Tag Archives: landscape

Marie Marfia, Mary Feeding the Chickens, soft pastel on textured gator board, 16x20"

Painting to remember

I’ve been painting to remember lately. It’s partly because of the pandemic. I’m realizing that I need to pay more attention to the people that I care about and to make it a priority to spend time with them. Before Covid, there was all the time in the world. Now, not so much maybe. Another reason is painting the stories I want to keep helps solidify them in my brain for later. I’m aware of memory slippage happening as I get older. Details fade and sometimes whole stories. I wonder, was I really there when that happened? Why don’t I remember it if I was? 

My father’s side of the family suffered from dementia at the ends of their lives, all except Frank, who was killed during WWII, Marianne, who committed suicide, and Ben, who died of a coronary. Six siblings out of nine. So odds are that I and some of my siblings will go the same way. It’s like a cloud that hovers over you, not quite solid but never quite going away, either. Every failure to come up with a name or word that I know that I know prompts the inevitable moment of panic and a rush of internal questioning. Is this the beginning of my decline? Am I going to go down the same path as my dad? Is there anything I can do to stop this?

I spend a lot of time researching how to make my brain do its job for as long as it can. I solve a crossword puzzle and a sudoku puzzle every day, read a lot, and push myself to learn new things. Mostly I try to remain hopeful.

So I’ve started painting memories of days spent with my family. One, it gives me an excuse to paint people, which I like, and two, it helps cement memories of a particular occasion in my head.

First I look at my photos and decide on a story to tell. Then I try to distill my feelings about the story into a painting. Here are three from my last trip to see my sister and her extended family out in New York state. 

Mary Feeding the Chickens

Marie Marfia, Mary Feeding the Chickens, soft pastel on textured gator board, 16x20"
Mary Feeding the Chickens, soft pastel on textured gator board, 16×20″

This one is of my sister Mary and her original flock of chickens, now a few years old. She’s got a colander on her hip with red grapes in it. We had decided earlier that grapes, and specifically red grapes, weren’t very good. They tasted too sweet and not enough like the grapes we remembered as children. So these grapes became chicken treats.

Mary, me, my daughter Alice and her wife Sandra, and their daughter Maeve, had walked down the hill to feed grapes to the chickens. Since they were being cautious around all the new people, Mary leaned over the fence, hand full of grapes, to coax them closer. In my painting I removed the fence and the extra figures behind Mary. But I kept the house up on the hill and our trailer parked next to it. Also there’s the hint of the barn behind the trees on the left, which I may remove. I haven’t quite decided, yet. Mary’s jeans have grass stains on the knees because you spend an awful lot of time on your knees when you are working an organic farm. The weeds don’t pull themselves, you know.

Come out, chickens!

Marie Marfia, Come out, chickens, soft pastel on toned sanded paper, 9x12".
Come out, chickens! soft pastel on toned sanded paper, 9×12″. Sold.

In this painting, I wanted to capture Mary’s step-granddaughter, Alice, trying to convince a flock of young chickens to come out from under their coop. Alice is fairy-like in her demeanor. She has long blonde hair falling over her shoulders and a joyful look in her eye. She refers to people as “humans,” and she is perfectly happy playing with whoever is available, including two-year-old Maeve. I wanted to remember her optimism concerning timid pullets and whether or not they could be tempted out of hiding by a handful of dirt, a stick or one of their own feathers. She tried all of those things without success and never noticed the one watching her from the other side of the coop.

Time lapse for Come Out, Chickens!

Walking to the Barn

Marie Marfia, Walking to the Barn, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10x8"
Walking to the Barn study, soft pastel on sanded paper, 10×8″.

In this final painting, I took a photo of Mary as she was on her way back to the barn. I liked her upright form against the barn and the sunlit green grass. It’s a reminder to me of how her days begin. Up before the sun, out to feed the chickens, providing sustenance, and warm regards (“Good morning, sunshine!”). When I miss her most, I imagine myself walking in the dewy grass with her, and I feel better.

So much of how I remember is visual as well as emotional. Photos can be painful to look at sometimes, because so many feelings well up from them. I often put pictures away and close photo apps because it seems as though I might never stop crying once I start. I’m not sure why I want to cry but I’ll continue to explore it. I think it makes for better paintings. And paintings may soon be the only way I can share what I am feeling if or when the day comes that I no longer have the words.


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Daily paintings

I did a study on regular Canson paper and then a larger one on sanded paper. I’ve been reading Carlson’s book about painting landscapes and it’s really helping me a lot.

This is the one on Canson paper, 6×8″.
This is the one on sanded paper. I also started with a warm (red, orange, yellow) alcohol underpainting with this one. 11×14″.
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Winter Dune Grass, pastel painting of a dune on Lake Michigan with snow

Marie Marfia, Winter Dune Grass, soft pastel on paper, 9x6"
Winter Dune Grass, soft pastel on paper, 9×6″

This painting is from a walk along the Lake Michigan shoreline during winter time. The snow peeks in and out of the grasses which are blowing in the wind. You can see the lake under dark clouds. One of my favorite times of year. So much drama!


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pastel painting of a river in the forest

Winter Morning-pastel painting of snowy banks on a river in the forest

pastel painting of snowy banks on the Pere Marquette River in the Manistee National Forest

Walking along the Pere Marquette River one winter morning. The clouds were lit up from the morning sun, pinks and blues reflected in the water. I love living in the Manistee National Forest.

This painting is for sale on ebay. When you bid on this painting you’re helping me contribute to AFFEW, a local environmental organization. Thanks for your support!

http://ebay.us/Ia7Kap?5338273189

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pastel painting of a river landscape with snow

Over the Pere Marquette

This is a painting I did after walking down a 2-track road that goes along the Pere Marquette River. I really love walking this trail with the dogs. The road is a like a little roller coaster and there are lots of places where people camp. Just a beautiful spot, no matter what time of year. At the end is a place where I can slither down onto the bank and someone even put a couple of steps down there so you could get into the water if you wanted. Not today! Too cold. But maybe in the summer…

pastel painting of a snowy ridge over the Pere Marquette River.
http://ebay.us/lnbF8d

This painting is for sale on ebay. When you bid on this painting you’re helping me contribute to AFFEW, a local environmental organization. Thanks for your support! http://ebay.us/lnbF8d

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pastel study of a sky and woods and a road

Cracking the Landscape – pastel study of a road and woods and sky

pastel study of a sky and woods and a road

Cracking the Landscape, 6×9″ pastel on paper. © Marie Marfia. Available $110.00

Cracking the Landscape

You can’t see it, but my car is parked just up ahead.

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Synchopation – pastel painting of the Manistee National Forest

Synchopation, 9×6″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. Available $110.

Synchopation – pastel painting of the Manistee National Forest

I went out walking after the rain this weekend. So good to be out in the woods! I love my little cottage in the forest, but you know, it’s awful nice to be able to stretch your legs every day in such beautiful surroundings. I’m trying to soak up as much as I can.

Here’s a video of me creating this piece.

 

You can purchase this painting here.

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pastel painting of a path toward the river

Towards the River

Walked around the Custer cemetery today after dropping Sam off at work. I like all the towering pines there and the dogs have lots of things to sniff. We skirted the cemetery proper and made our way down an almost completely overgrown path leading to the river. Alas, there were people fishing along the opposite bank and I didn’t want to disturb them (Roger went on full alert as soon as he heard humans talking). So I settled for a picture of an angler through the trees and we made our way back to the car and home.

This is a study based on a photo of the light through the trees. The river is just beyond the tree line.

To purchase this painting, click here.

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Marie Marfia, That's the Mustard, acrylic on canvas, 6x6"

That’s the Mustard

Marie Marfia, That's the Mustard, acrylic on canvas, 6x6"
That’s the Mustard, acrylic on canvas, 6×6″

That’s the Mustard

Clearly I need more practice at this! I watched a video about blending, which I didn’t really need to do any for this painting of a field of mustard that’s on my way to work (or home, depending). I was drawn to paint the field because it glows yellow green right now and I wanted to capture that. I don’t think I did, really, so I tried it a couple of times with pastels and still not really there for me. Oh well. I’ll keep plugging away at it. Maybe when I look at it again tomorrow it will seem better than it does today. This happens to me a lot.

In other news

Hey, at least I’ve licked my picture hanging system problem! Actually, Steve was once again a really big help. He wields all the tools with consummate skill, I must say.

We spent part of the weekend and yesterday putting up electrical conduit. I’m going to suspend the art in the James Street Gallery from it using picture hanging wire, braces and STAS picture hooks. Sweet!

A big thank you to my friend Liz for giving me the idea to do it this way. It’s saving me a ton of money and it’s going to look pretty cool.


Sign up for my Marie Marfia Fine Art newsletter! You’ll get regular updates about my latest work in the studio plus insights into my process. Plus, get a free downloadable print just for signing up!

You can buy my art imprinted on all kinds of cool stuff in my Fine Art America Shop. You can purchase downloads in my Etsy shop or signed cards in my Signed Cards store. Buy greeting cards in my Square shop. Please contact me directly about purchasing original artwork. Thanks!

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Switchback

Switchback, 6×9″ pastel on UArt paper, mounted. ©2018 Marie Marfia

Switchback

What a sissy I’m turning out to be! It was all I could do to take pictures of the scenery while we were driving up to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in New Mexico. Seriously had to put my meditation practice to the test! Steve was driving carefully and slowly, too. It’s just that my brain can’t see anything but the drop off, darn it.

Oh well. Home now! Safe and sound. And I can paint it and enjoy it in retrospect, right?

Here’s a link to the Youtube video of the painting process on this one. Enjoy!


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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