If you were to look at all the easels available at this leading New Zealand art and crafts retailer, you would come to the conclusion that you are spoilt for choice in the most bewildering way. There are easels in all shapes and sizes and made by all of the famous brands including Winsor & Newton, Jasart and Reeves.
With so many easels on the market, it really is easier to choose the wrong one than the right one, especially when you make your selection without expert advice. So, we asked the experts at that New Zealand art retailer for their opinion and they said a good place to start is to ask yourself the following questions and use the answers to narrow your search::
- Where will you use your easel?
- What size and weight is your work?
- Which painting mediums do you use?
- What is your painting style like?
- Are you able to stand at your easel for long periods or do you need to sit down?
- Do you have any accessibility issues that need to be taken into consideration?
By knowing where you’ll use your easel, you can immediately narrow down your options. For painting outdoors, a compact and portable easel is your best choice. If you are fortunate enough to have a large studio, then you may have more space for a sturdier easel that can stay in one place without having to be moved. In a spare room in your home, where you may need to move or store your easel when you’re not using it, something lightweight or collapsible is advisable. If you don’t have a dedicated space and need to work in a communal area like a kitchen or dining room, then a table easel might be your preferred option, as long as it is big enough to hold your work.
Size and weight is also a consideration. Most high-quality easels can hold weighty canvases but if you work with large amounts of mediums, thick paint and collage, you need to be careful that your painting won’t exceed a certain weight. If you like to work on a heavy canvas, then a professional studio easel should be part of your thinking. It may cost more to invest in such a product, but that’s better than losing your work because your easel is not strong enough to hold it securely. You must also consider the size of your work, and where it will need to sit in relation to you as you work. A classic example is if you like to work on a small scale, but prefer to stand at your easel instead of sitting. In this case, you will need to ensure the lower canvas support extends high enough to support your painting at a comfortable and workable height.
The medium you work in should also play a part in your final decision. For example, if you paint with watercolours, you won’t want your easel to be at a steep, vertical angle – this could make the paint run. You want an easel you can adjust to a lower vertical angle, or even horizontal, to allow you to paint smooth washes. Horizontal tilting is also good if you varnish your work as it makes it easier to apply the varnish in smooth and even layers. If you’re someone who prefers to paint in multiple sessions, an easel that can be tilted forward is good for reducing exposure to dust. This is also helpful to working with pastels as it allows excess dust to drop from the surface.
If you are a meticulous and slow painter, an easel that makes you stand for hours on end will make the activity uncomfortable and much less enjoyable. And a fatigued painter is not one able to devote all their concentration to their work. A table easel might be better suited to the way you paint, but if you need to use a larger easel, then you can sit on a stool in front of the easel. Just make sure it is adjustable so you can tilt it to gain easy access to the surface you’re painting on.
Finally, your painting style should also come into consideration. If you apply paint with great vigour and enthusiasm, the sturdier and stronger the easel, the better. For more delicate and gentle work, strength is less of an issue but you want to still be sure that it is big enough to comfortably hold your work.
One last word of advice from our New Zealand art supplies retailer. The very best way to choose the best easel is to get in touch with an expert like themselves and run through a checklist of everything you require. They know easels better than anyone, and their input will be invaluable in helping you choose the right one the first time around.