Marie Marfia, Neverending Love Story, soft pastel, 12x16.375

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?)

Here’s the final!

Marie Marfia, Aucassin and Nicolette, soft pastel on sanded paper, 12x16.375
Neverending Love Story (Aucassin and Nicolette parody), soft pastel on sanded paper, 12×16.375″.

Finally! These parodies always take forever to finish. I have so much respect for the original creators of the pieces I copy. And I learn a ton while I’m working.

So, no official title for this one yet. If you have a suggestion, please send it along. Of course, puns are given first priority and if I pick your title to use, I’ll happily send you a print as a thank you. Email me,, and tell me your idea!

As soon as I have a title for this one I’ll be adding it to my Etsy downloads and my Fine Art America shop, so I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE! I have decided on a title. It’s going to be Neverending Love Story. It’s because it’s all about the story that never ends. Also, this particular couple is based on a story–Nicolette and Aucassin–which is also referenced in one of my favorite series of books ever.

Thanks to everyone who submitted ideas for the title. They really helped me a lot to come up with something that I liked and seemed fitting. You’re the best fans ever!

dunes sky trees lake ludington state park

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.
ludington state park dunes sky trees

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.

Marie Marfia, US-10 Sunset, 5x7

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.

Next skelly art!

I’ve been meaning to do another romantic skeleton Old (Dead) Master piece and I think I have my inspiration.

Aucassin and Nicolette, by Marianne Stokes - (specific URL), Public Domain,
Aucassin and Nicolette, by Marianne Stokes – (specific URL), Public Domain,

Isn’t it awesome? I first heard the reference for this story in another book series that I have loved for about oh, 30 years or so. The story of Nicolette and Aucassin is mentioned in one of the Chronicles of Lymond series books by Dorothy Dunnett. If you’ve never read them, don’t waste any more of your life. I think they’re fantastic.

The books would be reason enough to do the parody, but I also really love this work, not least because it’s by a woman, yay, but also because the story is in itself a parody.

So right now I’m just sort of studying this to see how I might tackle it. I always learn so much from these. But anyway, just wanted to give you a heads up on what’s coming. Wish me luck!

Sunset-End of US-10

A good week

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.

A little bit of aah. I like the out of focus parts best. How to do this purposefully?

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!

Sketch of Alice and Maeve
Preliminary sketch.
Alice and Maeve, detail.
Detail from the block-in.

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.

Signs of Spring, 6x8" pastel on sanded paper. $600.
6×8″ pastel, Signs of Spring, $600.

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”.

Sunset-End of US-10, 6x8" pastel on sanded paper, $600.
Sunset-End of US-10, 6×8″ pastel, $600.
Moonset over the Ditch, 6x8" pastel on sanded paper, $600.
Moonset over the Ditch, 6×8″ pastel, $600.

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!


I’m in!

Studio is done and I’m in it. Finally!

I’m gonna pause here for a moment. A lot of moments, actually. And let it sink in.

Okay, done.

Just so you know, I feel really, really lucky.

I cannot wait to see what happens next. Gotta go now. The rest of my life is calling me. Please enjoy the following tour of my new space.

Here’s the new digs!

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