Tag Archives: Wave Portrait

Old dog, new trick

Skype Light, Wave Portrait No. 154, 5×7″ pastel on gessoed mat board, by Marie Marfia.

My fingertip taps the bright blue icon and I hear the familiar “zoooop” sound as Skype starts up. There are ten contacts but my eyes zero in on two, Sam and Nick, and I see the lights next to their names are bright green, which means they’re online. Chances are good they are playing a game together, Dungeons and Dragons probably. My finger hovers over Nick’s picture but then I change my mind and close the app. I don’t have anything to tell either of my kids, really, except I love and miss them, which they know already.

I sit, iPad on my lap, and rapidly exhaust all the internet urls in my favorites list. I scan the headlines on an endless array of amusing, educational, snarky articles, watch adorable pet videos, work sudoku puzzles and the Sunday crossword. Don’t I have anything else to do? Some larger purpose besides being a source of visits, views and clicks on other peoples’ websites?

My purposes have all flown the coop. I am not needed hourly, monthly or even yearly, if you go by one particular child’s  communication habits. I have nobody’s socks to pick up, no one’s meals to prepare, no one’s life to organize, except this one right here in front of me. All my brain, no longer portioned out evenly between three children, is now able to focus on just one life, my own, and it is apparently not that interesting.

The Skype light is a secret beacon, a dot of comfort. See? Both green lights are shining together, so I should be happy. They used to fight constantly at home, sending the dog running for cover. Once, they were looking particularly glum after coming home from the paper route they shared. They told me someone had pulled over on the street and stopped them from fighting. “You’re brothers,” the lady had scolded. “You ought to take care of each other.”

I sat them down and pointed out that they were more alike in their opinions than not. “You two agree with each other. You just come at it from different directions,” I said. “One of you is emotional, the other is logical.”

I see their bright green lights here on my iPad, in the evenings sometimes and most weekends. Now and then, it will just be one green light, and that’s my cue to send a quick message, “How’re you doing?” just to see if anyone needs anything. Old habits, old purposes are hard to change.

Here’s a time-lapse of this painting’s progression.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6nWiAWQS64]


Volcanic Activity, Wave Portrait No. 143

I snarled all the way home this morning, after dropping Steve off at the airport. I hate driving.

It’s too boring to list all the ways that my fellow drivers irritate the crap out of me, so I’m not going to. I just wish I was calmer about it, that’s all.

I go from zero to sixty in a heartbeat. One second I’m enjoying some story on the radio and the next I’m furiously flipping off the three cars that just passed me in the exit lane.

I don’t want to have my day spoiled by things I can’t control. There’s probably some kind of therapy for it, but so far I haven’t found anything that sticks. I am pinning my hopes on the future when, after we move away from this big city with its miles of roads and its oblivious drivers, I’ll remember how to be cool, calm and collected behind the wheel.

It’s been so long, though. Was I ever like that?

Volcanic Activity, Wave portrait No. 143, 5×7′ pastel painting on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia

Today’s painting was done on mat board that I painted with clear gesso. This gives me a tooth for my pastels, which you can see in the progression slide show. I blocked in color, then rubbed it all in with some pieces of swim noodle (another use for those!) and then came back in over the top with more colors. The sky is pink and blue because it’s where I want my brain to be. The red hot color under the dark wave shape is where I’m afraid my brain is at.

Here’s the progression of today’s painting:


Wave Portrait No. 141 – Forgiveness

While painting this piece, I thought about forgiveness. I thought about how hard it is to forgive someone who has hurt me and how long I hold grudges. I thought about how it’s impossible to forgive someone else if I can’t forgive myself first.

Wave Portrait No. 141-Forgiveness, 5×7″ pastel on UArt 600 sanded paper by Marie Marfia

I used purple, blue and black in this piece to represent bruising and hurt and I used green and yellow to represent healing. The pink is pure Pepto-Bismol because it coats, soothes and protects.

Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote after I painted it:

“You are a bag of hopes, dreams, contradictions, disappointments, and unexpected graces. Like everyone. You’re allowed to have slack. You can try again. You are not kicked out of the human race for fucking up. On the contrary, it’s proof that you belong.”

Here’s a slide show of the painting’s progression:

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Plaid’s not bad

I just remember it that way.

5×7″ pastel painting on UArt paper by Marie Marfia.

When I was a teenager I remember shopping for clothes in the small five and dime store in my tiny hometown. I was with my mother and in a bad mood. I think every fifteen year old girl who goes shopping with her mother is this way. Anyway, I was trying on a sweet blue and pink and green plaid seersucker top in the dressing room when the shrieking harpy who owned the place swooped in and yanked the curtains to one side, announcing to everyone in the store, “Oh, that looks darling on you!” My mother was amused. I was not. It’s not plaid’s fault that I bore it a grudge ever after. Mom bought the top and matching shorts, because darling is darling, after all, but I never wore them.

Here’s the progression of today’s piece.

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Sleepless-Wave Portrait No. 137, 5×7″ pastel on UArt sanded paper by Marie Marfia

Me waking up at 3 in the morning, lying in bed, willing myself to go back to sleep, hoping I’ll sleep more if I’m just quiet enough, just still enough to let it happen. I talk to myself, “C’mon. You can do it. Relax your toes, your ankles, your legs…” I turn over to find a cool spot on the pillow and start again. Toes, ankles, legs…

My brain churns like the sea. It’s relentless and never stops moving.

Sleep and I have this on again-off again relationship. Sometimes it hangs out for a while and everything is rosy. Sometimes it disappears without warning and I wander around the house, bleary-eyed and moody, waiting for night to come so I can woo sleep into my arms again.

The things that keep me awake are the usual. Worries about family, my business, the future. Things I have no control over. I spin out endless scenarios in my head until, desperate, I get out of bed and go looking for distraction. Today I found Gwenn Seemel’s blog and that kept me occupied until damn near 4:30, when I painted this little piece.

It’s the ocean, rolling along, unstoppable, but at least it has the crescent moon for company. Once, when we were driving home at night, Sam pointed to the crescent moon on the horizon and said, “Look, it’s the Cheshire Cat,” and I’ve thought of it that way ever since. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

Here’s the progress pics:

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Wave Portrait No. 135

This guy is just doot dootling around, minding its own business. A happy little wave. Bloop!

Wave portrait no. 135, 5×7″ pastel on Uart sanded paper by Marie Marfia

I painted this with a bright yellow alcohol under painting on sanded UArt paper (400 grit) using almost all NuPastels.

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Wave Portrait No. 131

I did today’s wave painting without a reference photo. Just started with the shadow in the middle and worked my way out from there. I used to draw like this all the time. I would touch my pen to the paper and see where it led me. This painting’s process was like that. I started with a dark blue shadow and with no idea how the wave would shape itself.

The trick is to have no expectations. It’s easier when you don’t use a photo because then you don’t have anything to compare the final painting with. If it works, it works, and it doesn’t matter how much or how little it resembles anything else. It’s nice to go with the flow of the work without worrying about capturing a likeness.

Wave Portrait No. 131, 5×7″ pastel on UArt paper by Marie Marfia. Painting available on Etsy. Prints available on Fine Art America. Wave Portrait No. 131, detail, 5×7″ pastel on UArt paper by Marie Marfia. Painting available on Etsy. Prints available on Fine Art America.