In this ‘Watercolour Easels’ section, we offer a wide ranging choice of easels for the amateur and professional watercolour painter – for those with a large purpose built studio to those who paint in their kitchens and garden sheds. Because we know that watercolour painters will paint wherever space will allow, the easels that we sell offer a variety of solutions to a number of needs all commonly demanded by all kinds of artists.
Field and Sketching Easels
Field and sketching easels are easily folded, lightweight, and do not take up a lot of room. They are primarily designed to be taken out of doors for painting landscapes. They have their limitations even for landscape painting – a field easel will hold your work but they are often not very wind resistant, so our recommendation is to paint out of very breezy conditions! They are great for taking away on painting trips because they are so portable. We sell both aluminium and wooden field and sketching easels – there is little difference between the performances of the 2 kinds of easel. We have tried to specify the weight of all the easels where possible – as you can imagine a heavier easel is likely to be more wind resistant but at the same time it will be heavier to carry. Some field and sketching easels are known as ‘box easels ‘ – these have a special compartment for carrying all your paints and brushes. The lid acts as the canvas support for the easel. Box easels are helpful in ensuring you do not leave any important art material behind. Field and Sketching easels can also be the ideal easel for painters that paint in a space often used for something else, e.g. a room at home, because the easel can easily be folded and stored away when it is not required. They are sufficiently stable for small – medium works on paper, canvas or panel but not really suited to larger works (i.e. anything larger than half imperial on paper is a bit of a risk on a field easel).
Studio Easels are much heavier than field or sketching easels are designed for indoor use only. They can accommodate a much greater range of different sized canvases or supports; check on the studio easel page to see a comparison table of all the studio easels we offer. Studio easels are most commonly designed as an H-Frame or an A-frame easel. An H frame tends to be sturdier and heavier than an A frame easel; The base is made up of 3 wooden bars that make an ‘H’ shape that lay flat on the floor, making it very difficult to push the easel over. The heavier H frame easels have wheels fixed to their bases to make it easier to move around. A-frame easels are so called because they have 3 bars of wood assembled in an ‘A’ shape with the cross bar forming the canvas ledge. A forth wooden leg props the structure upright. The A-frame easel become less stable the more upright it is, so it is best used at an angle for maximum stability (i.e., a good distance between the back leg and the front legs). A-frame easels are easily folded up making them easy to store, and this is why they are popular among art schools, groups and classes. The base of an H-Frame easel makes them more difficult to set up back to back in a painting class – A-frames have no such issue, so it is easy to have easels back to back, making the most of the space you have available for working in as part of a group.
Radial easels are just as good a solution to maximising on space in an art class or group as A-Frame easels. This is because the base is made of 3 wooden bars that act as feet that touch the ground with equal distance between each foot. At the top of the 3 bars is the central canvas support. Because the base does not consist of bars that lie flat on the floor it makes it very easy to both store easels in their assembled position in the corner of a studio when they are not in use. It is also very easy to position them back to back when working as part of a group of artists in a very limited space. As a radial easel owner myself I find them a great asset to my studio as they are easy to move and the canvas ledge is easy to adjust, as well as the fact that they do not occupy very much space in my small studio. The only downside of radial easels is that they have a tendency to be easy to push backwards inadvertently, i.e. the central column of the easel if not screwed tightly enough to the base can easily be knocked back distorting the working angle, but this is easily rectified by tightening the screws as best you can and working lightly! The Tavy T Bar easel from Winsor and Newton is similar to a radial easel yet not identical – the base is formed of 2 wooden bars that form a stable ‘T’ shape. At £52 it is very good value for money for an easel that can accommodate supports up to 130cm without taking up too much space.
Table easels are a very useful piece of studio equipment to have if your space is limited. They can also offer an affordable ‘second easel’ in a larger studio if you are someone who would like to keep more than one work on an easel at any one time and work on them simultaneously. Table easels are designed to be used by artists who like to work sitting down. There are a number of different styles of table easel including H-frame easels, book stand easels (which can also handily double up as a cookery book stand if you happen to paint in your kitchen!) and tripod easels (less sturdy but lighter and great for display purposes). In addition to these there are also box table easels, which are essentially box field easels but without the telescopic legs. They allow you to handily store your art materials with your easel, helping (although not guaranteeing!) that none of your art materials go missing and stay with your easel, like a mini portable workstation. Mabef’s Pochade boxes are designed to make it easy to paint small panels in the landscape with a handy storage box attached for your paints and brushes – the lid opens to reveal clips under which you can secure your panel for painting on to. The box will fit on to most camera tripods, but there are also separate wooden legs available designed to fit the pochade boxes, which are available in 2 sizes. However pochade boxes can also be used like a conventional table box easel and placed on a table top for working in your home or studio, if you would prefer.