Do you have a special space to paint and draw? Or are you a ‘portable person’ and you simply make space wherever you go?

While you’ll sometimes find me sketching in a notebook or scrapbook in front of the telly, I do prefer drawing at a table and painting on an easel these days.

While my kids were really little, I used whatever space I could. The memory of painting at night, with my book or canvas propped up on a Milo tin, with one ear open for a rustle of bedding (my first baby slept in the pram a lot, so I would wheel him up beside the table), is still vivid. Of course, there were usually other things on the table, so I’d make do with whatever setup I could manage in the time I had!

Now that I have been painting for years though, I have figured out the way I like to work best. Admittedly it gets out of control occasionally – usually when collage is involved – but I do try to set myself up the way I know works well for me.

Now, I’m right handed… if you’re a lefty you’re no doubt used to mirror imaging things. 😉

I have my reference materials above and to the left of me and my substrate in this photo is a canvas paper pad.

On my right I choose the brushes I’m planning to use (here I have #6 and #12 round brushes, a 1/2 inch flat and a #12 hogs bristle brush), and my tear-off paper palette. I know of many artists who will use a small canvas as a palette and then reuse that canvas for a new painting – I think this is a terrific idea, I just have trouble remembering to do it!

Then I have an old teatowel for wiping my brushes, and usually two ice-cream buckets, about 2/3 full, of water. I use one to do the first wash of the brush, and the second for a final rinse between colours.

To the right of that I have a selection of paint colours that I plan to use. The Golden colours shown are my absolute favourites.

Now if I was painting a canvas for a Paint Along (40 x 50cm), this is the set up I’d have:


I’ve simply replaced my paper pad with this table easel. I’ve tried a few table easels over the years, starting with a ‘three legged’ version, but found they were a bit wobbly for my tastes.

This is the type I’ve decided works best for me (and in my Paint Alongs):


They cost about about $20 AU.

If I’m painting a bigger canvas I’ll use my standing easel, with a small table beside me, set up just as I’ve shown you above.

I’d love to see where you manage to paint. Feel free to email me a photo of where you’re working your own art magic!