Tag Archives: children

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.)

Pastel portrait of a young man.

©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.

Pastel portrait of a young woman.

©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.

Pastel portrait of a young woman.

©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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Beach Boys

Beach Boys

This is a quick study from one of my very favorite pictures of Sam and Nick. They were probably 5 and 8 years old. Sam has his hands in his ears and Nick has a smile on his face. We were at Stearns Beach in Ludington, Michigan, probably late in the day. I used to haul the kids to the beach nearly evening during the summer, starting in May.

I remember the white imprints of small feet by the back door, made from Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder and beach sand, a mixed media artwork that lasted all summer.

Here’s a time-lapse video of my practice this morning. I apologize for all the times my face got caught crossing in front of the camera. I’ll remember to put either my pastels or the camera on the other side next time.

Here are the final pics:

pastel painting of two boys on the beach

Beach Boys, detail, 6×9″ pastel study on illustration board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of two boys on the beach

Beach Boys, detail, 6×9″ pastel study on illustration board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of two boys on the beach

Beach Boys, detail, 6×9″ pastel study on illustration board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of two boys on the beach

Beach Boys, detail, 6×9″ pastel study on illustration board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of two boys on the beach

Beach Boys, 6×9″ pastel study on illustration board by Marie Marfia

This painting is available at auction on ebay starting tonight at 9pm eastern.

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Old dog, new trick

pastel painting of a green wave with a blue sky

Skype Light, Wave Portrait No. 154, 5×7″ pastel on gessoed mat board, by Marie Marfia.

My fingertip taps the bright blue icon and I hear the familiar “zoooop” sound as Skype starts up. There are ten contacts but my eyes zero in on two, Sam and Nick, and I see the lights next to their names are bright green, which means they’re online. Chances are good they are playing a game together, Dungeons and Dragons probably. My finger hovers over Nick’s picture but then I change my mind and close the app. I don’t have anything to tell either of my kids, really, except I love and miss them, which they know already.

I sit, iPad on my lap, and rapidly exhaust all the internet urls in my favorites list. I scan the headlines on an endless array of amusing, educational, snarky articles, watch adorable pet videos, work sudoku puzzles and the Sunday crossword. Don’t I have anything else to do? Some larger purpose besides being a source of visits, views and clicks on other peoples’ websites?

My purposes have all flown the coop. I am not needed hourly, monthly or even yearly, if you go by one particular child’s  communication habits. I have nobody’s socks to pick up, no one’s meals to prepare, no one’s life to organize, except this one right here in front of me. All my brain, no longer portioned out evenly between three children, is now able to focus on just one life, my own, and it is apparently not that interesting.

The Skype light is a secret beacon, a dot of comfort. See? Both green lights are shining together, so I should be happy. They used to fight constantly at home, sending the dog running for cover. Once, they were looking particularly glum after coming home from the paper route they shared. They told me someone had pulled over on the street and stopped them from fighting. “You’re brothers,” the lady had scolded. “You ought to take care of each other.”

I sat them down and pointed out that they were more alike in their opinions than not. “You two agree with each other. You just come at it from different directions,” I said. “One of you is emotional, the other is logical.”

I see their bright green lights here on my iPad, in the evenings sometimes and most weekends. Now and then, it will just be one green light, and that’s my cue to send a quick message, “How’re you doing?” just to see if anyone needs anything. Old habits, old purposes are hard to change.

Here’s a time-lapse of this painting’s progression.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6nWiAWQS64]

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