Tag Archives: skeleton crew

pastel of a skeleton carferry captain

Old Carferry Captains Never Die…

Yesterday an older gentleman stopped by while I was out in front of my studio, writing at my little café table. He’d been walking around town all morning and needed to rest for a bit before returning home. He asked if he could sit down. “Sure,” I said.

We got to talking and he told me he’d worked on the carferries for 30 years in the engine room. “20 days on and 8 days off,” he said. “But sometimes the boat would get stuck in the ice and you couldn’t start your time off until they got to the dock. That was hard.”

I liked listening to him and imagining what Ludington looked like when there were seven carferries sailing to three different ports on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan–Milwaukee, Manitowoc and Kewaunee. He listed all the boats on his fingers, “The Pere Marquette 21, the Pere Marquette 22, the Spartan, the Badger, the City of Flint, the City of Saginaw and the City of Midland.”

I thought about how the town harbor must’ve bustled with people and trains and boats. It’s still a little bustly with the Badger running half the year here.

The man that sat down to talk didn’t ask about my skeleton art but I got to thinking about it and I wonder if he’d have liked the commission that I painted early this spring, about a skeleton carferry captain racing back to port. The owner of a local restaurant wanted me to paint a skeleton picture that had Ludington, the carferry and House of Flavors Restaurant in it. Oh, and could I do it in ten days because the giftee was leaving town?

I’m a glutton for punishment so of course I said yes. As it turned out I also had to get the piece printed as a canvas wrap in time for the going away party, but once the original was done that part was easy peasy. I love it when a plan comes together! Bonus, it was a really fun piece to do.

Do you suppose the old guy I was talking to yesterday would appreciate a card with that piece on it? If I see him again I’ll be sure to find out!


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pastel painting of a boat on the water based on Edward Hopper's Ground Swell

Ground Skel

pastel painting of a boat on the water based on Edward Hopper's Ground Swell

Ground Skel, 16×20″ pastel on gator board with pumice ground, by Marie Marfia.

I thought about Ground Skelly, but then I went with Ground Skel because I love puns.

This piece was a joy to build, from start to finish, but I think I’m definitely going need more blue pastels soon! I love the swoop of the sloop and the way all the angles work within the composition. The clouds make this cunning dotted line across the sky and the waves roll forward like folds in a blanket. Steve asked me what was holding the sailors’ pants up and I said it was the same magic that allowed them to sail a boat!

I have to tell you, this Old (Dead) Masters series has given me so much pleasure, just in the few that I’ve done. I can’t wait to get on to the next one and see what I’ll learn from it.

Here are a couple work in progress pics for your viewing pleasure.

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The charcoal sketch.

IMG_3447

Skeleton crew.

Here’s the link to the original in my shop, and here is the greeting card. I’ll have prints available at The Starving Artist and The Attic soon.

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