A Day in Life of my Sketchbook; featuring The Mercer Refillable Sketchbook from SLATE COLLECTION

Thank you to SLATE COLLECTION for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

One of the most important parts of my art practice is my sketchbook. (If you follow me on instagram, you’ve probably gotten that impression already.)

EH Sherman with Sketchbook

My paintings are an aggregate of so many different inspirations; contours of flowers, the colors of leaves on a run, words that stay stuck in my mind, patterns on the water, rhythms in remembered landscapes… all of these factors inform my work, so it is crucial that I have a sketchbook with me literally at all times, to record all of these.

Keeping a sketchbook is a discipline I cling to, rely on and owe much of my current practice to.

Currently I’m using the Mercer Refillable Sketchbook by SLATE COLLECTION and I’m in love with it. The cover is soft and supple (and in the case of my book, my favorite color; INDIGO!) and yet incredibly sturdy. I put my supplies through a lot, and it has held up beautifully.

How I use my sketchbook;

I get a fair amount of questions about my process when it comes to keeping a sketchbook, so I thought I might break down a typical day in regards to my sketching habits. I’d love to hear about your sketching routine too, make sure to leave a comment so I can learn about your practice!

7 am; Wake up (slowly, I’m awful at shaking sleep!) and quickly record thoughts from dreams, or colors that creep into my pre-dawn thoughts.

These are small notes generally, unless I’ve had an amazing dream, or spent the morning lying in bed visualizing a new series. It’s important for me to have a sturdy sketchbook, as I don’t sleep with it, but if I’m scribbling notes during the night, it can get caught in between the bed and the frame pretty regularly. The Mercer is both thick and rigid enough that this isn’t a problem.

9 am: Back from my run, I’ll write down thoughts that I’ve mediated on, colors from our local landscape, lyrics or moments from the music that empowers my run, and I’ll start to make plans and notes for the day ahead.

EH Sherman SLATE COLLECTION sketchbook

(This particular morning was spent watching a few busy squirrels outside my studio window. I put the pencil on the page and dragged it around according to the squirrels movements. Like a little treasure map to their buried nuts.)

11-1 pm: Errands and meetings! I make notes in my sketchbook of orders that need to go out that day and any supplies that I’m low on. Since I’m already out and about, I try to schedule meetings and meet-ups around the same time (and, Ann Arbor has such great food that lunch meetings are automatically THE BEST). My sketchbook is in tow for all of this, acting as a list for supplies, and as a mini portfolio if I’m meeting with a client or gallery space.

2-3 pm:   My favorite part. Unless I’m knee-deep in other paintings, this is my project time; when ideas take form and the next paintings in a series starts here. Here is where I distill morning sketches, break apart words that have been stuck in my head, examine memory, color, and make thumbnails.

EH Sherman - thumbnails in Mercer Sketchbook

These can be super clean, super messy, made with lots of types of paint, or just pencil - so it’s important to me to use a sketchbook that is multi-purpose. Paper that is too thin will tear with water, paper that is too thick feels too final and I’m less likely to get deep into the experiment phase. I’m looking for a quality paper that can take a few layers of exploration, and the pages of this sketchbook (Mercer Refillable from SLATE COLLECTION) are perfect for that.

Once I’m confident in the idea, the movement and color scheme of the piece transfers from my sketches to canvas as I begin to create the painting. If I’m not totally feeling the pre-painting sketches, I’ll just keep exploring the composition and colors in thumbnails until I feel like I’ve got a better handle on the message I’m trying to convey. Or, the idea gets scrapped / shelved for tomorrow and I’ll come back with fresh eyes.

10 -11 pm: A slow unwind. At the end of the day, orders shipped, progress made on paintings, space (relatively) clean, I like to take stock of the last 16 hours and make sure if any thought is still rattling around upstairs - that it is written and/or sketched out for tomorrow. I’ll use this time to journal in my sketchbook a bit, reflect on things from the day or the days to come.

Keeping a sketchbook and being disciplined about the process is a huge part of my practice, and using the Mercer Refillable from SLATE COLLECTION has been the perfect book to use for this. If you’re an artist looking for a new sketchbook (refillable too!) check out their books. And if you know an artist, none of us is ever upset at a new sketchbook for the holidays!

What sort of sketching schedule do you keep? Is it a daily activity or more of when the mood strikes? I love looking at other artist’s sketchbooks and hearing about their process - feel free to share your habits below!

Happy sketching friends!

Giving Form to Idea with Blurb

((This is a sponsored post. But rest assured, I only work with companies that I really like and would absolutely recommend even if it wasn’t sponsored. Happy reading! ))

Have you ever had an idea that just circles in your periphery, pops up occasionally to say “hey! I’m still here! Work with me!” but you haven’t found the right way to give it form?

That was me for a few years with this one tiny, but exciting thought that I just couldn’t shake.


I was on a plane that was heading towards Santiago, Chile. The pale gray fog laid heavy over the Andes as we descended, burning into vapor in the sunlight and obscuring the land in the shadows.

Undulating color and pattern stole my breath and I took a gratuitous amount of photos out of the teeny window. In addition to it’s raw, abstract beauty- I was struck by how much it looked like my desk, covered in balled up paintings.

That was 2015 and I’ve been collecting balled up paintings ever since.

It took me three more years of thinking about this moment, this spark that I found looking out the airplane window to finally find the form it needed.

I made a book!

EH Sherman Blurbbook creation

I’ve worked with Blurb before on past book-making projects and I loved the process, so once it became apparent what this project needed to be - using Blurb for the creation was my go-to answer.

If you haven’t used Blurb yet, they are an independent book-making / self-publishing platform that makes it easy to design, produce, and sell all sorts of book and magazine projects (both print and digital!).

I started designing the book on paper (as I do with all things) making sure that my idea is fully explored and properly mapped out. I chose not to add words this time. I was speechless the whole time the plane flew above those mountains and I felt like adding words was untruthful to that moment I was seeking to honor. It would be picture book only.

Once I had a skeleton of the project together, I started photographing the paintings I had been saving for at this point, years, and started to think about the final layout. I picked a landscape (10 x 8) orientation and opted for a nice shiny softcover and premium matte pages.

One of the reasons I love Blurb is the number of tools I can use to access their platform and design my book. As someone who is very familiar with Photoshop and Lightroom, I really appreciate the ability to use these programs for exceptional creative control over the process. In this case however I used their service; BookWright to design the entirety of the project. It’s super straightforward and allowed me to think more about the content of the book while they handled the finer details of the creation.

Just about a week later, the book was in my hands!

EH Sherman Blurb Book Creation

It was exactly what I was hoping it would be. The paper was rich and smooth, the book had a beautiful weight to it and my photos printed perfectly. I was elated, flipping through the velvety pages for the first time; each one reminding me of a landscape from memory.

EH Sherman BlurbBook
EH Sherman Blurb Book
EH Sherman Blurb Book - printed
EH Sherman BlurbBook Design

Thanks to Blurb for getting the ball rolling on this, I’m so in love with the final product. It is a creative weight off my back, finally being able to set this idea free in the form that felt right.

If you want to check out the book pop on over to the book page where you can flip through mine and purchase your own copy too. Or stop by their Book Shop to see the rest of their catalogue!

What about you? Have you made a book of your work before? What’s your favorite part of the process?

EH Sherman Blurb Book Creation

Art Studio Renovation (part 1 of what seems like a million...)

I work out a studio in my home. Most of the time I love it; there’s no commute, no dress code, no weather to handle, just a groggy walk across the living room floor to the kitchen for coffee and a slow shuffle into the welcoming walls of my studio.

But it’s not always ideal.

In-home studios come with their own unique challenges and complications, and as I’m currently displaced from mine — I thought I might share a little bit about the current project.

We’re in the process of fixing/replacing the caulked and painted shut windows in the house, and the next batch up is my studio.

I’ve spent the last few days clearing everything out of the room to allow the work to begin, while simultaneously wrecking the living room with an influx of supplies.

 Clean and empty studio! (yes, that’s PLYWOOD standing in for a storm.)

Clean and empty studio! (yes, that’s PLYWOOD standing in for a storm.)

 Living room explosion….

Living room explosion….

I know the windows don’t look too bad in the nice bright photo, so here’s a close-up; they definitely are in need of some love.


As an artist that relies so heavily on light and patterns in the light I’m so excited to get these restored. To have the broken glass replaced, the paint spattered panes cleaned, the mechanisms fixed so I can actually open them. The few we’ve already done look so incredibly clear, I can’t wait to see how much light will fill my workspace.

But for now, this means meetings are conducted somewhere else quiet (in the car!) and I’ll be painting outside until the carpenters finish their work.

In the end I know the hassle will be worth it.

 Renovation in the studio - means meetings are held in the car!

Renovation in the studio - means meetings are held in the car!