Tag Archives: 100 portraits

Two portraits finally get a forever home

I recently heard from someone whose portrait I’d done a few years back when I was in the middle of my 100 Portraits in 100 Days project. She wanted to know if that portrait and the one I’d done of her husband were still available to purchase.

I was pretty sure they were. I’d enjoyed making them, especially because of the furry hat and beard in one of the reference photos. (I have a weakness for furry hats and beards.) And sure enough, I found them in my flat file.

I mean, I make paintings because it’s fun and challenging and therapeutic, but I always love it when they find a home. Portraits especially. No one wants to live in a flat file all their life, right?

Here they are:

Portrait No. 38, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 9×6″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia, sold.
Portrait No. 39, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 9×6″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia, sold.

Below is a picture of how they’re displayed in her home.

Portraits on display
Home at last!

Read more about my 100 Portraits in 100 Days Project. Find out more about having me create a portrait for you or someone you love.


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pastel portrait of a smiling couple in pastel

Paul and Jan – WIP pastel portrait of my brother and his wife

pastel portrait of a smiling couple in pastel

Paul and Jan, WIP, 11×14″ pastel on paper. ©Marie Marfia.

Paul and Jan, WIP. 11×14″ pastel on sanded paper of a smiling couple. ©2018 Marie Marfia

Pastel portrait of Paul and Jan

This is coming along pretty well. At least, I’m pleased with it so far, although I’m carefully telling myself not to fall in love with it yet because that makes it more difficult to finish.

This is my second attempt at a portrait of my brother, Paul, and his wife, Jan. The first time the reference photo was just too low-resolution to work. I don’t like to get too detailed with my portraits but that doesn’t mean I can work without any detail at all. This year I brought my SLR camera to the reunion instead of relying on my phone and ended up with a much better photo selection.

This portrait is based on two separate photos, one of Paul that I took and another one of Jan that someone else had taken at the same event. The photo of Jan showed her with her head tilted sideways and standing under a picnic shelter, so the light on her face was a lot different from the picture of Paul, who was sitting out in the sunshine. Thanks to Photoshop I was able to match the colors so that I could work from a reference that looked like they actually posed together. Hurray!

Here are time-lapse videos of the progress on this portrait so far. Hopefully, I’ll have it done by next week’s email. Stay tuned!

Hope to finish soon. Stay tuned!


If you’d like to commission a portrait, please send me an email or give me a call, 904-566-4473. I love painting faces and yours (or someone you love) could be next on my easel!

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Sometimes you cry

While in child’s pose this morning I was thinking about the portraits of my children, Sam and Nick, that I have hanging in my studio. (I’d have a portrait of Alice there, too, but I haven’t yet produced one that I like well enough to frame. It’s on my to-do list.)

©Marie Marfia, Nick, No. 74, 100 Portraits in 100 Days.

Hanging the portraits inside my studio was supposed to put a smile on my face every day. Nick’s because he’s grinning ear to ear. The photo reference is from a picture I took after watching him open up presents on his birthday. Sam’s portrait is not so cheerful. She’s looking off to one side and her expression is either suspicious or worried or both. This is a typical look for her. I just like it because I think she’s beautiful even when she looks like that.

©Marie Marfia, Sam, No. 75, 100 Portraits in 100 Days.

Yesterday I looked up and saw those two faces and basically fell apart. I miss them a lot.

They’re off living their own lives. Nick’s 23 and independent and looking for work in Florida. Sam is 26 and trying like hell to have a writing career out in Connecticut. I’m proud to know both of them, I just wish I heard from them more often, a common enough complaint when you’re a parent.

Yesterday’s break down is partly me being emotional at the end of a longish day and also because I recently attended a funeral for my cousin’s daughter who died at age 25.

©Marie Marfia, Alice, No. 68, 100 Portraits in 100 Days.

You know what the worst thing about young peoples’ funerals is? There aren’t that many stories to share about them. They just didn’t live long enough. There are only short vignettes about overnight trips with the track team, or a prank they pulled while they were visiting their family two weeks prior. And all their friends are there, all the same age as the dead person. They’re devastated and crying and in shock. And watching the family try to figure it all out breaks your heart.

There should be tons of stories, years’ worth of them. Not just two or three. People are supposed to live longer than 25 years. Especially people who are the children of other people.

Of course I wanted to hug my kids after that. Alice is near by so pretty easy to reach out and touch her, thankfully, but for Sam and Nick I had to be satisfied with emails. Nick doesn’t always pick up the phone when I call. He’s probably thinking I want a progress report on whether he’s found work or not. Sam doesn’t have a phone. I don’t know why, she just doesn’t. She’s an idiot that way.

In the emails I reminded them that I loved them and missed them and they didn’t have my permission to die before me. Not that I have any control over that whatsoever. I just wanted to go on the record as having an opinion about it. Honestly? I’m sure I’ve told them all this before, but funerals for other people’s kids have a way of bringing these issues to the forefront of my mind.

So now I’m debating whether to take the portraits down. I know Nick and Sam are fine and I’ll be fine, too. It’s just, right now, it’s hard. People die, some through no fault of their own. I know one thing, I’m going to hug my kids, every chance I get, even if it’s just an email hug. It’s better than no hugs at all.

I guess I’ll leave the portraits up. Try to remind myself to enjoy my kids while I’ve got them. I’m grateful for that, even if it does make me cry now and then.

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pastel painting of a smiling man

No. 94, smiling guy

Smiling faces. I can say one thing about this series and that is, I’ve never studied so many smiling faces in my life!

You know, with life model studies the model is never smiling. It’s too hard for them to maintain an expression like that during a long pose. That’s one of the advantages to working with photos. It can be any expression at all, including the manic grin on the face of today’s portrait.

There’s something nice about working on smiling faces all the time. No matter what’s going on elsewhere in the world, right in the moment that I’m working, the person whose face it is that I’m studying is in a happy place. It probably has an effect on me, too, now that I think about it. It’s probably got something to do with science. I don’t know why or how it works, but if it’s science, I approve.

 

pastel painting of a smiling man

No. 94, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on Canson mi-teintes paper by Marie Marfia

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Marie Marfia, Mr. Grumpy Pants, soft pastel on textured board, 6x9".

No. 88, Mr. Grumpy Pants

Actually, I have no idea if this tortoise is feeling grumpy or not. This might just be his resting tortoise face. Maybe he’s feeling ecstatically happy right now. I bet tortoises would make excellent poker players.

This morning I attended an artist’s critique get together and signed up for membership in the Ludington Area Center for the Arts while I was there. Then I had an enjoyable lunch with five other artists. This is so much fun, meeting arty people and doing arty things. It’s hard to believe that I lived so long without any of this in my life.

I feel like I want to live as long as this tortoise guy, just so I can catch up on everything I’ve been missing, you know?

Pastel portait of a grumpy tortoise

Mr. Grumpy Pants, No. 88, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel portrait on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia.

Thank you to Eric Kilby for contributing the photo reference for this piece. Here’s a link to the Creative Commons Flickr group where I found it.

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old man portrait in pastels

No. 87, Nonagenarian

My mom is always telling me she doesn’t know why she’s lived so long. I usually tell her she gives the rest of us hope of living out our lives without going batshit crazy. My dad died too long after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My siblings and I are are basically terrified that it’s going to happen to us, too.

But then there’s this guy, 95 years old according to the notes on the reference photo (thanks again, WetCanvas.org library), and still bathing himself and giving the hairy eyeball to young pipsqueaks who have the unmitigated gall to snap photos of him in his loincloth without so much as a by your leave.

Here’s the time lapse of the early part of this piece. And here’s the middle part. Apologies for the lighting. I’ll try to sit somewhere with better light next time. Enjoy.

old man portrait in pastels
No. 87, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia
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pastel painting of a young woman

No. 86, Arielle

This woman. She is full of ideas, and mischief, which is kind of the same thing. I wanted to paint her in the style of an artist I only just found out about this morning, Richard Suckling. His plein aire landscapes are full of big marks and squiggly lines and I want my art to be like that, so today I did a more gestural drawing to start with and then I made sure I stopped before I’d completely covered it up. I like the lines! I think they give my work a more dynamic feel. And Arielle is the perfect subject for this, because she’s all about movement. She wants to do things, to change things, to make things better. She’s a mover and a shaker and this is what I see reflected in this portrait. Aahh! Love it.

Ariel, No. 23, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia

You may remember Arielle as this skull painting (No. 23 in this series), as well. She’s awesome on the inside, too.

pastel painting of a young woman

Arielle, No. 86, 100 Portratis in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia

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pastel painting of a dachshund puppy dog

No. 84, Kippy

I made a few new furry friends over the weekend when Steve and I went to visit his mom. She lives in an assisted living facility in Flint, Michigan. As soon as we arrived we hustled her down to the lobby because there were puppies!

Well, they’re probably grown dogs, but they’re miniature dachshunds so they look tiny and are so much fun to pet and hold! Miss Diana likes to pet them a little but she’s mostly there to spend time with Johanna, her friend. Johanna loves the dogs and she makes a point of coming to see them whenever they visit. She has a particular favorite, Shelby, who sits on her lap like a little queen and allows herself to be petted by no one but Johanna for the entire hour. It’s cute and sweet and makes Johanna so happy.

Kippy, the puppy I painted today, was off being held by someone else. I snuck in a picture of him to paint later and here it is.

pastel painting of a dachshund puppy dog

Kippy, No. 84, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia. Available here.

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pastel painting of a couple

No. 80-81, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, Mary and Jonathan

You know why I like this picture? Because my sister is in it and she’s got a little bit of white fuzz on her head. This means she’s still alive, the cancer didn’t kill her and her hair is coming back. Also, I love that her partner Jonathan is right there with her, that they’re leaning into each other, supporting each other.

It was fun to paint, too, at first. And then it sucked. And then it was fun again towards the end. And then it went wrong and I decided to quit before it all blew up.

I never know what I’m going to get when I start one of these. And when the subject is important to me, it makes it tougher. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself that nothing is precious, that a painting is just a painting, that if I drew it once I can draw it again. It still feels as if each one is the only one I’m ever going to do. I still find myself angry and frustrated when it’s not going well.

When that happens, I go for a walk, or I read something inspiring, or I write and try to figure out why I’m so upset. You’d think it would be obvious. I mean, I’m me, who better to know what’s bugging me, right? But sometimes I’m the last to know.

pastel painting of a couple

No. 80-81, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, Mary and Jonathan, 8×10″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia

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Pastel portrait of Steve with a beard.

Happy New Year!

Okay, I’m a little late, but it’s okay. I’m the only one here and I’m not going to tell.

Along that line, I have a confession to make. I left my dogs home again.

Is it wrong? It’s so cold here at the Maker’s Market anyway. I know they’re fine at home with Steve. I just feel guilty leaving them behind every morning when I take off for the studio. But I’m also interested in how my brain works without being interrupted by the needs of my pets all day.

Back when my kids were small I used to take one weekend off a year to go camp with my girlfriends. I would have a wonderful time just being me for three or four days. No one called me Mom, or asked me to do anything for them, or needed to be nursed or changed or rocked. It was bliss.

Then, when I arrived back home, I noticed that my kids were smaller than I remembered.

I think that all the worrying and caregiving that I do and did made my charges grow to enormous sizes in my head. All it took to shrink them back to normal was some time away from them.

It’s the same with world problems and pet problems and any kind of problems. The more I worry and fret, the bigger they get. But all I have to do is turn off the radio, or get some distance away from them, even if it’s just for a few hours, and poof! they are reduced to manageable sizes again. It’s magical.

Here’s today’s portrait, No. 79, Steve with a Beard. Still slogging toward the finish of 100 Portraits in 100 Days.

I like this portrait because it was quick, about 20 minutes, and the strokes are expressive and loose. I got a likeness without belaboring the point. That’s all I really wanted.

Pastel portrait of Steve with a beard.

Steve with a Beard, No. 79, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia.

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