Do you find that you need extra support under your arm while painting? The solution is a simple artist tool called a mahl stick. It is both easy to use and inexpensive to buy or make yourself.
A mahl stick is a stick or thin pole that is about 1 meter (3 feet) in length with a ball-shaped pad at one end. It is used as an aid in painting, particularly in oil painting because it takes so long to dry.
The mahl stick has two primary purposes:
You will find that a mahl stick is useful when painting details and a steady hand is absolutely crucial. It is also handy when painting near wet paint that you want to avoid touching accidentally.
There really is no magic trick to using a mahl stick: it is a support held in front of the canvas to use as a hand rest while painting. However, it does takes some time to get used to and you will want to know a few tips before starting.
If you rest the mahl stick on the little finger and forearm of your non-painting arm, you can use the other fingers of that hand to hold your palette and extra brushes. It takes a bit of practice but is possible and very efficient.
A mahl stick is a very simple device and you can choose to buy one from an art store or make it yourself. It is a matter of personal preference and whether or not you already have a suitable stick available. If you consider purchasing one, it should cost less than $30.
To make a mahl stick, you will need a piece of bamboo, a dowel, or a similar round stick:
Other DIY options for a mahl stick include a walking stick (hook the handle over the edge of a canvas) or an old golf club. It doesn't have to be a thing of beauty, just stiff and not too heavy.
If you do not have a stick available, you can even use your arm for support.