Tag Archives: Skelly

Now comes the hard part

The smoke cloud fading behind our house.

Summer’s gone now. The trees are starting to turn. I saw a pair of brilliantly colored trees, red and orange, on my way down to Grand Rapids to drop the skelly paintings off for ArtPrize Nine.

I’m sorry summer’s done but I’m enjoying the cool mornings for walking in the woods with my dogs and it’s nice having seasons again. Makes me think of football games, raking leaves and the smell of burning stuff in the air.

Last week one of the neighbors had such a big burn pile going that it made a fog over our entire back yard. The sun was low in the sky and it lit up the smoke, throwing the trees in silhouette.

Part of me was thinking, “I hope I don’t die as a result of all this toxic smoke in the air,” and the other part was thinking, “This is so cool looking!” I ran in to get my phone for a picture but by the time I came out again, most of the smoke had dissipated. I can still picture what it looked like, the branches all backlit and peeking through that huge cloud of smoke.

Signed, sealed and delivered

Pastel spoof of Frida Kahlo self portrait with skeletons

Frida Skelly with Monkeys, 12×18″ pastel on sanded paper.

You’ll be happy to know all seven Old (Dead) Masters paintings are officially delivered to the bitter end coffeehouse and by this time next week lots and lots of people will have a chance to see them up close and personal. I’m excited and nervous and feeling a lot of dread right now.

Kind of like I used to feel right before a particular fundraising auction in my previous life as a Rotarian. Back then I’d have nightmares about nobody showing up and then to add insult to injury, I’d get what I called my “Christmas Cold Sore” on the day of. It never failed.

My contact at the bitter end wasn’t there when I arrived but his father, Mike, was. Mike told me that when he and his son, John, first saw the skellies they knew right away they were perfect for their place.

“We’re on the fringe of ArtPrize so we appreciate art that’s also kind of out there,” he said. “We had another exhibitor a few years ago, and she had twelve pieces featuring the role of underwear during the course of a person’s life. It started out with diapers and it ended with them, too.”

I think I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect place to exhibit skeletons in, don’t you?¬†Meantime, I keep feeling my lip for impending cold soreness. So far, so good.

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.


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!


Closing in on done

The Skelly Dance, WIP

The Skelly Dance, WIP

Do you ever get to a point in a project when you just want to be finished? That’s where I am right now. But I know it’s not finished yet. So I’m going to set it aside for a while and figure out what’s bothering me about it and really be done when I say I’m done. I’m close, but there are still lots of parts of this that I’m not happy about. If I didn’t think I could fix them, I’d quit right now. But I can do this.

So you’ll be seeing this one again, but it might take a little while. Some things come clear after you let go of them for a bit. This feels like that sort of project.

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The Skelly Dance, work in progress

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So. Much. Walking.

So. Much. Walking.

So. Much. Walking.

I am recovered, barely, from walking up and down St. George Street and surrounds in St. Augustine last week, delivering art show postcards to anyone who would take them from me. Specifically, hotels, restaurants, shops, galleries, just anyone whose door was open, I walked in and said, “Hello! I’m having a Skelly Art Show at The Red Sable through the month of October and I’d love it if you could come.” This prompted one of three responses:

  • Where’s The Red Sable?
  • I don’t like skeletons, but I’ll pass it on.
  • Cool!

Coincidentally, this turned out to be a great way to narrow down my target market. What I found out is, they’re younger than I thought. Generally, the older the people were, the less interest they had in skeletons. The younger, the more likely they were to ask me for a stack of cards to give out to their friends.

It wasn’t hard to do, either, going door to door. It was just a lot of walking. And smiling. And talking, which, after about hour two, you have to take a break. So I sat down at a little table at the Bunnery and had an iced mocha with whipped cream on top and sketched out a little skelly who knew just I felt at that moment.


au moulin rouge with skeletons homage to toulouse-lautrec

Au Moulin Skelly

pastel painting of Au Moulin Rouge with skeletons

Au Moulin Skelly, 19×17″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. This painting is available for purchase, $625. Email me to arrange payment and shipping.

So Au Moulin Skelly is done, done and done! While working on it I got to thinking about bars and how I used to enjoy going to them when I was younger. You know, BK (before kids). I remember looking forward to the weekends, getting dressed up, dancing with my friends, drinking to excess…

Those days are way behind me now, but painting this nightclub scene, with all these skeletons clearly having a great night on the town, reminded me how much fun that used to be.

I can’t help but imagine the stories behind all the figures. Like the guy at the top left looks like he’s either on his way to the men’s room or he just got rebuffed by the two beauties primping in front of the mirror. What do you suppose they’re all talking about at the table in the middle? And why is that woman photo bombing the picture from the right? Let me know in the comments what you think! Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec probably had a lot of fun painting the original. I know it was fun to recreate it peopled with skeletons!

Pretty happy with the way this turned out. I hope you all like it as much as I do. Click the link if you want to learn more about the Original Red Mill (Au Moulin Rouge).

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More Moulin Skelly, WIP

Filling in the details on the other heads.

Nearly done!

Nearly finished with this one. It’s been such a great challenge! So many figures. You really come to understand better how brilliant Toulouse-Lautrec was in the way that he arranged the people in this painting, and made decisions about colors and values. My palette for this was twelve NuPastels, by the way. I wasn’t sure about using black, but in the end, I did it and I’m glad. It really pushed the forms and added so much to the painting overall.

I still have some tweaking and cleaning up to do, but the next time you see this, it will be done, done, done. Here are the progress pics:

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WIP, Au Moulin Skelly

Au Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Lautrec

What I’m working from: Au Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Lautrec

More work on this Toulouse-Lautrec homage today. I got the block in done and used some packing peanuts to rub in the first layer of pastel. I’ll probably work on this over the weekend and maybe finish it by Monday. It’s coming along pretty well.

This is the stage that’s hardest. Some people call it the ugly stage of a pastel painting. I just think of it as the foundation for the rest of the piece. I noticed that Toulouse-Lautrec used a blue-orange palette in this painting, which coincidentally, I was reading about earlier today. Nothing is new, it seems. Even color palettes.

I like the teal colors along the mirrors at the back of the room and shadowing the skelly’s face on the right. Contrasted with all the warm, golden floor color and the orange-y bar that shoots across on the diagonal in front, I just know this is going to get good.

If you want to see the initial sketch stage, check out my previous post.


Next up in the Old (Dead) Masters series: Au Moulin Rouge

Au Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Lautrec

Au Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Lautrec

I have copies this painting before, way back when I was in college. Back then I made a wood cut print and turned all the figures into punks. It was awesome. My brother and his wife have one of my artist’s proofs framed in their home. I thought it’d make a great entry in my Old (Dead) Masters series, so I’m tackling it again in pastel.

I love Toulouse-Lautrec. His paintings are surreal looking, especially this one, with the ghostly green face of the woman on the right, the crazy angles of the bar and the floor boards. I love the young ladies preening in front of the mirrors along the back of the room. It’s a great painting and I feel lucky to be able to screw around with it.

Here’s some work in progress pictures of my initial sketch for this painting. Notice that I started this the first time with the paper the wrong way up. I had to wipe out the first charcoal drawing and turn it 90 degrees and start again. Oh well. It’s my brain. It remembers things just fine, but usually kitty-whompus, like I’ll remember colors but complementary to the ones that are actually there. I’ll substitute blue for orange and red for green. In this case, I remembered wrongly which side was longer. Weird. Check twice, draw once.