Friday, 22 June 2012

A Cheap Easel for Artists to Last a Lifetime

Easels can be essential if completing large paintings, but can be costly. Saving money on easels is possible with a little knowledge about the types of easels available and finding the one that meets individual needs.

How to Save Money on Artist Easels

Firstly, don’t purchase the first easel that seems to fit requirement, as some provide extra features that may not be necessary. The best easel is one that suits individual needs without the fuss. To ensure the best easel will be found, conduct some research first. Basically, easels are divided into 2 types: standing easels and table easels. Are the paintings really too big for a table easel? If not, a substantial amount of money could be saved on purchasing an easel that is really superfluous to requirement. Let’s take a look at table easels first.

Types of Table Easels

Not every table easel is the same, but most will provide an adjustable angled surface on which to rest the painting. This means that the painting may be completed whilst the artist is seated, like a draughtsman. Some desk easels provide drawer compartments in which paints and brushes can be stored.

A more compact version of the table easel is the pochade box, which opens up like a Netbook. A slotted compartment protects wet paintings during transit. The table easel will accommodate paintings up to around 2 feet square. The pochade box (known as the cigar box) is designed for small sketches. Both the table easel and the pochade box can be folded compactly. Don’t purchase cheap desk document holders or display easels that may not provide a stable surface for the painting.

Standing Easels for Large Paintings

Artists that prefer to stand and paint or to work large may find the standing easel more suitable. Paintings in excess of 2.5 feet on any one side may require a standing easel. The types of standing easels are:

French easels: the most lightweight type of standing easel. The French easel is designed for the mobile artist that prefers to stand and paint. For this reason, the French folds compactly, but could become unstable in the wind. Adjustable screws on each leg means the easel can stand on uneven or sloped ground. Some come with travel bags for extra mobility.

The A Frame easel, otherwise known as a tripod easel: is a little heavier, and therefore provides a more stable support for paintings. With an adjustable ratchet system, the easel’s height and angle can be fine-tuned to suit artist needs.

Studio easel or H-frame easel: is designed to be a permanent fixture as it is quite heavy and sturdy. Paintings in excess of 4 feet on one side or can be used with the H-frame.

Cheap Easels to Suit Student Budgets

Watch out for unnecessary features on the easel, such as detachable artboxes, palettes or a high finish that may make the easel costly. Really the easel’s sole purpose is to provide a sturdy surface whilst providing flexibility in angle and height adjustment. Second-hand easels work just as well as a brand new one, and may be easy to find on Ebay or art schools. Don’t be put off by a tatty appearance, as it can be cleaned up. When purchasing a second-hand easel, look out for the following:

  • Signs of damp or infestation in the wood, such as woodworm.
  • Check that the thread on each butterfly screw is not worn out.
  • Ensure the folding device works properly.
  • Check that the painting support does not keep slipping downwards or sideways with minimal force.
  • Check the legs are stable and not rickety.
Remember, an old easel can easily be smartened up with some sandpaper and elbow-grease. Hardened oil paint can be whittled off with an old palette knife. A little olive oil can be wiped over the easel to renourish parched wood.

Saving Money on Art Easels

Money can be saved on easels if firstly thinking about artist needs. Purchasing an H-frame easel to serve small oils would be unnecessary, as would one with lots of unnecessary gadgets. A much cheaper table easel would serve watercolors or small sketches. But even then, large easels need not be costly if simply looking for something to offer a stable support for oil painting. An old, second-hand easel will work as well as a new one so long as all the butterfly screws tighten as required and the legs are not unstable. Old wood can easily be cleaned up, but watch out for damp or woodworm. Lengthen the life of the easel by storing in a dry place.

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