I'm sure that there are things we all share and don't share on our blogs and on the web. I choose to share my collage and bookbinding on this blog, but don't share my paintings, even though painting is what I do primarily. I have a large floor easel that makes it easy to work standing, and I prefer to stand when I work. If I had a studio of 14' walls, I'd work against them with a ladder. The bigger, the better.
But in December I got the flu which seemed to settle in one knee, and I can't work standing on crutches. One very famous artist said, "The size of our spaces determines the size of our work". The size of my space is temporarily my table top. But when I'm painting a subject, I like my substrate standing vertically, not laying flat on the table. I've looked at table top easels in art stores with only slight interest, but now that I could really use one, I don't want to walk through the long, narrow isles on crutches to pick one out.
We were always encouraged to make our tools in art school, so I thought I could probably come up with something functional if I put my mind and hands to work. I found these plans on the web, but I didn't have the necessary wood or hardware at hand, and it was a trip to the store -- any store -- that I was trying to avoid. So, I grabbed a small box with all of its six sides intact: A shipping box from amazon.com which was perfect, since I needed something about the size of a large book. Fortunately, it came with a separate piece of notched corrugated cardboard inside, the perfect size to support a small piece of canvas, then I assembled the "tools" that I thought I'd need.
I cut the yellow tape covered riser from a box flap, notched it, and cut a slot in the middle of the back of the box to accomodate it. It promptly flopped over. So I removed the middle portion of the yellow tape, and inserted a wooden chopstick through it vertically, then replaced the tape. Now it stands upright and holds itself perfectly. I did go inside the box and tape the inserted portion of the riser to the back of the box to hold it steady, then I taped the box shut. And, you can see that I taped the box to the countertop. This is really important because it is so light weight that you could move it just by pushing with a paintbrush. Taping it down is all that's needed to take care of this problem.
I was lucky that this piece of notched corrugated cardboard was inside the box, but I could have cut one just like it from another box if I had needed to. I cut two slots on either side of the box to hold the notches. Disregard the slot in the middle. It was a mistake I made when I originally thought that was a good place for the back riser.
Not such a good idea to paint with wet media with only the corrugated cardboard behind the substrate. It might get soaked, and the bumps would transfer. I had a piece of 10" X 10" plexiglass, so I taped it in place. It works perfectly. You could substitue any number of things, such as a small cookie sheet or other piece of flat metal. I had thought to laminate several pieces of museum board to each other, then seal them with multiple coats of acrylic, sanded smooth. But then I remembered the plexiglass and realized I didn't have to go to all that work.
I do lay a piece of waxed paper over the top of the box to catch spills and keep the box dry when I paint. It's only an issue when I purposely go for drippy effects.
Works beautifully for my purposes, and I didn't have to shop for anything. Once the brain work was done, I think it took me about 20 minutes to assemble.