Tag Archives: skeleton

Haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love

“Ugh.”

“That’s horrible.”

“What a mockery!”

It’s hard not to take it personally when I hear comments like these floating through the door at my studio. Maybe putting The Very Last Supper front and center in my shop window has something to do with it?

I could place a more traditional piece there, like a landscape or a still life or a portrait, and people would walk by and never say a word. But poke fun at a religious icon and suddenly everyone loses their minds.

detail of Jesus in The Very Last supper

The Very Last Supper, detail, by Marie Marfia

I could try to soft-pedal the subject matter by combining genres. For instance, skeletons with vases of flowers or skeletons in the landscape would be more palatable maybe. But I’ve found that skeletons are pretty polarizing as a general rule. People either really, really like them or they really, really don’t.

My mom was one of the latter group. Whenever I told her I’d sold another piece of skeleton art I’d have to preface the news with an apology. “Hi Mom, I’m sorry but I sold a skeleton painting today.” She’d always wrinkle her nose at the news, as though I’d just farted in front of her. “Oh, Marie,” she’d say, and sigh. She’s gone now, but I can still hear her sighing like a mournful ghost.

Certainly the skeletons don’t mind whether or not people like them. They’re glandless creatures and so they don’t have feelings that can be hurt.

The question is, can I live with some people not liking what I do?

The urge to please everyone all the time is a real issue for me. I come from a large family and I spent a good portion of my life trying to make people like me in order to get attention, which I craved. It was only when I hit menopause that I stopped caring quite so much. Once my body realized I was done reproducing, my brain took over and said “I’m in charge now,” and that was that. (See? Biology is another thing skeletons don’t have to worry about. More reason to love them!)

The bottom line is, I’m trying to learn how to paint. Studying the classics is a really good way to do this and adding skeletons makes it more fun.

But some people are not amused by skeletons, and they’re especially not amused by biblical scenes with undead people in the starring roles.

(I confess, I deliberately put that print in the window hoping to persuade a couple of political organizations, which shall remain nameless, to set up their tents elsewhere instead of directly in front of my studio during Friday Night Live events. And it worked, sort of. At least, the next weekend, they’d moved across the street. With them a littler farther away I figured I had a better chance of attracting my target demographic—people with a sense of humor who aren’t afraid of death.)

So to answer the question about what I can live with, while it bugs me when people openly sneer at my work, I absolutely adore the people who love it. They say things like, “These are so cool!” “That’s hilarious!” and my personal favorite, “I’ve gotta buy this.” So I’m going to focus my attention on them and everyone else, including my dead mother, will just have to deal.

Thank you to everyone out there who keeps laughing along with me. You know who you are. As long as I know you’re out there, giggling, I can handle a hater or two.


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Skelvis!

pastel painting of Elvis as a skeleton doing the Jailhouse Rock

Skelvis! 24×18″ pastel on paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia.

Skelvis rocks!

When I was in college I did a lip synch video to Elvis’s immortal “Devil in Disguise.” I enlisted the help of my sister and a friend, dressed one like an angel in a pretty white frock and the other in  red flannel underwear with a tail and horns. They took turns dancing on my shoulders throughout the song through the use of video magic (well, it was magic back then). I was dressed as a tele-evangelistic minister in a sharp suit and tie, with my hair slicked back and holding a leather-encased bible.

Flash forward to this week when someone asked me if I’d yet done Elvis as a skeleton. The suggestion immediately brought back all the fun we had making that video. Truly, it was the highlight of my college career, not even kidding.

When my dad saw it later, I heard he laughed himself silly. High praise indeed.

To paint The King, I needed just the right reference photo. I didn’t find Devil in Disguise but I did find Jailhouse Rock. Looking it over, it occurred to me that a ribcage can look a lot like a striped uniform shirt, and well, he came together pretty quickly after that.

Here’s a couple of videos of the process:

And now all that hip-shaking sexiness is available for you to have for your very own! The original (18×24″ on paper, unmatted and unframed) is $600 and in my shop. You can also have him to grace your walls as a canvas wrap print, paper print, or a greeting card.

Do you know someone who loves the King and skeleton art? Please share.


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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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pastel painting of 2 skulls just getting engaged

Nos. 12-13, 100 Portraits in 100 Days

Here is Liz’s selfie of her and her fiancee, showing off the big rock on her fourth phalange. Oh happy day! They’ve since gotten married. I fell in love with her blue hair while working on this piece.

pastel painting of 2 skulls just getting engaged

Liz and Fiancee, Nos. 12-13, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 8×10″ pastel on UArt 400 sanded paper mounted on foam core by Marie Marfia. This painting is available, $200 plus $12 shipping. Contact me to purchase.

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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pastel painting of a grinning skull

No. 7, 100 Portraits in 100 Days

Whew! Seven already! But after only a week, I feel like I’m getting into the swing of this. I’m starting to look forward to these every day and the challenge of potluck as far as reference materials goes! Kinda fun!

pastel painting of a grinning skull

Deb, No. 7, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on mat board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. This skull portrait is available. Contact me to purchase.

Here are the progress pictures:

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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Vincent Van Skelly

Vincent Van Skelly

Another in my Old (Dead) Masters series, Vincent Van Skelly is my homage to the wonderful Vincent Van Gogh and his Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear.

I liked the original piece because it’s all complementary colors, green and red and orange and I liked that he chose to paint himself with his bandaged ear foremost. Like he was saying, here I am, with all my faults, now deal with it.

I imagine he was sorry that he’d lost his temper, and in the process, a good friend, Gaugin, because of it. I can relate. I have a quick and violent temper myself, although I’ve been a lot calmer lately. I think it’s because of yoga every day. I wonder if Vincent would have been happier with a daily yoga practice? Well, probably non-lead paints would have helped, too.

Want to know something interesting? On the page opposite this picture in the book Van Gogh’s Van Goghs, there is a picture of a skull that Van Gogh painted. How do you like that? I’ll bet he wasn’t working from an anatomically correct resin repro either. I wonder how hard it was to get a real skull to work with back in those days?

Here are the progress pics:

The original Vincent Van Skelly is available in my shop, and also as a signed 8×10″ print, a signed 11×14″ print and a greeting card.

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Skelly with a Pearl Earring by Marie Marfia

Skelly with a Pearl Earring

Here’s my take on Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” I can’t remember now how I happened to decide on this one for my Old (Dead) Masters series, but it might have had something to do with my scaling my artwork down right now while we wait for our house to sell.

All my studio is packed away and has been for weeks and it just got to the point where I decided I’d rather paint small than not at all! Accordingly, this is a relatively small painting, only 8×10″, perfect for an apartment or tiny house!

Here are my progress pics for this piece:

 

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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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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.

IMG_3445

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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Productive day at the Attic

I am really enjoying the longer shifts (11am-6pm) fewer times per month there. I get at least two Saturdays off a month with the new schedule, so that’s great, plus I have more time to put a painting together while I’m working.

Yesterday I got most of the way through this little pin up skelly girl that will be part of the Skeleton Crew I’m bringing to Amelia Island Shrimp Festival this year, April 28-May1, 2016. I’m excited to have new art to show, and I have been busy planning on just how to offer it. I want to have 5-7 original paintings for sale (pin-up, seiner, shoveler, sorter, captain, ship with crew, cook, zombie shrimp), matted and framed prints of each painting that I will take orders for to ship after the show, and one print that I’ll give away at the end of the show. I may also offer cards of each painting, but I’m still deciding about that. It’s nice to have different price points but printing the inventory is a pain, since I do it myself, and it may also keep people from buying the prints instead, which is what I want to sell the most of.

This girl still needs a little more tweaking as well a title, though. I was thinking about “You’re the shrimp in my grits,” or something like that. Any ideas? Put them in the comments!

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