Tag Archives: art

Haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love

“Ugh.”

“That’s horrible.”

“What a mockery!”

It’s hard not to take it personally when I hear comments like these floating through the door at my studio. Maybe putting The Very Last Supper front and center in my shop window has something to do with it?

I could place a more traditional piece there, like a landscape or a still life or a portrait, and people would walk by and never say a word. But poke fun at a religious icon and suddenly everyone loses their minds.

detail of Jesus in The Very Last supper

The Very Last Supper, detail, by Marie Marfia

I could try to soft-pedal the subject matter by combining genres. For instance, skeletons with vases of flowers or skeletons in the landscape would be more palatable maybe. But I’ve found that skeletons are pretty polarizing as a general rule. People either really, really like them or they really, really don’t.

My mom was one of the latter group. Whenever I told her I’d sold another piece of skeleton art I’d have to preface the news with an apology. “Hi Mom, I’m sorry but I sold a skeleton painting today.” She’d always wrinkle her nose at the news, as though I’d just farted in front of her. “Oh, Marie,” she’d say, and sigh. She’s gone now, but I can still hear her sighing like a mournful ghost.

Certainly the skeletons don’t mind whether or not people like them. They’re glandless creatures and so they don’t have feelings that can be hurt.

The question is, can I live with some people not liking what I do?

The urge to please everyone all the time is a real issue for me. I come from a large family and I spent a good portion of my life trying to make people like me in order to get attention, which I craved. It was only when I hit menopause that I stopped caring quite so much. Once my body realized I was done reproducing, my brain took over and said “I’m in charge now,” and that was that. (See? Biology is another thing skeletons don’t have to worry about. More reason to love them!)

The bottom line is, I’m trying to learn how to paint. Studying the classics is a really good way to do this and adding skeletons makes it more fun.

But some people are not amused by skeletons, and they’re especially not amused by biblical scenes with undead people in the starring roles.

(I confess, I deliberately put that print in the window hoping to persuade a couple of political organizations, which shall remain nameless, to set up their tents elsewhere instead of directly in front of my studio during Friday Night Live events. And it worked, sort of. At least, the next weekend, they’d moved across the street. With them a littler farther away I figured I had a better chance of attracting my target demographic—people with a sense of humor who aren’t afraid of death.)

So to answer the question about what I can live with, while it bugs me when people openly sneer at my work, I absolutely adore the people who love it. They say things like, “These are so cool!” “That’s hilarious!” and my personal favorite, “I’ve gotta buy this.” So I’m going to focus my attention on them and everyone else, including my dead mother, will just have to deal.

Thank you to everyone out there who keeps laughing along with me. You know who you are. As long as I know you’re out there, giggling, I can handle a hater or two.


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Sunset over Sumner Lake

pastel painting of a sunset over Sumner Lake in New Mexico

Sunset Over Sumner Lake, 6×9″ pastel on paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

Sunset over Sumner Lake

So Steve and I had been kind of racing to get to this place. It was the only state park within striking distance of where we’d started earlier in the day. It had water, a real rarity in New Mexico, and when I’d called earlier to find about about availability the ranger on the phone told me there were a few full hookup sites still available.

Of course, by the time we rolled in, the full hookup sites were all gone, so we moseyed down to the boat launch on the lake to see if there was anything down there. Ended up talking to this grit who was there with his two grandsons. It turned out that all along the lake was open camping, meaning if you could fit your unit in there, you could camp there. We ended up on a little bluff over the water, not too far away from this guy, but far enough that if they wanted to get rowdy, we’d never hear it.

Then we went and sat on a big flat rock by the water with a couple of beers and watched the sun go down. We found that by holding our bottles just so into the wind they “sang” for us. We amused ourselves for quite a while this way, until my hat blew off my head and Steve had to go rescue it. Lovely.

This painting is available in my ebay store. Listings start at $4.99, go for 7 days and include free shipping.

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In the Valley

pastel painting of a road through a landscape, cottonwood trees, mountains

In the Valley, 6×9″ pastel on Canson mi-teintes paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

In the Valley

We were driving through New Mexico and had just reached the foothills of some mountains and then we were in this valley. The trees had just started to bud out, there was grass coming up, the morning sun was throwing shadows across the road, and I thought, “This is so pretty.” I could almost imagine living here.

Traveling with a camper is different from traveling between motel rooms. For one, it’s a lot cheaper to bring your own bedroom/kitchen combo along with you. Steve and I were interested in “dispersed camping” which is camping in Bureau of Land Management land or in National Forests wherever you can find a level spot to park your camper, basically.

When you camp like this, your scenery is definitely upgraded. No parking lots, no expressways. You look out your camper door in the morning and you might see a jackrabbit, or some birds, or deer. You definitely won’t see housekeeping staff out there.

I could do it some more, except I’d really like to be able to park somewhere and just be for a few days. Since we were on our way to Steve’s brother’s place in Tucson, we had to pack up and go every day. It’d be nice to just hang out and explore for a while. Sigh. Next time.

This painting is available in my ebay store. Listings start at $4.99, go for 7 days and include free shipping.

If you like what you’re seeing and reading, sign up for my newsletter, Bone Appetit (on the right). You’ll get regular updates on what’s happening in my studio plus exclusive access to twice yearly sales on my originals, prints and cards.

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Turning Out Austin

pastel painting of a horse and handler in a corral Turning Out Austin

Turning Out Austin, 6×9″ pastel on Canson mi-teintes paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

“Turning Out Austin” is a painting about my niece Nathalie’s horse, a rescued thoroughbred and a sweet looking boy. Nathalie’s friend Pam is currently taking good care of Austin. I spent the last week with Steve camped behind Pam’s house in Tucson, AZ. This painting is based on a photo I took of Pam and Austin one morning last week. He was hungry! Pam was turning him out into a bigger paddock to have his breakfast and he just couldn’t wait to start eating!

It was lovely to hang out with Pam and her horses. I’ll have to paint some more of them soon!

More trip paintings to come

I’ll be posting more daily paintings from my recent camping trip out west, so stay tuned!

This painting is available on ebay.

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I need a little spring

pastel painting of daisies on pink and purple back ground

I need a little spring, 9×6″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

Sometimes you have to make your own spring, especially when the weather is not cooperating. I bought some flowers at Wal-mart on my way in to the studio today to paint before I bring them to my mom-in-law.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.

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Good One

pastel painting of a sunset at the end of US-10 in Ludington, MI

Good One, 9×6″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

I love this town, partly because if it even looks like there might be a nice sunset, everyone jumps in their car and heads down to the beach to watch it happen. This painting is a result of noticing the rush to the lake and joining in.

I had to be quick. The good parking spots at the end of US-10 get taken early.

And then, of course, it took three tries to get a painting that I liked. I don’t mind re-doing them when they’re this pretty, though. All those candy colors make me happy.

Here’s a video of my process. Just so you know, there’s a little bit of a lag in the middle where someone came into the studio to chat and I had to stop for a few minutes.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.

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Dark Clouds

pastel painting of clouds over Lake Michigan with dune grass and snow in the foreground.

Dark Clouds, 6×9″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

Had a delightful lunch with the woman who used to be our mail carrier when we lived here last. Small towns are like that. You know everyone and everyone knows you. Since we moved back it’s been fun renewing old friendships. Marcie was the person that my daughter Alice brought with her to Special Person day in something like first or second grade. They got along pretty great. I know Marcie was tickled to be asked.

After lunch we looked at pictures of my kids, including a video of Nick playing with fire. And did you know my other daughter Sam has a book on Amazon? I forgot to tell Marcie, but I’ll mention it next time I see her.

This painting is a result of me seeing a bright light out on Lake Michigan while I was driving past the dunes on the way out to the state park. Turns out it wasn’t aliens, which are always a possibility in my mind, but the reflection of the sun peeking through dark clouds. I love living here, have I mentioned?

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.

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Birthdays

pastel painting of the Lake Michigan beach with snow and clouds

Birthdays, 9×6″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia.

Man, are we getting old. My oldest brother, David, is now 70. My youngest brother, Stephen, just turned 50.

Holy crap. I never expected to get this far. Not that I thought I’d die of a drug overdose or anything like that. I just never really thought about what it would be like to be 57 (now almost 58) years old. I remember imagining how weird it would be to reach 40 in the year 2000 back when I was a teenager. But I never considered what it would mean to live to be so (to me) ancient.

So here we are, all of us older than we feel. Does this happen to you? Do you catch your reflection unexpectedly sometimes, like going past a mirror at Wal-mart or seeing yourself in a window downtown or even bothering to watch yourself brush your teeth, and thinking, “Who the heck is that? Wait, that’s me. How did I get so old?”

The same way anybody does, baby. One fricking day at a time.

At least, if I keep up my daily painting practice, by the time I’m 80 I’ll have hundreds and hundreds of paintings to remind me of every single day.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.

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2 Beers = Foggy Morning

pastel painting of a bank of dunes with bluffs and Lake Michigan in the background.

2 Beers = Foggy Morning, 9×6″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia.

The title refers to me and not the painting, BTW.

I should really know better. I didn’t need the second beer. I was already losing at pool anyway. And then we got home late and I had to get up early for a meeting this morning. You’d think, at 57, I’d be better at regulating myself. Well, nope, not really.

This painting makes me feel better anyway. That’s a bright spot in my day. I love this scene with the wild and wooly dune grass in the front and the hazy blue bluffs in the background standing over the big lake. This is such a cool place to live. I love it here.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.

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Now comes the hard part

The smoke cloud fading behind our house.

Summer’s gone now. The trees are starting to turn. I saw a pair of brilliantly colored trees, red and orange, on my way down to Grand Rapids to drop the skelly paintings off for ArtPrize Nine.

I’m sorry summer’s done but I’m enjoying the cool mornings for walking in the woods with my dogs and it’s nice having seasons again. Makes me think of football games, raking leaves and the smell of burning stuff in the air.

Last week one of the neighbors had such a big burn pile going that it made a fog over our entire back yard. The sun was low in the sky and it lit up the smoke, throwing the trees in silhouette.

Part of me was thinking, “I hope I don’t die as a result of all this toxic smoke in the air,” and the other part was thinking, “This is so cool looking!” I ran in to get my phone for a picture but by the time I came out again, most of the smoke had dissipated. I can still picture what it looked like, the branches all backlit and peeking through that huge cloud of smoke.

Signed, sealed and delivered

Pastel spoof of Frida Kahlo self portrait with skeletons

Frida Skelly with Monkeys, 12×18″ pastel on sanded paper.

You’ll be happy to know all seven Old (Dead) Masters paintings are officially delivered to the bitter end coffeehouse and by this time next week lots and lots of people will have a chance to see them up close and personal. I’m excited and nervous and feeling a lot of dread right now.

Kind of like I used to feel right before a particular fundraising auction in my previous life as a Rotarian. Back then I’d have nightmares about nobody showing up and then to add insult to injury, I’d get what I called my “Christmas Cold Sore” on the day of. It never failed.

My contact at the bitter end wasn’t there when I arrived but his father, Mike, was. Mike told me that when he and his son, John, first saw the skellies they knew right away they were perfect for their place.

“We’re on the fringe of ArtPrize so we appreciate art that’s also kind of out there,” he said. “We had another exhibitor a few years ago, and she had twelve pieces featuring the role of underwear during the course of a person’s life. It started out with diapers and it ended with them, too.”

I think I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect place to exhibit skeletons in, don’t you? Meantime, I keep feeling my lip for impending cold soreness. So far, so good.

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