Studio easels are the largest types of easel, designed to accommodate larger painting supports. They are available in a few different styles; each takes up a differing amount of space and each offers varying amounts of stability.
Radial Easels – Radial easels take up the least amount of space and may be ideal for artists setting up a painting studio at home – they have 3 wooden feet and the main part of the easel is made up of a long thin rectangular frame, on to which a bottom and top canvas ledge is affixed. Because they can stack up against each other relatively easily, they are commonly seen in life drawing classes, where space is of utmost importance. Many radial easels tilt in the centre – this allows the artist to work at a slight angle without the whole easel falling over! The whole column can also tilt, but only slightly as it does affect the easel’s balance. Check the specifications of the easels for an idea of what size works the easel will hold.
PROS: Take up very little space, easy to move about, easy to store
CONS: Can be a little unstable, will not accommodate as large a canvas as some of the other easels
H-Frame Easels – As the name suggests, these are an H-Shaped structure on to which is fixed a central wooden column that the canvas supports are fixed on to. These easels have a square base, and the H Frame is secured to it at the front of the base with an angled support fixed to the back of the base. This allows you to adjust the angle of the easel without compromising its stability. These easels are heavier than the radial easels, but they are sturdier and the range of sizes of painting supports it can hold is greater. The more expensive H Frame easels such as Mabef’s Roma and Roma Grande and Milano easels have a shelf or drawer built underneath the lower canvas support which offers very practical storage space, for the materials you like to keep close to hand such as favourite colours, brushes and rags. For those of you who want the stability of an H Frame easel but know that you will need to move the easel frequently, I would recommend an H Frame easel with wheels, such as the Mabef Roma. When the easel is where you want it to be simply screw the bolts down and these will secure the easel in its position. For artists who struggle to adjust canvas ledges the Roma Grande has a very easy to use crank handle, and for those who have difficulty moving the easel from one end of the studio to another, we even sell an H Frame easel with a motor on it! Some of our H Frame easels will tilt to be completely horizontal (like working on a table) – this can be really useful for watercolourists and other painters who use paint with a very fluid consistency that do not want it to run.
PROS: Sturdy, can accommodate larger painting supports, some have shelves/drawers and some are adapted for less able artists, store flat but do not stack up against one another when upright
CONS: Can be very heavy
The main structure of an A-Frame easel is triangular – 3 pieces of wood form a triangle, 2 at the front and one at the back. A central canvas support runs between the 2 front legs and holds the top and bottom canvas ledges. On cheaper A-frame easels this column is fixed to the angle of the 3 front legs; on more expensive easels it can be adjusted to be at less of an angle. A Frame easels cannot be adjusted for horizontal working.
PROS: Sturdy, can be stored and stacked easily, can hold relatively large canvases, lighter than most H-frames
CONS: Can take up a bit more room when upright, not suitable for horizontal work, some of the cheaper versions do not have an adjustable angle for the canvas support