Advice on Buying Artist Easels

There is a vast array of art easels on the market, from table easels to studio easels, French easels and pochade boxes. How does the artist select the most suitable one for individual needs?
How to Buy Easels for Artists


Although there seems to be a complex array of easels on the market, there are really only two types of easels: table easels and studio easels. Studio easels are free standing and are suitable for artists who prefer to stand and paint as opposed to sitting, although the artist may sit on a high stool if desired.


The table easel is like a studio easel but without the height, enabling the artist to mount the easel on a table like a draughtsman board in order to sit and paint. Pochade boxes offer support for small sketches during plein air painting.


Which Studio Easel?


The artist with a penchant for very large paintings may have the room to accommodate a large studio easel, such as the H frame easel, which provides a sturdy support for large canvases and panels. The Bassett Studio easel or the Deluxe Studio Easel Professional provides everything the ambitious artist needs for completing large paintings in a studio, including storage tray and height adjustment.


An A frame studio easel or tripod easel, provides equal support for paintings as the H frame, but folds more compactly, making it a popular choice for artists. Its ratchet locking mechanism enables height and angle adjustment for the painting as well as a painting tray.

French Easels


The French Style easel is designed for the portable artist who may wish to embark on plein air painting, although it can also be used in the studio. It is lightweight, compact and is often supplied with its own carry case. Legs can be adjusted independently to accommodate uneven ground and a storage box is attached for the art materials. ProArt French Style Easles provides a good range of portable easels.





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Table Easels

The artist who wishes to sit at a table and paint may invest in a table top easel, or mini easel, which enables the artist to set up the painting station on a table rather like a draftsman’s drawing board, only it has all the fixtures and fittings that a studio easel has. Art Advantage’s Wood Table Easel has a roomy storage compartment for paints and sturdy support for paintings (and a set of paints).


Compact table easels fold into a carry case for extra mobility. Alternatively, a pochade box is worth considering for plein air painting, or for economy, make your own pochade box.


Advice on Buying Painting Easels


Be careful not to purchase easels designed for office presentation or one that is spindly and lightweight, for it will not provide sufficient support for the painting process, and will wobble about in windy weather. Check out the screw and bolt mechanism to ensure it tightens properly regarding the height adjustment and the angle support for the painting. The last thing the artist wants is a painting that keeps slipping during the painting.


Although a high finish in natural wood is very attractive, bear in mind that the industrious artist will inevitably get paint on the easel (which can actually make the easel look more attractive in time). A metal easel, often made of lightweight aluminium, will serve as well. The painting support mechanism is more important and should be tested fully before purchase.


Finally, consider the needs of the artist. If space is an issue, or if the artist pursues painting as a vocation, a small easel such as a table top easel might be the right choice. The artist on the move may consider a mobile easel, such as the French Style Easel, or a pochade box, for plein air painting.


The more industrious artist, particularly one who likes to work large, may opt for the A-frame or H-frame studio easel.


Check out my online store of artist easels for sale.

This site comprise of pictures and excerpts taken from my two art instruction books. Oil Paintings from Your Garden can be purchased direct from the author via this site, or through Amazon.


My other book, Oil Paintings from the Landscape can be purchased direct from Amazon.


© Rachel Shirley 2010


Photographic credits of easels: Mrs Scarborough from Wikimedia Commons