Tag Archives: art

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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The studio lessons

Last June I moved into a new studio space at 307 S. James Street here in Ludington, Michigan. It’s awesome. There are a lot of new businesses around me so I’m in good company and it’s fun to watch people walk by my big picture window. But there are some things I’ve learned since going from a work-at-home artist to a work-in-the-public-eye artist.

Having lunch at my skellified table…

Are you going to eat that?

Lunches are a challenge. My space is pretty small. No room for a microwave and no windows for ventilation, so there is a whole list of things I can’t eat here, like any kind of hot food (I now eat soup for breakfast), legumes (I hadn’t realized beans would go through me quite that quickly), and anything odiferous like tuna or smoked fish. I use a freezer pack in my lunchbox and eat salads every day. I feel virtuous all the time now plus I’m more regular than I’ve been in years.

Look, rainbow shoes!

What are you wearing?

I have to wear nicer clothes than I did when I worked at home, or at least, matching ones. Also I can’t come to work in shirts with holes in them (mine get holes right where I press up against my work table, at my belt line. It looks I have moths living in my navel), or pajamas, or anything that I wouldn’t want to meet the mayor in (he hasn’t shown up yet, but it’s a small town. You never know). All the tie-dyed dresses my husband Steve made me so long ago are getting a real workout this summer. They’re bright and artsy and you can’t see where I’ve dribbled vinaigrette on them.

I no longer smell like vegetable soup

I can’t tell you how many showers I’ve taken since mid-June, but it’s probably at least four times as many as I did in the last twenty years. But is this is a good thing? I mean, Steve appreciates it, I’m sure, but I find myself wondering if this is how people start losing their hair. Is it possible to wash it too much? Also, if I’m too clean, how will he find me in the dark?

Blankety blank blank

Every once in a while my computer does something really stupid and I yell at it in a not very lady like way. And then I take a quick look around to see if anyone heard me. Recently, I got mad enough to kick a cabinet (that’s better than kicking the computer, right?) and thought I broke my toe. Fortunately, I just stood on the freezer pack from my lunch in my stocking feet for a while (hardly any swelling). I’m learning to curb my tongue better than I used to, but computers never fail to bring out the crazy in me.

Time to do something with this pile!

Have you seen my…?

I am a natural slob. Did I mention the space is small? This means that whenever I do anything at all, I have to finish it and then put away everything that I took out to do it with before moving on to the next thing. I’m not used to this, but it’s starting to grow on me. I used to have piles of projects in various states of doneness all around. Now I can’t let them become piles in the first place. It’s neater, if a little alien to my nature. The big advantage is that I know where everything is now because it’s always put away. The disadvantage is that I’m always putting things away. How did I live with myself before this?

I love my Pilot G-2 gel pens. I should buy stock.

The life of an artist is often misunderstood

Now and again I take some ribbing from the people passing by. My favorite is, “Have you finished my homework yet?” which happens when I’m sitting out front writing in my notebook. I think people don’t associate writing with art making but it’s a fact that you have to write about what you’re doing if you’re planning to share it or sell it. I like to sit at my skellified cafe table and put pen to paper. There’s usually a breeze, occasionally I have company to talk to, and it’s fun to watch all the people go by. Once someone called out that he wished he had my job because it looked so much easier than what he was doing and I nearly told him to go jump in the blankety blank lake, but I thought better of it. After all, he might have been the mayor.

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Walking my dogs makes me a better painter

At least it gets me off the couch in the mornings. Truthfully, if I had my way, I’d spend all day on the couch eating bonbons and flipping through Imgur on my iPad, but the dogs aren’t going to let themselves outside and since our yard isn’t fenced (yet!), I have to go with them.

This involves piling them into the back of my minivan and driving out to the woods. See, I’d walk them around the neighborhood but there are too many potential pitfalls involved with this, i.e. other loose dogs. So my preference is to drive about five miles south on Walhalla Road, turn off onto any one of half a dozen “seasonal roads” and tromp around the Manistee National Forest for an hour.

The dogs get to sniff and dig around, I don’t have to clean up after them (although I’ve unofficially adopted the first two miles of 6890 because, let’s face it, people are pigs), and we all get some fresh air and exercise.

Sometimes we see deer, sometimes a dead snake, and once Roger thought for sure a cat walked out of the ferns not six feet in front of him, but it was a skunk and he was not allowed to get any closer to it although he fussed a bit about my decision. I held firm, though. You should see the divots my feet left in the road even two weeks later. I held on for dear life, I’m telling you.

So how does this make me a better painter?

It provides subject matter, of course. I won’t tell you how many pictures of my dogs are on my Google drive right now, but it’s a lot. Like thousands. Sometimes I keep my finger on the camera button, snapping pic after pic of Roger digging in the dirt just to get that one glorious moment when he leaps back into the road to try to catch up to whatever he’s smelling off in the distance.

It lets me paint wonderful scenes of my dogs enjoying the great outdoors. I used to think I went out to the woods for me, but really, I go out there for them. They’re the ones that are having the great time.

I guess I’m jealous. Here I am, covered in Deet to keep off the bugs and checking for ticks and bears and swiping at deer flies and those two are just loping along with their tongues hanging out, having a grand old time. Every. Stinking. Morning.

I love it. I love them. I’m a lucky girl to have these lucky dogs.

©2017 Marie Marfia “Roger and Out” 6×9″ pastel on paper.

©2017 Marie Marfia “Daisy in the Dark,” 9×6″ pastel on paper.

You can find more of my daily paintings on ebay including the ones pictures here. They start at 99¢ and the auctions last for 7 days. Good luck and happy bidding!

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When disaster strikes…

The Skelly Dance at the framer’s. It got a little wet.

…it’s best to have an insurance policy already in place. Failing that, a positive attitude can take you a long way.

“Marie, I have some bad news.”

A couple weeks ago the framer called to tell me one of my paintings for Art Prize had been accidentally destroyed. A pipe had burst in the ceiling over his shop and mine plus eight other people’s projects had gotten drenched. Tim, the framer, was distraught. I was the last person he’d called that morning and he’d been sick three times already.

I went over to his store and looked at the piece, decided it wasn’t salvageable, took a picture for my records, and reassured him I wasn’t upset. Then I went back to my studio to think about what the next step would be.

Since this piece was slated for Art Prize, it would be one of three things:

  1. Alert the venue that The Skelly Dance had met with an unfortunate accident and ask whether or not I could substitute another piece in its place (fortunately, I’d just finished Bona Lisa the same week);
  2. Tell the venue that The Skelly Dance had met with an unfortunate accident and just go with six pieces for Art Prize;
  3. Re-do it, in which case I needed to order supplies.

You’ll notice that nowhere on this list is the step in which I panic. At the time I thought it was odd that I wasn’t more upset about the loss, but then I thought, “You’ve been through this before.”

Deja flooping vu

It’s true. Last year I lost four original skelly paintings and a slew of prints during the flooding in St. Augustine from Hurricane Matthew. That was pretty ouchy, but at the time, the gallery owner thought she might be able to arrange compensation through her insurance company.

As I should have guessed, flooding, which is what happened to my skellies down south, doesn’t count as compensatable damage. I think the hurricane actually has to leave a signed confession before an insurance company will agree that it will cover any losses due to one coming ashore for a visit.

Back to the drawing board, er, easel

After mulling it over, I went with steps 1 and 3. I alerted the venue and they agreed to take the Bona Lisa in lieu of The Skelly Dance, but then I decided to re-do The Skelly Dance anyway.

I’ve got time, after all. Art Prize isn’t until mid-September. Also, I’m a little leery about substituting art work without clearing it with Art Prize first. I’ve heard of people being disqualified from that show for small infractions. I could try to get a new piece juried in, but it’s way past the deadline now, so I will happily forgo opening up that can of worms altogether and count myself lucky this happened when it did.

Onward and upward

Besides, if there’s one thing I’ve learned since I started making art every day, it’s if you did it once, you can do it again.

Nothing is so precious that it can’t be re-worked, or re-designed, or re-made from scratch. It was painting every day that taught me this lesson and I’m grateful for it. Because of this I can let something like the destruction of a piece roll over me like water off a duck’s back.

But I’ll tell you something—I went out and got an insurance policy for my art last week, because while a positive attitude can take you a long way, cash money makes for a smoother ride.

 

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pastel painting of a grinning skull

No. 7, 100 Portraits in 100 Days

Whew! Seven already! But after only a week, I feel like I’m getting into the swing of this. I’m starting to look forward to these every day and the challenge of potluck as far as reference materials goes! Kinda fun!

pastel painting of a grinning skull

Deb, No. 7, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on mat board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. This skull portrait is available. Contact me to purchase.

Here are the progress pictures:

Read more about my 100 Portraits in 100 Days project, and follow along on Facebook or Instagramor TwitterSign up for my newsletter and be the first to see my portraits as I finish them!

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pastel study of a child running along the beach

Sam’s Glee

This is less about the sky, although that’s important, than it is about Sam running freely down the beach. You can’t see him, but Nick is right behind. Maybe I’ll add Nick when I do a larger version of this one. For now, the contrast between skin and sand and sky are what made me want to try this one.

pastel study of a child running along the beach

Sam’s Glee (at beating his younger brother in a race on the beach), 5×8″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase.

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