My hat! pastel painting on sanded paper by Marie Marfia, $600.

My hat!

Spent a wonderful day at the beach in South Haven, Michigan, playing with my granddaughter, Maeve. I got a picture of her just as her sunhat blew off in the wind and had to paint the memory.

She spent about an hour playing with rocks and pouring out water onto the sand. Maeve is just over two years old and her boundless curiosity about the way the water disappears when you dump it onto sand was irresistible. All that squatting I did to bring her more water from the lake! My legs are pretty sore today!

There’s something really fun about painting a memento of a certain place and the company kept. Good times!

My hat! pastel painting on sanded paper by Marie Marfia, $600.
My hat! 6×9″ pastel painting on sanded paper by Marie Marfia, $600 framed.

Longing for Summer, pastel painting of sunlight through the greenery by Marie Marfia. Available $600

Longing for Summer

I woke up this morning to a fresh coating of snow. Happy April Fool’s Day!

I found myself wishing for warmer days and so I searched my Google photos for a summertime reference to paint today and happily discovered one that made me feel better about all the white stuff on the lawn.

When I’m walking the dogs I frequently stop to take a picture of the sun lighting up the landscape behind the green trees. Something about all the beautiful warm light peeking out between the leaves makes me feel optimistic about the future. Call me crazy.

Longing for Summer, pastel painting of sunlight through the greenery by Marie Marfia. Available $600
Longing for Summer, pastel painting of sunlight through the greenery by Marie Marfia. Available $600
Poplars in the Park, 12x9" pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. Available, $900.

Poplars in the Park

You know how sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night and you just can’t get back to sleep? And then you just don’t feel like yourself all the rest of the day?

Yeah, these things happen. Fortunately, there are naps. I love naps.

This is a painting that I did because I had an unfinished version of it from who knows how long ago. I spent a bit of time searching for the photo reference in Google photos, finally typed in birch in the search bar and bingo! there it was. Google photos doesn’t know from poplars.

I have to say, I wasn’t crazy about this when I left the studio to go have lunch, but by the time I got back it had grown on me. So I thought I’d share it quick before I changed my mind. I still want to fiddle with it a little bit more, but later, after I’ve had some more sleep.

Poplars in the Park, 12x9" pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. Available, $900.
Poplars in the Park, WIP, 12×9″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia.
grid and sketch of Nicolette and Aucassin

Nicolette and Aucassin progress

Thought I’d share some progress on the the latest skeleton Old (Dead) Masters painting. It’s coming along. I’m doing some refining right now, and that’s going to take a bit. I like doing these because they’re like a real intense workshop on the style of the artist whose work I’m copying. That’s definitely the case with this one.

grid and sketch of Nicolette and Aucassin
Grid and sketch of Nicolette and Aucassin
initial block in
Initial block in
Easel shot
Easel shot
Work in progress…
As of April 3, 2021.
Here’s a video tour of where I’m at with this one. (Can you tell I’m listening to NPR?)

Still working on it. Stay tuned!

View from Above, 9x12" pastel painting by Marie Marfia. $900.

View from Above

Another angle on the dunes in the Ludington State Park. I was out walking with my husband and one of my daughters and our two dogs when I took the reference photo (below) for this painting.

Reference photo for View from Above.
Reference photo for View from Above.

We all kept telling each other how lucky we were to be able to enjoy such a beautiful area whenever we feel like it. It’s why Steve and I moved back here after living in another state for ten years. Once you’ve got the bug for Ludington, nothing else really compares.

Even in the early spring, when there’s no green anywhere and under cloudy skies, it’s still wonderful to sit and just be yourself outdoors. There are lots of places available for doing not very much for as long as you want. I love it here.

View from Above, 9x12" pastel painting by Marie Marfia. $900.
View from Above, 9×12″ pastel painting by Marie Marfia. $900.
Walking in the Dunes, 9x12" pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. $900.

Walking in the Dunes

This is a pastel painting of the view looking toward the top of a dune in Ludington State Park in Ludington, Michigan.

Finally, the weather is good enough to go traipsing around on the dunes! The dogs and I are so glad to be able to broaden our walking habits a bit. It seems like a lifetime since we’ve been anywhere but our own backyard. Woohoo!

This is the reference I used for this piece. It was around 8:30 in the morning, the sun was peeking in and out of a cloud bank to the east and the wind was just whipping us around like crazy. Glorious.

reference image for Walking in the Dunes by Marie Marfia
Reference photo.
Walking in the Dunes, 9×12″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. $900.

Can’t wait to make it a regular habit again!

Field of Grass, 5x7" pastel study by Marie Marfia.

Field of Grass

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.

Daisy and Roger having a sniff around a sweet looking piece of driftwood.

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:

reference photo of the field of grass with dunes I used for today's daily painting.
Reference photo from this morning.

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.

Field of Grass, 5x7" pastel study by Marie Marfia.
Field of Grass, 5×7″ pastel study by Marie Marfia. $600.
Table pattern for tiles

Tile patterns

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.

Our table with a hole in the middle. Kind of cool with the snow on it, though!

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.

The inspiration for the tile idea.

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.

Finished stencil demo with the paint used in the box.

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.

US-10 Sunset pastel by Marie Marfia

Sunset US-10

Another little sunset painting. I pulled an older photo for this one, from a time before all the new landscaping was put in at the end of US-10 in Ludington.

The new layout means you have a walk a little bit to get to the water, but it’s nicer looking, for sure.

I left the lighthouse out of this one, did you notice? I thought, if I put the lighthouse in there then it’s a lighthouse painting, but if I leave it out then it’s a sunset painting and that’s what I really wanted.

US-10 Sunset pastel by Marie Marfia
US-10 Sunset, pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. $600.
Walking the Perimeter, 8x10 pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. $800.

Walking the Perimeter

Painting my favorite models walking around the back of our property with me and the dogs. Me and the dogs not included here. Yesterday was my birthday! I had lots of good wishes heaped on my head and two of my kids, Nick and Sam, stopped by to help me celebrate. This is the two of them plus Steve walking past a patch of long golden grasses with the sun getting low in the sky behind them. It was also Steve’s and my anniversary, so extra reason to have cake and ice cream, which we did and that’s partly why we were out walking. We had to walk off the sugar buzz!

Walking the Perimeter, 8×10″ pastel on sanded paper, $800.