The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Artist Easel

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Artist Easel


Embarking on an artistic journey not only requires talent and vision but also the proper tools to bring your ideas to life. Among these, the artist easel stands as a crucial support for your canvas and creativity. This guide aims to assist you in finding the ideal easel that complements both your art and workspace, enhancing your entire creative process.

What is an Artist Easel?

An artist easel is far more than a simple stand for canvases; it is an integral part of the art-making process. Easels are designed to hold various canvas sizes and are adjustable, enabling artists to work comfortably at their preferred height and angle. This adjustability is essential for maintaining proper perspective and ergonomic comfort during long painting sessions.

Easels not only provide functionality but also transform a space into a creative environment. They help maintain proper posture and reduce the risk of physical strain. Equipped with features like adjustable clamps and supply trays, easels streamline the painting experience, proving indispensable for artists at all levels.

Types of Artist Easels

Easels are broadly categorised into studio and plein air types, each tailored to specific artistic needs.

Studio Easels

Studio easels are robust and designed for stationary use, perfect for handling large canvases and detailed artwork. They include:

  • H-frame easels: Known for their stability and adjustable features, suitable for a variety of canvas sizes.
  • A-frame easels: These are lighter and collapsible, ideal for artists with limited space.
  • Single mast easels: The simplest and most economical option, these are portable and great for beginners.

Plein Air Easels

For artists who prefer painting outdoors, plein air easels are lightweight and easily portable, designed for quick setup and mobility. They often feature legs that adjust to uneven terrain, making them perfect for capturing outdoor scenes.

Choosing the Right Easel for Your Needs

Selecting an easel involves considering several factors such as size, weight, adjustability, material, and your specific medium. The size and weight of the easel affect its portability and ease of storage, crucial for artists who travel or have limited space. Adjustability is important for comfort, allowing you to work in various styles and durations without strain. Easels made from wood offer a traditional look and feel, while metal easels are prized for their durability.

Easels Based on Specific Medium

When selecting an easel, aligning it with the specific requirements of your chosen medium is essential for achieving the best results in your artwork. Each medium has unique demands that influence the choice of an easel.

Watercolour artists require easels that can adjust to various angles. This flexibility is crucial as the tilt of the easel can significantly affect the flow and blending of watercolours, allowing artists to manipulate the medium with precision. Easels that can be positioned horizontally are particularly beneficial, as they prevent water from pooling in certain areas of the paper, providing uniform application and drying.

For oil and acrylic painters, a sturdy easel is as non-negotiable as a quality canvas roll. These mediums often involve the application of heavy layers of paint and require an easel that can support significant weight without wobbling. Vertical easels are typically preferred as they allow artists to step back frequently to view the artwork from a distance and assess progress, which is crucial for detailed brushwork.

Artists working with pastels might prefer easels that offer a slightly forward tilt. This position helps to reduce the amount of pastel dust that can accumulate on the surface of the artwork, which can affect the clarity and vibrancy of the colours.

For those who engage in mixed media art, versatility in an easel is key. An easel that adjusts easily between different angles and orientations allows artists to switch between mediums and techniques effortlessly.

Setting Up Your Easel

Proper easel setup is critical for a productive painting session:

1. Assemble Your Easel

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it is stable and balanced.

2. Adjust the Height

Set the centre of the canvas to eye level to avoid any neck or back strain. Ideally, you want to be in a position to keep your neck long for the duration of your painting session.

3. Mount Your Canvas

Securely mount your canvas on the easel. If your easel has adjustable clamps, tighten them so that the canvas is stable and they prevent movement while painting.

4. Tilt to the Ideal Angle

Adjust the angle of the easel according to your painting style and medium. For detailed work or certain mediums like oil and acrylic, a more upright angle may be preferred. Watercolour painters often need a flatter angle to control the flow of paint.

5. Make Final Adjustments

Ensure your palette, brushes, and other tools are within easy reach. Adjust your lighting so that it illuminates your canvas evenly without creating glare.

Easel Maintenance and Care

Keeping your artist easel properly maintained is key to its longevity and functionality. Here’s how to maintain your easel effectively:

  • Regular Cleaning: Wipe down the easel after use to remove dust and paint. Use a damp cloth for wooden easels and mild soapy water for metal easels. Avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Tighten Loose Parts: Regularly check for any loose screws or bolts, tightening as required, to maintain stability and extend the easel's life.
  • Protect from the Elements: Store in a dry, cool place to prevent moisture damage. Avoid leaving your easel exposed to harsh weather if used outdoors.
  • Lubricate Moving Parts: For easels with adjustable components, a silicone-based lubricant can keep movements smooth and prevent rust.
  • Prompt Damage Repairs: Address any damage as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration.
  • Seasonal Checks: Conduct a thorough inspection at least once a year to ensure all parts are in good working order.

Final Thoughts

By understanding the different types available and matching one to your specific artistic needs and style, you can significantly enhance your painting experience. The right easel not only aids in the creation of art but also supports your overall creative process. Reflect on these insights to select an easel that truly meets your artistic requirements and notice the difference when you sit down for a lengthy painting session!