What I Learned from My First Fair

Fin and Feather Art Fair Booth


Fin and Feather Booth Design


Fin and Feather Art Full Booth

This week I participated in my first Art/Craft Fair! I spent the days leading up to the event cutting/signing prints, making spreadsheets and pricelists and organizing work. I was existing in a state of excited nervousness, so curious as to how the event would go, and yet so paranoid that I would forget something important. I can’t tell you how many times I checked and double-checked to make sure I had packed my square reader…

Thankfully, the day was awesome and went off without a hitch. I made a lot of new friends, (other booths as well as customers) and learned a great deal. Can’t ask for much more :)

In the space in between sales as I sat at my little booth, I tried to keep track of what I learned and what I might do differently for the next fair. Here’s a quick little rundown of what I came up with;

1.) Watch out for loading zones.

I accidentally drove past the orange cones and right into the walkway for loading/unloading. I felt so stupid.

2.)Load up car the night before.

Packing everything up at 8 am seemed like a good idea then, but as I trudged back and forth to the garage nervously checking the time, I realized the loading should have been done the night previous.

3.)Label EACH item with a price.

I had my items grouped together, with one price tag applying to a whole area. I.E, Bookmarks = $10. No one looked at the tag, everyone expected to see a price on the back. I didn’t mind rattling off my prices when people would ask, but it would have saved everyone a bit of time if the information they wanted was in the place they expected it.


It was 89 degrees and sunny.

5.) Include location on the sign.

A lot of people were interested if I was local or not, which was interesting. Had I written “Miami, FL” on my signage, it may have saved my customers a bit more of their time.

Overall, I had a blast. It was a beautiful day, well organized and a portion of the booth fees and entry tickets went to a great cause. (Wounded Warriors). I can’t wait until the next one!


Michigan Excursion

Whew! It’s been a whirlwind the last few weeks – commissions, meetings, teaching and traveling has left me rather exhausted. I took a few days off after returning from Michigan last week ( a killer cold didn’t help…) to transition back into work mode, and am feeling pretty well and caught up now.

Here’s a few pics from our journey northward :)

Snowcrab - Fin and Feather Art
<3<3 Snowcrab <3<3



grand rapids brewing - fin and feather art
Lunch Break. Wonderful sour from Grand Rapids Brewing


sketching - fin and feather art
Sketching for succulent commission in the parent’s sunroom.


Michigan Farm - Fin and Feather Art
One of the many iconic family farms dotting the Michigan roadways.



Airplane Window - Fin and Feather Art
Back to Miami!

Hope everyone is having an excellent start to the week!





From the Road: New Orleans!

Yikes, it’s been awhile.

I’m trying to get better at blogging regularly – but sometimes life just takes over and steamrolls any attempt at scheduling.

Having been successfully steamrolled, I now present ( 2 weeks late) a little photo recap of our JazzFest 2015 adventure :)



Abstract Artist Ellen Sherman in New Orleans
How beautiful is St. Louis Catherdral?



Abstract Artist Ellen Sherman and beignets
Beignets, sitting on steps, listening to a brass band. Happiness.


The streets were filled with dancing, drinking and merriment.


Bloody Mary at Jackson Square
I could have eaten those beans for the rest of my life. Apparently I like Bloody Marys.


And finally, getting a little bit of work done.


The city was lovely, the people warm and friendly and the food

Let’s just say I have a TON of damage control to do now that we are home. Daily 10ks here I come!

Working from the Road Part II: When to Work

ellen sherman artWelcome to Part II of my little traveling artist blog series. You can read Part I (all about how I pack my carry-on here)

This is a post mostly about my own struggle with time management while out of the studio.

As I write this, I am set up at my wonderful in-laws kitchen table, planner and sketchbook spread across the knotty pine tabletop, and feeling like over the last week I might have sat here in this exact layout a bit too frequently.

The balance between doing work and enjoying the people/places and things you’ve traveled to see is a delicate one, one that has eluded me rather recently.

Overworking means missing out on experiences, might as well be home.

Underworking means getting to be a part of every aspect of the journey, but you might find yourself a little low in the monthly budget, or with clients that feel neglected. Not good.

I will take this moment though to advocate for a TRUE VACATION. A set block of time that has been agreed upon ahead of time with clients, stores turned off and email returned with pleasant out-of-the-office replies. A full break from work can be a terrifying experience for the first 12 hours, but incredibly rewarding once one learns to let go. I try to take 1 – 2 of these respites a year to give myself a chance to decompress and renew. Occasionally these mini-retreats don’t even require leaving home, I turn just turn work off and turn inward for a bit. More on that to come.

Full work breaks aren’t always feasible though. And in those times, being able to decide when to say; “sorry hiking path to the waterfall, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow – I have to chat with clients today.”  and “sorry clients, there is a waterfall with my name on it, I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” can be a very vexing task.

ellen sherman art travel
Delayed flights means blogging.


For me, it boils down to discipline in both situations. Being able to commit to time away from work can be just as hard as committing to work in the face of a shining lake or distant relative.

As with most situations, if I came up with a system things would generally fall into place. I spent a while making lists, categorizing needs/wants and finally came up with what *I think* will be my measuring stick as I go forward.

First part is; clients are top priority. If I can’t be in the studio, I’ll make a schedule of their project with daily/weekly goals to make sure I do not fall behind. I am upfront about my travel time, and never leave when there is a deadline – so this works out fairly well.

Once I have dealt with any client concerns/work for the day, I’m able to transition to travel-mode. Hiking, exploring, eating, painting — embracing whatever comes that day.

The second prong of my traveling artist plan, is to make a list of the top 3 projects that are important to me/my brand. For instance the last trip I was on I chose 1) Pinterest 2.) Instagram 3.) my blog.

Once I have those decided, I’ll plan to get up an hour or two early on ‘work’ days, get some coffee in me and crank out as much as I can. A lot of times if I am unsure of the importance of one task over another these cram sessions will help sort what is most important.

It’s not a flawless system but it helps me stay organized and on top of my work while still enjoying the places and face I have traveled to see.

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?




Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about balance.

How to make sure that my energy is distributed as healthily as possible : Between my art practice, commissions, freelance and personal projects, as well as my seriously wonderful husband, our fantastic friends and family, and my own mental well being.

If I have time left over, maybe I’ll get to the dishes.

Making sure to budget time efficiently has always been a bit of stumbling block for me, as I can quickly find myself 6 hours into a painting when I would swear only 2 went by.  Alarms, are a utterly fantastic invention.

One of the aspects of my life that has helped to keep me organized, keep me balanced, is my yoga practice. Three times a week usually out at Bayfront park in Miami (or at a nearby studio) has been a source of incredible insight and a wealth of personal growth. Beyond the blocking-off of two hours and the schedule crunch that creates, the poses, the breathing, the reflection has developed an inner voice I did not know I possessed.

After a particularly refreshing class this Saturday, I came home and immediately started to paint. I had a slip of an idea as I walked back from the park in my post-yoga haze and wanted to make sure to get it onto paper before ate breakfast and showered.




Three stones, each bleeding into each other, supporting each other.

I titled it ‘Balance’ and it now sits above my keyboard. It serves as a reminder to myself to honor what is truly important and let a natural balance pervade.

What about you? Do you have any tactics or tricks to keep your schedule/life in check? Leave them below, or send me a tweet!



At the PAMM — Beatriz Milhazes: Jardim Botânico

I FINALLY got myself over to the Perez Art Museum Miami last week for the final days of the Beatriz Milhazes exhibition — and I am so, so glad I did.

The first major US retrospective of the Brazilian artist’s work, Jardim Botânico featured rooms filled with her large-scale abstract paintings. Inspired by Brazilian and European Modernism, the Baroque and the Carnival; gallery walls came alive with her patterning and joyful use of color. Milhazes’ process relies unapologetically on the use of acrylic transfers (a process that is very near and dear to my heart), leaving behind delightful hints and clues about the creation of the work in the forms of cracks and bubbles in the surface.  The resulting texture is gorgeous, prematurely aged and fell somewhere between a candy shop and the royal bedroom of Versailles. It is a blend that I found entrancing.

I did however find myself more drawn to the organic references of her earlier work. Some of the newer and harder-edged abstracts did not captivate me as completely. Oh well, to each their own.

I wish I could say ‘Go see the show!’ but unfortunately, it has already closed  (I was lucky enough to get there the day before). But I will definitely be following her to see where she’ll be next!