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Monday, June 3, 2013

In search of the perfect easel

I can handle the Sun-Eden storage because it's plastic and light. I hate carrying around wooden storage space just because someone else thinks it's necessary.
Of course, there IS no perfect easel, but I do have a perfect palette, and I want an easel deserving of it

My current easel took its last gasp at ABVI’s “Play It Forward” on Saturday. It’s ironic that, after years of being hoisted over rocks, up hillsides, through snow and withering heat, it would succumb during an air-conditioned cocktail party. (Perhaps it was shock.)

My palette on the Sun-Eden.
I have painted with a French easel (which proved to be too heavy and awkward), a Gloucester easel (which is far too big and inflexible),a Guerrilla box (which is just too heavy to carry long distances but is solid as a rock in high winds), simple tripod easels of both wood and aluminum  (which have no shelves so necessitate bringing a table), and a beechwood folding tripod easel with adjustable head. The last has always been my favorite, except it’s relatively delicate and has finally succumbed to overuse.
My palette on the Featherlight Pro.
The best possible place to explore easel options is when you’re with a bunch of other serious artists, and NYPAP’s Statewide Paintout at Olana provided a great opportunity to look at two easels—the Sun-Eden Traveling Easel and Featherlight Pro Easel. (And thanks again to Jamie Grossman and Bea Gustafson for giving me the highlights of their easels.)

Corinne Avery's shelf solution. Very useful for watercolor, which is light. Not so good for oils.
I also came across this and wonder if I ought to just buy it and the Plein Air Pro shelf to attach to my Slik camera tripod, which is a high-quality, underutilized piece of equipment.

In order of importance, what matters to me is:
  • Light weight (I want to be able to backpack my kit short distances when necessary);
  • Durability;
  • A stable shelf on which I can secure my palette;
  • An adjustable head that is separate from the body;
  • NO extra weight in built-in storage (that’s what Tupperware is for);
  • A hook from which I can hang my backpack to stabilize the thing;
  • Reasonable price.

 So I’m curious: what easel do you like and why?

August and September are sold out for my workshop at Lakewatch Manor in Rockland, ME... and the other sessions are selling fast.  Join us in June, July and October, but please hurry! Check here for more information.


Linda Puiatti said...

I've tried the featherlight easel, always had trouble getting the clip to hold on to the canvas. Nice concept but unfortunately, it did not work for me, I use a French box, very heavy indeed.

Anonymous said...

That clip mechanism is my biggest concern as well. I really do prefer a swivel head.