From Inspiration to Painting

Last Saturday I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the evening with friends on the water. The sun was setting turning the sky from orange-gold to pink-purple, and the lake was nearly completely still. I paddleboarded around until it was too dark (I had a flashlight, but didn't want to use it) absolutely entranced by the mirror the deep green water made for the sky. The night birds and locusts were deafening close to shore, nearly drowning out the sounds of my paddle.

It was easily one of the most peaceful moments I've experienced in a very long time.

When I got into the studio on Monday morning - I knew exactly what I had to do. I wanted to take those colors, the motions, the memory that I created on the water and use it to fuel progress on a few paintings I had started the week before.

I mixed a deep green acrylic, pulled out a few water soluble pastels  and used large sweeping motions to mark the pages. (like one might use to paddle) I even found a "locust" track on spotify to root me back to the moment on the water, and went to town.

EH Sherman paintings
EH Sherman lake paintings
EH Sherman Inspiration to Paintings
EH Sherman paintings from the lake

To purchase any of the lake paintings - head over to the shop <3

A Look into my Composition Book

The other day I posted a look into my composition sketchbook on instagram and received a flurry of questions on the process, materials and ideas behind keeping this collection. Rather than write out paragraphs to respond there, I thought I’d take some time to provide a more detailed look into these studies.

 This book cover has seen a lot of paint/chalk/pencil.

This book cover has seen a lot of paint/chalk/pencil.

The Book:

I’m a big fan of keeping multiple sketchbooks at one time - each with a very clear and defined purpose. Color tests, travel sketches, morning sketches, still life contours, and a composition book. Keeping things separated like this allows me to reference sketches and images faster and it just appeals to the side of my personality that likes to have a space for everything, and everything in it's space.

For the Composition book I use a large sketchbook from Canson. This book serves two methods of organizing compositions;

1.) Collecting sketches from other books/cut paintings with particular compositions that I feel could use more exploration and gluing them in.

2.) Creating purely compositional study sketches on the pages.

By adhering to these two tenants I end up with a book of painting ideas divorced from color (mostly) and subject - but focused on rhythm, movement and motion.

 Lines and movement.

Lines and movement.

The Why:

I use these pages to explore ideas for paintings in a pre-sketch phase. If I’ve got an idea that I want to work with, but it lacks form I open up this book and search through the studies until something clicks. If nothing does, I make however many more studies are necessary.

The Result:

Often times at first glance the final painting doesn’t look very similar to the composition work. With so many layers and lines making up the final piece the initial blocking out can be hard to spot - but if you look close enough most of the time it becomes apparent. (I say most of the time, as there are definitely cases when the final work morphs into something totally diffferent!)

Looking back on years of composition studies has been pretty enlightening as to the evolution of my process. The forms I work with are so dependent on location and my surroundings that’s it’s pretty easy to pinpoint when I moved from Miami, when I spent time in Ireland, Thailand and Japan, when we were snowed in last year and couldn’t leave for 4 days… at this point it functions almost as a journal with no words.


 Testing indigo/gold/gray.

Testing indigo/gold/gray.

 Glued-In page.

Glued-In page.

 Cut pieces.

Cut pieces.