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20 in 20: What I did on my COVID vacation

Here we go!

covid vacation 20 in 20 supplies
How are you coping?
I’m bored out of my mind right now, like everyone else. So naturally I got to thinking about how a skeleton would deal with this “stay at home, do not pass go, do not collect $200” lifestyle. And I decided she’d do all the things that I’m doing–like exercising, reading, ordering take out–in an effort to stay sane and positive and be a good person. But for some reason, it’s funnier when someone who’s already dead is doing it instead of me. So I decided to make a painting cartoon journal out of it.

My ulterior motives…
… included finally, finally practicing using acrylics. Also, to sell a little art for a good cause (see below). And these are very little art. Each canvas is just 6×6″. Small enough that making one every day is fun and not overwhelming, yet big enough to be able to paint tiny bones without having to use a single filament brush.

They’re the perfect size for hanging in that tiny blank space on your wall or perhaps on a mini easel on the corner of your desk where you’ve always wanted a grim, yet curiously hilarious reminder of what it’s like to be living in the world right now.

20 Paintings in 20 Days: What I Did on My COVID Vacation
So here’s the deal. I’m going to be posting a painting a day for the next 20 days, starting with Monday, May 18, 2020. If you’re on my Bone Appetit email list (sign up is in the menu) you will get two emails per day. The first one will go out at noon and I’ll share the preview sketch. The second one will be at 9 pm, to show off the finished painting.

If you’d like to purchase a painting, email me or text me at 904-566-4473. I’m pricing them at $25 each and it’ll be first come, first serve starting with next Monday morning’s email. The price includes USPS first class shipping (gotta prop that org. up, too!). Half of all proceeds will go to my local food bank, Lakeshore Food Club, here in Ludington.

Keep track of my progress here.

FYI, I’ll be posting twice daily on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest as well, but later, after I’ve emailed my list. Subscribers get first dibs, so sign up for the best chance to purchase!

Thanks for keeping me sane!

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Staying busy

Painted hands!
Back in February we stopped for beer and pizza after a day painting the gallery. Forgot to wash up before I left the studio!

Like everyone else, I’ve been trying to keep myself occupied while staying at home. One day I sewed masks for the local hospital. They were lime green and matched the outfit I’d made earlier for Violet, my porch vulture.

Violet my porch vulture
Violet, my porch vulture rocking lime green and black lace for Easter.

And then I made a black cape for my skeleton rat, Ralph. I still need to fashion a scythe for him. Any Terry Pratchett fans out there? He’s supposed to be the Death of Rats from the Discworld series.

Ralph, my skeleton rat.
Ralph as the Death of Rats. Scythe to come.

I’ve been reading. A lot. Sometimes two books a day. I find in times like these, when my mind is running around like a headless chicken, that I prefer to read books that have happy endings. I recommend Connie Willis’s time travel series, especially Blackout and All Clear. Her stories celebrate every day heroes and the ways we support each other when things are falling apart. Her writing makes me feel hopeful about the future.

I’ve been painting, too. There’s a show scheduled at LACA in Ludington in July that will feature local art work done during the pandemic. I plan to submit a couple pieces for that and I’ll get you more information about it at a later date, so stay tuned.

Before the stay at home orders for Michigan were in place, Steve and I were working to get my new gallery space painted. We got it done in the nick of time, but had to stop with the rest of the renovations until it’s safe to go out again.

Steve painting the gallery.
Steve being awesome. So. Much. Black.

There’s so much left to do! Put up some tulle and twinkly lights. Get Laurie’s Dolloween art in there. Paint skeleton foot prints on the floor, and a few other spooky, fun things. It’ll be cool when it’s done. I hope everyone will have a chance to come and see it this summer, but if not, maybe I can make a virtual tour? I’ll ask my son Nick to help me. He’s very good at figuring stuff out.

Back in early March, Nick was hanging skeletons in my newly painted gallery.

I’ve also been working on a brand new website that will just have skeleton art on it. Slowly getting all the skellies up there. I’ll let you know when it’s fully functional and ready for business. Meantime you’re always welcome to shop for them here on my website. Oh, and I just added a Gift Card option, so please take advantage of that.

Here I am back in February, when Steve and I got to babysit our granddaughter. I can’t wait to have her in my lap again.

Of course, the hardest part of all this is not being able to reach out and hug your family. I have a granddaughter in Kalamazoo who’s growing up so fast!

I still have plenty of things to do to keep me occupied. I have basement walls to paint. There’s a garden to put in. Dogs to walk. You know, stuff. And there’s always more art to make.

I hope you’re all staying busy and healthy and safe. Take care, everyone. We’ll all get through this together.

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Skelly Godiva

Skelly Godiva, 17×22″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. Sold.

Yay! All done. That was quick. Sort of. Compared to the last one, I mean.

The original has been sold (thank you, Mary!) but of course you may purchase canvas wraps, paper prints and cards of the finished artwork in my shop.

I really enjoyed working on this one. The cool and warm palette was quite nice, and I got a chance to “bone up” on my horse skeleton drawing skills. Although, I have to admit, it felt like cheating to paint a blanket over most of it! Favorite part? All that red!

Thanks again, Megan, for the idea to do a Lady Godiva skeleton painting!

Here are some more WIP time lapse videos for you to watch.

There are more time-lapses for this piece are on my YouTube channel.

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Subscriber only sale!

Happy Holiday Savings! Sign up for my newsletter to get 40% Off everything in my online shop through December 16, 2019!

No, I’m not selling subscribers! But if you are a newsletter subscriber, watch your email today for a coupon code worth 40% off everything in my shop through December 16!

Not a subscriber yet? Sign up and I’ll email you the 40% Off coupon code. Ho ho ho!

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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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