the heck did all this stuff fit it into the considerably smaller space up at the front of the building in the first place? Answer: No freaking idea.

Hours are still 10ish to 5ish Monday through Friday, unless I’m outside painting plein air (most mornings) or going to figure study class (Thursdays) or doing a hundred other things. Magpie brain, you know. It rules my life. Regardless, you can still come enjoy the art on the walls in the hall and have a peek at my studio.

Here’s what it looked like right after I got everything in there.

What a lot of stuff!

I’ll post a video of my finished space soon!

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