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!


My Brush Story

If you follow me on instagram you know how long this first segment has been in the works. Originally I assumed I would get a few neat stories and maybe a picture or two in response to my post (see here) - but I was blown away by the multitude of thoughtful, heartfelt stories - and I’m still receiving them! I couldn’t simply do one small post and capture the depth, breadth and journey of paintbrush experiences.

So I’m introducing the first of a monthly series: My Brush Stories. Each month I’ll pull a few stories from the collection I’ve been assembling and share them on my blog here, my instagram and other media (still in the works, more information soon!).

So without further ado, here is the first of what I hope will be an exploration into other artist’s practices, their work and how it’s made - starting with our favorite tools.

(To submit yours, head over to the My Brush Story page!)

 

Katrin Bauck | @katrinbauck

At first glance, there's nothing special about my favorite brush - it's a usual bristle brush, natural wooden handle (light brown), which I think I have bought for my son's school equipment years ago.

When I started painting in 2016 I tried out every brush I could find in our house so also this one went into my toolbox. :-) Immediately I fell in love with the shape and softness of the handle, the broadness of the bristles and their wildness.

In summer 2017 I took a small selection of brushes with me to our family vacation trip to the Baltic Sea, including that brush. After days of lovely laziness, long walks at the beach, collecting shells and stones and taking countless pictures, one afternoon back “home” at the lovely Danish cottage I took out my brushes and was stunned by their beauty, especially by this one’s paint splattered handle.

Inspired, I googled for a lovely quote on brushes and found this one, which is still one of my favorites, by Henry Ward Beecher:

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”

I wrote it into my sketchbook and took two pictures, one with the quote and the brush and one just a close-up of the handle (see both attached). And somehow then, in the soft afternoon light in the Danish cottage, I connected that lovely slow summer feeling and that quote with this brush and whenever I hold it now, it inspires me to slow down, to watch for the beauty and when I paint, to dip my brushes in my soul. :-)

Katrin Bauck

Katrin Bauck

Katrin Bauck

Katrin Bauck

Julia Cusworth  | @juliacusworth

I have had this thick, flat brush for about 5 years. Once I decided to start pursuing art in my spare time, I delved back into my old supplies from college and university but found myself lacking in the brush department. I ordered a pack of iconic yellow Daler Rowleys and although I love them all, this is my favourite. It creates the most beautiful thick, fat strokes; stripes, swirls and ink splatters. It is bold and obvious - much like my art. It is the brush I reach for first and the one I know I could never replace. It helps guide my work when I don't know where to go next and it understands me. Not breaking or giving up when I don't always wash out the ink or glue but instead developing it's own unique texture, making it even more personal to me.

Julia Cusworth

Julia Cusworth

Julia Cusworth

Julia Cusworth

Sabrina Cottrill  | @sabrina.cottrill.art

My brushes are definitely not fancy or expensive and yet I realized a large chunk of my brushes have been with me a really long time. To some of the first ones I purchased back in high school for my first painting class. (Hello early 2000s) To then my college art days picking some up here and there when I could afford. Eyeing up the clearance ones working part time at an art store. They've moved from home to home and I got used to being a new mom and have finally found their way up from the basement and into my studio. 

Sabrina Cottrill

Sabrina Cottrill

There is just something so magical about seeing into other artist's creative worlds.

Thanks to everyone for sharing the stories thus far, I am so looking forward to sharing more next month in Volume 2.

Have a favorite brush you want to share? Tell me about it in the comments, use the hashtag over on instagram or head over to the page and submit there . Can't wait to read them!

<3

 

 

My Studio Bullet Journal

Well, it's not really a REAL bullet journal. I don't have the patience to make sure everything is lined up and perfectly straight (though I WISH I did, when executed with exactness bullet journals are so, so beautiful!)

EH-Sherman_journal.jpg

It's taken a decade or two for me to understand that if I commit to a habit, I need to have wiggle room - and while a perfectly designed and measured bullet journal might work for a few days, it's not something I'll keep up. So, messy, unmeasured journal it is.

My main focus is to break the day down into blocks for scheduling, but also keep a running tab of non time-specific to-dos. Between these two and all the extra space for notes, sketches and other blurbs I have found my holy grail for keeping the studio organized.

EH Sherman Studio Journal Organization

The physicality of the journal is super important to me. This journal isn't something that leaves my studio, and I absolutely have enough filled books already -- so the bigger the better.

This the Art Alternatives Giant Sketchbook (currently out of stock on Amazon, but I have few others listed in my shop here) and it feels like a wizard's tome. It's really heavy, but when I pull it out to plan the day and hits my table, it feels like this sacred moment before finding some ancient bit of knowledge... it engages me completely.

If you've never kept a bullet journal before, there are a bunch of great tutorials on Skillshare. To sign up follow this link and get access to their videos for 2 months for just 99 cents! I think the most important part is to find a system that clicks with the way you work and the habit will naturally take root. I couldn't commit to a perfectly measured out grid book, and I imagine in some one else may not be able to keep a book that was as scrawly and uneven as mine. Find what works for you!

If you do keep a studio journal of sorts, I'd love to see it! Comment below with an image or link of your journal, or share your organizational practices - maybe I can learn something new :)

EH Sherman bullet journal

Happy 2018!

Happy 2018 friends.

Just wanted to check-in briefly here to officially reopen my commission page for 2018, talk about a few changes you might see in this space. (And to say “hello!”It’s been awhile!) Hope you all had a warm holiday season and a great start to the new year!

On the subject of commissions; my studio is back up and running in this beautiful new space, recharged and revitalized from the time off. To get started on a project, you can either email me here, or fill out the form here. Projects are being scheduled for February-April currently, so let me know if you have a rush deadline.

Regarding changes; I’m in the middle of a site overhaul. (Finally!) Tending to my web presence hasn’t been top of my list for the last few months, with shows and holidays orders demanding most of my time. Now that I’ve got a pretty good handle on my winter schedule I’ve been able to devote some time to update my available work and redesign the flow of my site. I’m hoping to having it completed soon - sign up for my newsletter to get word of the official relaunch.

In other news, my Instagram following just passed 30k - a very nice little surprise to start off the year. What began as a personal, journaled approach to my art practice has morphed into a space I couldn’t have imagined. I’ve made lifelong friends, been a part of some truly fantastic projects and have found a wonderful community of artists and collectors to connect with. If you follow me over there, thanks so much for coming along for the ride - it’s been such a pleasure to share my process with you <3

Cheers to 2018!

studio.jpg

5 Things that Un-inspire Me

I’ve talked a fair amount about inspiration in the past. It’s a common topic I am asked to discuss and it’s a theme I find myself revisiting fairly frequently as my studio habits evolve. Going back to my “what inspires me” lists can be a good way to climb out of a creative rut too!

So, with “inspiration” fairly well covered for now, I thought I might talk a bit about my anti-inspiration, uninspiration; the things that take that creative spark and just snuff it right out.

EH Sherman 5 things that Destroy Inspiration

But first, let me define what I’m going to refer to as ‘uninspiration’. I don’t mean those ‘creative-blah’ days, or those phases we go through where we just aren’t psyched about the work we’re making. (Those are topics for another day and I don’t think they deserve their terrible reputations anyway!) I’m talking about being ready to work, brushes cleaned and canvas laid out - when boom, creative juices sapped. The willpower/passion/energy to work has just up and left the building.

5 Things “Un-inspire” Me:


1.) Exhaustion.

There’s only so much caffeine in the world. Nothing drains my creative willpower more than a few all-nighters, or a really REALLY busy schedule. Over the years I’ve had my full-time studio practice I’ve come to realize the immense importance of actually getting enough sleep. In this age of ‘soloprenuerism’ it’s common - even desirable to run ourselves ragged. To chase the dream until the point of exhaustion… to hustle until our bodies just give out. And that just doesn’t work for me. Thankfully I’ve gotten better about my sleep schedule (at least 7 hours on the regular!) and scheduling my projects to allow for a bit of recuperation at the end.

2.) Doing Too Much.

I love a challenge. Due to this, I also used to have a bad habit of taking on more than I could handle, assuming I could “make it work” in my schedule. There was a paralyzation that I would sometimes experience when my lists were too long, and I was trying to reply to too many emails. Knowing I had an unrealistic amount of work to accomplish that day was to be a surefire way for me not to get anything done. In the last few years I’ve adopted a much more realistic way to plan and budget, knowing that multi-tasking isn’t really my thing. Ron Swanson summed it up brilliantly, “Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”

3.) Uncomfortable clothes.

It sounds silly, but if my socks are itchy or my pants fit weirdly I will have a hard time proceeding with my work. I move a lot when I make my paintings, most of them are rooted in the motion my arm makes across the page, so anything that restricts movement is an absolute no-go. It may be cute, but if I can’t comfortably pop into a few yoga poses it’s not something I’ll wear in the studio. My usual outfit consists of a soft t-shirt under my favorite blue button-up (now covered in paint) and some good stretchy yoga pants. I think this applies to rest of my life as well as this point, not just the creative aspects of it. The older I get, the softer I want my fabrics I suppose.

4.) Weird smells. (don’t laugh!)

My nose is suuuuper sensitive. I can’t complain too much, it’s saved me from a possible apartment fire back in college. ((I woke up to a weird smell, traced it to my fridge and apparently it had just started sparking. Thankfully I was able to disconnect power before it caught on fire.)) This can also get in the way. A neighbor across the hall in Miami used to cook some very pungent dishes every now and then, and the smell would be so strong to me that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my work. I would go for a walk, or work outside instead, there was just no way I’d be able to ignore the scent. I now stock up on good vanilla candles, in case of a weird smell emergency.

5.) No clear plan.

Sometimes the plan can be “no plan”, but that’s still a plan. If I approach a blank canvas with truly nothing in mind, nothing comes from the work. If I want to paint but am unsure of where to start I usually peruse a few old sketchbooks until something calls out to me.

I realize these are relatively specific and a bit personal, so your 5 things are more than likely going to be entirely different. I’m really curious to know what yours are; what pulls you out of your work mode? What “un-inspires” you?