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.

EH Sherman Blurbbook creation

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!

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

Bookmaking with Blurb - Unveiling!

**Thanks to Blurb for sponsoring this post. It has been a wonderfully transformative project from start to finish**

When I began this project, my goal was to create an art piece; another avenue and medium to show my paintings, another way to look at my work, something to bring along to shows. I had no idea it would turn into such a personal and sentimental adventure.

EH Sherman - Small Moments of Great Vulnerability

When I returned home from our travels to Ireland and Belgium, my first thought was the book that I knew had arrived at my parent’s home while we were away. All the nights I spent planning the pages, picking the words to go with the paintings, delving into consciousness and recollection were there, just waiting to be opened.

EH Sherman Blurb - Cover
EH Sherman with Blurb - Cover texture

I was immediately floored by the cover. The depth of the printing shows the true texture of the work, all the delicious nooks and crannies in the fibers of the raw canvas are nearly tactile. It accomplishes what I set out to create, an art piece in itself. Flipping through the pages brought nothing but unbridled delight. The paper is gorgeous (ProLine Pearl), the printing is flawless and brings these detail shots to life with an amazing range of tone. The pages are truthful to the original pieces - which is a major concern for me when printing images of work.

The project morphed as I worked on it, (you can read about the process here!) but the end goal; to have a functional art piece to compliment my body of work was met and then some. The book transitioned from a relatively cut and dry gallery book to a snapshot of my motivation, inspiration, memories and inner-monologue. It is something I’m immensely proud of, but also something that is a little bit scary to share with the world.

EH Sherman with Blurb - page texture

I decided to make the book available in the Blurb store for now. I may consider Amazon, Ingram or an iBook release in the future, but it’s super easy to sell your book through the Blurb store - and it is the most cost-effective way to get this out to you all for the time being. Plus I really like their marketplace, it’s been a fun community to poke around in - lots of interesting people making some very interesting books.

EH Sherman with Blurb - Spine detail

The creation of this book has been a wonderful process, a chance to engage on a much more personal level with my viewers and a chance to have a different type of discussion with myself about my work, presented via a totally different medium. The design, digital creation, uploading and ordering process were a breeze and I am just so thrilled with the overall experience. I’m looking forward to bringing a few copies to my next show!

(( If you can’t make it one of the shows in Michigan or Florida and want to order a copy for yourself, head over to the link and purchase from the Blurb store. Send me your order confirmation and I’ll send over a little thank you present. <3 ))

Connecting with my work through a different medium has been such a transformative experience. Removing the context of ‘a painting’ has led to some really great conversations with myself about motivations and growth. What about you? Have you showcased your work via another medium? Video, book, performance? What have you learned in the process?

Small Moments of Great Vulnerability - Book Creation with Blurb

**Huge thanks to Blurb for sponsoring this post, I’ve finally been able to give life to this project!**

One of my favorite parts about working intuitively, about letting the paint ‘take over’ is examining the small, unplanned moments. The blooms that invade the white space, the overlapping transparencies of pigments, the rhythm between forms. The moments that I guided into existence, but ultimately chose their own path.

I photographed a lot of these magical spaces, presenting my work through a slightly changed, slightly more personal lens, but hadn’t yet found the right medium to use to share them.

I wanted these moments to exist alone, taken out of the context of a painting.

So I decided to make a book.

When Blurb approached me about creating a book using their services, I was already in the brainstorming phase, storyboarding out the flow and wordings of such a project.

It was meant to be. Now I just needed to find more images!

EH Sherman and Blurb - Notes on Paintings

I scoured through my work searching for more moments that resonated within me. Old paintings, new paintings, paintings that were still drying and sketchbooks from various stages of my career. I was seeking shards of memories, voices, landscapes -- anything that echoed in my heart, that called to exist on it’s own.

Presenting a piece as a whole allows for a bit of barrier between myself and what the viewer sees. A lot of my work is like looking at clouds; everyone sees something different - but committing to picking the pieces that stir me was sort of a soul-baring exercise.

EH Sherman and Blurb - Choosing Paintings

When I’m working I usually keep my little black notebook somewhere within arms reach. Just as forms and tones call out to be used, so do words and phrases; most of the names of my paintings are born of those little mid-painting ideas. The words influence the painting and the painting influences the words. Using pieces of these written ideas I built up the flow of my book, planning the transitions around the words, letting the captured stream of consciousness dictate the course.

EHSherman's Notebook _ Notes for Blurb Book

Once I had my images and the words, I began to lay out my book. Blurb has all sorts of free professional tools for the creation process, (Lightroom and InDesign plugins and modules too!) I chose to work with their downloadable program BookWright.

EH Sherman_Blurb_Bookwright

Using BookWright was a seamless experience. My main concern was that I would be able to rough draft the entire book out with placeholders before committing to the actual imagery I would be using. This would let me balance color and words, letting me play with the flow of the book as a whole. BookWright made this method of working easy, allowing me to throw the placeholders quickly into the layout and play with the rhythm of the images until I was happy with the design. The whole process was felt very natural and intuitive. Much like an extension of the way I paint.

It took me a little while to decide on the size of the book, each of the form factors provided by Blurb seemed like it would be a good fit. In the end, I chose the Large Landscape (13 x 11) to attempt to give the detail images of the paintings as much space as I could. I also added a dust jacket, where I will explain the goals of the book. Every stage of the creation has been so exciting - I’m so happy to finally have an easy to use outlet for these ideas.

EH Sherman_blurb's SwatchKit

When I was studying art at Michigan State I spent much of my graphic design and book design classes experimenting with different paper types, learning the ins and outs of weight and rag, falling in love with quality paper. So when my Swatch Kit arrived (when you order one for $7.95, you’ll get a promo code that lets you apply the cost of the kit toward your book purchase) my nebulous little project started to feel real. I very much appreciated the quality of the paper stocks in the kit and ended up choosing the ProLine Pearl. Usually when reproducing work I use mattes, or watercolor papers - but the weight and the sheen of the sample sheet pulled me in. I want these small moments to stand apart from their wholes, and I felt the tonal range provided by the pearl paper would be perfect for this.

EHSherman_Blurb's Proline Pearl Swatch

This project has been swirling in my mind for so long, I’m so excited to see how it will turn out. I’ve made plenty of hand-bound, hand-made books trying to get close to my vision for this, but each one has fallen short of my expectations. I’m so excited to turn it over to the professionals at Blurb and can’t wait to share the final result with you when it arrives!

After seeing how easy it was to create this book, I’m already starting to have swirlings of more ideas. I’m headed to Ireland next month, perhaps a collection of sketches from the road?

What about you? Have you ever made a book? Do you have a pet book project in mind? I’d love to read about your ideas!