Tag Archives: art

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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pastel painting of homage to Reginal Marsh's High Yaller

High Skeller

Whew! She’s done and I’m so glad. You ever have a project that you want to finish but you just can’t seem to move forward on it? That was me last week.

Finally, I sat down and wrote a short piece about a person named Marie who just got down to it and finished the painting she’d been wanting to finish. Then I decided to hold myself accountable by live streaming the process. And it worked! Something about having someone in the room watching me actually do the painting really motivated me to finish it.

So, I’m very happy to present my beautiful skelly in yellow for your viewing pleasure. See the guy in the back? He’s enjoying her, too.

pastel painting of homage to Reginal Marsh's High Yaller

High Skeller, 20×16″ pastel painting on gator board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia.

Here’s my Work in Progress pics.

And if you’d like to purchase my darling girl, you can do that in my shop. She’s all dressed up and ready to go! She’s also available as a 8×10″ print or a 5×7″ greeting card.

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pastel of a sunset over a road

Sunset Drive

Saturday, June 4, 2016 I took a mini workshop called “Paint the Sky” featuring one of my favorite pastel artists, Karen Margulis. (This was offered through First Coast Pastel Society, which is an awesome pastel group, if you’re in the area and looking to paint with a crowd of nice people. Everyone is very supportive and there’s a lot going on. I highly recommend you join them. I’m really going to miss these folks after I move.)

It was very intense because it was very short, but well presented and with a lot of good information. Karen challenged the workshop participants to paint 21 skies in the next 21 days, as a way of starting a new, daily painting habit. I already paint every day (well, almost!) and so I’m not too worried about the habit-forming part of the challenge, but oh, the skies! I can totally do that!

So here’s Sunday’s sky painting. This is a scene based on a photo my son Nick took while we were driving to karate class. I was blown away by the fiery clouds in the sky, handed Nick my camera and yelled, “Shoot! Shoot!” So he did and I found it again while looking through my photos on my computer in search of appropriate subject matter for the workshop.

pastel of a sunset over a road

Sunset Drive, 4×6″ pastel on UArt sanded paper by Marie Marfia. $60, unframed. Contact me to purchase.

Even though these luscious sunsets are the result of more pollution in the air, which I hate, I still love the colors! I guess that’s a love-hate relationship. I can live with that.

 

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small pastel landscape of fall leaves

Dreaming of Fall

small pastel landscape of fall leaves

Dreaming of Fall, Emotional Landscape series, 5×7″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Please contact me to purchase.

With this pastel, I am thinking about my move back to Michigan and four season living again. In Florida, there’s warm and hot, as opposed to cool, hot, crisp and cold up north. I miss the seasons, and yes, I even miss the snow. But fall is my favorite season. The trees are brilliant, the fields are golden and the sky is a warm blue with far off wisps of clouds. Autumn is awesome.

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landscape in pastels

What’s Past

landscape in pastels

What’s Past? 5×7″ pastel on Crescent board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. To purchase, contact me.

I was laying on the extra bed this morning, resting. I’ve been fighting with a cold for the past few days. WIth my eyes closed, my mind begins to wander and I find myself re-playing, re-living events from my past, things that I regret doing, things that I’d rather not think about, especially when I’m feeling low already. I got to thinking that if my future is a black and white cocker spaniel named Mike, what is my past? Is it a neurotic Irish setter named Ginger? This was another dog I remember from childhood. She was on a chain in the back yard and we stayed clear of her because she’d scratch us with her paws. Poor thing. She probably just wanted to be loved. Maybe my past is like her in that I should be viewing it with compassion for the person I was, regardless of things that I did or didn’t do. That makes more sense than pretending it doesn’t exist and ignoring it.

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pastel painting of my emotional landscape

Grass is Greener

pastel painting of my emotional landscape

Grass is Greener, 5×7″ pastel on Crescent board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase.

When I started this pastel, I planned to do a cool landscape, similar to a painting that Karen Margulis had posted this morning.

So I took out all the reds and oranges from yesterday’s palette, and added in some cool darks. What I ended up with was a painting where the green in the distance seems to be the star of the show, so I named it after an old adage, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” or, in this case, the other side of the path.

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