Thursday, September 27, 2012

Interview Footage From My Recent Show in ATL

Sweet little number from my RAW show,  an interview where I talk a bit about my art. Forgive my usual silly awkwardness :)
Thought this would be fun to share! Next up on the blog, some process shots from my first scratchboard illustration, based on the dark fairytale of the 12 Dancing Princesses.

But first, my weekend is starting with a 24-hour drawing competition over at SCAD - all of us crazy art kids will be chillin in our studio, eating together, watching movies, scribbling madly, watercolours everywhere, paint all over the place, probably doing something ridiculous, making art for a great cause: the Humane Society's Annual Pet Parade! I'll be sure to share whatever crazy thing I come up with :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Today was a really inspiring day, and really reminded me why I got into art in the first place. I spend a lot of time thinking about our shared emotions and experiences as people, because often it is what I want to address and explore in my work. Our pain, our feelings of rejection or acceptance, of inspiration or depression, are all things we have all encountered at one point in time. Sometimes our unacknowledged "togetherness" shocks me; that no matter who we are or our situation, we all feel the same drives, desires, anguish, happiness, longing. It is a comforting and strange thought, and one that I want to explore more in my work.

Today I attended a lecture and demo with the incredible James Gurney,

whose blog I have followed for years now. It was stunning to see his process in-depth, all the research he does, models he creates... and his devotion to his sketchbook was so inspiring. In the moments after his demo when he was just talking to a few of us, we got onto a discussion of learning how to draw well, and developing effective communication of our artistic expression. It's not solely about just expressing something; it's about renewing day in and day out a desire to build on yourself and your skills. This is why I love what I do: there is always more to learn, more beautiful, meaningful things to create. I want my work to affect people. I want people to feel something when they look at my work and to identify with me; I want to inspire as I have been constantly inspired.

I also just discovered this awesome song, 
which is a perfect end to the day.

{ photo from my [mostly]daily sketch posted to my instagram, mirilittlebird }

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Self Portrait: Process Work

Over a span of 3 weeks, I slowly created this self portrait in the downtime I had. I knew I wanted to create a process post on my blog, so I made sure I remembered to stop and take pictures in the midst of my scribbling and frantic watercolouring.

This was a very personal work for me. When I'm allowed to have creative freedom, I almost always reach for darker imagery... it just feels natural for me. I still have a lot of unfilled goals in my personal life.

This work is created based on two quotes: 
"Hell is empty and all the devils are here." 
-- William Shakespeare
"I've learned love is like a brick, you can build a house or sink a dead body."
-- Lady Gaga

I started with a sketch, using a variety of references for myself and the birds. Before I laid down any watercolours (aka "the scary part"), I did a few digital colour tests to figure out what direction and palette I wanted to work in.

I had settled on the fourth colour test, and broke out the watercolours, laying down light washes, building up tones. I worked over the pencil lines of the sketch, giving general light and dark tones to build up the form.

After I had laid in my watercolours, I went back over the original sketch and rendered the features: hair, eyes, feathers, etc. This took quite some time - especially that hair! After most of the pencil work had been done, I went back in and hit a couple spots with more watercolour, but not much.

Finally, I scanned and pulled this into Photoshop and hit it with some Levels, but I did very minimal editing. I did also scan in subtle watercolour textures and overlaid them on the orange "bricks", which I felt gave the work a little more depth.

And the finished piece: (larger version)

{ all art in this post © erin mcmanness 2012 - please credit if shared }

"I think the most important thing for a young person starting out is that they should only try to make work that they’re interested in, and that is true and honest to who they are. If you look at the careers of anyone that’s made it or become successful, they’ve all started out making work that they believed in, that they were interested in. And they did it obsessively and compulsively, and so people started noticing. So instead of, say, catering to a certain audience or pleasing someone else they should just do work that they feel like is the most interesting to them, at the time. Even though it might not be accepted or noticed in the beginning, they should just keep doing it until it becomes undeniable."
-- from a great interview with one of my favourites, James Jean 

 Thank you for reading!
Hope this was interesting :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fish Exodus

A piece done at about 2am, one of those times where you can't sleep with an idea lodged in your brain. I hesitate to share some of my more personal pieces on here and say much about them, at the risk of sounding overly corny, cheesy, or unprofessional. But the truth is, making work is the way I cope with every single thing I encounter in my life - the good and the bad. And sometimes I think these pieces are the most honest thing I can put into the world; when I am too afraid to own my own words, I can at least own the lines.

This piece is about giving oneself permission to move on, to allow fears about loss to pass through you, and to consider a higher truth.

Been really trying to focus back on watercolour and graphite recently. I forgot how much I missed getting my hands dirty. Digital painting is wonderful, but there is a trade-off. I will be posting process work of a personal piece I've been working on for 3 weeks soon, and I am making plans to create an illustration based on Radical Face's "Welcome Home". 

If you have never heard this, plug your earphones in, lay your head back, and close your eyes. 
It's hauntingly poetic.

All of my sketches/process works are on my instagram - follow me at mirilittlebird --
Art in this post © Erin McManness 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Sound of Silence

Tonight I hopped a plane, sketched for 2 hours up in the sky, and landed in damp, muggy Baltimore. One of my favourite parts about coming home is walking my sweet little dog down the dark, wet  streets of my neighborhood. We're out in the country, so everything smells green and the air hangs on you. Most people don't like that kind of weather; but it's my favourite. It's nice to walk in silence, and look up through the trees, see the stars, and feel incredibly small.

Hello, darkness, my old friend; I've come to talk with you again.
Because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping.
And the vision that was planted in my brain still remains,
within the sound of silence.

Composite photos © erin mcmanness + found text

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

RAW Artists Presents: Radiate

Last Thursday night I had the opportunity to show alongside a very talented friend and colleague at RAWAtlanta's Radiate show. This show was comprised of over 20 local artists, musicians, fashion designers, filmmakers, and makeup artists, all in one space together. It was a ton of fun!

The venue was incredible - with exposed brick walls, industrial lighting, an indoor-balcony and outdoor bar, it was very charming and gave off just the right vibe for the show. I met a lot of incredible people and artists, and clinked my can of Red Stripe beer with many new and familiar faces. Most of the night was super crowded and busy, and my business cards flew right off my table! A huge thank you to all of my friends who came to support my work, and those who were there in spirit and supported in other ways!

Here are some photos of the night from my instagram :) Enjoy! 

It was a great night!
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My Illustration as a T-shirt!

Hey ya'll, a quick post for the beginning of this week. I've been taking on quite a few new illustration projects lately (and baking a LOT!), and it's quite an exciting ride :) This past Thursday, I showed at Radiate in Atlanta - it was a great time! I have quite a few photos that I'll be sharing in tomorrow's blogpost - stay tuned :)

For now, I want to ask for some love and support: I was very happy to find out that one of my designs has made it to the voting stages over at! It is in the running to become a printed t-shirt that will be sold on the site, but it needs votes to get printed.

Would you take a few moments to spread some art love for me and vote? 

(The highest score is a 5 - to vote, simply click the number alongside my illustration)

I would appreciate your support so much! If you like my design, I would be honoured if you'd share it with your friends -- tomorrow is the last day to vote!

* Coming up on the blog, 
I will have step-by-step progress shots of several paintings, event photos of "Radiate", and hopefully soon I will be able to talk about some exciting opportunities I have as an illustrator (though for now I have to be a super-secret-agent-art-ninja and keep my mouth closed - tougher than it sounds!)

Thanks for reading!
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