Earth Day 2022

I’m going to be creating a landscape painting and live streaming it on Facebook Saturday, April 23, 2022 from 12-3:30pm at the United Methodist Church on Bryant Road in Ludington, Michigan. You will be able to bid on the painting via silent auction at the event. All proceeds from the auction will go to AFFEW (A Few Friends for the Environment of the World). Pretty exciting!

You don’t have to be present to win but you do need to come to the Earth Day event to be able to bid. I will be framing the piece with a gold and black frame at the end of the event and you will be able to take it with you or, if you prefer, I will deliver it to a local address or I can ship it. The winner will be announced at 4pm.

I’m so excited because this is one of the big things I wanted to do this year, using my artwork to do good in the world! I’m so proud to be working alongside AFFEW to help clean up our environment locally and globally.

Below are the reference photos I’ll be practicing for the final painting. Watch my Facebook and Instagram feeds to vote for your favorite reference on April 18, 2022.

Success! Here’s a link to the live demo recording on Facebook and below is my final piece right before I popped it into its frame and it went home with the winner of the silent auction!

Pretty cool!

These are the time-lapses for my study sessions as I finished them. Enjoy!

Upper Hamlin Lake
Summer Morning Trees
Pere Marquette River Spring

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plein air set up at Ludington State Park

Painting at the state park

After my first attempt to paint outdoors in the snow I found I liked it so much that I had to do it again. This time I went to Ludington State Park, which is just about five minutes away from my house. So great to live this close!

I set up along the Sable River for both pieces. I was captivated by a pine tree on the bank with its limbs covered with fresh snow and the sun glinting on the water. Memo to me: if you park yourself under snow covered branches and there’s the least bit of wind you will end up with snow in your pastel box. I need to do some research about umbrellas that attach to a tripod. But no harm done.

The second piece was farther up the river towards the dam along the boardwalk on the south side. I loved the way the sun lit up the bank and the way the pines in the distance cast shadows all around.

It was pretty cold out there at 10 am, and I was also in a lot of shade, so there were no warming rays hitting my coat. Fortunately, I had some of those instant heat packs to put in my mittens.

Another memo: Get some good, fitted fingerless gloves before doing this again. The mittens I have are wool, but while the fingers are open, the thumb is covered. This makes for awkward handling of pastels, especially the smaller ones. Yet another memo: replace all those teeny pieces with half sticks. It’s just too hard to hang onto small pieces when your hands are cold.

I had a great time walking around in the park. I saw four people and one dog out on the trail along the river and it was a beautiful day to be outside, sun shining and mild temperatures in the 30s.

Here is the first of the pieces I did:

Marie Marfia, Tree on the Bank, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10 in x 8 in.
Tree on the Bank, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10 in x 8 in.
A picture of my set up for the first piece.

I really love being outdoors to paint. I like feeling the sun on my face, I like the paintings I make from life better than those I recreate from photos. They’re fresher, looser and more reflective of the overall experience. So I will definitely be doing more of them!


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You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase downloads in my Etsy shop or cards imprinted with a personal message and mailed for you in my Signed Cards store. Buy greeting cards, prints and stickers in my Square shop. Please contact me directly about purchasing original artwork. Thanks!

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Art on Main Street pop up show

Art on Main Pop Up Show

I’m planning to participate in Art on Main Street pop up show in Grand Haven from 1-4pm on Sunday, May 1, 2022. Here’s a link to the official event page for LVAC.

Art on Main Street pop up show

I plan to bring skeleton cards, prints and posters, plus some lovely landscape art to sell. I hope to see you there!


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You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase downloads in my Etsy shop or cards imprinted with a personal message and mailed for you in my Signed Cards store. Buy greeting cards, prints and stickers in my Square shop. Please contact me directly about purchasing original artwork. Thanks!

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Art for the Parks April 16 at Hemlock Crossing

Art for the Parks Show

I’m participating in the Art for the Parks Show at Hemlock Crossings, on Saturday, April 16. This is a pop-up sale to benefit the Ottawa County Parks Foundation. The show is from 5-8 pm at the Hemlock Crossing Nature Education Center, 8115 West Oliver Rd, West Olive, and there will be a cash bar and live music.

From the event page: Join us for Art for the Parks 2022! We’ll fill the Nature Education Center at Hemlock Crossings County Park with art by regional artists in this pop-up event to benefit the Ottawa County Parks Foundation. Find works by painters, photographers, fiber artists, glass artists, ceramicists, jewelry makers, and a whole lot more. Live music by Bri Baron. Cash bar. $10 suggested donation at the door and 10% of all art sales benefit the parks’ foundation. This is a not-to-be missed event! Hope to see you there. Click here to get directions to the show.

Here’s what I’m bringing to the show.

Marie Marfia, Under Gray Skies, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10 in x 8 in.
Under Gray Skies, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10 in x 8 in, $800.
Marie Marfia, Twosome, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10 in x 10 in, $900.
Twosome, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10 in x 10 in, $900.
Marie Marfia, Shadow Play, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in, $800.
Shadow Play, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in, $800.
Marie Marfia, Out the Window, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10 in x 8 in, $800.
Out the Window, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10 in x 8 in, $800.
Marie Marfia, November Fire, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in, $800.
November Fire, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in, $800.
Marie Marfia, New Snow, soft pastel on sanded paper, 5 in x 8 in, $600.
New Snow, soft pastel on sanded paper, 5 in x 8 in, $600.
Marie Marfia, Morning Walk, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10 in x 8 in, $800.
Morning Walk, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10 in x 8 in, $800.
Marie Marfia, Juniper Tree, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in, $800.
Juniper Tree, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in, $800.

I’m really excited to be invited to participate in this art show to benefit the parks in Ottawa County. Hope to see you there!


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You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase downloads in my Etsy shop or cards imprinted with a personal message and mailed for you in my Signed Cards store. Buy greeting cards, prints and stickers in my Square shop. Please contact me directly about purchasing original artwork. Thanks!

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The twins are here!

I’m over the moon! My newest grand babies, Niall and Ronin, have arrived. They’re some of my favorite fish!

My sister and I are doing double baby duty this spring!

Maybe the best part of having new grand babies to care for is having my sister in town to help! So much love in just one house!

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final stickers for my rebus letter to my granddaughter

Making a little something

My granddaughter Maeve is a source of joy in my life. I love making things for and with her. I decided recently that I wanted to be her penpal but wondered how I could do it. She’s just three years old, after all. I didn’t want to overwhelm her with a lot of words.

After thinking about it for a bit I made a rebus letter to send to her. A rebus is a mixture of letters and pictures that contain a message. Remember the old Concentration game show? That’s what I had in mind. Here’s how I did it:

Step 1, pencil a letter on a piece of paper, using as many pictures for words as you can. You can see I changed my find a few times about how and where to use pictures for words. No worries! It’s only pencil, at this point.
Step 2, ink pen over the pencil, then stick onto a window. The window is a light box! Now I can put sticker paper over it and trace my drawings so that Maeve will have stickers to put on my letter. It makes it interactive and a fun game for her.
I trace the pictures from the rebus letter onto a sheet of sticker paper (large shipping label paper) with a pencil.
Here are all the pictures from my rebus letter to Maeve, in pencil on sticker paper.
I trace the pencil drawings in ink using water proof ink pen.
Then I used my watercolors to add some color to my pictures.
Here are the final colored stickers.
I cut out the stickers and put them along with the rebus letter into an envelope and mail to my granddaughter.

This is a fun way to stay in touch with my granddaughter between visits. My daughter sent me a video of Maeve putting the stickers over the pictures in the letter and she looked like she enjoyed the process very much. Me, too!


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You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase downloads in my Etsy shop or cards imprinted with a personal message and mailed for you in my Signed Cards store. Buy greeting cards, prints and stickers in my Square shop. Please contact me directly about purchasing original artwork. Thanks!

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Marie Marfia, Shadow Play series, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in.

Shadow Play

This time of year I notice the shadows. The sun is really low in the sky and there’s still snow on the ground, which means the shadows are purply bluish colored and they reach out a long way over the ground.

Shadow Play series time-lapse

I love the colors of the shadows, the patterns they make on the snow, how they seem to be reaching for something.

Here are some of my shadow play series:

Marie Marfia, Shadow Play series, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in.
Shadow Play series, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in.
Shadow Play series, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in.
Shadow Play series, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in.
Shadow Play series, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in.
Shadow Play series, soft pastel on sanded paper, 8 in x 10 in.

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You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase downloads in my Etsy shop or cards imprinted with a personal message and mailed for you in my Signed Cards store. Buy greeting cards, prints and stickers in my Square shop. Please contact me directly about purchasing original artwork. Thanks!

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Crap photos

“Remember to send pics!”

Whenever I’m on vacation, this request always makes me feel bad, because I usually don’t take good vacation photos. When I’m taking pictures on vacation it’s almost always because I’m planning to use them for a painting reference and not because I want to share them.

I feel a teensy bit guilty about this. Even when our kids were little, most of my photos of them were because I was trying to capture an interesting composition for later, and not because I wanted a record of visiting giant sequoias in California or camping in the U.P. or throwing clay bombs in the Gulf of Mexico.

As a result, most of the pictures I take while on vacation are crap for sharing. The people in them are more likely to look like they’ve just eaten a bug instead of like they’re smiling for the camera.

This painting, Laurie by the Pool, is a case in point. In the photo reference, which I am not going to share because I love her too much, she looks like she’s in mid-rant, which she may have been, I don’t remember what she was talking about at the time, because I was too busy noticing the saturation of the color of her shirt, the turquoises in the water, the color of her skin and the dramatic shadows behind her. All these things prompted me to take a photo and I didn’t bother telling her I was going to take it because I never intended to share it with her or anyone else. It was meant to be used later for a painting or a collage or something.

Then, when someone asked me to send pics of our time in Tucson, I frantically searched through all the photos I had and couldn’t find any, not a one, that was suitable for sharing. Story of my (vacation) life.


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You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase downloads in my Etsy shop or cards imprinted with a personal message and mailed for you in my Signed Cards store. Buy greeting cards, prints and stickers in my Square shop. Please contact me directly about purchasing original artwork. Thanks!

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I'm retiring!

What’s next?

Retirement. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. This is the year I’m going to quit doing graphic design and be an artist full time. It worries me a bit because I’m starting all over again and there are some things that I have to put in place if I want to be happy with my decision down the road.

The one thing that I have had as a graphic designer that I won’t have as a fine artist is instant feedback. When I save the day for a client by putting an ad together in fifteen minutes using only a low res bitmap file and a logo scanned off a cocktail napkin, I get a little surge of serotonin in my brain that feels like, “Oh, yeah! Who’s the kickassingest graphic designer now, baby? You, that’s who!” followed by an email thanking me in ALL CAPS WITH MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!! I mean, woot! It’s the best feeling and I’ve gotten used to that after 30 years. I crave it, even. What do I have to replace it with? Nothing! Or at least, nothing that doesn’t involve a controlled substance like alcohol or potato chips. 

So I need to build those attagirl moments into my day. I need rewards!

Something like the little ditty that plays after I’ve successfully completed a crossword puzzle, or the maybe a little “Genius!” icon that appears whenever I get all the points for a Spelling Bee game. I don’t know. But I need something that triggers a deep sigh of satisfaction and a feeling that all is currently right with my world.

Painting is hard. I never know what I’m doing. Each painting is one stroke away from disaster, although to be honest, sometimes I don’t notice I’ve wrecked it until I’m many strokes past the destined-for-the-trash threshold. 

With graphic design, I know how to do everything. And if I don’t, I know where to go to find out. With painting, I don’t know anything and every artist on the internet has a different idea about how to solve a problem. 

I was teaching a pastels class for Deb Borema at LACA last week and there was a seven-year-old in the class, the youngest person in a group of eight kids. He’d never used soft pastels before and he was curious about what you could do with them. He started out by doing the same painting that every one else did and then he started seriously playing. He tried smearing the chalk with his hands. He used a stomp. He splashed water on the paper. He folded the paper. He did everything to the paper using the chalk that he could think of. He went through several sheets and tried all the different kinds of pastels there were to use. And then suddenly he was done with pastels and made shrinky dinks for the last fifteen minutes of class. 

All the other kids were very careful with their materials. They all wanted to make a good picture. Even though they were welcome to use as many of the pastels and sheets of paper as they wanted, nearly all of them did one piece and one piece only. They felt they had to do it correctly, and a few asked for help so it would look more like the demo. The youngest kid did not want any help. He wanted to do it all by himself.

Young kids can really teach you a lot as an artist. They don’t care whether they get a good picture or not. They’re playing with the materials. They’re exploring everything about it. They use their hands, they try out all the tools, they use lots of colors, textures. They play.

And when they’re done, they’re satisfied. They don’t say to themselves, “I need to master this medium,” or “This stuff is expensive, so I better make it last,” or “I’ve put so much time into this picture, I’ll be sad if it doesn’t turn out.”

The playing is the reward for them. How do I change so that playing is its own reward for me? The way I look at it, my new job will be figuring that out.

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Marie Marfia, Juniper Tree, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10x8 in.

First paint out in the snow!

I’m so proud of myself! I drove 2 1/2 hours to the Paw Paw Prairie Fen Preserve to paint outside in the snow!

If you don’t know, I recently joined the Plein Air Artists of West Michigan group so that I could do more painting, where else? outdoors! This was my first time meeting up with them and it went really, really well.

Drat!

Well, except I dumped over my pastels within the first hour, but it was fine. No one could hear me swearing because I was up the hill and around a bend and you know what I always say, think of your pastels as already broken. Fortunately, they landed in the snow so they were mostly okay and I recovered them all except a black one which I accidentally stepped on. I hardly ever use black anyway. No idea why it was in the box in the first place.

Paw Paw Prairie Fen Preserve.

If you’ve never been to the Paw Paw Prairie Fen Preserve I can tell you that it’s an absolutely lovely place to paint in the snow. The weather on Saturday, February 26 was pretty nice, in the mid twenties and we had mostly blue skies with some interesting clouds from 11 am until 4 pm.

I met Richard Jordan, the director of the group, and he gave us some quick ideas about where we might like to set up. There were 5 or 6 of us all together. I got the award for longest distance traveled, but someone came all the way from Lansing and another from Grand Rapids. My excuse was that I planned to stay over at my daughter’s house before heading back up north. A chance to spend time with my granddaughter Maeve is a great reason to get out of the house.

Lessons learned about painting outdoors in cold weather, 1. hot packs go on the tops of your hands inside your gloves (figured that out before my palms got burned, thankyouverymuch); 2. Holding my backing board works in a pinch when it’s too windy to use the easel; 3. snow pants kept me toasty warm; 4. using a sled to transport my gear up hill and over dale was a brilliant idea; 5. painting outside in the cold really takes it out of you; 6. I was starving by the end, so I’m really glad I packed a lunch!

Here are some pictures of what I did and where I was:

It was a great first winter paint out experience and a very nice group of artists. I will definitely paint with this group again.


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You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase downloads in my Etsy shop or cards imprinted with a personal message and mailed for you in my Signed Cards store. Buy greeting cards, prints and stickers in my Square shop. Please contact me directly about purchasing original artwork. Thanks!

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