Tag Archives: woods

Walking my dogs makes me a better painter

At least it gets me off the couch in the mornings. Truthfully, if I had my way, I’d spend all day on the couch eating bonbons and flipping through Imgur on my iPad, but the dogs aren’t going to let themselves outside and since our yard isn’t fenced (yet!), I have to go with them.

This involves piling them into the back of my minivan and driving out to the woods. See, I’d walk them around the neighborhood but there are too many potential pitfalls involved with this, i.e. other loose dogs. So my preference is to drive about five miles south on Walhalla Road, turn off onto any one of half a dozen “seasonal roads” and tromp around the Manistee National Forest for an hour.

The dogs get to sniff and dig around, I don’t have to clean up after them (although I’ve unofficially adopted the first two miles of 6890 because, let’s face it, people are pigs), and we all get some fresh air and exercise.

Sometimes we see deer, sometimes a dead snake, and once Roger thought for sure a cat walked out of the ferns not six feet in front of him, but it was a skunk and he was not allowed to get any closer to it although he fussed a bit about my decision. I held firm, though. You should see the divots my feet left in the road even two weeks later. I held on for dear life, I’m telling you.

So how does this make me a better painter?

It provides subject matter, of course. I won’t tell you how many pictures of my dogs are on my Google drive right now, but it’s a lot. Like thousands. Sometimes I keep my finger on the camera button, snapping pic after pic of Roger digging in the dirt just to get that one glorious moment when he leaps back into the road to try to catch up to whatever he’s smelling off in the distance.

It lets me paint wonderful scenes of my dogs enjoying the great outdoors. I used to think I went out to the woods for me, but really, I go out there for them. They’re the ones that are having the great time.

I guess I’m jealous. Here I am, covered in Deet to keep off the bugs and checking for ticks and bears and swiping at deer flies and those two are just loping along with their tongues hanging out, having a grand old time. Every. Stinking. Morning.

I love it. I love them. I’m a lucky girl to have these lucky dogs.

©2017 Marie Marfia “Roger and Out” 6×9″ pastel on paper.

©2017 Marie Marfia “Daisy in the Dark,” 9×6″ pastel on paper.

You can find more of my daily paintings on ebay including the ones pictures here. They start at 99¢ and the auctions last for 7 days. Good luck and happy bidding!

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pastel painting of a dog running along a path in the woods

I’m Gonna Run to You

Here’s my daughter Alice and her wife Sandra’s dog, Panda. He’s running through the woods at a park where they like to take him for walks. He’s such a good boy. They have been training him to do “nose” work. That’s where you teach your dog to find things based on the smell. Alice says it’s a lot of fun and it completely wears him out to go to the classes. This is a good thing because Panda is a very energetic doggy. Whenever I visit them Panda knows that he’s going to be asked to run through all the tricks he knows and then there’ll be treats!

pastel painting of a dog running along a path in the woods

I’m Gonna Run to You, 6×9″ pastel on board, $110.

If you’d like a portrait of your or someone else’s best friend, please check out my commissions page for more information. Pet portraits make great gifts!

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pastel painting of a man on a log in the forest

Sitting on a Log

pastel painting of a man on a log in the forest

Sitting on a Log, 5×7″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. $90.

This little painting is about sitting on top of a log in the middle of the Manistee National Forest. Steve and I had gone walking around a potential camping spot near the Pere Marquette River and started wandering along a deer path. Deer seem to pick out the prettiest places to walk along. Anyway, we came across this huge tree across the path and naturally, Steve wanted to climb aboard and pose for a picture. I love living around here.

This is one of my daily paintings. If you would like to purchase it, please email me.

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pastel painting of a small lake

Untitled Lake

pastel painting of a small lake

Untitled Lake, 5×7″ pastel on sanded paper by Marie Marfia. $90.

This is a painting from a little lake that Steve and I circumnavigated on Saturday. It was one of the many bright spots in a four hour span spent wandering around the Manistee National Forest, not looking for mushrooms.

As much as I am grateful for more people wandering around out in the woods, sometimes I just want to be out there alone, you know? Saturday we decided not to join the throngs of morel mushroom seekers and just go someplace quiet. This little lake, or pond, really, fit the bill nicely. We brought out the binoculars and watched some turtles sunning themselves on a little hummock out in the middle of the water. The sky was deep blue and reflecting off the surface of the lake. We listened to the birds. Then we walked all the way around it, finding a hollow beech tree off the path with a mound of pretty fresh porcupine poop all on one side. The dogs were very interested.

If you would like to purchase this painting, please email me.

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Back from Tucson

Playing with watercolors and my postcards today.

Steve and I walked the dogs out by Piney Ridge Road in the Ludington State Park. It was windy and kind of cold but we didn’t mind so much. It sure is pretty out there.

At first Steve was worried about what we’d find. Sargent Sands Co. has been mining a lot of sand out in the dunes and we wondered if there’d be anything left of the pretty little lake and dunes but hurray, it was all still there and just as beautiful as when we left it ten years ago.

The dogs stayed busy sniffing deer hoof prints, I took a lot of pictures to use for watercolor studies later. We even saw a couple of other hardy souls out there, metal detecting at the water’s edge.

I love walking around out in the woods and in the dunes. It’s quiet this time of year. You can see forever because there aren’t any leaves out yet. The forest floor is dark with dead leaves. The dune grass is blonde colored and shivering in the wind.

Pines overlooking the little lake behind the dunes.

Steve looks cold, doesn’t he? Daisy is ready to go, as always.

I love the way the wind ruffles the grass on the dunes.

And here are my attempts to capture what I saw today. Meh, but I’m not worrying. They’ll get better as long as I keep practicing.

You can see where the blue and green got away from me. I like the shape of the dune, the trees marching over the crest and the overall composition.

If I cropped it on the left, the composition would be stronger plus I need to work on more than one at a time, if only to give the paint a chance to dry between colors.

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pastel of a landscape

Because I’m Happy

One good thing about doing a series based on the same scene is that the biggest question is already answered, which is, “What am I going to paint?”

With that out of the way, I’m free to do whatever I want with the subject. Today I decided to use a palette based on a print I bought about a year ago. The print is of a beach scene done in bright, cheerful colors, which is what drew me to it, more than the subject matter. I liked the graceful swoops of the artist’s brush work, too, and that’s something that I can do with pastels, especially if I start with a board that I’ve brushed pumice onto, like this one.

It also helps that I just got off the phone with my brother Joe, one of my favorite people in the whole world.

pastel of a landscape

Because I’m Happy, 5×7″ pastel on gessoed Crescent board by Marie Marfia. $75, unframed. Contact me to purchase this painting.

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pastel painting of a landscape

Spicy

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.

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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.

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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.

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