Tuesday, August 28, 2012


True to form, I couldn't sleep with an idea in my head. So I jumped out of bed at 2:30am and did a speedpainting, listening to this on repeat, as loud as my headphones would go.

One of the most frustrating, heartbreaking things in life is watching someone we love dearly go through something we are powerless to change or fix.

On Loneliness. On Rage.
Art © Erin McManness 2012 // Speedpainting - 45 mins.
Larger Version: [ Here ]

This weekend I finally saw the Dark Knight Rises. Besides falling completely in love with the soundtrack, the theme of the movie hit home for me for so many reasons. (I know this is where you're all wondering if I will reveal my spandex-and-armour-wearing alter ego, but sadly no)

The theme of the movie was overcoming obstacles, being beaten down and rising stronger. I generally don't get sentimental about movies, and in truth I will tear up at action movies with a great soundtrack quite a bit more than any sappy chick-flick. Batman had me pretending not to well-up in front of my movie-going friend on multiple occasions. I know it seems silly to get all emotional about a superhero movie, but it was inspiring to me for so many reasons. As Bruce Wayne scaled the walls of the pit, and all the prisoners below chanted, "Deshi Basara" (which means "Rise")... it's that moment when somewhere inside your chest you feel visceral recognition, empathy, and a sense of determination, like when a firework explodes and you feel the deep thud in every bone of your ribcage.

Sometimes loneliness can make you forget that we are all connected, that we have all felt the same happiness and the same pain. This painting was my attempt to explain myself where I knew words would fail me.

Friday, August 24, 2012

In The Studio

This week has been incredibly busy, and incredibly productive :) I find I am so much more satisfied with my life when I am on constant deadlines.

We're going into my final week of Summer Quarter here at SCAD, and I also have the awesome opportunity to show alongside my very talented friend and colleague Diego Penuela at RAWAtlanta's "Radiate" show this Thursday night! If you are local to Atlanta, give me your name and I will get you on the guest list ;) I will be there looking snazzy, ready to greet you with a cocktail!

I've also been blessed with a new freelance opportunity that I find I am enjoying so much! It's more on the technical side of illustration, but I am having so much fun, and learning a LOT.

1 // A sneak peek at one of my final pieces for my Publications class -- more to come!
2 // Technical illustration for my client -- breaking out the trusty coloured pencils!
3 // Shimmery ivory roses for several bridal orders that went out this week.
4 // Some fun with perspective for a client, and a super sweet lady with a little dog named Bandit.

(for more, follow me on Instagram at Mirilittlebird -- I follow back!)

And a great quote that I found recently and have been thinking quite a lot about: 

"Worry, regret, and anxiety are all mental illusions that distract you from this truth: 
You're okay right now."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Some Thoughts on Purpose & Creativity

As a freelance illustrator, I am always looking for sources of inspiration and motivation. For me, creating art goes far beyond the desire for a paycheck; rather, it instills a sense of purpose for me, and a reason to get up in the morning. After starting to pursue art as my career, I vowed to myself never to work another job that was considered "the daily grind". I no longer believe that we are supposed to work at something that doesn't fulfill us for decades, where the only change from day to day is what we pack in our lunchbox.

So I was absolutely thrilled as I tuned in to Marie Forleo's weekly video, where she interviews the author of The Charge, Brendon Buchard. Because I rarely post things like this, I want you to trust me. The interview is about 30 minutes long, but it's fantastic. So fantastic that I literally went out to get the book after watching the interview (B&N didn't have it, thank you Amazon!). If you can't commit to the full interview, at least start watching at 7:30. Either way, pour yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea, and take some time to consider a new perspective, especially if you're a creative who is thinking about/working on their own business.

In the interview, Buchard talks about the power of using your mind to grow your brain's activity, your purpose, and how to engage with the world to increase fulfillment in your creative endeavours.

"This is an external reality. Maybe I can't fully control it, but what is it that I could find in my life, or create - more importantly - what can I generate in my life that would make me feel alive, despite all of this?"

"How consistent are you in truly expressing who you are and your desires to the world? The more you do that, the more you feel engaged with the world, and the more the world engages with you."

"Right now in this economy, creative expression IS currency."

"The powerplant doesn't have energy, it generates energy -- You do not have happiness, you generate happiness. You don't have confidence, you generate confidence."

Later, as I was working on some sketches for my Publications class, I watched Hugo, which is by far one of the most charming, lovely films I've seen. It's one of my favourites. As I was watching, something Hugo said stuck out as being a perfect fit for this post:

"I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part; I had to be here for some reason." - Hugo Cabret

Just some thoughts. 
I hope this was as inspiring for you as it was for me! 
Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Self Portraits

As you can obviously tell from my previous few blogposts, the past couple of weeks have been a time of definite introspection for me. I think it's good to occasionally step back and re-assess how we're spending our time, if those things are helping or hindering in terms of reaching our creative goals, and if our relationships are uplifting and inspiring. A lot of that takes a good, honest looking-inward.

A lot of my sketchbook is pretty personal stuff, and I feel like everytime I draw something "just to draw", it ends up being sort of a self-portrait of how I'm feeling, what I'm going through in my life (good or bad), and a recollection of my emotions. I really, really believe in self portraits. A lot of people will plunk down the vain card and just write it off as "myspace photos", but I think self portraits are an incredibly important way to document the different phases of our lives. It will be something we absolutely value when we are older.

I don't know about you other artists out there, but when I look at an old painting I've done, I can still remember what movie I was watching, what music I was listening to, and every emotion and reason for painting it.

Untitled, Self Portrait - Composite photos and drawings
© Erin McManness 2012

Do you take/draw/create self portraits?
Link me up! I wanna see it!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Landscape Painting

Tonight was a quiet evening for me, so I did what I find I do best: popped on a movie and broke out my tablet. Sometimes I can be extremely good at alone time, and burrow into my "work-cave". Call it my coping-mechanism. Some people eat cookies, I paint.

As I was enjoying the familiar faces of The Fellowship of the Ring and laying down brushstrokes in Photoshop, it dawned on me that when I paint, I do not feel alone. It is familiar and dependable; it is something I can continue to grow infinitely without fear of it ever leaving.

Cliffside Temple - Landscape Study
Photoshop CS5 - 4 hours
Larger Version: Here 
Art © Erin McManness 2012

As I go through some changes in my personal life, I have decided to bury myself in my work for quite some time and focus on that. My inner Hermoine Granger is doing back-flips; and the woman inside of me is setting her teeth and pushing forward.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sketchbook + Blogging

Tonight I spent my Saturday night with some of my lovely classmates, working away on our assignments at school, huddled in the glow of Photoshop, and trying to stay warm from the killer AC system that runs like it's on a rampage to freeze every living thing in the building.

The perfect opportunity for scanning some sketches I've been meaning to share! 

* I had spoken before about the direction I wanted my blog to go in, 
and whether or not to monetize. A lot of that had to do with my absence for the past week or so. I love blogging, and I love connecting with everyone on here (you guys make it so much fun!) - but I have been letting my blogging priority become bigger than my illustration priorities. I wanted to take some time off to spend time in my sketchbook and examine my goals as an illustrator.

* I am not planning to stop blogging, 
I love it too much and it's become a part of me that I am very fond of. I still want to post tutorials and inspirational stuff and all that jazz, but I need to focus more on creating a balance of how much time I spend doing this. What I want to share with you is self-created; I don't want to repost pinterest images just because they're pretty and attract followers. I want to motivate myself to keep creating and keep pushing myself in a direction of exploration, and my blog is a fantastic way to stay accountable.

Because I'm about to go into full-on Hermoine Granger mode!

{ All sketches © Erin McManness 2012 - please link back if you repin/repost! }

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Taking a Mini-Vacation

Just a little heads-up that I might be taking a few days to sort some things out in my personal life and won't be posting. 

We'll be back up and running again soon.
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