Artists don’t need to use an easel to paint, but they do come in handy. Easels have been in use since the first century and probably even earlier than that, so we may take a note from our ancestors on this one.
Although you can balance your canvas on any surface like your knees, flat on a table or a wall, painting on an easel brings with it a multitude of benefits.
What Is the Purpose of An Easel?
An easel is made to hold your painting in an upright position while you paint. Some easels also come with storage to hold your art paraphernalia. Beyond this, the specific purpose of each easel depends on the type you are considering.
What Goes on An Easel?
An easel usually holds a canvas, paper, or other flat surfaces that an artist might paint. Most easels are adjustable so they can hold various sizes of canvases. You should ensure the easel you choose can hold the typical size of canvas you paint on.
For example, if you usually paint on small canvases, use an easel that can accommodate this canvas height, and if you usually paint on large canvases, you will need a different type of easel.
What Are the Advantages of An Easel?
The main benefit is the outcome of your painting. An easel holds your painting at the angle at which it will be displayed. This means it is easier for you to measure the proportions of your painting when using an easel. Artists who switch to using an easel often find that this solves the problem of the top portion of their art being bigger than the bottom portion, which occurs because of the change in the painter’s perspective when painting on a flat surface.
Easels also allow the artist to stand up and move around more. Some say using an easel gives them greater freedom of expression and more confident brushstrokes.
What Are the Disadvantages of An Easel?
- Easels can be a bit of a learning curve if you have never used one before. Depending on the type you get, you may have to deal with bulky construction, confusing assembly, or heavy parts. This is why it is important to compare various types available and pick one that you need. Once you pick the right easel and get the hang of using it, you can overcome most of the disadvantages.
- Getting used to using an easel is probably the most difficult part. Your arm may get tired because you cannot rest it on a table, or you may weary from standing for long periods of time. This can be mitigated by using a stool and taking breaks while painting. Don’t worry. You will get used over time.
- Another concern you may need to consider is how much space you have. If you have a small studio or use a multipurpose room as an art studio, then it will be a hassle to move a large H-frame easel out of the way every day. You will want a more portable easel like a table top or an A-frame.
- The final disadvantage of an easel is that it is not ideal for all types of art. If you do acrylic pour or heavy watercolor, an easel will allow the paint to drip down the canvas. This is unless you have an easel that can hold your canvas parallel to the ground. This is why it is vital to pick the correct easel for your taste and needs.
What Type of Easel Should I Buy?
There are many types of easels one can buy, so consider your needs as an artist as you shop. We will recommend some popular models here.
- Table top easels: These are good if you are just a beginner transitioning from flat painting to an easel. Table top type will allow you to adjust the slope of your painting like an easel would while sitting flat on a table or another similar surface. This easel type is also good if you prefer to sit while painting as many types require you to stand or at least use a stool.
- A-frame easels: They come in many different sub-varieties, but they tend to be cheaper and more portable than other types. A-frames easels are easy to fold up into a corner if your studio space doubles as a bedroom or office. They are great for painting outside.
- H-frame: These types of easels tend to be sturdier and more expensive. They usually come with a storage compartment for your painting paraphernalia. This makes them a bit heavier and good for someone who doesn’t plan on moving very much.
These are only a few main types of easels available. Whether you are just beginning to work with or a seasoned artist, a new easel can give you a chance to try painting from a new perspective or position. Sometimes this is all it takes to find your inner inspiration.
Should I Use an Easel for Watercolor Painting?
Using an easel for your watercolors is a personal choice. Consider how much water you use in your watercolors and what type of easel you want to use. Type with adjustable inclines could be set at a slight incline to help you with perspective without letting the paint run very much. An incline may not be as much of an issue if you do not use much water in your paints as they won’t be as likely to run.
If you use a lot of water in your paintings, then any incline will cause the water to run down the painting. Most watercolorists do not want their paint to run at all, and they choose to work on a flat surface.
How Can I Paint A Canvas Without an Easel?
Some artists prefer painting flat instead of using an easel. You can simply rest your painting on the surface of a table, your lap, or any other flat surface as you paint. You can prop the top edge (the edge furthest away from you) upon a wooden board or another object to help you achieve better perspective.