Thursday, March 31, 2011

Progress Shot

I've been screencapping the process of this piece for a little paint-through thing. I don't see myself being any kind of authority on "how to paint", but since my computer is being silly and won't make it through a proper livestream session without needing to be helicoptered to the tech-hospital, paint-throughs will have to do!

Here's a teaser. Click for larger.

And I've recently been watching the first season of Glee (since I was a total loser and didn't watch it when it ran, aka, didn't have cable.) - so as an addendum to the previous post, and partially my soundtrack to this painting, I present you with the incredible voice of Mercedes, bustin this number out: 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hand Studies and Why You Shouldn't Please Everyone

I always find reason after reason to love and respect the work of professional illustrator, Endling.

 "Blue Mage" by Endling

And tonight is no exception. Endling, in his dA journal, addressed the ever-present topic of "I Want to be a Better Artist". Bullet Four in particular stood out to me, because it's something I'm sorting through myself right now. Here's a snippet that I thought was important to highlight for myself, and for others. But click the link and read the whole article!

"4. Don't try to please everyone.
Be willing to grow, be willing to learn, but be willing to enjoy your own work.

I've never had a harder time improving than when I was too busy thinking about everyone who dislikes my stuff. And it's true. You can't please everybody, no matter how hard you try. It just spreads you thin, it makes you lose focus.

The problem here is the interpretation, though. I'm not advocating you don't listen to critique, and plug up your ears when others give you suggestions on how to improve. Having a thick skin as an artist is immensely important. So is the desire to get better, to be receptive to change. However, this does not mean you should allow a hateful opinion to change the course of something you personally want to do. Really, it all depends on your personal standards and what you want out of yourself as an artist.

Again, let me make myself clear here. Critique is vital to an artist's growth. Being used to criticism, and able to take it and shape something out of it, is an invaluable trait, one you will benefit most from learning early on in your career. I don't like it when artists hide behind the word 'style' more than anyone else. But you know what else is important? Knowing the difference between criticism intended on bettering you as an artist, and just straight-up hate for your work. One is a resource you can use to level up. The other is noise. Noise wastes your time, and the time of the person making it. Chances are nothing you could create would make them happy, so it's not really meant to be. Press on, and don't lose sight of yourself. : ) " - Endling

Well, said, Endling, well said. Like I had mentioned a few posts ago, I recently decided to make a change in who I was listening to and why, and I think it's important to remember that, as an artist, you ARE allowed to make choices about what's helping you, and what's hurting you. 

But like in Bullet 1 in Endling's article, I have been working to not neglect my basics. It took me some time to realize this, and he puts it so well:  
"It may seem like you've grown past the need for stuff like the most basic perspective, lighting, dynamic, color theory etc.. but the reality of it is, you never grow past it. You should always be seeking to learn more about these things. Every step of the way" 

So here, have some hand studies.
 These are by me, lol

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fear, Death, and Making a Lasting Impression

"Don't worry: if you fall, you can't go past the ground!"
From Qinni's News Article on dA.

My biggest fear is waking up when I'm 45, and realizing that I just settled into complacency with my aspirations, and never actually achieved them. I don't know why I have the mentality that accomplishments are only meaningful to the young... but I often wonder how much time I have here.

Everyone's heard the statistic that more people are scared of public speaking than they are of dying. Well, growing up the oldest child, and doing ridiculous amounts of school and community theatre, public speaking was never an issue for me; I have always and forever been an extrovert and a performer. But in the last few years, I have developed a complete fear of death. It scares me to think that one day, the dust from my bones will be gone and I will cease to exist. It's strange to really wrap one's mind around that, and when you are hit with the gut-wrenching realization of it, you can feel the jolt of panic zip through your chest.

I don't want my life to be ho-hum. I don't want the highlight of my week to be the produce sale at my supermarket, or the most creative question in my day to be "what's for dinner?". I want to impact the world, and I want to leave a lasting impression. Perhaps that's the reason for my sense of urgency. I think often about the fact that tomorrow is never promised, so I always try to achieve something or reach some level of productivity everyday.

Anyways, sorry for the ramble, just working through some thoughts.

I'm thinking of blogging some weird crazy dreams I've had and recorded in my little dream journal thing I keep on my nightstand. Some of them are pretty entertaining, hah.

Also, new bow rings up in the shop!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"I want to be so good, you're like
WOW that girl's good!"

And a finished commission! 
Art (c) Erin McManness 2011 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Art For Japan: A Disaster Relief Auction

As many of you might know, a few wonderful artist friends and myself have put together a charity auction to raise money to aid those so deeply affected by the earthquake and tsunami that shook Japan on March 11th. 

To visit the auction, see the artists, or get more details, please go here

We would also be greatly honoured if you'd be so compelled to Facebook/tweet/or reblog the auction!


I'm thinking about a total-blog overhaul and revamp. 

Not moving my address, but simply thinking a new, wider space for content, side icons, and a new colour scheme.

Thoughts, my friends?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Whenever you attempt something great, there will always be those who seek to knock you down. Do not think about these people; they are a waste of your time.

Kids' Version of What Happened in Japan

My friend Linzy linked this up on her Facebook, and I couldn't resist sharing! Personally, I think this is a "kids version" and "adults who have no sense of how nuclear reactors work" version, aka, ME.

Enjoy :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Life Update

"Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art" 
Leonardo Da Vinci

I apologize, friends, for the lack of Friday Feature. I have actually been thinking about taking them down to bi-monthly, or monthly. I've been crazy busy, it's been tough to keep up with everything, admittedly. 

I hope everyone had a great St. Patty's - I went downtown with a bunch of friends and had wayyyy too much to drink. It was a much-needed night of letting loose, hahah. And no hangover the next morning! 

I'm in Philly now, without my tablet or my jewelry materials; I'm helping my dad out with his own small business - he collects and resells valuable antique maps and atlases. I occasionally hop up to Philly to do some photography and listing work for him. It's a really cool gig - these books have GORGEOUS steelplate and woodplate engravings. It's really inspiring to my own illustrative work.

Anyways, sorry for the lack of art in this post. Thought I'd give a little life update.  

And P.S. - MICA released their letters yesterday, so I may very well know if I got into grad school when I come home on Monday! /NERVOOOOOUSSS

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jewelry Sneak Peek - La Vie Boheme

A loved and dear friend suggested to me that I start giving a few of my pieces a more vintage-bohemian feel, and she completely read my mind, because I ordered quite a few vintage filigree pieces from Etsy a bit back and have been itching to pair some with my polymer clay sculpting :)

Here is a sneak peek of the pendants before they get paired up with chains and beadings ;)

These aren't in my shop yet (hopefully tomorrow or Friday!) But check out the rest of my shop! I'm super close to 100 sales, and I am really excited to hit that milestone!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jewelry Giveaway!

I have the honour of being featured this week on Aspire, a blog from the lovely Hannah Nicole. She was kind enough to contact me to host a review and giveaway of one of my Spring Bloom Necklaces!

Visit her blog and follow, heart my shop on Etsy, tweet or facebook about the giveaway: each is a chance to win a FREE necklace in your choice of colour! (Make sure to comment on Aspire to get those entries!)

Giveaway ends on March 24th!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Allow me to introduce Shaun Herrington, more commonly known on the web as Gerbos. My first photographer in my Friday Feature, Gerbos captures amazing moments and has a moody, edgy feel to his work. 

"Limit To Your Love" by Gerbos

Check out our Q & A!

Q: How did you get involved in photography? Do you work in any other mediums?
A: I got into photography in a bit of a weird way...My friends and I used to go and find derelict buildings, and we took pictures to record the places. Then eventually I tried to take more interesting pictures of them, and the photography habit sort of developed there. I work with pencils and paint a lot, and I like to think that compositional skills crossed over.

Q: What inspires you? 
A: I'd say movies inspired me, I watch a lot of movies. But not in the visual way. This might sound a little bit pretentious, but I think they inspire me in a more emotional and thematic way, such as alienation and loneliness, but also other things like surrealism and love.

 "A Night Without Cars" by Gerbos

Q: Your image locations are fascinating as well as the motion blurs - do you scope out locations, stumble upon them, or a happy medium?
A: Locations are quite important to me, they add context to the imagery, but I probably overthink them. I nearly always plan out my locations in advance, I tend to spend hours in one place.

 "So Says I" by Gerbos

Q: What do you seek to communicate with your viewers through your images? Your images are of a "darker" tone - is this significant of a part of your life or your work?
A: Well it depends on the series I'm making. I do not intentionally make things darker and I do not really consider myself a dark person at all, but it does come quite naturally to me. I guess photography might be an outlet of my negativity. I really try to avoid clichés when presenting emotions done to death such as alienation, but I think in the end, I just choose the ones which resonates the strongest regardless of cliché.

 "Stillness is the Move" by Gerbos

Q: What are your plans for your photography and your artistic self in general?
A: My plans are a little bit vague at the moment. I'm still seeking to expand - try to learn new things and find my strengths and weaknesses. But it is nice to play on my existing strengths too, of course! In fact, I really love being in my element, and probably spend more time than I should doing things I can already do. I guess it's just nice to expand on my niche.

A huge thank you to Gerbos for taking the time to answer my questions and allow me to share his incredible work!

Be sure to check out Gerbos' full gallery on deviantart!

Gun-slinger Finished

Here is the finished work from the sketch below. Got some great crit on perspective to keep in mind for next time :) But I'm still pretty proud of this.

Tomorrow I'm gonna be up in Harrisburg and then Philly visiting with some friends from college for a few days, but tonight I've got a cool Friday Feature to throw your way and will be working on some anatomical studies. Thinking of posting more of my study work on here... we'll see ;)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gun-slinger at 4am.

Once again I've stayed up wayyy past bedtime. Oh well! Here's a sketch!

Sketch is the first phase of a commission of a cool space-cadet gun-slinger lady! Took about 2 hours? Heavily ref'd because this was hella-perspective and let's not pretend like I actually know what I'm doing, hahah...

Pretty much listened to the Glee soundtrack the entire time.

Go ahead: sing along, bust a funky move, 
and squeeze your trigger finger. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Charlie Sheen is all over the news this week because he's a celebrity drug addict. Justin Bieber was all over the news for 2 days this week because he cut his hair. 
While Andrew Wilfahrt, 31; Brian Tabada, 21; Rudolph Hizon, 22; Chauncy May Christopher Stark, 22; Kristopher Gould, 25; and David Fahey, 23, are all soldiers who gave their lives this week with no media mention. Honor THEM by re-posting this. Rest in peace, and thank you.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Front Page of Etsy and a Job with Cirque du Soleil!

Today was a day full of awesome. Sorry about the barrage of posts, but I just had to end the day with a feel-good little blurb. I truly felt like it was my lucky day!

This morning I had the totally surprising and amazing honour of getting onto the front page of Etsy! I was blown away by all the wonderful notes, hearts, and support I received in my shop! I literally couldn't stop smiling. If you're curious, my full shop is here: The Little Bird.

Those are my Cameo Rings, second image in the top row. 
My sister was kind enough to be my model!

Also, I had my interview today and now work for Cirque du Soleil! Their show, Totem, will be coming to the Baltimore Area in April, and I will most likely be working either in their main office, or will be working with VIP guests. Since I've had a little experience working with some celebrities and well-known companies in Los Angeles, I am super super excited to get back into a fast-paced, high-quality, artistic environment. 

Here is the trailer for Totem!
"I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams"
Zdzislaw Beksinski

Monday, March 7, 2011

My Hair is Like a Disney Princess.

Basically I'm a brilliant kid and I always stay up way past my bedtime, even though I know I have to be up at 8:30am the next day. Awesome.

Time well spent editing a derpy-silly photo of my long hair. That bang swoosh rivels Ariel, I swear!

Texture courtesy of ArtofDecay

Ahah, look at me trying to be all hipster and artsy. I swear I need to learn to take better photos. This time I'll blame it on my phone's camera. Geez, you're makin me look bad!

Today I had my graduate interview for SCAD. It was really helpful to have some of my last-minute questions answered, and the lady I spoke with was very complimentary of the work that I showed her. Despite still feeling totally nervous and out-of-my-element with this whole grad school admission process, it was a little moment of happy relief to hear her validate my desire to go back to school, and the quality of my work! Yay!

Tomorrow I interview for a temporary position with Cirque du Soleil. I saw their Alegria show in Atlanta a few years back, and it was breathtaking. I'm really excited for tomorrow!

Anyways, just thought a little life update would be good, since there's something actually exciting happening instead of my usual list of commissions and overworked coffeepot ;)

Poppies are my Favourite Flower

Flower pieces continue to be my favourites! This one is special because I handcrafted it with memories of my time studying in Italy... the colours are so bright and romantic ;) I've gotten so many compliments when I've worn it out!
Click the link below the image to see the listing in my Etsy shop :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Few Words on False Authority and Being a Developing Artist

One of the reasons I hesitate to post my own tutorials and resources is because I simply am not a master at anything yet; this is also why I choose to critique others with suggestions and a gentle voice. I do not believe I can speak with any kind of authority that my work will back up. In fact, one of my biggest pet peeves is people who speak with false authority, hiding behind big words and spewing out principles whose understanding aren't evident in their own work. In my opinion, there's no greater waste of time than listening to someone who speaks with false authority.

BUT. One of the greatest things about being a developing artist today is the wealth of resources that one can find to help stimulate progress, increase understanding, and enhance technical skill. Part of your job as an artist, along with beefing up those technical skills, is also discerning with wisdom what advice to follow, and what advice is not strategic for you - discerning between true authority and false authority. It is your right as an artist to decide what will help you and what will hinder you, provided you are doing your homework as to WHY. These things extend to more than just the technical aspect, because I do wholeheartedly believe that one's own relationship with their work is a emotional connection that needs to be nurtured, for better or for worse. Along with making sure that your resources are credible for developing your work, it is your right to decide which environments you thrive in, and which you do not.

Some people will tell you that if you don't listen to them, you're floundering, or you're self-absorbed, or that you have a huge ego. But I tell you this from experience: if you are seeking the information elsewhere, in an environment that is credible and helpful, and are truly disciplined and trying to apply it, you're none of those things. Most often, the people telling you that you MUST listen to them or perish as an artist are the ones with the biggest egos, and most likely speak with false authority. It is your absolute right to figure out what is the best environment for you, regardless of who agrees. Again though, this must be done through experience and careful discernment.

I recently made the decision to cut out what I believe to be a source of false authority, and I know loud and clear that there are some who do not agree with that decision. Interestingly enough, I have been involved in conversations concerning this topic for the past few weeks with quite a few people, here and there; and have found that many people feel the same way. I write this blogpost for you guys, and for me, and for any artist out there who is encountering a similar situation and has questions.

And I will say with great conviction, unapologetically:

I reserve the absolute right to make the best decision for me and my work, no matter what it is or who agrees or doesn't agree with it. I reserve the absolute right to make the decision between positivity and negativity, without having to be judged or ridiculed for it. I reserve the absolute right to pursue what will help me, and to cut off what is stifling me.


Friday, March 4, 2011


Ahoy, friends! It's Friday, and that means a healthy helping of art features coming atcha!

Today I have the pleasure of introducing Effuchu, an artist whose playful and thoughtful style is refreshing, and whose textures and tones will have you feeling super artsy!

Commence the very official-like interview!

Q. First off, what got you interested in art? Tell me about your background.
A. Weeeell... to be honest, art hasn't really been something I’ve been interested in for very long, and I have no fantastic background in art. Initially I was interested in anthropology and psychology, which is pretty far from art to be honest. Drawing was just a hobby for me for a good part of my life, seeing as I saw no real future in it. Started pursuing art seriously about four years ago though, when my mother bought me a copy of Shaun Tan's 'The Lost Thing', which really opened my eyes to the opportunities that were out there for artists in Australia. I'm currently working on my Bachelor of Illustration, which I began just the other week (as well as my first life drawing lessons ever! I’m more excited than I probably should be. harhar.)

 "Leaves" by effuchu

Q. Before we delve further into your current work, I see you are from Australia. Do you have a funky cool accent?!?
A. Ahaha, I wish I had an awesome Australian accent. But, seeing as I am of Asian descent, I have this awful warped accent instead. I think I may have picked it up due to the sheer amount of television I watched in different languages as a kid.

Q. One of my favourite things about your work is the varieties of texture. Are there some pieces where you intentionally create the texture to enhance the message, or is it mostly a result of your medium?
A. I don't really add texture to my work to enhance the message, though I’d like to be able to say that I do. Mostly, I think it's just personal preference and technique. I like lots of texture, so I incorporate a lot of texture.

Q. What are your inspirations? I've heard your work called, "dreamlike"; do you take a lot of inspiration from your dreams? 
A. I like to take inspiration from every-day objects and from things like mythology and science-related subjects. Work by other artists tends to influence my work as well, especially work by Van Gogh and John Tenniel. Not too sure about dreams, seeing as I rarely remember what my dreams are about. I suppose it's possible that I could be subconsciously affected by them, which would be pretty cool to be honest.

 "Solitude" by effuchu

Q. I've seen you do all three: Do you prefer to work mostly traditionally, with mixed media, or digitally? Why?
A. I like being able to work in as many mediums as possible, because I think it gives me just that little bit more freedom of expression. For example, if I were to work on something that I wanted a clean-cut look for, I’d be more likely to work on it digitally rather than traditionally. It all depends on what I’m working on at the time, really.

Q. And finally, what are your goals for your work and your desires for the future as an artist? 
A. My goals? Well, I’d like to say that I have my whole artistic career mapped out perfectly by now, but that would be a horrendous lie. I’m still working out things for myself at the moment and taking life one step at a time. I’d have to say though, that my current goals are to improve as much as I can and to be able to support myself though my work in the future. Where that will lead me, I still can't really say.

A huge thank you to Effuchu for being part of my features and sharing her wonderful work!

Be sure to check out effuchu on the web! 
Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity.
And so we ask ourselves, 
Will our actions echo across the centuries?
Will strangers hear our names long after we're gone 
and wonder who we were?
How bravely we fought? 
How fiercely we loved?

"Serenity" by Erin McManness

Thursday, March 3, 2011

They heard me singing
and they told me to stop.
"Quit these pretentious things
and just punch the clock."
Arcade Fire. via Sarah, the StyleNymph

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Art, Fear, and the Waltz of the Jellyfish

I should post up more of my own work, shouldn't I? Hahah...

Okay, here is something I've been working on:

"Waltz of the Jellyfish" by Erin McManness

I've really been trying to tackle quite a few things lately... and I can't help but feel slightly overwhelmed. I've been getting a lot of honest and helpful critique, even though some of it is tough to hear. I admit that sometimes I look at artists I admire and just think, "Man, it looks so EASY! How does it just come to them?!" This is probably not the case, but the insecure side of me comes out and feels pretty derp-a-licious. 

Funny, I was thinking this all last night while working on this piece and really trying to be very critical of my colour usage. I thought, very honestly, "Man, am I REALLY cut out for concept art? There is just so much I don't know and so much I'm really not good at. How will I ever be good enough? Maybe I should start exploring other options..." 

Feeling admittedly a little down-hearted, I took a break, flipped on my phone, and read my horoscope. 

/cue twilight zone music: "If a fear is stopping you from realizing a dream, then your first order of business today should be to banish that fear. Don't make peace with it; don't go forth bravely but still fearful. No, you need to drive out that fear completely. Well, you must be thinking, 'that's easier said than done'. To accomplish this monumental feat, you need to imagine the worst that could happen. Come to terms with it. Know you're bigger than it. Once you're intimately familiar with it, you'll see that it really isn't all that bad in the big scheme of things."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Ahoy! It's Tuesday, which means it's Tutorial Time!

I've dug through my bookmarks list, and have decided to post up the amazing Alicechan's super-helpful texture tutorial for Photoshop. I don't use a ton of textures in my existing works, but I am planning to in the future, and I found this method not only very informative, but also found that it more thoroughly mixed the texture in with the painting. So enjoy!

Click the image for a larger version, and don't forget to go check out Alicechan's wonderful works and thank her for working up this tutorial!
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