I am using a desk easel for pastel and graphite. Now that I will endeavor to learn to use color pencils, would it be easier to work on the desk and horizontally? What are you doing?
Hi Guy! I work flat all the time right now. However, I’m about to start doing more watercolor and ink. I’m thinking I might use my table easel with a very slight tilt for the watercolor and maybe the ink. I’m not sure. My lines with ink are still a bit unsteady. I’m currently doing the Subjects with Pen and Ink course, and I hope to see those lines improve. Part of it is lack of patience!!
I have fallen in love with doing pet portraits with pastels. I have found that’s the best way to get the softness of the fur and to be able to add highlights as I work, or at the end. I am notorious for losing my highlight areas that I carefully save at the beginning of the project. Then I have to go back with a gel pen or gouache to add them later on. I’m hoping to remedy that problem at some point.
I’m including my most recent pastel pet portrait which I’m giving to a friend for the holidays. I used pan pastels, pastel pencils, and a few strokes of Prismacolor Nu-Pastel sticks for some of the details. I’ve yet to get it matted and framed. I plan to have the mat do some cropping for me from the top and right side to lose some of the negative space.
Hi Guy - Here is a photo from the Peony colored pencil drawing as I was working on it back in June, 2023. So now I’ll answer your question. I never work on an easel for any media. I need flexibility to move my artwork around. In one of the painting lessons at The Virtual Instructor, Matt talked about how to make a pallet for mixing colors before painting. You can use a piece of glass and put something white under it and tape the edges. I use glass from various sizes of old or cheap picture frames, then put white foam core board cut to the same size (I get the foam core at the local dollar store for $1.25) under the glass and use wide masking tape or plastic packing tape on all sides to hold it together. This is indeed perfect for mixing oil or acrylic paint, but I find I like to also tape my drawing paper to it because it is so smooth, it is solid/stable so I can move it around, and with the foam backing it is lightweight. In this photo, I just moved my in-progress drawing to sit on my binding machine for the purpose of taking a progress photo with my cell phone.
Also, worth noting when looking at this photo, I trace almost all of my drawings onto the drawing paper because I like to spend my artwork time focusing on fine realistic details (rather than the freehand drawing process). My traced drawing is off to the left and wrapped around the back of my glass/foam core board because I wanted to keep it in place in case I needed to go back and add a missed reference line. A piece of copy paper is tacked on top of the photo I traced from so I don’t smear the graphite everywhere.
Now I put the drawing board flat on my table, or might at times tip it at an angle by putting the bottom edge of the board on my lap and the upper part of the board on the edge of the table. I can rotate it to draw at a more convenient angle if needed for parts of the drawing. I can also move it out of the way if I need the table for something else, or don’t want to let the cats walk all over it.
Long answer - but hope it helps.
I also work “flat” (borrowing @Brenda 's terminology ), rotating my sketchbook or page as needed, particularly when applying inks over my pencils. Sometimes I also hold my sketchbook, which puts it at an angle I suppose! Great question @guypeterson , and welcome to the forums! Jesus loves you!!!
I have an easel but find I don’t really care for it much. I do use it for painting or pastel. For drawing I just work flat on whatever surface is nearby. If it is very large or for pastel or watercolor pencils, I use a drawing Board.
I also draw flat most of the time. Especially with colored pencils and graphite. There are some mediums I use a tabletop easel form, oils and acrylics. soft pastels and sometimes for watercolor or ink painting I will prop the board I attach my artwork to on something to give it a slight incline, and even on an easel, I will turn my artwork around to have a more comfortable angle.
as Terri said, flexibility and comfort while drawing in my personal opinion is essential.
I look forward to seeing some of your drawings here on the forum.
Thank you for your insight. I am getting used to the tabletop easel and I enjoy it so far but will definitely try working directly on my desk. I will be sharing my artwork very soon. I am a beginner, so there is an element of shyness at the moment. But I am getting there!
Beautiful! I too find pastel better suited to convey a sense of softness.
Love your answer and the fact that you share a different approach. You make a lot of sense. So, thank you!
I’ve been working flat. I found the table easel cumbersome. But I bought used a small laptop table and the top tilts. I’m loving this. I can move my work or myself easily.
Good idea! I wish I’d seen it earlier. I already have a table easel, floor easel, and table top drawing board, all incline adjustable. I don’t have room for a drafting table. Well, I just don’t like overcrowding furniture that’d make me walk sideways to reach another area.
I have 4 tables around my chair in the living room. Four for art, not counting the normal side table that I now have covered with drawing pencils. I got a French easel for Christmas but I haven’t used it yet. I thought it would be smaller but when it’s set up it’s walking sideways like you said. I’m thinking of turning the whole living room into a studio.
Might as well! I started in my kitchen, with a backpack holding “all” my sakura markers, a sketchpad, lots gel pens, and gelly roll pens. Now my sideboard is now full of art supplies, spilled to “decorative” baskets and non decorative behind the door, under my dresser…
Still in my kitchen by the way. Fixin’ to move into my son’s old room (I’m an empty nester)
I have supplies all over the house. It’s incredibly unorganized and drives me crazy because I’ll know I have something and just can’t find it. That’s why I think making my largest room a studio will be best. I could get art supplies out of the rest of the house and I’d make a large bedroom into a TV room.
The more you get into any hobby that is crafty, the space you “want” to use just continues to grow. My husband builds scale model ships and airplanes. Believe me, he takes up much more space than me, especially for displaying his finished projects. But the other thing is that you can get by with very little space if you need to. It’s the rule of space, “you fill whatever space you have”.
Thought you might enjoy seeing one of my husband’s finished ships. It sits in a glass case that is 4’ wide and they take several years to build. One of them he spent 7 years working on. Now THAT’S PATIENCE.
I just fainted. Wow wow wow!!
@robichon ‘s husband
I truly love you Sonia. I’ve just been laughing with your response to my husband’s work / play.
I have on my list of projects to draw a sailing ship that might have been used in 1700 when my ancestors came to North America from France. This creation of your husband’s is absolutely magnificent and worthy of high praise! Well done!
I read your message to Jim and he says thanks. It’s just one of many that he has built. He also builds scale model planes from WWI and WWII.