Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Drawing Table

This is a versatile drawing table/easel system that functions as an adjustable light table, too. The construction is very simple, yet it's sturdier than commercially available drawing tables. Though my primary medium is pen and ink, I also use it for water media and enamel painting.

A) My drawing surface of choice is thick plate glass. I like to feel the ultra smooth, non-yielding surface under the paper. That forces an awareness of the paper quality and enhances the sense of touch. There is no universal pen point that works with all types of substrates. Ink consistency must be constantly monitored. The glass comes in handy when a backlight is needed.

B) Here the backlighting is shown. Though this placement is sufficient for most jobs, the lamp can easily be raised for art that requires lots of detail work at its top edge. For prolonged use, I sometimes use tinted glass instead of clear, but the paper alone is usually thick enough to avoid eyestrain.

C) For oversize work when backlighting is not an issue, I prefer to use a thin steel sheet. Small magnets make minute adjustments of paper quite simple. The plate glass acts as a brace, so that the steel sheet doesn't bend backwards at the top. It provides a very rigid surface, which is important for doing detail work or scribing long fluid lines.

D) This is the base seen from behind. Notice how the central strut has a long slot into which it is placed. By inserting blocks of various thickness there, the drawing angle can be adjusted. Generally speaking, this low level shown is most ideal for watercolor, while I prefer the steeper angle shown in earlier photos for pen and ink. This is entirely a personal choice.

E) Here's how it looks from the front. What cannot be seen from the photograph is that there are a series of holes drilled a regular intervals into the flat vertical supports.

F) Carriage bolts inserted through the holes allow for the placement of a cross brace in case the lower part of the artwork has to be carefully articulated, or perhaps a small sign painted. This makes the work a lot easier on the spine, too.