Choosing an Easel that's right for you!
So you would like to start painting and you have pretty much everything you need to get started. You dive right into your project and things are going great! Rather quickly though, you begin to feel a crick in your neck after staring down at your work-in-progress laying on a flat table.
What could be making your process better and painless?
An easel, of course!
An easel can be a worthy investment if you plan to continue to work on your art career, or even if you’re just getting started. They can add enjoyment and EASE to your art practice. (Get it?!)
They can be beneficial because they allow you to take a step back from your work and view it vertically rather than on a flat table. This can give you a better vantage point and show you where to add improvements into your work.
They can span a wide range of price points, materials, and purposes to suit the needs of pretty much every artist!
Wallack's has several easel options that can fit every budget and lifestyle, and our staff are well-versed in the ins and outs of what makes each easel amazing!
Let us outline each style of easel so you can find which one will work best for you and your lifestyle!.
Parts of an Easel
As you can imagine, all easels are different. But, for the most part, there are similar parts on each that will allow them to do relatively the same functions.
The function of all easels is to hold an artwork so that it can be worked on. They will typically all have a mast in the middle of the back that will act as the main support for the artwork. Some masts will be adjustable, and others will be stationary.
There will always be a bottom canvas carrier, where you would rest a canvas onto while you work. There is also typically a to canvas holder, which has a purpose of sandwiching your canvas in place so that it doesn't move much while you work.
Easels will have several places where you can make adjustments to the height or angle in which the parts lay so that it will accommodate for working while sitting or standing.
What type is right for you?
There are a few questions you should be asking yourself before making an easel purchase.
- What scale do you work on?
- What materials do you primarily use?
- What is your budget?
- Do you have a dedicated studio space?
- Will you need a space to store supplies?
- Will you need to travel with your easel?
Keep these questions in mind while you read through the easel types to determine the best fit for you!
All the types of easels
- A-Frame Easels (also known as a Lyre Easel)
- H-Frame Easels
- Travel Easel (also known as Portable or Plein Air Easels)
- Oversized Easels
- Convertible Easels
- Tabletop Easels
- Single Mast Easels
Something to think about: There are often more than one purpose for an easel. For example, a travel easel can work perfectly fine for someone who only likes to work indoors, but may have a small space.
A-Frame Easels (also known as a Lyre Easel)
Just like the name suggests, an A-frame easel takes the form of the letter A and is triangular in construction when you look at it head-on. It has a single post that supports it from the back which is typically adjustable, meaning you can change the angle that you work at. Because of this single post, these easels are easy to position in the corner of a room while you work, or even when they’re being stored! This means, if you’re limited on space, this could be a great option for you. It can support a canvas up to 48" easily. Any larger than that, the easel can tend to get a bit wobbly.
Similarly, an H-frame easel is built and resembles the letter H. They have two vertical posts that are connected by a single horizontal post. Both vertical posts are hinged to a square base that they can tilt from, which makes this type of easel much sturdier than the A-frame. However, because of this base type, it can be more difficult to tuck this easel into a corner.
Sometimes these easels can be compacted enough that they lay flat, and therefore can be stored under a bed or into a closet. So, if you’re strapped for space, ensure that your H-frame easel has this ability.
The construction of this easel is sturdy, which is why it can hold a much larger canvas, sometimes as large as 60".
Travel Easel (also known as Portable or Plein Air Easels)
If you’re a jet-setter or like to take your art practice outdoors to paint plein air, then you should opt for a travel easel.
These easels are lightweight and can often compact into a small bag for easy carrying.
They can be made of aluminum or sometimes wood (which will add to the weight - so consider this when your deciding)
Typically these easels will have adjustable legs that can be manipulated to fit onto uneven surfaces like hillsides or rocky terrains.
Some of these easels will come with space to store additional supplies, and some will even come with a wooden palette.
Because these easels unfold, it can make them a little unstable if they're not properly put together.
Some other travel easels will compact into a box that will also store a small amount of art supplies like watercolours. The box will look similar to a briefcase but it will have the components of the easel that will unfold out of the structure.
This might sound like you: You love to work on huge surfaces and working on a wall is just not cutting it anymore. You need an easel that will support artwork that is over 5 feet long, and for it to remain firmly in place while you lay out big gestural marks, or tiny precise details.
An oversized easel will be a perfect option for you. True to its name, these easels are huge. They take up a lot of space and are meant to be a permanent structure in a room due to their weight. Some will come with wheels that will make it easier to shift around the space, but most will not compact down into a smaller size for storage.
They’re built to be tough! They’re typically made of a dense and heavy-duty wood which makes them withstand years of working conditions.
There is often a higher price point for these easels. They can range anywhere from $500 - $1000+
If you like to explore several different types of mediums then it might be best for you to choose a convertible easel. These easels can be adjusted to accommodate for a bunch of painting styles, from acrylic and oil to watercolour and encaustic!
The easels can shift in ways that allow the working surface to be completely horizontal, which makes it ideal for super liquidy paints that need to sit on the surface without dripping.
They can then be moved into an upright position to use for all other types of mediums.
If you enjoy sitting while you work, you might want to consider a tabletop easel! They are smaller in scale and can usually accommodate for work that is 20” and smaller. These easels can also be used to display completed works or photographs in your space.
Single Mast Easels
Single mast easels are long and thin and accommodate for canvases that are quite tall. You may have to be careful while you’re working on larger scale work, as this type of easel is the least sturdy of them all. A benefit of having a single mast is that they take up far less space and are one of the easiest of fold down into a smaller area for storage. They are typically made of wood and can also make a nice display for your artwork.
Caring for an easel
Caring for an easel is simple. The cleaner you can keep it, the better. This may seem like an impossible task to some, but even if you keep excess paint away from joints, it will last far longer. After a few years of use you may have to tighten some of the joints, and even apply a little bit of lubricant to make sure everything moves smoothly.
Buying an easel can be a BIG purchase. You really want to make sure you're investing in one that will fit your lifestyle now and in the future. There are a ton of options that allow you to paint large or small scale, some that will fit in a tiny space, outdoors, or some that will neatly pack your supplies within a box. It's important to do your research to narrow down the options before taking the plunge. If you're looking to get a hands-on look at what the different easels can do for you, come and have a look at all the options we have displayed right on the floor at Wallack's!