Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dia de los Muertos & Progress

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to share the progress and completed piece for the Day of the Dead show at Starkweather Arts Center in Detroit.

This piece is actually something darker than I usually do, and the idea came to me after my mister showed me Pan's Labyrinth for the first time. That night I had a terrible nightmare (that I'm actually planning to post from my dream journal tomorrow or Monday - stay tuned!), and woke up clawing at my body, soaked in sweat (and I think I kind of freaked him out, oops!). The next morning after breakfast, I grabbed his sketchpad and a pencil, curled up in his big red chair still in my pajamas, and sketched out an idea that had just stuck in the front of my mind.

That day, I was invited to participate in Dia de los Muertos. My sketch was great inspiration, given that I was dying in my dream.

Instead of exploring only traditional meanings to the holiday, I decided to take a more personal approach, though the subject in the illustration is not intended to be me, or a likeness of me.
Often when I work traditionally, I will make little notes in the "margin" of the masking tape, to remind me of what direction I want to go in. For this image, I used watercolour, graphite, and white acrylic paint.
I really enjoyed using the watercolour in this piece - I've been trying to break free from rendering every aspect of the piece to death, and the subtle washes of colour under graphic lines are really appealing to me.
Unfortunately my room is painted yellow, and I tend to be a night owl with an incandescent bulb in my lamp, so unfortunately the colours in the progress shots are not as true as I'd like them to be. But still gives a good idea of my process.

And the finished piece, 
ready to be framed and hung for the gallery show!

Day of the Dead / Opens October 7th : 7-10 pm / Starkweather Arts Center

{ All images (c) erin mcmanness 2011 }


  1. "after my mister showed me Pan's Labyrinth for the first time" I read as "after my MINISTER showed me..." I was like "HUUH?? and why was your minister with you when you woke up dripping in sweat. Hahahahaha. Anywhozzle, loving this piece. The eyes really draw me in.

  2. I love this, you did such a great job using the different mediums together! For a subject that's a lot darker than most of your other work, you nailed it!

  3. Pamela - Thank you! :)

    Lacey - Hahahahahahahahah oh no! No no no, my MISTER. Maybe I should start referring to him as my boyfriend. Mister just sounds so much more darling, though. But hahaha thank you! Glad you like the art!

    Daphne - Thanks! I've really been trying to go a bit darker, and less literal with my work lately. I'm glad it's a good direction for me so far :)

  4. Great painting! I am interested in buying a copy. Are you selling?

  5. This is hauntingly beautiful. I loved seeing the progress images. Wonderful work!

  6. Anonymous - Yes, I am interested in selling a limited run of prints. :) If you'd like to contact me to discuss details, you can email!

    Kelly - Thank you very much! I'm glad it's fun and helpful to see the progress. Often for me, it's the most intriguing part of the image ;)

  7. Wow! I loved seeing how this work or art came together. Beautiful job!


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