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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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horse grazing pastel painting

Horse in the Paddock, pastel painting of a horse having breakfast

My husband and I are camping on a friend’s property for a week or so here in Tucson, AZ, and I’m taking the opportunity to paint horses!

This morning’s effort is a painting of a horse eating her breakfast in a small paddock.

I have always liked horses as subject matter, although I was never a riding enthusiast growing up. That said, when I was twelve or so, my sister and I pedaled our bikes for miles to a small farm every Saturday where we’d ride ponies all day long, stopping only for lunch. The farm belonged to Mr. and Mrs. S., friends of our parents whose kids had long since moved on to mini-bikes. They were happy to have us exercise the ponies. I didn’t much care for the long bike ride, although I’m sure my mother felt I needed the exercise. Mary probably would’ve have biked three times as far for half the riding time. She was crazy about horses.

I remember the air was hot and full of buzzing deer flies. We rode along mini bike trails out in the piney woods for hours. Socks was a dapple grey, the smaller of the two, and she took good care of me, patiently putting up with my considerable lack of riding skills. My sister’s mount was another matter. A beautiful appaloosa, Gepetta was almost horse-sized, very smart and an opportunist, as she regularly tried to buck Mary off at the first available sandy patch on the trail, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Once while we were eating sandwiches at the house, Mr. S. happened to overhear us telling Mrs. S. about Mary getting dumped. Mary hadn’t been hurt by the fall and we’d just followed Gepetta back to the house as usual and planned to go out again after lunch. But Mr. S. immediately went outside to where the ponies were hitched, and picked up Gepetta and threw her onto her back, saddle and all. She scrambled back up and stood there, shaking, while he yelled at her. Gepetta never bucked Mary off again, but I think Mary would’ve died before she’d have ratted Gepetta out to Mr. S. again anyway.

Eventually the ponies were sold or maybe I refused to bike over there, I can’t remember how or why we stopped going. Mary continued to find horses to ride, I continued to accompany her when she pestered me into it. I never have been a confident rider and in general I prefer to paint them, although our friend here put me up on her horse Easy last night and it was sweet. He’s a patient horse, too, very gentle, just how I remember Socks.

Horse in the paddock, pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia
Horse in the Paddock
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On the road again

I’m traveling in the southwest USA for the next few weeks. Steve and I packed up the camper last week and, after chiseling it out of three inches of ice in our back yard, we hauled it down to our current location in Tucson, AZ. It’s not exactly warm here (50 degrees as I type this), but compared to the wilds of Fountain, Michigan, it feels like a tropical heat wave.

I am determined to practice drawing and painting while traveling so I brought along a sketchbook, among other stuff, and I’ve been trying to take it out and draw what’s in front of me whenever I can.

This has resulted in what at first glance would seem to be a couple of less than inspirational scenes, but when you’re logging a lot of expressway miles, you have to make do. So, some semi trucks, and once, the waiting room at the Marshfield Chevy dealer (The driver’s side door stopped working and we had to get it fixed. Nice service shop, friendly and helpful and the price was fair, although we would have paid practically anything not to have to crawl in and out of the truck through the passenger side door. And before you ask, neither of us is capable of using the driver’s side window as way in or out. We’re old.).

Surprisingly, drawing things that I wouldn’t normally think of as interesting subject matter turns out to be just as consuming as a face or a figure would be. I think it’s because I don’t know what a semi tractor looks like. I’ve never really looked at one before. I need to remember not to discount anything out of hand. It’s all worth looking at, exploring, discovering, drawing.

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