Easels For Artists

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Once you’ve purchased all your paints, brushes and supports, you may think you’re ready to start on painting.

One thing you may have forgotten is where you’re going to place your canvas or paper. Did you buy an easel?

Before you run back out to the craft store with your credit card at the ready, you need to do a little investigation.

An easel can be a costly investment. You should understand the differences in various models, so you can choose an easel that’s right for you, your budget and how you plan to paint.

What Kind Of Easel Should I Buy?

Different types of painting require different types of easels. If you’re a watercolorist, a vertical easel will have you dripping paint and water down your paper to the floor. If you plan to do huge canvases, a tabletop model is certainly not suitable. However, if you’re planning a career in miniatures, a tabletop easel is right up your alley.

If you prefer to paint standing, you’ll need a floor model easel, and if you’re ready to face the great outdoors for plein aire painting, then a portable easel will be easy to tote into the wide-open spaces.

Does It Matter What Medium I’m Using?

If you’re painting with oil paint, you know they canvases take a long time to dry. You should use an easel that can stand nearly vertical. The vertical position minimizes the amount of dust that settles on wet oil paint while it’s drying.
Acrylic paint dries rapidly, so the vertical position isn’t necessary for minimizing dust, so you can use whichever style easel you find most convenient.

If you’re a watercolorist, you need to consider the type of painting you do. Juicy, water filled brushes of paint will run gloriously down your paper if you’re painting in a vertical position. If you’re planning to use the runs and drips as part of your painting style, go ahead and use a vertically positioned easel. Just make sure you’ve placed a drop cloth beneath your work area. However, if drips are not part of your composition, an easel that adjusts to a slight slope will be more suitable.

How Much Does An Easel Cost?

Easels range in price from less than $20.00 to over $2000.00, so you can spend as much or as little as your budget allows. If you’re a beginning artist, you’re spending a lot on all the goodies necessary to start painting, so an inexpensive tabletop model or a sketching easel may fit your budget. Once you’ve decided to devote yourself to your new craft, you can start saving for a permanent replacement or put it on your Christmas wish list.

Tabletop Easels

If you’re short on space, tabletop easels are the way to go. They don’t take up precious real estate and they fold up easily for storage. They’re available in a number of forms that include miniature floor easels, tripods and easels with built-in storage drawers. Keep in mind that they won’t support large-scale canvases.

Studio Easels

Floor stand easels are built in two configurations. Square, H-frame easels are very stable and are perfect for heroic canvases. However, they take up a lot of floor space and are either difficult or time consuming to disassemble. They are the most costly and largest easels, so be realistic about considering this type of easel for your studio.

Tripod easels are less stable than H-frame easels, but they are simple to fold down for storage and are probably the most popular easel for artists who require an easel that can be positioned vertically. They’re also less costly, weigh less and are perfectly fine if you’re not planning to paint very large pieces.

French Easels

French easels are great multipurpose easels. They serve as an easel, a sketch box and a carrier for your canvas. They collapse for ease in transporting them, and they hold all your paints and palette. A French easel is also designed to hold a canvas, so you can carry all your supplies in one compact bundle. Their angle can be adjusted from horizontal to vertical. This set-up is perfect to take to and from a classroom or for travel.

Portable, Sketching And Display Easels

These easels are lightweight and fold down easily for treks into the great outdoors. They’re perfect for plein air painting, displaying a painting or if you don’t have room for a bulkier setup.

Buying an easel is a rather personal decision. Your choice of medium, your painting style and the size and material of your supports all play a part in determining which easel is right for you. Take your time to research what’s available in the price range you’ve allocated for your easel. You’re better off spending a little more to get an easel that suits you. It’s a long-term investment, so do your homework first.

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