Tag Archives: Marie Marfia

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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30 Landscapes in 30 Days, No. 13

This is a tough nut to crack. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the Julington-Durbin Preserve. I have dozens of reference photos of it. I may do just the stages over again and leave them as gestures and initial block-ins, I like them that much.

Here is the final, with detail shots.

pastel painting of the Julington Durbin Preserve

Tunnel Through the Trees, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of the Julington Durbin Preserve

Tunnel Through the Trees, detail, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of the Julington Durbin Preserve

Tunnel Through the Trees, detail, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of the Julington Durbin Preserve

Tunnel Through the Trees, detail, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia

pastel painting of the Julington Durbin Preserve

Tunnel Through the Trees, detail, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia

This painting is available at auction on ebay.


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New art, prints and cards at The Starving Artist for November

box of x-mas skelly cards

6 X-Mas Skelly Cards in a Box, available at The Starving Artist in November and also in my shop.

Skelly X-Mas cards will be at The Starving Artist for November 2015. They feature six different dancing skellies in santa hats per box for $17.95. The cards are 4.25 x 5.5″ when folded, are blank inside and come with envelopes. Also available in my shop, if you can’t get to St. Augustine to the gallery. Perfect for the Day of the Dead fans on your list!

Pastel painting of a skeleton couple dancing at an outdoor cafe.

Skelly Dance at Bougival, 24×12″ original pastel, $670

pastel painting on Canson mi teintes paper of a skeleton blowing bubbles in front of the city gates in St. Augustine, Florida. Well, where did you think orbs came from, anyway?

Orbs! 11×14″ original pastel, $300

pastel painting of a skeleton couple dancing on the beach

Shall We Dance? 11×14″ print, $34.95

Pastel painting on Canson mi teintes paper of a skeleton couple enjoying a romantic evening in the moonlight on the beach at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Florida

Pull My Finger, 11×14″ print, $34.95

Pastel painting of a skeleton couple, just married, and enjoying a horse and carriage ride through St. Augustine, Florida.

Happily Ever After, 11×14″ print, $34.95

Original pastel art at The Starving Artist in November includes “Dance at Bougival” for $670, and “Orbs” for $300. I’m working on designing prints and cards based on “Dance at Bougival”, and hope to offer them soon. Meantime, since the holidays are for lovers, I am including “Shall We Dance”, “Happily Ever After,” and “Pull My Finger” in 11×14″ size and as 5×7″ cards.

The 11×14″ prints are $34.95 and the 5×7″ cards are $4.95 each or 3 for $12.95 or 6 for $18.95.

skeleton postcards

Greetings from St. Augustine postcards, now at The Starving Artist Gallery in St. Augustine, Florida

As always, there is a good selection of “Greetings from St. Augustine” postcards at the gallery, too. Postcards are $1.95 each or 3 for $4.95.

If you’re out and about in St. Aug for November, be sure and stop by to get your skelly fix!


Have you signed up for my weekly newsletter Bone Appetit? It’s a compilation of the best of my blog plus insights into my creative process and it’s delivered right to your inbox every week! Just fill in your email address on the right. Bonus, you’ll receive a printable note card featuring my mermaid skelly Hello Sailor just for signing up! See to it!

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Skellies

Where did skellies come from?

pastel painting of a belly dancer on paper

Julianne, Belly Dancer Series. Sold.

Skellies started out as a variation on 100 Belly Dancers, which was the first pastel series I ever did. A couple years ago, I’d gotten through about half of my goal to draw a hundred pictures of a local belly dancing troupe, and I was feeling the need to do something different. You know how it is when you’re in the middle of something and all you can see is the other half of the mountain left to climb? I needed a break.

I thought about painting a belly dancer in the style of a famous artist, but which one? Then a friend suggested Salvador Dali and right away my brain began running with it. I decided if I were Mr. Dali, I would paint a skeleton, rather than a fleshy figure, and it seemed only natural to put her on the beach. I ended up doing around ten “Skelly Dancers,” (that’s a play on “belly dancers,” get it?) and then, refreshed, I finished my original series.

I get the call

skeleton belly dancer on the beach

Skelly Dancer No. 1, 20×16″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia

Fast forward about six months when I received a call from Joyce Hayes of the Starving Artist Gallery, in St. Augustine, Florida, where I was currently showing my skellies. She asked if I’d be interested in having a show at the local Limelight Theater in St. Augustine for the duration of The Addams Family Musical. I couldn’t say yes fast enough! There was just one problem. I had sold most of the original Skelly Dancers already and only had a few left. Joyce said there was room at the Limelight Gallery for 20 paintings if I wanted the space. This left me only two months to come up with another 15 finished paintings before the show opening.

At first, I thought about not doing skeleton paintings for the show. Why not do Addams Family portraits instead? But I discarded this idea pretty quickly. I wasn’t that interested in recreating someone else’s work for this, my first almost solo art show. Eventually, I decided to do skeletons, but rather than just dancing, I wanted them to be actively hanging out in St. Augustine, being tourists. I decided to call the show, Greetings from St. Augustine.

If you’ve ever been to St. Augustine, Florida, you know that it’s a great tourist destination. There are beaches, historical landmarks, eateries, trolley tours, horse-drawn carriages, the works! Plus it’s often billed as the Oldest City in America. I thought about how many ghosts must be haunting the area and what their after lives must be like. Ghosts probably had a lot of free time. What would they do with it all? Added to that, ghost tours are a huge draw in St. Augustine and they offer them all year long. I’ve been on a few myself and they’re creepily fun. So this would be perfect! I had my focus.

Right away I began doing the math to see how many paintings per week it’d take to fill the Limelight, subtracting the time I’d need to frame everything. I’d need to do three paintings a week, minimum, to have enough to fill the gallery. Not impossible, but pretty intense. But happily, I work well under deadlines. It’s the nearly 30 years of graphic design in me that relishes a challenge, I think. I took a deep breath and got to work.

I went a little nuts

pastel painting of a skeleton at the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida

I Think It’s Working, skeleton at the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida. Click to see larger image.

The next two months were crazy. One painting idea led naturally to another. I especially loved coming up with the titles. They became more and more fun to do as I went along. I made numerous trips to St. Augustine from my home in Jacksonville, to take reference photos for more paintings, using my husband Steve as my model, and just soaking up the touristy ambience.

On the night of the Addams Family Musical’s first performance, I and my husband both attended and enjoyed a great show with wonderful and talented performers. It almost didn’t matter. I was much more interested in seeing people’s reactions to my skeleton art. Some people chuckled at the art and the titles, and others physically hid their faces from the frames, unable to look at them. This kind of freaked me out. At least, people weren’t indifferent, I told myself.

I needn’t have worried. By the end of the show’s run, I’d not only sold original work, but also lots of prints and cards. The box office said they’d never had that kind of response to artwork in the gallery before, so they were thrilled and I was quite pleased. I again put the skeletons away, thinking that it had been fun and now it was over and time to move on.

They just wouldn’t stay dead

But even now, a year later, they haven’t been exactly resting in peace. The prints and cards keep selling. Skelly fans keep sending me ideas for more paintings. I keep doodling skeletons on my sketch pads. Recently, I had card collectors tell me they like to use the cards in collages. This makes me very happy! I love that people want to use my art to make more art! Recently I submitted them to a licensing agency and they were accepted for representation (Art Licensing International, Inc.)! Woohoo! So, for the next couple of years, at least, I’ll be revisiting these capering bags of bones on a regular basis.

And I’m glad

Why is this? It’s definitely not because they’re easy to draw. I mean, all those little bones! Fingers and toes are just killer on these things. Lately, I’ve toyed with the idea of putting shoes and gloves on them, just to cut down on the labor, but that would be cheating, of course.

One thing I don’t have to worry about is catching a likeness. I mean, a skeleton could be anyone, or any sex, or any skin color. You can’t tell because it’s just bones.
Maybe that’s part of why I like them so much. They’re every body, one size fits all, one size is all.

And I think, too, about how everyone’s got skeletons in the closet, even me. But painting them is a way for me to let them out to play, to dance to the music, to crack jokes, to behave in outrageous ways, to be themselves, without giving too much away, without getting depressed, without fear of the consequences.

Pastel painting of a skeleton couple dancing at an outdoor cafe.

Skelly Dance at Bougival, 24×12″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. Click to see larger image.

Whatever they are, they used to be alive at one time. They’ve passed on, but they’re not unhappy about it. They’re doing everything they’ve always wanted to do. Nobody can stop them. There’s no threat that will scare them, because, guess what? They’re already dead!

They’re just bags of bones dancing on a beach somewhere, uncaring about anything but the ghost of a tune playing in their heads. That’s freedom, right there. Long may they reign.

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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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Volcanic Activity, Wave Portrait No. 143

I snarled all the way home this morning, after dropping Steve off at the airport. I hate driving.

It’s too boring to list all the ways that my fellow drivers irritate the crap out of me, so I’m not going to. I just wish I was calmer about it, that’s all.

I go from zero to sixty in a heartbeat. One second I’m enjoying some story on the radio and the next I’m furiously flipping off the three cars that just passed me in the exit lane.

I don’t want to have my day spoiled by things I can’t control. There’s probably some kind of therapy for it, but so far I haven’t found anything that sticks. I am pinning my hopes on the future when, after we move away from this big city with its miles of roads and its oblivious drivers, I’ll remember how to be cool, calm and collected behind the wheel.

It’s been so long, though. Was I ever like that?

pastel painting of a red and blue wave

Volcanic Activity, Wave portrait No. 143, 5×7′ pastel painting on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia

Today’s painting was done on mat board that I painted with clear gesso. This gives me a tooth for my pastels, which you can see in the progression slide show. I blocked in color, then rubbed it all in with some pieces of swim noodle (another use for those!) and then came back in over the top with more colors. The sky is pink and blue because it’s where I want my brain to be. The red hot color under the dark wave shape is where I’m afraid my brain is at.

Here’s the progression of today’s painting:

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Wave Portrait No. 142 – Coffee Time

My favorite time of day is coffee time at my brother’s house. Well before dawn I make my way to the kitchen, choose a mug, fill it with coffee, milk and sugar, and whisper, “Anyone need a warm up?”

The room next to the kitchen has a large, stuffed ottoman, wicker chairs covered with afghans, and floor pillows snug against the walls. The cats loll on the little table next to the window, purring. Low voices murmuring, we talk about everything and anything, a susurrus of ideas, laughter, and impractical dreams shared while waiting for the sun to make a decision about whether it’s going to get up or not. I always want to be the first one out there in the morning. My brother and his wife make the best coffee.

pastel painting of a coffee wave

Coffee Time, 5×7″ pastel painting on UArt 600 sanded paper by Marie Marfia.

This painting started with a warm red, orange, and yellow underpainting. Then I layered blues and pink for the morning sky and browns and rusts and pinks for morning coffee with a little dark green thrown in to get that dark, dark earthy color.

Here is the process for today’s painting:

Here is an excerpt from my painting journal:

“Coffee, early morning, talking in low voices, cats lounging on the table, darkness before dawn, bare feet resting on the ottoman, the popping noise signaling a fresh pot ready…”

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Wave Portrait No. 141 – Forgiveness

While painting this piece, I thought about forgiveness. I thought about how hard it is to forgive someone who has hurt me and how long I hold grudges. I thought about how it’s impossible to forgive someone else if I can’t forgive myself first.

pastel painting of a purple and green wave

Wave Portrait No. 141-Forgiveness, 5×7″ pastel on UArt 600 sanded paper by Marie Marfia

I used purple, blue and black in this piece to represent bruising and hurt and I used green and yellow to represent healing. The pink is pure Pepto-Bismol because it coats, soothes and protects.

Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote after I painted it:

“You are a bag of hopes, dreams, contradictions, disappointments, and unexpected graces. Like everyone. You’re allowed to have slack. You can try again. You are not kicked out of the human race for fucking up. On the contrary, it’s proof that you belong.”

Here’s a slide show of the painting’s progression:

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Wave Portrait No. 140 – Nursing Home Visit

These latest Wave Portrait paintings are becoming more about myself than they are about the ocean or Lake Michigan. This is fine with me. They’re therapeutic. It occurs to me that I could’ve picked anything to draw to represent memories. It might have been a leaf or a tree or a teapot. Anything would’ve worked. It’s not important what the image is of, it’s more about what it represents, if that makes sense. Bear with me, I’m figuring this out as I go here.

What I’ve been doing is getting into the studio right after my first cup of coffee and just following my hand’s lead. I put a line down, or maybe several, and then I pick out a color and start to work with it. While I’m painting, I keep track of what I’m thinking. It might be a dream I had the night before, or a childhood memory or, in this case, my visits to the different nursing homes where my dad spent his last days.

pastel painting of a wave shape in nursing home colors, green, pink, brown

A pastel painting of a wave in the colors of a nursing home visit to my father. 5×7″ pastel on UArt 400 sanded paper with NuPastels.

After I am done painting, I sit down with another cup of coffee and write about it. Here’s an excerpt from today’s painting journal:

“This painting uses colors that I remember from the nursing home; the dark green of the tall pines that enclosed the property; the brown crap that had to be cleaned from my father’s butt; the pink of the walls; the bright yellow of old pee smell that permeated everything; the lilac beet stains that polka-dotted the floor in the dining room. My father didn’t like beets and would fling them everywhere, sling-shotting them one by one from his fork and laughing.”

Here’s the progression of today’s painting:

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Plaid’s not bad

I just remember it that way.

pastel painting of a plaid wave in pink, blue and green

5×7″ pastel painting on UArt paper by Marie Marfia.

When I was a teenager I remember shopping for clothes in the small five and dime store in my tiny hometown. I was with my mother and in a bad mood. I think every fifteen year old girl who goes shopping with her mother is this way. Anyway, I was trying on a sweet blue and pink and green plaid seersucker top in the dressing room when the shrieking harpy who owned the place swooped in and yanked the curtains to one side, announcing to everyone in the store, “Oh, that looks darling on you!” My mother was amused. I was not. It’s not plaid’s fault that I bore it a grudge ever after. Mom bought the top and matching shorts, because darling is darling, after all, but I never wore them.

Here’s the progression of today’s piece.

Like my work?
You can purchase ORIGINAL paintings on Etsy.
You can purchase PRINTS on Fine Art America.
Get a free 4×6″ mini-print when you sign up for my newsletter.

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