Choosing the Right Easel
By Rob Pitts
Choosing the right easel is a very important, if not often considered, part of painting. Regardless of how you paint, it is very important to have an easel that is steady and firm. It should hold the canvas without shaking, especially if you paint in a heavy-handed, impasto style. Nothing is more annoying than a poor easel, and while you could pay a lot of money for a really nice easel, there are quality easels available that won't break the bank.
Along with the quality of the easel, you also have to consider the style of the easel. Do you paint extra large canvases that require two masts and a winch, or are you a painting-a-day painter, that paints primarily small canvases? Or do you fall somewhere in-between, like the majority of painters. Whatever your preference, one of the following is sure to suit your needs:
Single-Mast Easels: Generally more affordable, Single-Mast Easels are the simplest easel form. They generally take up less space and store with ease. They're ideal for cramped apartments or school studios. However, they can't be counted on to provide the same flexibility or sturdiness of more traditional easels.
Convertible Easels: Providing maximum flexibility, Convertible Easels are ideal for artists who prefer to paint in more than one medium. Designed to accommodate the needs of the oil and acrylic painter, they also convert to the needs of the watercolorist or pastel painter.
A-Frame (or Lyre) Easels: These triangular shaped easels provide a sturdier support for your canvas than the Single-Mast Easel. Their single rear leg, collapsible for easy storage in most models, can be placed in corners and tight spaces. Unfortunately, A-Frame Easels generally don't allow forward tilt of the painting surface, and can limit your options when considering larger canvases.
H-Frame Easels: These models are designed with a rectangular silhouette and sturdy rectangular base, enabling them to accommodate much larger canvases than other types of easels. Some models even accept giant canvases, have crank adjustments and paint trays, and most offer a forward tilt, making things even more convenient for the painter. Additionally, many H-Frame Easel models can be collapsed for storage and transport., though they are heavier and clumsier in their collapsed state than A-Frame and Single-Mast Easels.
Giant Easels: Just like the name implies, Giant Easels are for the artist that likes to work on a large scale, supporting canvases taller than 8 ft (244 cm). Giant Easels are enlarged versions of the standard easel designs, some with extra accommodations such as a double mast, or a winch to hoist heavy surfaces.
I have a passion for studying the history of western art, and its numerous influences. My own drawings and paintings have been profoundly influenced over the years by the artists that came before me, as well as a number of talented artists still living today. Visit me at http://www.oilandpigment.blogspot.com
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