Setting up your space

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!

About Anna Battle

I’m an artist, guide, mother and a very handy Art Friend! 

My life’s mission is to share the joy of drawing and painting.

In 2011 I started offering in-studio guided Paint Alongs, and my first online course, 15 Flowers, went live in 2015.

In 2016 my book, Painting Party, was published (it’s still available on Amazon).

I now offer online Paint Alongs and workshops so that you can reconnect to the creativity inside you. Gift yourself the time to paint, and the guidance you need to improve your skills and your confidence. 

I invite you to join me and see the world through the eyes of an artist!

If not now, when?