Tag Archives: small art

Paths to Water

Paths to Water, 9×6″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

You can lead a person to water, but you can’t make her drink. Well, actually, in my case, you don’t have to make me drink. I’ll do it all on my own.

I like how the light comes right up to the lip of the dune where all the footprints are leading up to, and then it stops and everything from that point to the foreground and right off the edge of the paper is in shadow.

I have spent a lot of time painting landscapes with roads or paths in them. Recently I noticed that the roads all end somewhere about a third of the way or two thirds of the way up the picture plane, and the end of the road is usually obscured by clouds or distant trees. This is probably something to do with me thinking about my future and wondering whether I’m going to go like my dad did, via Alzheimer’s, or if I’ll get lucky and be like my mother, who died with most of her faculties still intact.

I like these dune pictures because the paths all lead to the water. I read somewhere that water represents spirituality when you dream about it. My water dreams aren’t very nice, but maybe if I keep painting water as a final destination they’ll change.

Did I mention? We just moved my mother-in-law up to a memory care unit here in Ludington. It’s a lovely place. She’s doing well there. I stop by to see her a couple times a week, Steve does, too.

It’s hard to watch someone you love losing their mind like this. And wondering if it’s going to happen to you, too.

Nothing I can do but paint it out.

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.


Dark Clouds

Dark Clouds, 6×9″ pastel on sanded paper. ©2018 Marie Marfia

Had a delightful lunch with the woman who used to be our mail carrier when we lived here last. Small towns are like that. You know everyone and everyone knows you. Since we moved back it’s been fun renewing old friendships. Marcie was the person that my daughter Alice brought with her to Special Person day in something like first or second grade. They got along pretty great. I know Marcie was tickled to be asked.

After lunch we looked at pictures of my kids, including a video of Nick playing with fire. And did you know my other daughter Sam has a book on Amazon? I forgot to tell Marcie, but I’ll mention it next time I see her.

This painting is a result of me seeing a bright light out on Lake Michigan while I was driving past the dunes on the way out to the state park. Turns out it wasn’t aliens, which are always a possibility in my mind, but the reflection of the sun peeking through dark clouds. I love living here, have I mentioned?

This painting is on ebay as of 9pm tonight. Bidding starts at 99¢.


The truth about living in a tiny house

A little over a year ago, my husband and I moved into a tiny house.

I welcomed the chance to downsize our lives. I envisioned paring down to a few, simple necessities, all within arm’s reach. I would discard all the rest, like nail clippings, into the nearest trash receptacle. My life would be streamlined, elegant, efficient, speedy.

Fast forward to last week, when I was looking for my bangle skirt to complete my skelly dancer costume.

“Honey, have you seen my hip scarf skirt thing with the coins on it?”

“Did you look in the attic?”

“Yes, it’s not there.”

“How about the shed? There’s a few boxes out there.”


“The camper?”


We then quickly ran through all the rest of the possibilities, including my studio, both vehicles and the storage unit. It took a while. And then I realized the awful truth.

We had traded in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home where, even if I couldn’t find something right away, I knew it was ultimately going to be somewhere within a single building, for a tiny house and its seven additional storage units.

This was not efficient. This was not elegant. This is not acceptable.

How did this happen?

The same way everything happens. In tiny, almost unnoticeable steps. Like the oblivious frog slowly boiling to death in a soup pot, I fear my life is being sucked away, minute by minute, in search of things that I know I have, but just can’t find right this second. Come with me on a magical tour of all our extra storage spaces…

The (Official) Storage Unit

You don’t go from great big ranch house to tiny cottage without having a place to put all the stuff you couldn’t sell at the moving sale. The official storage unit is located 28 minutes away, which is inconvenient for Steve, who’s retired and stays home most days, but on the way to my studio, which is inconvenient for me because I hate having to go there.

The Shed

This is certainly more convenient than the storage unit because it’s in the back yard, however, my handy husband set about transforming it from a shed for yard tools into a retreat/workshop. He partitioned it, insulated it and filled it with woodworking tools, tie dye supplies, concrete sculpture stuff, guitar, computer, a desk, and a comfortable chair. Now it’s a very nice space for doing what a man’s got to do in the comfort and privacy of his den. However, it’s no longer a shed.

The Shed Addition

Because the non-shed is busy being a den, Steve’s building a lean to that’s going to hold all the things that used to be stored in the shed, like the lawn mower, the ladders, the gardening tools, shovels and bags of dirt.

The Camper

Gotta have one because one of these days, we’re going to pack up and head down the road to who knows where to have the best time ever. It’s just we have these dogs, one of whom is really uncomfortable traveling to anywhere new, and the other who’s a consummate escape artist. No problem, just drop them at the kennel, except the darn kennel owners expects us to pay for that, and the truck only gets 10 miles to the gallon when it’s pulling the camper, so maybe not a really long road trip, but if you’re just going one county over, then why bother camping? A day trip will do and we may as well take the dogs because it’s a beautiful day and they like walking in the woods as much as we do.

So the camper is now a storage unit for all our camping gear, plus extra kitchen items, like dishes and silverware and a bottle opener. Oh, and that cute string of skull lights that our neighbor down the street got us, and the lawn chairs that don’t fit in the non-shed or the lean-to, plus it’s really handy for overnight guests, since we no longer have a spare bedroom. Besides, the dogs won’t be around forever, and then we’re really going to tow it somewhere fun.

The Studio

My first studio space was large and we had dreams of splitting it equally between my work and Steve’s hobbies, but after a particularly awkward episode involving some odiferous mushrooms and multiple drying racks, we decided it was just going to be for me. Then I moved into an even smaller space and it really became just mine, all mine. Except it’s got the filing cabinet in there, so it’s mine all mine, unless something needs to be filed, and then it’s both of ours.

The Vehicles

We have two of those and the things they store all depends on what’s being moved from one of the other satellite storage units to another. For instance, my van currently has about 4,000 postcards in it, left over from ArtPrize Nine. Don’t ask me why I printed so many. I’m trying to use them for other things. Maybe to wallpaper a wall in my studio? Steve’s truck holds lots of truckworthy things like firewood, a chainsaw, bins with more camping supplies, mushroom hunting paraphernalia, fishing poles, and sometimes, the dog bag with the long leashes and portable water dish, plus cans and cans of Deet. Oh, and last week, it had my skelly dancing costume in it.

The Upshot

I still like living in a tiny house, even though I’ve stopped believing in the whole bare necessities only way of life thing. It might work if you were just starting out, before you’d had a chance to amass all these completely necessary things. But right now, at this stage of mine and Steve’s lives, we need our stuff, ergo, we need our satellite storage units.

We’re at the age where you’re not only more aware of time passing, but you’re also equally aware you’re running out of it. All those things you meant to do are now things that you’d better get done before it’s too late. Our stuff is more important to us than ever, because it represents a life we still plan on having, as soon as we remember where we stored it.


©2017 Marie Marfia “In Memoriam,” 7×5″ pastel, $75.



pastel painting of a river

Kink in the River

pastel painting of a river

Kink in the River, 5×7″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia

Today I had a mammogram. This is not my favorite thing in the world. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I never know what to do with my hands. And I’m uncomfortable being the only one in the room who’s topless.

Maybe if I was in my twenties or thirties, but not nowadays. Nowadays I’m almost 60 and I’m not interested in letting everything hang out there in the fresh air. Nude beaches? Not so much. That’s not to say I wouldn’t try it, but I’d have to see it first, see if there was anyone else like me out there, nekkid.

Still not comfortable in my own skin. I wonder if I’ll ever be?

About the painting

This daily painting is from a photo I took on a high bluff over the Pere Marquette River in the Manistee National Forest. Steve and I had just sat down to rest for a minute and I was struck by the bright reflection of the sky and the diagonal of the trees in the background. I like the sweep of last year’s leaves in the front of this piece and the green, purple and orange colors. The swirling brush strokes capture the movement of the water. This piece reminds me how lucky I am to live here.


Stormy Weather

This study is based on another picture looking out at the end of US-10 in Ludington, probably late fall. That’s the time of year when the sunsets are spectacular and the clouds fly low and dark at the end of the day. I’m really looking forward to being up there again, doing more clouds. This series has been an eye opener for me in a lot of ways.

First, I’ve discovered that I really like painting clouds, and the moodier they are the better I like them. Second, it’s good practice to be looking up all the time instead of down. Just gives you a better outlook on life, I think.

pastel painting of a sunset with low clouds

Stormy Weather, 5×8″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase.

pastel study of dark clouds over the ocean

Dark Horizon

This painting is number 5 in the Paint the Sky challenge given by Karen Margulis, and it is based on a photo I took while on the beach at Mickler’s Landing, in Ponte Vedra, Florida.

While I’m not fond of hanging out when storms are coming in (all that lightning makes me kind of nervous), I couldn’t resist taking a picture before leaving. I especially like the reflected light in the ocean under the clouds. Cool!

pastel study of dark clouds over the ocean

Dark Horizon, 5×8″ pastel on Canson mi teintes paper by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase.

pastel landscape with trees and sky


I try to do yoga every day. It’s meditative, it lowers my blood pressure, it keeps me flexible. I do it using an app called “Yoga Studio,” which works great for me. I’ve been on the beginner level for more than a year, and so far, no injuries, which is awesome, and I’m still not annoyed by the instructor’s voice, a miracle in itself.

Sometimes, though, when I’m in the middle of breathing, I’ll recall something from my past that is hurtful or some worry or anxiety will leak through and just knock me on my butt. It’s never anything I can predict, it doesn’t happen all that frequently, but when it does, it’s like a gut punch.

I think maybe it’s because when I’m practicing yoga, I’m trying to let go of tension in my body and there are some things in my head that I’m hanging onto as well. When I reach a point in a pose where I finally let go, other things come out, too.

I guess it’s a good thing. These tight spots in my mind aren’t helping me by staying lodged in there. It’s just surprising when it happens. And I need to take a little time to look at what’s shaken loose and resolve it.

Today’s episode involved a memory I had from when I was a child, about being buried in the sand by my brothers, who, after tamping down the area around my body so that I couldn’t move, pretended to leave me there. I know I was upset because I can still recall fighting down panic. What if they didn’t come back? I remember struggling to escape and failing and crying. I remember being teased again when they came back to free me because I was being such a crybaby. In hindsight, it was a shitty thing to do and it reminded me that this was my family’s M.O. Torture someone until you got the reaction you were looking for and then blame the victim for not being a good sport about it.

I had a long conversation with myself after I was done with yoga. Part of me was disgusted that I was such a whiner. That’s the younger me, who didn’t know any better. The older, wiser me felt compassion for her and offered comfort.

pastel landscape with trees and sky

Ambushed, 5×7″ pastel on crescent board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase.

pastel painting of a landscape


One of the things that Karen Margulis talks about with her landscape paintings is adding “spice” at the end. In this case, I think I over did the spices. But it’s still a pleasing little study. Next time, either pink or turquoise, but not both! It’s likely to lead to indigestion!

pastel painting of a landscape

Spicy, 5×7″ pastel on gator board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. To purchase, please contact me.

pastel painting of a bend in the path

Just peachy

Today’s small landscape started with a warm underpainting in red, orange and yellow. It really makes for a lively finish! So different in feeling from yesterday’s painting.

pastel painting of a bend in the path

Just Peachy, 5×7″ pastel on gator board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. Part of the Julington Durbin Preserve series. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase this painting.

curve in the path through the woods

Around the bend

I was watching a Karen Margulis video this morning for inspiration and, huzzah! it worked! I picked out a photo of the Julington Durbin Preserve and did a quick pastel study. So very satisfying. It’s a great way to begin the day. Short, sweet and not nit-picky at all.

curve in the path through the woods
Around the Bend, 5×7″ pastel on gator board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia. Part of the Julington Durbin Preserve series. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase.