I am curious...Do you paint on an easel, drafting type table or table? Most of the classes I have been exposed to begin with an easel. I am in the habit of having my reference photo on a table with my canvas on my lap. Not the greatest posture, but I feel I have the best control. I have only attempted 1 large painting, 3'x4' (attached) and used a chair as an easel. Obviously, whatever works for me would be the expected answer, but I am looking for "how you paint" and if you feel there is an advantage. I am new enough that I can make changes. Thanks and happy painting!

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hi Micki! thanks for posting this. i am curios to see the answers you get. i am painting like you. my reference is up in front of me. and my canvas is in my lap, my left hand. it is comfortable to me.

your heron painting is beautiful :)

Good question...My reference photo or sketch is imported to my laptop and viewed on  27" monitor. I work standing at the easel when my canvas is 12 x 16 or larger or if I am working with pastels of any size (so the dust falls down into a catch all). Otherwise I do my sketching, ink work, watercolour painting and small acrylic paintings sitting at my desk with a slanted board as my easel.

Here is a photo of my space taken last October.

This would be my dream studio. We will call you organized. Sometimes I cannot find a pencil to get started. 

Hi Micki!

I would say the biggest reason I use an easel, over having the reference and the painting flat on a surface, is glare. I get a lot of glare from the overhead lights when things are flat. I do paint flat for tiny canvases, it's just too hard to sit them up on an easel.

One easy fix for glare is to roll up an old towel and lean your canvas on it. This raises it up just enough to fight the glare.

A lot of painters stand at their easel. I'm lazy and my feet tend to hurt, so I sit. I use a rolling desk chair with the back and arms removed. That way I can easily roll back from my work to get a better view.

That is the second reason to have your painting upright. The ability to stand back and view it. It's super important to do this often while you paint. It helps you get the big picture and not focus on the detail too soon. It is also what your viewer will see when they step into the room!

An alternative that I use a lot is to set up a portable full length mirror behind me. The cheap kind. I just lean it up against a chair or table. This lets me turn around as I paint and catch a view of the painting much like what you see from a distance.

Great question Micki!

I really like your point about the distance from the reference material. I forget this (I am new) like squinting to see shadows etc. I spent the afternoon painting and found that I needed to keep repainting areas because I was jumping the gun on adding the details. I wish I had read this before I started. 

Last week I was working on a couple highly textured 9x12 panels and found myself resting one edge in my lap while the other lay against the edge of my work table.  More typically I use the easel.

I have always preferred to paint while standing, so I guess that answers one question!  It is easier to back away, and certainly easier to deal with a telephone that demands attention.  Then of course, there is the impromptu gyrations that occur when a really good jazz number flows around the room. .    .

Working up small sketches or doing colour test sheets usually happens while seated next to a mug of good coffee. 

If you check out plein air sites, you will probably find as many artists seated as standing, so I guess in the end it is whatever works for you.

You sound like you have fun while you paint. Brilliant!
Micki, it's funny that you bring that question up because I feel like I nearly strained my back when I recently began to paint again. I paint on an easel standing with the reference photo taped directly above my canvas. After standing and painting intently for 2 hours I realized I either need to get more in the habit, get a chair, or take breaks often - probably all three! Scott.
Hi Micki. I like this discussion - it is so interesting to hear how others paint.
I also use an easel and I vary standing and sitting (on a stool) to keep from getting stiff. I generally have my reference photo on a monitor connected to my laptop. That way, I can use 2 pictures when needed.
I also use my lap top monitor for my reference photo. I use my easel to set my painting away from me, so i can see it.


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