Thought I'd share how I set up a small still life by my easel. Right now I'm using my desk stand I use at art shows as the table. I've taken a medium size box, cut the flaps off and cut sides at an angle; lined it with white matboard. I then can either drape cloth over it or set up my still life inside to create a cozy special place for the objects I want to paint. I have a lamp to the side of the box to create a strong light source for shadows and contrasting light on objects.
I use different methods /paper when working with my soft pastels. When on the go, I usually attach paper to 1/8" foamcore. At home, I use this masonite drawing board. I like the firm surface instead of cushioning behind the paper with layers of newsprint. I'm using LaCarte Sanded pastel paper for this still life. I sometimes draw a 1/2" boarder around the edges to remind me to leave space so I can easily pick up the finished pastel without getting fingers covered with the dust. (Yes, you can still pick up some particles after using fixitve spray to set the pastels)
I prefer not to tape all the edges down (just the four corners) when I'm working with a lighter weight paper, such as MiTentes Canson paper. It sometimes "stretches" during the application of the pastels. I can easily lift a corner this way to pull and tighten the paper back down to the masonite if I need to. I've gotten in this habit, so I tend to tape all paper this way.
Below I've posted this piece in it's half finished state, and then the final piece with what the inspiration was to create it.
If you'd like to know more about my methods and products I use when painting with pastels, please don't hesitate to contact me at email@example.com I'll be posting the finished piece on my website for purchase since I have paypal there.