Tuesday, January 31, 2012


It's Midterms week here at SCAD, so I apologize for the lack of content -- but my pride and joy Giant Amaryllis bloomed this morning! She's gorgeous.

And my favourite part of my apartment, my "Flower Nook". 
I have my amaryllis, paperwhites growing, and daffodils I just bought for myself at the store (my mom's favourite flower - they covered our yard when I was a kid).

I also have a jewelry mannequin with one of my new bridal pieces, and the frame is full of treasures from my travels overseas, small meaningful trinkets, and odds and ends I've collected. The book is a pre-1900's copy of a collection of Tales from Edgar Allen Poe, one of my favourite writers, that my dad found and gave to me. And the pottery was made by me.

"Have nothing in your home that you do not find to be beautiful, 
or do not believe to be useful."

My Flower Nook sits right by the window, next to a big comfy chair :)

Here's to surviving Midterms! Happy Tuesday!

{ all photos in this post (c) erin mcmanness 2012 }

Friday, January 27, 2012

How to Have a Better Day

And work out, and dance to Michael Jackson.

The little image up there was made entirely by me, and features some custom brushes I created. I'll have the tutorial up soon! Happy Saturday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Surrealist Film Inspiration & Art in Progress

It's raining in Atlanta tonight, but it feels like Spring. Today I walked home from class without my coat - it's been gorgeous. I have not missed Winter at all.

Just poured myself a glass of homemade red sangria, and am ready to have a night to myself. I honestly thought that at this point, I'd be burned out from making art 24/7. I am happily surprised to admit that I just feel like a huge, happy sponge. I love art school. Being surrounded by creative people is the best thing ever.

Today, I was introduced to the work of Takahiro Kimura.

I thought it would serve as great inspiration and quirky art to share with you guys here. You've gotta watch this video - Kimura uses animated mixed media to create amazing, surrealistic "landscape" films. The films are a mixture of (mainly) illustration, photos, collage, and film clips, and if you watch closely enough, you'll see some of the characters change ;)


Rad, right? As for my own work... I believe I promised some WIPs.
We worked quite a bit on our digital portraits today for Computer Illustration... I did a sketch of The Black Keys, and then went in with Photoshop to start some graphic linework. I plan on using some collaged elements, custom textured brushes, and type to create lots of visual interest. For now, don't judge too harshly ;) It's very different from my "usual" style. And I like that. 
Artistic growth, onward to gloryyyy!

And I also promised some WIPs of Baba Yaga. 
Here is a close-up of one of the "nightmare birds" I have included in my illustrations for the story of Baba Yaga and Vasilisa. For this project, I have been laying down layers of graphite and washes of india ink and red watercolour. A little darker than my usual subject matter, but creepily enough, I find myself really connecting here... what do you think?

After working 99% digitally for almost 2 years, I find I am extremely happy to discover a re-found love of traditional graphite and watercolour. Especially watercolour. Hellooooo beautiful.

Do you draw/paint/sculpt/collage?
What are your favourite mediums?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

School Projects, Sneak Peeks, Inspiration

Just a little update and sneak peek for you all - school has kept me insanely busy but I'm on track to release my new wedding-targeted pieces by mid-February :) Here's a sneak-peek of some sweet little frames - I used my illustration and watercolour skills - each piece is completely original!

Did you know that if you Like The Little Bird on Facebook,
you can get 10% off your order? 
Check it out here. Tell your fabulous amigas!
{ Photo & design (c) Erin McManness / The Little Bird 2012 }

Besides drinking coffee like it's my job,  
I've been working on some great projects for school, and have been making really good progress with the Baba Yaga piece I've been sharing with you guys. I'll post more pictures soon, when my camera is charged and the light is good ;)

For Computer Illustration,
we've made our own brushes and stamps for Photoshop (which is something I previously did not know how to do - would you guys like a tutorial on here? Please comment!) And we're utilizing them in a digital portrait of the person of our choice. I chose to do my favourite band, The Black Keys.

And last but certainly not least, I leave you with a little quote that keeps my mind fueled for those late art-school nights.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Encouragement for When Exhaustion Strikes

So we're 3 weeks in on grad school. I'm getting my first real taste of stress and uncertainty. There's already been a lot of late nights, long hours, and not having time to clean the apartment or do the dishes.

I've been eating Ramen and Eggos. I've gone through 2 bags of coffee in less than a month. I still haven't even put my clothes in the dresser. Lol I sound like a hobo. It's poetic, right?

But I love it;
I love my classes, I love being in this setting, and I feel like I'm starting to make some good friends. But I'm tired. Already. I feel like a weak, whiny artist saying that. But I've been varying degrees of ill most of the time I've been here, and it's all starting to catch up to me.

I'm trying to teach myself how to be a beast again, how to be a machine again. I've got a lot of work ahead of me for tonight, but I know there are many of us out there that feel discouraged, tired, uncreative, and burnt out right now...

So I bring you (and me) some encouragement:

Onward to glory, lovely birds, onward to glory.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Time I Almost Drank my Watercolours

A sneak peek of some classwork for the Baba Yaga Project I've posted thumbs for. For this, I just blew up and printed out my original thumb, and watercoloured right over it. While it's great to work so quickly and conveniently, the surface of the print-out is really not ideal for watercolour.

The final will be transferred to Bristol Board, so the surface will be better suited for my materials ;)

And I really need to stop having coffee while I work (haha, yea right). Second time this week I almost picked up my rinse-cup and took a sip!

And I'm having a fabulous hair day. And I bought this incredible sweater at Target for like, $14, that's reminiscent of the 80's and I look like I stepped out of a dance workout video. 
I feel rad today.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Big Change for the Upcoming Spring...

Just a typical Saturday night... I watched the Pats face off against the Broncos, had a lovely Corona (my favourite), and busted out some brand new........
b r i d a l  j e w e l r y ! 
Yes, that's right. I've decided to move my shop over to more bridal wear. Why? Because the brides I've worked with so far have been the most darling people, and I want to do it all the time! That's a good enough reason, right? Right.

Here's a cute little look at my Saturday night worktable: 

I also spent quite a bit of time getting all design-y and busted out a brand new Facebook Landing Page! Would you please, lovely bird reading this, check out the page and let me know what you think?

Once I reach 100 fans, I'm going to give out a special code for 10% off anything in my shop :)

Tomorrow I am quite excited to watch the Ravens game (my die-hard home team) - I should probably put my Flacco jersey on now and sleep in it! Then it'll be off spend some good quality studio time on my illustration project, and some good quality library time on my art history criticism paper (oh joy).

Thank you for reading, doves <3

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Some Fresh Inspiration

A dear friend just introduced me to this pair of artists, and I loved their work so much, I thought it would be great to share on the blog :)

Please meet Supakitch & Koralie.

We've recently been working on an illustrated pattern project in my Computer Illustration class, and I have been wanting to start incorporating graphic elements and pattern into my own figurative work (like the Baba Yaga project I've been posting). So when I watched some of the pair's process videos, I was totally inspired. Like, don't-want-to-bother-sleeping-tonight inspired. Love that feeling, even if the results require a lot of coffee for recovery ;)

Here are two quick videos of their process, set to some groovy music.

As for me,
I am excited to share some new projects I'm working on, but I'll have to wait a little bit before I can speak openly about the details here. Tomorrow is the first Open Model Session at SCAD, and I'm really amped up to get back into the habit of lifedrawing on a set schedule (instead of bribing friends or being really creepy). Also, get ready for some blog redesign this weekend!

Happy long weekend, lovely birds ~ anyone doing anything exciting? 
(I will be working on artwork like a nutcase, what's new?)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More Conceptual Sketches and a Vlog

Since I'm posting a vlog, I'm not going to write much tonight... I just wanted to share some more sketches from my Illustration Concepts Class here at SCAD (because it's awesome). And since I'm still getting over this cold-thing-that-has-taken-my-little-body-hostage, I need to get my bones to bed.

Here, art! 
(sorry for the lousy quality - it was overcast in Atlanta today - no good for picture-taking)

I promise I will take better pictures. I almost feel bad posting them at this quality... yikes.

Anyways, if you'd care to see me ramble in a (recurring theme alert) very poorly lit apartment, please do sit back and enjoy. I do talk a little bit about the process of thumbnailing, and why I feel it's pretty important to the creative process. I also show you my cat and my messy apartment.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sketches & Concepts

I'm beat, so this'll be a shorter blog entry. I've hit the ground running at school, and I am loving it. But this illness I've had has really taken it out of me, man...

Our first assignment for my Illustration Concepts class
is to interpret the classic "Baba Yaga" character - more commonly known as the witch in most fairytales. I chose to work in metaphorical and psychological space for my preliminary thumbnails. Baba Yaga is both mother of life and bringer of death, and is typically seen depicted with her house that stands on a chicken leg, with serpents, or with birds. True to witch form, she is often seen as a haggard old woman, with a beak-like nose and frail, bony features.

I find this character really fascinating, to be honest.  
I really love history and figuring out deeper meanings in art through the use of symbols. It's definitely something I employ in my own work. I like making people think about the meaning behind the work, and I like hiding things from the viewer; like a secret that only I know, unless you're smart enough or know me well enough to figure it out. I probably do this in every work I make, sometimes even in commissions. I'm working on a painting for someone very dear to me right now that has a ton of hidden meanings.

I was very pleased that my sketches were well-received by my professor - I was really nervous. The bar here at SCAD is set very, very high, and I feel very honoured to be a part of the program.

Tomorrow is my Computer Illustration class, which I think I'm really, really going to enjoy. Time to drift off ~ sweet dreams, lovely birds!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

First Atlanta Adventure & The Life-Changing Cupcake

Actually, I woke up this morning feeling downright awful. I am my own sauna, a balmy 103 degrees.

But did I let that stop me from having a lovely Saturday in ATL? ...Nope!  

One of my professors had suggested we check out YoungBlood Gallery & Boutique, so amidst my sneezes and sniffles, I scribbled my directions and left my coat behind (because it was 70 and sunny!)

Long story short, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the gallery sat on what is affectionately named, "Highland Row": a little stretch of road with galleries, antique stores, and - little did I know the change of destiny I would encounter - Atlanta's best cupcake shop.

YoungBlood was super cool, with a boutique featuring a ton of indie artists in the front, and an open gallery space in the back. A lot of the works featured where line-driven, pop art-y, totally hipster; and I fell in love. After I spent a good, long time drooling, I popped next door to the Antique shop.

I probably spent at least an hour in the antique shop alone. Downstairs were five huge rooms filled with vintage threads, kitchen things, books, and a lot of cowboy boots that had me really, really envious. I spotted a pair of turquoise cowboy boots, but put them (sadly) back on the shelf to the mournful tune of $85. I also discovered an amazing sequin butterfly top, but had to put that back too. I ended up leaving, though, with the perfect trinket: a tea tin in china blue with white flowers. It matches my bathroom perfectly, and I have been needing a toothbrush holder! Destiny!

{ left photo (c) YoungBlood gallery // right photo by me }

I stopped into a few more boutiques before I had a shop owner clue me in to the magical store at the end of the row: the Atlanta Cupcake Factory. "They will change your life", he said. And they did. Oh my goodness. I strolled up to the mint-bluegreen storefront and into a tiny little shop with a single pastry case. It was nearing the end of the day, so there weren't as many cupcakes left, but I chose well.

Vanilla Pumpkin Cake, Eggnog Buttercream Icing, 
Sprinkled with Nutmeg.
Just let your mind take that in for a second.

I wish there were words to describe just HOW GOOD this cupcake was. The icing literally melted in my mouth, and the cake was all pumpkin-y, but not too overpowering. I was eating as slowly as I possibly could, pausing to (literally out loud) say, "Oh my GOSH". That's how good it was.

I got halfway through when I realized that it would go perfectly with morning coffee. Since it was already past dinner, I packed up the last half of my life-changing cupcake, tucked it safely in the fridge, and now cannot sleep because I'm thinking about how good it will be.

Also, I stumbled across the Cupcake Factory's adorable video: enjoy!
Atlanta Cupcake Factory 2011 from thomas fahey on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I have a couple of New Years Resolutions this year. Especially after moving into a new apartment, in a new city, and beginning my Masters degree, I feel that changing/tweaking some things about my lifestyle is only fitting to begin the New Year on the best foot.

To be honest, 2011 had its ups, but I was not very happy about the place I was in, and I have been ready for a positive change. Here's to 2012 ~!

On a different note, I want to show some pictures of my new apartment soon! I still am furniture-less, but hopefully over the weekend I will hear something. Then I can decorate and show you guys my cute little apartment. I've gotten a lot of decorating ideas off of Pinterest (of course)!

I also took some time to redesign a bit of my Facebook Page ~

I would be so appreciative if you'd like to go and check it out :) And maybe suggest me to a friend? I'm trying to kick business up a notch this spring to help cover my expenses for grad school.

A few nights ago I spent some time on new bracelets for the Spring, and I am excited to show my new palette, as I will be releasing more consistent brand identity. Exciting! (or just nerdy)

Happy New Year, lovely birds ~

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Place, New Town

I apologize that I have been deliquent with my blog. The week after Christmas I packed up pretty much everything I own in this life (and my snuggly cat) and moved from Baltimore down to Atlanta. It was a pretty long move - 12 hours driving - but I was lucky enough to have my mom and my sister accompany me, so really the drive was pretty painless. My car was PACKED though!

The real odyssey was my cat.
Kitty has been an outdoor wild thing for the past two years because she hated our dog, Rufus, and refused to come inside. Anyone reading my To-Do List last week would've been like, "Oral Cat Sedatives whaaaaat?!" 12 hours is a long time for a high-strung, skittish kitty in the car, and the trip included an elaborate Cat-Smuggling Plot which I can't go into detail about.

But after 2 years of being outside in the elements and "roughing it", I am happy to report that Kitty has only left the cozy blankets on my air mattress to eat in the last 2 days straight.

I leave, she's on the bed; I come back, she hasn't moved. Spoiled. I guess she's earned it.

I moved to Atlanta to finally begin my Masters in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art & Design, and orientation was today. I'm really excited! The facilities at SCAD are just awe-inspiring, and the opportunities to network and be involved are out of this world. I am ready to hit the ground running and produce some amazing work (that I will obviously share here!).

For now, though, I'm sitting on the floor of my apartment, with not a stick of furniture until it arrives off the truck. I can't wait for it to get here so I can really organize my apartment. I mean, c'mon, that's the best part of moving: the decorating. I splurged and went for the Fuschia Coffeemaker at Target, so at least I have my coffee ;)

As for New Years,
I am in the process of making a lovely little graphic design piece to hang on my fridge with my resolutions on it.

For New Years Eve, my mom, sister, and I ordered chinese take-out, ate it on the floor of my empty apartment, and watched a movie. My mom is the cutest thing ever and snuck a bottle of Asti Champagne into her bag and surprised us. I popped the cork at midnight (and didn't almost-shatter a window like I did on my 21st birthday), and we opened our fortune cookies, which turned out to be in spanish. 

Did anyone else do anything more exciting for New Years? 

Hopefully 2012 will be a great year, full of fun and possibilities, and hopefully the world will not end!
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