Small Business Week – My Studio Essentials

Happy Small Business Week friends!

In celebration of this joyous occasion, I’ll be featuring a few aspects of Fin and Feather Art as well as showing off a few shops that I absolutely adore. The maker community is huge and growing fast, and an incredibly inspirational place to be <3 <3

For today – the first day of Small Business Week, I wanted to give you guys a peek into the things that my studio wouldn’t run without. Well, it probably would still run, but not as smoothly.

…Or  be as nice-smelling.

So here a few things that I really appreciate having in my work space. What about you? What inspires you on your desk?


1: Voluspa Saijo Persimmon Candle. I first stumbled upon this scent after arriving home from a 2 month adventure in Europe. I was full of inspiration, full of ideas and hungry to make some serious work. Now, every time I light this candle (or subsequent candles — I’ve gone through many.) I am reminded of that feeling and try to channel it into my current projects.

2: Succulents. As many as I can physically keep alive.

3: Faux fur lap blanket. Sometimes I get cold, even in Miami. Wrapping myself up in a FAUX fur blanket while working (not with paint though, too messy) makes me feel warm and medieval-ly.

4: TEA (and/or coffee). For reasons.

5: My ancient Muk-Luks. Seriously, I’ve had them for near 10 years. Nothing keeps my toes warmer.

6: Headphones/Ipod

7: (See 6). My current playlist on repeat; The Skyrim Soundtrack (45 mins of atmospheric sounds? YES PLEASE.) and both Lord Huron albums. Pure poetry.

8: My black swatch watch. I regularly work into the wee hours of the morning and if I’m not hovering by my computer I tend to lose track of time crazy fast. I try not to have my phone out when I’m painting either, I like to commit to distraction-free-paint sessions as often as I can. Rather frequently I’ll realize I worked straight through dinner, or it’s 2 hours before sunrise — so wearing a watch has helped be a subtle reminder to eat, and you know, actually sleep.

Tomorrow I’ll be back with some info on some of my favorite small shops (both local and international), so feel free to drop any suggestions below!





Working from the Road I; My Carry-On

art supply travel ellen sherman

With family sprawling across the U.S and a strong desire to fly our Miami coop every so often, my husband and I find ourselves on the road (or in the air) quite often. When I first started traveling as a full time artist, I overpacked. Actually, overpacked is putting it lightly. I overstuffed my carry on, my suitcase, whatever other bags were coming with us with more paint, paper and other supplies than I could feasibly use up. I was terrified of needing something and not having it at arms reach. My poor husband had to share luggage space with sketchbooks, canvases — it was just downright silly.

Eventually I came to my senses, with a much appreciated quote from photographer Chase Jarvis; “the best camera is the one you take with you.”

I was doing no one a favor by lugging around all this extra stuff and was definitely hindering the fluidity of the traveling-artist experience. So I paired down. And down. And down.

This is my supply list currently;

  1. My moleskine watercolor sketchbook. A4 sized, perfect for backpacks/carryons. I use this for quick sketches in the morning, blocking out ideas and keeping loose napkins and other papers in the back folder.
  2. 8 x 10 cold-pressed Arches tablet. I don’t always bring this, usually only on longer trips that might afford some time for more serious work.
  3. Travel watercolor kit. I am currently using the kit from Sakura, bought way, way back when I was still in undergrad.
  4. Sakura travel brushes.

And that’s it.

abstract watercolor ellen sherman

What about you? What art supplies can you absolutely not leave home with?



Overcoming the Dreaded Creative Slump.

Overcoming a Creative Slump. Tips and Tricks by Fin and Feather Art


Its no secret, I’ve definitely fallen victim to that dreaded slump on a few agonizing occasions.

And when I inevitably do, I try to recognize it as quickly as possible and start the steps to get back on track. In my more recent lull, I decided to make a plan for myself – a map that might serve as a motivational spur, keeping me working towards a goal even when my brain decides to take a vacation.

After organizing it, I thought I might share it with you all. If it helped me, hopefully it can help someone else :)



I bought a planner.


At the start of this year one of my major intentions for 2015 was organization.

With no clear organizational hierarchy, my notes, sketches, schedules and ideas were scattered and strewn about my studio and were nearly impossible to prioritize.

Already in scarcity, the time I was spent tracking things down and re-making lists was getting a bit out of hand. At the start of the new year I decided enough was enough, I was going to break down and actually buy a *dramatic pause* planner.

I’ve bought a few in the past, but always found myself writing more in the margins than in the actual date. They were constricting, confining and I hated the process of scheduling in such blocked-out fashion. I decided to do a bit of research this time and found myself reading about the kickstarter project of Angela Trinidad.

I was intrigued by the thought behind the project, but was still wary based on my awful track record with planners. Thankfully, the site offered a pdf copy for download – so after posting to my facebook wall (a requirement for download that I totally understand) I was able to try it out. I don’t even think a full week went by before I ordered a real copy.

It’s the greatest planner I’ve ever used. Loads of blank space for doodles, some great points of self-reflection, goal-tracking… the whole shebang. It’s especially great for me as I keep a separate blank sketchbook too – I am able to make small thumbnails of sketches I want to develop further into the dates of the planner, thus scheduling my studio time more effectively.

My *real* copy arrived the other day, and I just now finished copying the loose-leaf pdf version into the beautiful black book. So excited to keep this organizational ball rolling!

What about you? Any tricks to staying ontop of work/school? You’ve heard mine, leave me comment with your favorite organizational tool :)




New Abstract Work available for Pre-Order!

Happy Monday folks! Hope you all had excellent weekends!



My weekend seemed to be devoted to the more adult side of life — revolving around taxes, laundry and picking out new floor tiles. No complaints here though, it was all necessary and some of it a good bit of fun. We’re still dealing with some flood damage from back in November, so I am all about with getting the discolored carpet ripped up and replaced with shiny new (flood resistant) tile.

In addition to these pursuits, I was also able to finally color check a run of brand new prints made from my recent abstract watercolors. They passed with flying colors (pun completely intended) so I am super happy to announce that I will be taking preorders for the first 20 prints of each painting! Each work measures 8.5 x 11 inches and is printed on gorgeous, heavy weight fine art paper using archival quality ink.

For all pre-orders I’ll also be reducing the cost from $25.00 per print, to $20 until the first run sells out.

Simply click here to send me an email. 

Make sure to note the following;

1.) The letter corresponding to print (see below) that you would like to order.

2.) The quantity of each print you would like to order.

3.) The address of where the print should be sent to.

I will confirm availability and will send a paypal invoice back to the email. Payment must be made within 24 hours of the invoice being sent. Once I’ve received payment, the print will ship within the next 2 business days.

Feel free to contact me with any questions on the offer, or for any additional images of the prints :)


Watercolor Abstracts available for Pre-Order!
Watercolor Abstracts available for Pre-Order!


Fin and Feather Packaging

Packing 101


I love making work, but I also love packing it up.

Over the three years I’ve had my online store open to the public I’ve accumulated a pretty good set of simple guidelines to help me with packing orders, as well as some things that I *wish* I had known when I started out.

First and foremost, DONT SKIMP ON PACKING SUPPLIES. Just don’t. Add on the extra cost to the shipping, or the initial cost of the item – but make sure the order is packed safely. Customers aren’t buying the work because it is cheap (hopefully), they are buying the work because they love it and want it in their space.  A safe arrival is more than worth an extra dollar.

Once a store has momentum (especially around the holidays) packing and shipping work can easily take over the entire day. For the three weeks before Christmas, I usually put the ‘making’ of work on the back burner, to focus on the shipping. In short, that’s a LOT of time packing. It’s so, so much easier to commit to multiple days of packing work when it’s fun and spreads your brand. Finding the essence of the work, essentially the brand ‘flair’ and featuring it as the orders are packed not only gives the customer a more meaningful, valuable experience when unwrapping – but totally adds to the experience of packing. Quick note of caution here, it’s so so easy to get sucked into over-packaging, and when there are a lot of orders to go out, or a time crunch, over-packing can turn into a very stressful situation.  I use stickers, washi-tape and branded envelopes to keep the process flowing quickly, but they also create that unique package, that’s as entertaining to wrap as it is to unwrap.

Along the same lines, unwrap your own packages!!! Embarrassingly, I spent about 5 months packing up my orders backwards. I put the entire bundle of work/packing slip/thankyous into the envelope so that when the customer opened it, the bundle came out upside down. Not exactly the image I wanted to portray. So, when a new system of packing is implemented, I totally recommend wrapping up one package and unwrapping it to experience what the customers will (and adjusting accordingly).

And perhaps the most obvious, SHIP EARLY.  Even when I have 7 days lead time, I try to make sure the orders are shipped by the 3rd. I have complete faith in the US postal service, but things seem to spring up more often than not – and I like to have the luxury of a few days cushion. This is most important during the holiday rush, as I’ve experienced quite a few orders being significantly delayed (and even lost) during the hustle and bustle.

Hope this guide helps, whether the store is brand new or well seasoned. Any tips you’d like share? Leave them here or tweet them to me @fin_feather_art!

Happy Packing!!!

Christmas cards and cookies!

It’s been a Christmasy weekend here in the studio.

Between wrapping up the last presents, getting all of our winter clothes ready and general holiday revelry – my workspace has been more or less covered in all sorts of things Christmas. Yesterday afternoon was spent finishing up the Christmas cards, interspersed with batches of cookies, with a few small watercolors thrown in for good measure.

As it is every year, it will be a race to get everything packed wrapped and sent – but I’d like to think I’m making headway. Cookies help, right?