I’ve got an easel in my art studio here in the house. I’ve made many a painting and drawing on it over the years but recently I haven’t been doing many large works so I haven’t had to use it for that purpose though I still use it though to display and look at things on. When I’m finished with a drawing that I make on my drawing table I’ll step over the the easel and lean the drawing up against the large white drawing board that sits on my easel. That allows me to see the drawing, print, sketch cover, or whatever I’ve made in a different light. That light is both literal and figurative.

Things build up on the easel these days. There is never just one drawing on the easel. First off, I always have one of my large 22×36 inch drawings in the background of the others. Since the drawing board is so large and a stark white I like to keep a large drawing on it at all times. Otherwise I catch a distracting glare off the board. I have a bunch of those large black and white ink drawings to choose from so I switch them out every now and again. It keeps me from being blinded by the white and reminds me the large drawings exist. That’s a good habit to get into. Remind yourself that your past work exists. I find it too easy to get caught up in what I’m doing now. The now is all fine and dandy on most days but sometimes I have no sense of accomplishment if I’m focused on the now. Seeing older stuff reminds me that I’ve done things.

I’ve generally been working in three sizes these days. Eleven by seventeen inches, eight and a half by eleven inches, and comic book sketch cover size which is around six and a half by ten inches. The bottom bar on my easel (my homemade easel I might add) where the drawings sit is about an inch and a quarter wide. It fits two eleven by seventeen and three eight and a half by eleven inch drawings side by side. That means I can stack quite a few drawings together but only the front ones can be seen. I tend to keep my most recent drawings on the easel with the ones I most recently completed in the front. I also rotate the ones I get tired of to the back or find a place to put them away once they’ve hung around a while.

I also take photos of my work on the easel. For stuff I am posting on eBay I take three photos. One from the front, one from the left, and one from the right. I even like to leave other pieces around the one I’m photographing. Since all the works are on paper I make a nice, clean, isolated scan of them anyway so I like the photos to have more personality. I like to show the works in an environment and in the context of some of my other stuff. I find that makes the photos more alive. It’s always good not to kill the work in a photograph (which is easy to do).

Often I either have eleven by seventeen inch drawings or eight and a half by eleven inch drawing on the easel. I do things in bunches so my most recent drawings can sometimes be all the same size. At other times I put the bigger drawings on the left and the smaller ones on the right. Putting the bigger drawings behind the smaller drawing usually doesn’t serve a purpose because it just blocks the bigger drawings.

The one purpose stacking small in front of big does serve is a photographic purpose. Stacking art makes for good photographs. I first learned that seeing photos of paintings stacked in Picasso’s studio. It was just so cool to see works of art stacked together even if everything wasn’t clear. It gave a sense of casualness to the art yet tinged with importance because I wanted to see what was in the stacks beyond the glimpses shown.

There is also something called “Impressionist Stacking.” Since Impressionist paintings could be small the people putting Impressionist shows together would “Stack” them on the wall. They would hang them in grids. Maybe six across and three or four high. You could take in a whole bunch of paintings at a glance. This also helped them compete visually with the much larger academic paintings of the time. I’ve always been a fan of Impressionist Stacking.

That leads me to my “Accidental still life.” That’s a term I use when I photograph a still life that I didn’t even arrange consciously. Sometimes a bunch of interesting stuff ends up organized in such a way that it looks artistic. Pens on my drawing table, brushes in my brush rack, random bottles of paint, and even nested cardboard boxes can turn into a still life. So I take a photo when that happens. Sometimes I go looking for ASLs and sometimes I stumble upon them. This one I stumbled on.

It started out with me making a still life. Since I had a bunch of my drawings on the easel I wanted to stack them a little and take a photo as I’ve done before. Big ones in back and small ones in front. Two by three. It made for an decent photo. The big drawing I had in the way back worked well because it was one big head. One, two, three was the stack. Nice.

Then a funny thing happened. I started to work on some five by seven inch drawings. I don’t usually stack them since they are so small but since I already had the other drawings lined up in size order I put one or two in front. I barely noticed the stack at this point but after a few days I had five of the five by seven inch drawings done. Then I had my stack, my accidental still life, complete. I put them all in the front of the easel. Five, three, two, one. A nice pyramid stack. And the front ones even had word balloons on them so they were talking to the viewer. It’s clever enough that I wish I planned it. But I’ll take a happy accident.


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