by Jean Bell July 23, 2018
One of the most important investments you’ll make as an artist is your easel. It’s literally the backbone of everything you create!
But choosing the right one requires a bit more consideration than most people realise - you can't simply waltz into an art supplies store and grab the first hunk of wood you see. You need one that suits your unique style of painting.
So to help you make the right decision, I’ve put together a little guide that will teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about art easels (and answer some of the questions you might have been afraid to ask!).
Ask the Right Questions
The first step to choosing a painting easel is to ask yourself these three simple questions:
Easy, right? Keep those answers in mind as you read about the different types of art easels.
Types of Art Easels
Alright, let’s dive right in. There are a lot of different artist easels out there, but they can be organised into the following types:
When most people think of a wooden easel, they think of an A-frame, also called a lyre. Unsurprisingly, it’s also what most people end up going with.
But that doesn’t mean that they’re the right choice for everyone. While A-frame painting easels are easy to fold up and store, they may not be sturdy enough to suit the needs of some artists.
Perfect for: Artists who work with small to medium-sized canvases, small spaces.
The sturdiest option available, H-frames can handle even the most vigorous painters and the largest canvases. The only downside? They’re not exactly petite. If you’re living in close quarters, you might have trouble finding a spot for it.
Perfect for: Serious artists with a dedicated studio space, large canvases.
As someone who’s a fan of watercolours and not a big fan of standing up, my table easel is my best friend. I can adjust the angle so that my liquid paint doesn’t run all over the canvas, and when I’m done I can just fold it up and stick it in the drawer. My only complaint is that it isn’t very accommodating to larger canvases.
A box easel is essentially just the same thing but with a nifty storage compartment, which is especially nice for painting on the go.
Perfect for: Artists who want to paint at a desk and enjoy working on a smaller canvas, travelling.
A single-mast is truly as simple as it gets, making it the perfect tool for beginners. Affordable, practical, and easy to store, you’ll see these no-frill wooden easels a lot in classroom settings. Not quite as supportive as an H-frame or an A-frame, but it still gets the job done.
Perfect for: Artists on a budget, cramped flats, beginners and students.
Not sure what medium you prefer yet, or can’t imagine your life without being able to use all of them? Then a hybrid is right up your alley. You can adjust the canvas to whatever angle you need, giving you the flexibility to paint or draw using any medium.
Perfect for: Multimedia artists who prefer flexibility over stability.
There’s really nothing like sitting outside at a park or by a lake and painting what you see, and that’s exactly what the plein air variety is designed for. Typically made from aluminum instead of wood, they fold to a compact size that’s perfect for travel.
Perfect for: Artists who enjoy working outdoors or travel frequently
A wooden easel stand isn’t meant for painting - it’s for showcasing your work. So while a basic stand may not be stable enough to take a brush to, it’s great for drying your completed oil paintings while you move on to the next one.
Perfect for: Oil painters who need a place to dry their work, tasteful home decorators who want to put their art on display.
Click the headings to view each easel time on the ARTdiscount site.
Commonly Asked Questions
Do I really need an easel?
It’s the question you’ve been wondering, but might have been too afraid to ask - do you actually need a wooden stand to paint? Can’t you just paint on a table?
No, you don’t needan artist easel to paint or sketch, but it’s a useful tool that gives you greater control over your work. Plus, painting on a vertical surface helps to prevent dust buildup and avoid spills. If you’re still skeptical, there are plenty of inexpensive ones available – hey, you’ll never know ‘til you try!
What separates a good easel from a great one?
Wooden easels can range anywhere from £20 to £500 - why? It mainly has to do with the size and the type of hardwood that it’s made from. For example, a huge H-frame made from a fancy wood like mahogany will make you reach deeper into your wallet than a simple single-mast frame made from oak.
How long should I expect my new easel to last?
A quality painting easel that’s well taken care of can last a lifetime - that’s why it’s so important to choose one that you love. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that you’re married to your first choice - as your needs change and your skills improve, you might want to add new types to your collection!
Now that you're up to speed on the different types of painting easels, have a look around our site to find the best prices on quality art supplies. Whether you’re searching for the perfect gift or need an artist easel for your own studio, you’re sure to find it here.
You’ll also find a wide selection of paints and other supplies at prices that can’t be beat - so go ahead and stock up or treat yourself to something new!
Images shown from Unsplash
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