Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

I love wrapping Christmas presents - it's my favourite part of Christmas-time. This year I honestly loved shopping for gifts, and that's not something I say often. And you know why? Because I didn't set foot in the mall. Once. BAM!

And after looking (aka, drooling for hours) at all of the DIY gorgeous ways to wrap gifts this year, I knew I had to do something special. Because I really believe gift-giving is about more than what's inside the paper. Maybe that's because I grew up in a home that was careful with money (my mom was a single mom for a long time), and we always saved the wrapping paper (and now get made fun of for it as an adult - c'est la vie!)

So this year, I decided to make my gifts really very lovely. 
I used brown packaging paper because I liked how simple and nostalgic it felt. I also am a bit of a craft supply hoarder. So I went upstairs to my secret stash under my bed (shh, don't tell) and found some bright red cheery cardboard buttons, white ribbon with a golden paisley design, and lots and lots of stick-on rhinestones.

Seriously, all these things were dug out of a $1 craft bin at Michaels. You really never know when you'll need/want things like this, so when I see a good deal, I grab first and ask questions later.

I'm an illustrator by trade, so of course I had to bust out my fine-point sharpie and hand-draw the tags directly onto the paper.
I varied some of the tags; some just with initials, some in fancy cursive (because I was taught calligraphy in undergrad), and wrote some names almost as big as the package. I put on some Christmas music, and had a lot of fun! I really don't like commercialized Christmas (Frosty the Snowman and all that nonsense), but the beautiful religious songs about Jesus really hit a chord. My favourite is O Come Emmanuel.

Even though Christ was not born on December 25th, I still believe that Christmas-time really is about celebrating His coming into this world; and is the reason we give gifts... to commemorate the gift we received in Him. Emmanuel means "God With Us", and I believe He truly is.

My sister Sarah is coming home tonight, and she, Mom, Grace (who is 11), and I are going to decorate the gingerbread house, watch the Ravens game, and then go to the midnight candlelit service at Church on Christmas Eve. I am so excited. Christmas is my favourite holiday of all, and I find myself always getting teary-eyed at the service. God has always been faithful to me, and somehow even when things seem dire, He always provides for me. And I feel it most of all at this time of year.

Blessings to you and your families, lovely birds ~ Merry Christmas!

{ all photos in this post (c) erin mcmanness 2011 }

Monday, December 19, 2011

ImagineFX Feature!

I was so happy to discover that Issue 78 of ImagineFX arrived in my mailbox today! 

I was super excited for this issue to get to me because my work has been published in it :) Ever since I started pursuing art as a career, I have looked up to the artists in this publication. And what a great issue - the Art Nouveau Edition! My favourite art period :) Mucha's one of my all-time favs.

They included 3 of my pieces in the mag - and gave me some really nice critique on the largest piece. I am so honoured to be included, especially because I am alongside some artists I really, really admire.

Yay, I'm seriously all smiles right now!

And since I was talking about wanting to vlog again, without further ado... I give you my silly self: 
(Extremely attractive screenshot FTW)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Last Week before Christmas & SALE!

I can't believe Christmas is already here... I am officially moving from my hometown of Baltimore down to Atlanta for grad school in just 2 weeks. Surreal.

However, in honour of the last week of Christmas, I am offering a sale in my { Etsy Shop } ! 
Use coupon code "LASTWEEKOFXMAS" and save 15% on your order!
(Shipping at this point cannot be guaranteed by Christmas Day, but that's all the more reason for the sale!)

And lastly... thank you guys all so much for your support of my blog :) It was such a warm reception and I'm glad my honesty was met with friends and encouragement! Thank you, you made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Risky Business

I was totally gonna write a completely different post, but I was inspired at the last minute.

To be completely honest, 
this blog isn't going in the direction I want it to go in.

I feel a lot of pressure. And you know what? At the risk of "losing" followers, I'm gonna just put it out there: I want to give you original content. I don't want to reblog DIYs off of Pinterest, and repost pictures everyone's seen. Seriously. I feel a lot of pressure to do this, because frankly, everyone's doing it. And it's "the way to get followers". But seriously? I don't care about how many followers I have (GASP!).

Step 1: Post lots of pictures from Pinterest. Because Pinterest is like crack to blog followers.
Step 2: Reblog DIYs someone else did that you have no intention of doing, they just look pretty.
Step 3: Host a ton of giveaways solely because giveaways = followers.
Am I right?

I mean, that stuff is totally fine. I'll admit my healthy (or not) addiction to Pinterest and that there's a ton of inspiring stuff on there. But it gets tedious when I see the same stuff reblogged 4 different times on different sources. I want to give you original content. I want to show you stuff I did/made/wore/created. I want to support my friends who are incredible artists.

I want to be frank and weird. I'm a bit of a sassy person. I want this to be okay on my blog; but I feel a lot of pressure to blog about how I wake up at 7am everyday (I don't), make the perfect cup of coffee (I do), walk my dog (that's later), and have a sugar-coated, super-amazing day filled with rainbows. That shit simply doesn't happen to me. My day usually consists of tripping over things and way too much coffee.

I want to take this blog in a different direction.

I want to talk about how I'm super white but secretly love really ghetto dance music. And how much road rage I get as a result of living in Los Angeles. And how I love edgy fashion. And all the hilariously awkward things I do at bars. And how I fail at relationships. And my adventures from my upcoming move to Atlanta (3 weeks! Holy cow) And I'm gonna start making videos again. And showing you my "weird" art that usually stays hidden in my sketchbook. Like this (self portrait):

Thank you for reading. And if you still intend to read on, thank you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Aqua & Red Christmas

This Etsy Treasury was too gorgeous not to post about...
and it's my favourite colour scheme like, ever. At least one room in every apartment I've lived in has been themed aqua and coral red. The lovely Briana from MementoDesigns was kind enough to feature my Personalized SnowLady Ornament!

I've been doing all of my holiday shopping on Etsy and at some small local businesses - it's been wonderful. Honestly. No going to the mall, no dealing with pushy people, no feeling like I "bought something just to buy something". I really don't like giving gifts like that. I'm also trying to make a bunch of my gifts this year. Here's some lovely holiday Aqua + Red Inspiration to ease your [potential] holiday headache :)

I've almost got all of my Christmas Shopping done! How is yours coming?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Art Post & Awkward Life

Just finished a commission a little bit ago and wanted to share it with you guys. 

{Commissioned Headshot - Larger Version}
About 5 hours // 2 layers

The last couple days have been crazy... 
but I've learned to expect nothing less of my life lately. Sometimes I wish I could have an anonymous blog where I could share my daily WTF moments (I assure you, there are many), and not have to be held accountable to the people who know me ;)

This would include (but would not be limited to):
falling down/off of things like an idiot, being tragically and hilariously awkward when getting hit on, that face I make when no one gets my art-nerd moments, Zooey Deschanel impersonations, and running commentary about the ironic ridiculousness that occurs in the world of "Erin's Awkward Life". And it would probably most definitely include stories about the stupid things I do when I drink, like wearing crazy glasses out to a bar and ordering all the drinks and dancing the whole night with them on.

Who does that? Oh wait. know, I may just do this. It would be hilarious. 
But don't tell anybody.

Do something crazy today! And then come back and tell me about it so we can laugh together. Happy Thursday, lovely birds ~

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Darling Ornaments & Inspiration

Well, lovely birds - big news! My portfolio went through the board, and I got a bigger scholarship for graduate school! Hoorayyyyyy! Thank you guys for all of your wonderful comments and support! All the hard work has paid off! What a feelin' :)

This weekend we started decorating for Christmas.
This is seriously my favourite time of year! My sister Sarah comes home to visit next weekend, so we decided to wait for her to put up the tree, but my other sister Grace (11) and I just couldn't wait to do our favourite part - arranging my mom's vintage carolers on the mantle. I don't know why I love those little guys so much - nostalgia perhaps. I'll post pictures when we're completely decorated!

For now, I have been working hard on some new ornaments, just in time for the holidays!
These ornaments have been cut using vintage cookie cutters, and then are fired and hand-painted individually - they all have so much unique character! My colour palette was lovely gold, white, pink, and blues. I started with a whole batch and just painted as my heart desired; then the fun part: mix and match until I get the right combinations ;)

I also wanted to share a little of my holiday inspiration with you -- enjoy!

These all come in sets of three - 
check them out in my Etsy Shop, 
These would make great gifts for newly-married couples who need to decorate their tree, a housewarming gift, a special present for mom or grandma, or just some lovely swag to make your holiday a little more glamourous! More varieties in the shop.

Photos 1, 2, 3, & 5 (c) Erin McManness 2011 // Photo collage from around the web:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

happy december

{ image from pinterest, but originally from here - bothers me that the source on pinterest is a blog with no original source, and not the actual owner of the photo - good thing I have the original work hearted on Etsy! Type added by me. }

I can't believe it's December already,
especially after our week of 70 degree, balmy weather here on the East Coast (not that I'm complaining!). I just submitted my Graduate School Portfolio... so we're already off to a great start for the month! I've been working on my portfolio since August, so it's nice to breathe such a huge sigh of relief! I feel like I should celebrate, but all I want to do is take a nap! Hahah, I must be getting old!

I think I will celebrate by making another pot of coffee and sitting on the couch to watch Tangled.
Call me a DisneyDork, but honestly... that movie is what made me decide to go back to school. If you haven't seen it, it's just an incredibly beautiful movie, and I knew my life wouldn't be complete if I wasn't a part of things that touched others like they touched me. Whenever I lost steam or motivation over the past couple of months, I would just listen to "I See the Light", and I'd remember why I was doing what I was doing. I'm usually not a corny person (and get very prickly when things turn mushy), but when it comes to my art I can get very sentimental.

In honour of the Month of Gift-giving,
I wanted to share a gorgeous treasury curated by SwanMountainSoaps: she graciously included my personalized green gem star ornament!

Happy December, lovely birds ~

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Art Post

Hello lovely birds - I hope everyone had a great holiday and took some time off from work to have fun and be with their families :)

The last week and a few days have been laughably ridiculous. Met a bunch of new friends, and some people I literally have not seen since 4th or 5th grade - how crazy! It's been great to reconnect and have some good, old school adventures.

Tonight I finished two paintings - count em, two! - for my portfolio, and therefore went downstairs and rewarded myself with homemade chocolate chip cookie dough. And I was not ashamed. Now I shall go to bed and dream sweet dreams.

"The Death of the Fish"
Personal Work // Corel Painter 12 // { Larger Version }
This image started as a doodle in my sketchbook while I was listening to Florence + the Machine's "Cosmic Love", and evolved into this! The division of the water ended up being a really good challenge for me, and I had a lot of fun with the fish ;)

"Shake Him Off"
Personal Work // Corel Painter 12 // { Larger Version }
This work is a very personal work, also inspired by a Florence song. I was about ready to go to sleep one night, and was hit with this image. I stayed up til 4am painting, hahaha... I find it amusing that I was cursing that hand as I was painting it (it took me forever to feel like it was right), and now it's my favourite part of the piece. Go figure, right?
* This work has been censored, because I believe I have some younger viewers - 
the Larger Version goes to the full work; nudity warning, please advise.

As always, thank you for reading and for your support of my work! It means a lot to me :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Special Black Friday - Cyber Monday Coupon Code!

Happy Thanksgiving, lovely birds! 
Today I am thankful for the unexpected good things - big or small - in life. 

As my way of saying thanks for all of the support, I am having a SALE for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, all mushed into one delicious taco full of saving you money and getting you great stuff for yourself and your loved ones this holiday season!

Enter coupon code (at check out)
for 15% OFF your order in
 Starting at 12:01am Friday morning & continuing until 11:59pm Monday night!

My coupon is in honour of supporting our small businesses, and giving big smiles to loved ones with handmade/local gifts, and big support to our communities and independent artisans :)

Take the pledge to Shop Small and Shop Local this holiday season! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Portfolio Works - The Whale & Self Portrait

As the deadline for my portfolio is drawing closer (drawing! hah - unintended pun!), I've been working very diligently to make sure every piece has given me a healthy challenge :)

Just wanted to take a little moment to share my latest completed pieces!

"The Whale Dream"
Commissioned Work // Corel Painter 12 // { Larger Version }

"Gold Dust in Her Eyes"
Self Portrait // Watercolour, Graphite, India Ink, Gold Leaf { Larger Version }

Thanks to everyone has left kind comments on my work-in-progress pieces, and has left me encouragement! I really appreciate the support!

{ All images in this post (c) Erin McManness 2011 }

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shop Update : Illustrative Monogram Frames

I am a bargain shopper. I confess. (But I feel like I'm really not alone these days, eh?)

I never pay full-price for anything if I can help it (I feel this is a good rule for a small business owner - unless, of course, you're supporting another small business!) So when I had a special 25% off my whole purchase (including sale items WHAT!) at my craft store, I grabbed my little sister Grace and rocked that place top to bottom. We walked in with me saying, "Now Grace, we're not going to spend a lot of money..." and then spent most of the time listening to me say, "Grace, drag me away! Grab my arm and pull me away!" She's a good sport.

But I saw these gorgeous little frames, and I couldn't resist.

I was smitten. I instantly had my idea: I love those moments, where you know exactly what you're gonna do with something, and you're so excited to start you can barely wait in line to check out (I have them a lot, hah!)

I've been diggin' on all of the monograms floating around out there... I was super-inspired to make my own. I've been neck-deep in my grad school portfolio, so as a fun refresher as I was waiting for some critique online to come back, I set down with my watercolours and just let my brush do what it wanted. Watercolour is so relaxing to work with, in my opinion, because it's so organic - and I feel like no matter what it does, it's beautiful (unless you mix all the colours into brown... gross). It's been a favourite medium of mine lately.

After the watercolour dried, I took some of my special Micron ink pens (they're fantastic - non-fading & archival!) and added some designs adapted from some doodles in my sketchbook over the washes of colour.

Once I popped them into their frames, I just had that gasp moment;
where it just looks so lovely you kind of want to squeal really loud, and show everyone and their mama how great you are. You know what I'm talking about, right? Right?

Of course you do ;)

If you'd like to see more frames, they are for sale in 
- just in time for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday! Watch for a special coupon code this week, or 
to get an instant update!

Do you have big plans for this shopping weekend? My mom has already got most of her shopping done! I can't believe it!

{ all images in this post (c) erin mcmanness 2011 }

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Artist/Shop Feature: Kari Herer, Botanical Photographer

I stumbled across a photographer awhile ago, and have been wanting to share her work with you!

Kari Herer does absolutely gorgeous floral photography and prints - I found her work while browsing my favourites in Etsy, and I have fallen in love with { her shop } ! I think what I love most about her work is that she captures so much rich detail in the flowers themselves, and creates so many varying moods. As an illustrator myself, of course I'm obsessed with the merge of photos and her delicate linedrawings! I've been wanting to get a few prints for my walls, perhaps a Christmas gift to myself? These prints would make great gifts for Mom or Grandma, or would be a great accent for a new home or redecorated room!

1. Botanical Drawing No. 6012 // 2. Botanical No. 5793 // 3. Botanical No. 5811 // 4. Rabbit No. 0048

{ all images copyrighted to Kari Herer, please credit original source }

Please do go check out her work on Etsy, as well as check her out around the web! Spread independent artist love!

Thanks for reading, lovely birds! 
I'll be buckling down on my portfolio, especially since I got hit with inspiration like no other last night. I've got a few works I'm almost ready to show - exciting! And I am being contracted for some graphic design work over the next 3 weeks, so I'll be a busy girl!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I has the Facebooks now.

Yep, I finally broke down and made a { Facebook Page } for my jewelry!

I would be so honoured if you'd hop on over, and consider liking me! I'll be using it to let you know about sales (there's a good one coming up for Black Friday / Cyber Monday!), show new products, give you sneak peeks, and post silly vlogs! And a lot more :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Perfect Cup of Coffee & WIP Wednesday

Honestly one of the biggest motivators to get out of bed in the morning is my coffeemaker.

It's still gloomy today, so it's a great day for hot coffee and painting. I was a barista for 4 years, so I know how to make a bangin cup of coffee.

Secret for perfect strength? 

Add your water. I usually do 4 cups. For every 2 cups, put in 1 heaping tablespoon of coffee grounds. Then, add 1 extra tablespoon just for good measure. So for my 4 cups of coffee, I put in 2 scoops + the scoop for good measure. Perfect coffee everytime. Sometimes I even sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg in my grounds before brewing. Oooo, exciting!

So I'm gonna start doing this thing to keep myself accountable: 
WIP Wednesdays. (A WIP means "Work In Progress") 
So every Wednesday, I've gotta post up progress on a new work, or significant progress on a work I've already showed. Today I'm gonna cheat a little (figures), and show a piece that WAS a WIP as of last night, but is now finished! Hot dog! All I've gotta do is take the tape off, and frame it. And then take a proper photo. I apologize for the cell phone picture :(

This piece is a self-portrait, is going into my Grad School Portfolio, and was inspired by the song "Star Mile" by Joshua Radin.

Also, I just got my copy of Corel Painter 12... and holy cow. I am so in love. Like, the kind of love I would like to share with a man, where I think they're perfect and there's absolutely nothing wrong with them what-so-ever... I feel this way for a computer program. Allow me a moment just to out-art-nerd myself (I'm weird, I know...)

{ top photo via // bottom photo via erin mcmanness 2011 }

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thank Goodness.

I breathe a huge sigh of relief as I write this... 
my cousin was able to help me get all of my files back and hooked up onto a new hard drive, so I can transfer them to my mac. All hope is not lost!

Thanks to everyone for the thoughts, emails, and convos I received regarding the situation :)

Today I am painting new (super secret!) statement rings for the shop, and then working on more portfolio stuff. And brainstorming about doing a possible vlog ;)

It's pretty gloomy here today, a perfect day to buckle down and work, 
and I highly recommend this song. The music video is actually really sad, but this song just brings back so many calm, wonderful memories of college, when I used to sit in the guys' apartment next door to mine and we'd all drink tea, listen to good music, and study. I miss those days like crazy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


...well, it's official. Half of my grad school portfolio is lost or compromised. My deadline for submission is in 3 weeks. Please excuse me while I proceed to have a heart attack, stroke, and go off the deep end all at the same time.
Update Update: My cousin is going to try and pull out the hard drive to recover my files. Hopefully it'll work. I'm so blessed to have so many friends who offered to help :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Life Update + WIP

A small life update... my faithful old PC was hit very hard with a virus on Friday. Due to crazy amounts of stress, I took off for the early part of the weekend to hang with one of the best people I know, my lovely friend Amber. I still have some fiddling around to do, but there is a chance I may not be able to recover my files from my old computer. I'm hoping this is not the case, as most of my grad school portfolio is on there and would be lost to me just 3 weeks before the deadline after months of work.

If you would be so kind as to think a few good thoughts for my thumb-drive as it braves the hopefully-not-too-scary platform of my Safe Mode start-up to rescue my poor files, that would be amazing.

In the meantime, I leave you with a work in progress of my latest commission, [hopefully not] lost in the depths of my wounded PC.

2 hours, on 1 layer.
{ art (c) erin mcmanness 2011 }

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coffeeshop Drawing

"I was honestly too exhausted to care anymore."
{ art (c) erin mcmanness 2011 }

I sat in a coffee shop for awhile tonight, working on this drawing. It was nice to just let my pencil do what it would without too many rules.

I think about you everyday.

Thursdays are for making friends.

Today I was greeted by an unusual guest.

I had been hearing little noises all over the kitchen and living room the other day, and after a lot of searching, I just convinced myself I was going off the deep end. My life has been very strange lately, so this conclusion didn't really surprise me. But today, I sat down at my computer with my coffee to start working; I heard tiny feet scurrying. I looked down, and there was Mr. Mole, looking right up at me.

I have often noticed that I have a special relationship with animals.

They like me, and I like them. I was just telling my friend how I believe have two superpowers: 1) I can be hilariously awkward, and 2) I can befriend animals with the skill of a Disney Princess. So Mr. Mole and I have been getting acquainted as I've worked today. I get up to refill my coffee mug, he scurries under the stove. I sit back down, he comes out and looks at me and does laps around the kitchen. He is currently sitting right next to my boot, happy as a clam. I think I may name him Ned.

During the day, I usually have my ferocious dog Rufus to keep me company. He protects me from invaders, reminds me when it's time to exercise, and does the occasional filing and faxing. Today he was being a lazy bum, until he heard Ned running around the kitchen and decided to investigate.

My ferocious dog really is very intimidating. Long story short, ferocious dog is now sitting up on a chair, being very brave and whining as Ned the mole runs all around the kitchen.

Do you have silly animals that keep you company if you work from home?

Monday, November 7, 2011

More Winterbirds & a Sneak Peek...

Happy Monday, lovely birds ~ I hope everyone had a great weekend. I spent mine up in Philly, visiting my family, watching lots of football (Go Ravens!!!), and helping my dear old dad take some photos for his online business :)

This week will start my complete and total plunge into putting the finishing touches on my new portfolio for graduate school. Submitting this new portfolio will hopefully help me to receive some more scholarship aid and lessen the cost of school. Good thoughts for a diligent heart and mind over the next 3 weeks would be appreciated! My self-set deadline is Thanksgiving, and especially with daylight savings, it's creeping up on me faster than I would care to admit!

For now, the last of the Winterbird Collection is already up in my shop!
 I would love if you'd like to go check them out! They make great accessories for your wintery outfits, and even better gifts for stylish loved ones :)

1 // the Nahimana, meaning "Mystic"   2 // the Meda, meaning "Prophetess"   3 // the Chilaili, meaning "Snowbird"

Thanks for taking a look! And after I finish with my portfolio...

{ all images (c) erin mcmanness / mirilovelove 2011 }
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