I'm a New Orleans based artist known for photo-realistic drawings and paintings of people. Raised in Lafayette, LA, I focused on music for much of my young life, only finding my passion for drawing in late high school and early college. After moving back to New Orleans in 2013, I began to focus more seriously on honing my artistic abilities and taking on commissions wherever I could find them. While I'm still developing my craft, I have become fascinated with the intimate and magical process of bringing a person's character to life. I currently live and work out of my house/studio in Mid City, New Orleans.
Artist + Michael McManus
Describe your art in three words. Vibrant, intimate, endearing
Describe yourself in one word. Ruminative.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, in your neighborhood specifically influences your work? My favorite thing about creating art in New Orleans is the loose exuberance of the people. They are willing to jump behind a second line or ride a horse down Broad at the drop of a hat. You always feel connected to area around you because the air is thick with scents of cookouts and local flora.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece? I usually begin by studying several photographs of a subject to get a feel for their range of expression, personality, facial features, etc. Each person radiates in a different way - by getting a good feel of their character I am better able to find certain areas to exaggerate, to soften, to embellish or distort. By combining several of these, it is possible to bring out a more lively and expressive subject than what is found on the source photograph. Once I block the general form out on paper, I work on the darkest darks and lightest lights, then slowly bring all the other gradients in. My work can be very tedious, so I've found that running and meditation helps with stamina and focus.
Where do you draw inspiration? My work can be rather straightforward - theres not much input from abstract images and concepts. But I wouldn't be able to work for so long if I wasn't absolutely turned on, plugged in and engaged in a creative flow. I listen to music, talks, lectures, poetry, audiobooks, documentaries and podcasts constantly. As far as music I usually go for Liszt, Phillip Glass, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Chopin, The Books, or Brian Eno. I particularly like lectures and discussions on philosophy (particularly Western phenomenology and various Eastern traditions), psychology, history, astrophysics, neuroscience, meditation, and the great wisdom traditions - with the help of thinkers such as Joseph Campbell, Jordan Peterson, Carl Jung, and Alan Watts.
Who are your artistic influences or gurus? Realists I love - Dennis Wojtkiewicz, Dirk Dzimirsky, Zaria Forman. My more general artistic influences include Max Ernst, Dali, Alan Watts, and G. F. W. Hegel,
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work? The Books - Beautiful People
Where can we find you when you are not creating art? Running through the parks during the day, walking through the parks during the night, or holed up in my house studio working on music. Also drawing at Fairgrinds or Rook, or playing pool at Holy Ground, Marie's, the Drifter Hotel.
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year? 11pm to 5am is my most creative time of day - due to the solitude, the excitement for what I will create, and the mystery of the night. I don't have a day job currently so every day of the week is my favorite. April and November are amazing in New Orleans.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact. I have a black belt in American Shotokan.
All works listed online are available to be viewed at Where Y’Art Gallery by appointment.
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