Tag Archives: portrait

pastel painting of a red headed man and two ginger spotted chihuahuas

Three Gingers

 

pastel painting of a red headed man and two ginger spotted chihuahuas

Three Gingers, 6×9″ pastel on board, $110.

I saw this young man with his two sweet dogs walking out in front of my shop and asked him if I could have a picture. He said they were two rescues. Cute pups. One of them needs a hernia operation and he was visiting the pawn shop nearby, presumably to come up with the money for her? I couldn’t resist their faces and they seem so calm and happy with him. I called it Three Gingers because the little dogs each have ginger colored patches that matched their master’s hair.

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pastel painting of a smiling man

No. 94, smiling guy

Smiling faces. I can say one thing about this series and that is, I’ve never studied so many smiling faces in my life!

You know, with life model studies the model is never smiling. It’s too hard for them to maintain an expression like that during a long pose. That’s one of the advantages to working with photos. It can be any expression at all, including the manic grin on the face of today’s portrait.

There’s something nice about working on smiling faces all the time. No matter what’s going on elsewhere in the world, right in the moment that I’m working, the person whose face it is that I’m studying is in a happy place. It probably has an effect on me, too, now that I think about it. It’s probably got something to do with science. I don’t know why or how it works, but if it’s science, I approve.

 

pastel painting of a smiling man

No. 94, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on Canson mi-teintes paper by Marie Marfia

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Pastel portait of a grumpy tortoise

No. 88, Mr. Grumpy Pants

Actually, I have no idea if this tortoise is feeling grumpy or not. This might just be his resting tortoise face. Maybe he’s feeling ecstatically happy right now. I bet tortoises would make excellent poker players.

This morning I attended an artist’s critique get together and signed up for membership in the Ludington Area Center for the Arts while I was there. Then I had an enjoyable lunch with five other artists. This is so much fun, meeting arty people and doing arty things. It’s hard to believe that I lived so long without any of this in my life.

I feel like I want to live as long as this tortoise guy, just so I can catch up on everything I’ve been missing, you know?

Pastel portait of a grumpy tortoise

Mr. Grumpy Pants, No. 88, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel portrait on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia.

Thank you to Eric Kilby for contributing the photo reference for this piece. Here’s a link to the Creative Commons Flickr group where I found it.

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pastel painting of a young woman

No. 86, Arielle

This woman. She is full of ideas, and mischief, which is kind of the same thing. I wanted to paint her in the style of an artist I only just found out about this morning, Richard Suckling. His plein aire landscapes are full of big marks and squiggly lines and I want my art to be like that, so today I did a more gestural drawing to start with and then I made sure I stopped before I’d completely covered it up. I like the lines! I think they give my work a more dynamic feel. And Arielle is the perfect subject for this, because she’s all about movement. She wants to do things, to change things, to make things better. She’s a mover and a shaker and this is what I see reflected in this portrait. Aahh! Love it.

pastel portrait of a young woman with red hair

Ariel, No. 23, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia

You may remember Arielle as this skull painting (No. 23 in this series), as well. She’s awesome on the inside, too.

pastel painting of a young woman

Arielle, No. 86, 100 Portratis in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia

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pastel painting of a dachshund puppy dog

No. 84, Kippy

I made a few new furry friends over the weekend when Steve and I went to visit his mom. She lives in an assisted living facility in Flint, Michigan. As soon as we arrived we hustled her down to the lobby because there were puppies!

Well, they’re probably grown dogs, but they’re miniature dachshunds so they look tiny and are so much fun to pet and hold! Miss Diana likes to pet them a little but she’s mostly there to spend time with Johanna, her friend. Johanna loves the dogs and she makes a point of coming to see them whenever they visit. She has a particular favorite, Shelby, who sits on her lap like a little queen and allows herself to be petted by no one but Johanna for the entire hour. It’s cute and sweet and makes Johanna so happy.

Kippy, the puppy I painted today, was off being held by someone else. I snuck in a picture of him to paint later and here it is.

pastel painting of a dachshund puppy dog

Kippy, No. 84, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia. Available here.

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pastel painting of a couple

No. 80-81, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, Mary and Jonathan

You know why I like this picture? Because my sister is in it and she’s got a little bit of white fuzz on her head. This means she’s still alive, the cancer didn’t kill her and her hair is coming back. Also, I love that her partner Jonathan is right there with her, that they’re leaning into each other, supporting each other.

It was fun to paint, too, at first. And then it sucked. And then it was fun again towards the end. And then it went wrong and I decided to quit before it all blew up.

I never know what I’m going to get when I start one of these. And when the subject is important to me, it makes it tougher. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself that nothing is precious, that a painting is just a painting, that if I drew it once I can draw it again. It still feels as if each one is the only one I’m ever going to do. I still find myself angry and frustrated when it’s not going well.

When that happens, I go for a walk, or I read something inspiring, or I write and try to figure out why I’m so upset. You’d think it would be obvious. I mean, I’m me, who better to know what’s bugging me, right? But sometimes I’m the last to know.

pastel painting of a couple

No. 80-81, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, Mary and Jonathan, 8×10″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia

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Pastel portrait of Steve with a beard.

Happy New Year!

Okay, I’m a little late, but it’s okay. I’m the only one here and I’m not going to tell.

Along that line, I have a confession to make. I left my dogs home again.

Is it wrong? It’s so cold here at the Maker’s Market anyway. I know they’re fine at home with Steve. I just feel guilty leaving them behind every morning when I take off for the studio. But I’m also interested in how my brain works without being interrupted by the needs of my pets all day.

Back when my kids were small I used to take one weekend off a year to go camp with my girlfriends. I would have a wonderful time just being me for three or four days. No one called me Mom, or asked me to do anything for them, or needed to be nursed or changed or rocked. It was bliss.

Then, when I arrived back home, I noticed that my kids were smaller than I remembered.

I think that all the worrying and caregiving that I do and did made my charges grow to enormous sizes in my head. All it took to shrink them back to normal was some time away from them.

It’s the same with world problems and pet problems and any kind of problems. The more I worry and fret, the bigger they get. But all I have to do is turn off the radio, or get some distance away from them, even if it’s just for a few hours, and poof! they are reduced to manageable sizes again. It’s magical.

Here’s today’s portrait, No. 79, Steve with a Beard. Still slogging toward the finish of 100 Portraits in 100 Days.

I like this portrait because it was quick, about 20 minutes, and the strokes are expressive and loose. I got a likeness without belaboring the point. That’s all I really wanted.

Pastel portrait of Steve with a beard.

Steve with a Beard, No. 79, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia.

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pastel portrait of my husband

Steve

pastel portrait of my husband

No. 76, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on mat board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia

There are days when I just don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to paint, I don’t want to do yoga, I don’t want to do my job.

The whole thing just feels overwhelming. So, since I usually can’t skip whatever it is because hey, I’m a grown up and grown ups just carry on, I try to break it down into small, bite-sized pieces.

Today, for instance, I decided not to think about how hard portraits can be, and how much time they take to do, and instead I concentrated on just getting a board ready to paint. Sometimes just doing the stuff that leads up to the painting can help me feel better.

So I found a piece of mat board and cut it to the right size and taped it to my easel. Then I mixed up some acrylic pumice ground with a little water and brushed it on the board. While I let it dry, I opened my photo reference in Photoshop and cropped it and then printed out three references, one black and white, one posterized and one regular.

I took the regular photo reference and made pencil lines on it using a ruler, marking the picture into quarters and then putting lines in for where the eyes were, where the chin and top of the head fell, the edges of the face. I drew plumb lines from the corners of the eyes and the mouth and the nostrils.

When I got that done I decided to go ahead and begin the preliminary sketch using a blue pastel pencil and measuring as I went along. Once that I was done I took a break.

I like to sit and think about the painting and what kind of underpainting I’m going to do, what colors are in the photo, what kind of day it was when I took the picture, what color the light is and what the colors of the shadows should be.

After a little while I get out my pastels and start blocking in the shadows and the lights using the black and white reference. I generally use four values for the underpainting. In this case, I used 4 warm blues for the face and some purples for the background. Then I rub in the color with foam pipe insulation.

After the block in I use the posterized reference to put in some colors over the underpainting, keeping mostly the same values.

Another break and then I taped up the regular photo and began to put color in, trying to marry the sections together and bring what was already there more in line with what I saw in the photo. This is the hardest part and where I’m most likely to have a melt down. The trick is to squint a lot and be patient. Sometimes the painting doesn’t want to cooperate, but sometimes it takes on a life of its own. Those are the best days.

Today was a very good day. I’m glad I painted today.

 

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painting of skeleton couple

Nos. 16-17, 100 Portraits in 100 Days

Nos. 16-17, 100 Portraits in 100 Days

painting of skeleton couple

Nos. 16-17, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 8×10″ pastel on UArt 400 sanded paper, mounted on foam core, by Marie Marfia. Available $200 plus $12 shipping.

Here’s a cute couple. From the reflections in their sunglasses, I think they must’ve been at a park when they took their picture. Awesome! I’m a nature gal, myself. Although, I can get my fill in an hour or two. I love walking the trails, but I don’t want to be out there all day! I got stuff to do! Places to go! People to see! Know what I mean?

You’ll notice that on this portrait I opted to use a distorted grid. Couldn’t resist. It was such a twisted sort of skeleton portrait to do.

Here’s the progress pics:

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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a pastel portrait of a woman and her grandson

Nos. 14-15, 100 Portraits in 100 Days

Nos. 14-15, 100 Portraits in 100 Days

Here we have my neighbor Judy and her grandson, Steve.

Judy is a marvel and a nice person. I’m glad I met her. She’s been keeping me up to date on all the happenings in my new neighborhood. Who’s moving in where, who’s up for the weekend, where to get the best deal on propane.

a pastel portrait of a woman and her grandson

Nos. 14-15, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 10×8″ pastel on UArt 400 sanded paper, mounted on foam core, by Marie Marfia. Sold.

For this painting I had to do a little adjusting in Photoshop, since Judy’s head was tilted and was too far away from Steve’s head. And then do some more adjusting on the painting itself because she was closer to the light source and her skin was pretty washed out. That’s the challenge of working with other people’s photos. You never know what you’re going to get.

Here are the progress photos:

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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