Art Supply Resources
An easel is an essential piece of basic equipment as it provides a secure platform for your artwork. When purchasing an easel it is important to look for qualities that best suit your personal work style. If you’re new to art, it’s advisable to buy an inexpensive easel and plan to replace it in a year or so, after you’ve gained some experience and have a better idea of what you need. However, in the long run it is to your advantage to buy the most versatile, sturdiest easel you can afford. Sometimes, more than one easel may be necessary to suit all of your styles.
Easels encompass a wide range of needs for every level of artist from beginner to professional. They can be made from different grades of wood and aluminum with styles ranging from master easels, to display easels, to small tabletop easels. You can pay ten ($10.00) to ten-hundred ($1,000.00) dollars for an easel, so it’s a good idea to do some research and find out what type of easel best suits your needs and style. No matter the decision, an easel can ease your work considerably.
Types of Easels
Two of the most common types of easels are studio and sketching easels. Studio easels are large and quite often heavy. They are designed to support large canvases and are typically constructed of wood. Sketching easels are light and compact for portability. They are designed to hold smaller canvases and can be used when sketching or painting outdoors.
Consider the weight of the canvas you most often work on. Do you need an easel that will hold a heavy canvas? Envision yourself poking or stabbing at the canvas as you would with a brush and think about the stability of the easel. Does the easel move around too much, so as to hinder the painting experience?
Artists sometimes prefer to have the center of the canvas in line with their vision. Because of this, some find it imperative to have an adjustable canvas tray. Also very useful is an adjustable clamp at the top of an easel which attaches the top of the canvas to the easel body for extra support. Adjustable legs offer the benefit of working at various heights, and also allow the user to change the angle at which the easel holds a canvas. Angle flexibility provides artists who work in pastels the ability to work more cleanly, because an adjustment can angle falling chalk particles away from the surface of the paper. Watercolor artists hindered by water movement, and usually limited to working on a table, can benefit from a clamp mounted table easel that adjusts to lie flat. Be sure to consider the space in which you work. The easel you choose should either fit the area full-time or easily fold up out of the way.
If you paint outdoors, the portability and weight of your easel become factors. Usually a simple inexpensive model will serve, but you may prefer the luxuries of the more specialized easels which feature carrying handles, backpack straps, a palette and a supply drawer.
When painting outdoors, also known as plein air, windy conditions can make your easel an unsteady work surface. In such cases, the easel maybe secured by suspending a large stone from the apex of the tripod, or by tying the legs to pegs pushed firmly into the ground.