I’m starting a new series. It’s all about the things that keep me up at night. I am taking inspiration from Lynda Barry, whose book Making Comics has a monster drawing exercise, which I just love. I try to make monsters every day and then I pick one and make it into a small acrylic painting. Stay tuned! I have no idea where it’s going, but I want to call it my Monsters Under My Bed series and I’m am thoroughly enjoying it! Hope you do, too.
The Green Crested Drooler personifies my fear of getting older and losing control of my bodily functions. Sure, it’s cute, but it’s also drooling! Gross! Blah! I think someone needs to invent terrycloth pillowcases for people like me who frequently wake up in the middle of the night in a puddle of spit. Hell, maybe I’ll make my own…
Finally, it’s safe to go out walking in the state park again! No more snow and ice! Yesterday was actually the first day I took the dogs out for a romp in the dunes but it was nice enough today to do it again.
If you drive north on Piney Ridge Road, just before the Ludington State Park, there are multiple places to park your vehicle and go for a walk in the dunes and trees. Today we took the first spot with a sign on it. You have to keep the dogs on a leash, which is fine with me, because Daisy is a runner and Roger tends to bite first and make friends never.
It was really windy out there today! And the sun peeked through the clouds often enough to give me some nice reference photos to work from. This is the one I decided to work from today:
If and when I decide to do this again I may take the path out altogether. I don’t think it really needs it in the picture and then I could really go crazy with the marks for the grasses. It was really beautiful out there today.
Back in January I was asked to collaborate with a local business on a how-to demo for a home decor project. Basically, a local marketing expert and a paint supply business wanted someone to demo the business’s products by using them for a DIY project. It sounded like fun and coincidentally I had been meaning to fix my patio table anyway. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone.
About the table: We inherited a patio table with a missing glass center when we got this house and we wanted to replace the glass with a wood top. Steve had gone so far as to cut out the plywood for the project and now we were hemming and hawing about what kind of tile to use and should we paint them or try to mosaic something together out of what we already had, and lots of other things–amazing how complicated one little project can be–and no surprise, the project was in limbo until we made some decisions.
Since the demo needed to be simple enough for anyone to do and it needed to use paint rather than tile, I decided that this was the solution to our patio table design problems. I designed some tile-sized stencils to use in place of tiles and then picked a color palette based on ideas I’d found on Pinterest.
My fellow collaborators and I eventually decided that rather than doing an entire table top, the demo would use one stencil to decorate a small 8×8″ piece of wood to hang on a wall. I enlisted the help of another local business to cut the stencils for us, the paint place mixed up the paint colors and provided the applicators, and the marketing expert took care of the video production.
After the initial trial run, which enlisted family members and friends to participate in the paint-along and was surprisingly a lot more fun than I expected, I got some nice feedback on the design (see the chickadee stencil below) and used that to make some changes to all the rest of the tiles. In a nutshell, I needed to simplify the stenciling part of the project to try to make it as foolproof as possible.
Since then, the collaboration part of the project has been put on indefinite hold, so I’ve decided to forge ahead with the table top on my own. It’s starting to warm up outside and I need to have a place to set my cocktail down once Steve and I resume our nightly drinks-on-the-deck ritual. The table top must go on!
Here are my stencil designs and the tabletop layout I’m going to do. The middle tile will have a hole in it where the umbrella goes through, but otherwise, it’ll look pretty much like this. I think it’s going to be cool.
I wanted tiles that reflected where we live out here in the woods, so there’s a squirrel, a chickadee, a woodpecker, a bear, a coyote, a deer and a moonrise. What do you think?
Maybe down the road I’ll do another set that’s all about living by Lake Michigan. I could do some dunes, a sunset, a wave, a boat, maybe even the carferry chugging along in the distance. I’m thinking a backsplash in the kitchen would be the perfect place for them.
Getting used to having this awesome place to make stuff in. But going outside for inspiration is good, too!
Last weekend, Steve and I drove out to the State Park to watch the sun set. I was mesmerized by the reflections on the water and took a little movie of it.
Also working on a portrait of my daughter and her daughter right now. It’s coming along. At least, I haven’t wrecked it yet! But if I do, I remind myself I’m allowed to try it again. That keeps the pressure off. Funny how portraits are like that, but landscapes? Not so much!
Also, spring seems to be happening! Hurray! Temperatures are rising during the day and the snow is alternately crusty on top and satisfyingly smushy. I love how the trees are just pulsing with life and the snow is retreating from around their trunks.
I go out three times a day to walk the dogs and the landscape is a little different morning, noon and night. Once I lay down on a sunny patch of grass just to feel the warmth on my face and Daisy promptly sat on my head.
I finished up my landscape class with Vianna Szabo. I learned a lot and I’m determined to put all that new knowledge into practice. If you get a chance to take a zoom class with her, I highly recommend it. She does demos in three different mediums–oil, pastel, and watercolor–and is very patient about answering everyone’s questions. Below is the final piece I did for “Impressionistic Landscapes”.
That’s it for this week! Hope it inspires you to do more fun, creative stuff. Now get out there and make a mess of your very own!
This piece was a collaborative effort between myself and another local artist, Linda Sandow. There is an art show coming up at our local art center for February called “Duets” and the idea is for artists to work together on a single piece.
On the Saturday after Christmas, Linda brought a 12×24″ canvas over to my studio downtown (still there for a few weeks, yet) and, listening to instrumental music and chatting (with masks on), we went to work with acrylic paint, brushes and a palette knife.
It took about two hours from start to finish. Here’s the photo reference we used:
Here’s the photo reference we used:
We chose this photo because Linda wanted to do some moodier versions of downtown and liked the idea of using pictures of alleys and backs of buildings–places that are off the beaten path.
For the painting we used mirror images of the same photo, one on each side of the canvas. Linda had a palette knife and I dug out a couple of brushes and after dividing the canvas right down the middle, we jumped in.
Here’s the time-lapse:
When I saw the time-lapse, I was struck by how differently we approached the work. I painted from the outside in and Linda painted from the inside out. I loved watching her lay on color like icing on a cake, working from light to dark. Such a great contrast to how I worked, sketching in all the shapes first and then going from darkest dark to lightest light, matching values and hues.
She started giggling toward the end and I asked her what was so funny and she said, “I’m done!” What a great way to signal the end of a painting!
I’m so grateful that Linda agreed to work with me on this. I admire her fearlessness and playfulness and her exuberance! Painting with her was just the pick me up I needed after this year.
Even though the subject is an alley at night, a typically dreary location, in this piece it is lit up like a Christmas tree and beauty is reflected on every surface. I love how it came together and I really enjoyed sharing this with Linda. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.
It’s made me feel more inspired to paint subjects that are hidden and overlooked in the new year and see how I might transform them into something beautiful. And then to see how they transform me.
Thanks to my lovely husband, Steve, my she-shed/studio/woman-cave is all wired up and we are now in the process of insulating the walls and ceiling. Woohoo! We’ve come a long way already!
Next we will be putting up the walls and then a floor and I can start moving my stuff! I’m thinking about a gas wall furnace, too, so it’ll be toasty in the wintertime, but until that happens a couple of space heaters will work just fine.
The walls are gonna be slat boards. I found a ton of them on Craigslist, used, but in great shape. Slat walls are really cool because you can literally cover them with hooks and then you can hang everything everywhere. Hurray! No more clothespins!
And Steve came up with a brilliant plan for the ceiling which involves thin sheets of metal that we can get for practically nothing from the local newspaper office.
As usual, I’m of two minds about the new space. For one thing, it feels like I’ve been waiting all my life for this. Growing up in a large family meant that space was tight for everyone and resources were limited. Since I was little I’ve always dreamed about a big castle where I could do anything I wanted, whenever I wanted.
Steve and I used to daydream about the perfect home/studio combination. “We’ll have a house with a turret on each end,” we’d say, because we each wanted our own private place to make stuff.
But life intervened, as it does. We had kids and a mortgage and all the turret building time got used for other things. No regrets! It’s been a grand adventure so far with more to come.
I’ve been making do with the spaces available to me since we moved back to Michigan in 2016. There was the Makers Market space on the main drag first, which was pretty awesome, not least because I was working adjacent to a lot of creative and crafty people every day. And I’ve enjoyed my various spaces at 307 S. James Street since I’ve been there. Combining creative space with retail has been a learning experience, for sure. I just never knew who was going to walk through the door there. Sometimes it was someone friendly and sometimes it was someone who’d clearly made a mistake. I never did open up my flat black gallery after all that work we did on it, but it’s okay. Everyone’s had to make sacrifices in 2020. Mine haven’t been more than I can handle, certainly, and I feel lucky to have gotten off so lightly compared to so many others.
In a few more weeks I’m going to start a new chapter in my arty art life and I’m feeling by turns gleeful and a little bit freaked by the whole thing. Like I said, two minds. That’s my m.o.
Sign up for my Marie Marfia Fine Art newsletter! You’ll get regular updates about my latest work in the studio plus insights into my process. Plus, get a free downloadable print just for signing up!
My annual X-mas sale Friday, November 27 through Thursday, December 3, 2020 is officially over.
It’s the end of the line(s)
Please note: I will no longer offer cards and prints handmade in my studio. Cards and prints along with masks and canvas wraps and home decor and t-shirts and all that other swag will still be available, just not made by me personally. Instead, you can find everything in my Fine Art America shop (in the menu on the right).
Basically, I want more time to create original artwork. Making and packaging cards and prints takes time and energy, not to mention space. And, if you didn’t already know, I’m going to be moving soon and there just isn’t room for a big printer, plus all the paper and inks, envelopes, plastic sleeves, mats, foam core, etc., etc. in my new studio. But more about that later. Stay tuned!
Oh, all right, here’s a sneak preview of my soon-to-be-new digs being delivered by the great folks at Wanna Buy Sheds…
Once I get it wired up and put some heat in there, it’ll be sweet! Promise I’ll post pictures as I go.
Hey, now’s your chance to see my Old (Dead) Masters show up close and in person at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts in October!
The timing for this show is too perfect! When I got a message from Ludington Area Center for the Arts saying they had a last minute cancellation and could I possibly bring in my Old (Dead) Masters paintings to display in the Performance Hall Lobby, I said yes, yes, yes!
I love this time of year. Of course, skeleton art is appropriate at any and all times of the year, in my opinion, but especially in October. It rocks!
This show features all the Old (Dead) Masters pieces that I have, each in a beautifully appropriate skull themed frame. You have to see them, they’re too cool!
So if you’re looking to get into that spooky skeleton mood this year–not that there’s anything not terrifying about 2020 so far, mind you–please make the trip to see my beautiful Old (Dead) Masters show. The art is fun and not too scary, so appropriate for all skeleton lovers, no matter their age. And it’s only up through October!
Bonus activity: see if you can correctly identify each of the famous artists/works that I parodied for each piece!
Well, that was so much fun, we’re doing it again this next weekend! Come see us Saturday and Sunday, October 10-11, 2020 at 505 E. Melendy St., Ludington, Michigan. We’ll have some new items on display (I’m bringing Covid cards–thanks for the suggestion, Denise!) and the weather promises to be much more clement than it was before! Maybe in the 60’s!
Pictures from last weekend. Hope to see you there!