How to choose the right painting easel
No matter if you are an experienced painter or just starting out, an art easel is an essential part of the painting experience that will help you take your creations to the next level. There are many benefits to using an artist easel, such as allowing the artist to stand straight as they paint instead of hunched over, encouraging the full use of the arm when painting and allowing artists to step back and view their easel art from a distance. Many art easels also offer adjustments in angle and height, allowing you to paint comfortably and ensuring your medium doesn't run or puddle.
There are many painting easels out there - let us help you choose the right one for your next painting project!
- What is an easel?
- What are painting easels made of?
- What artist easel types are there?
- What are the best easels for painting with?
- How to care for your easel
What is an easel?
The kind of easel you see being used to paint on is usually referred to as an artist easel, painting easel, or a painting stand. Artist easel types include easels for painting small canvases, large canvases, painting outside or even ones just for display purposes.
What are painting easels made of?
Art easels can be made of a few different kinds of material, with each suiting different needs for artists. Common materials include:
- Wood - the most common types of woods used to make easels are beechwood, oak and bamboo. Bamboo easels are lightweight and flexible, oak easels are sturdy and strong and beechwood easels are an affordable choice for beginner artists.
- Metal - aluminium or steel are the most common metals used to create easels. Aluminium is very light and ideal for transportable easels, while steel is stronger and heavier.
- Plastic - easels made from plastic are usually used for display purposes or for children, as they are not strong or sturdy enough for professional painters.
What artist easel types are there?
Easels come in many different types, so choosing the one that suits your painting space, level of experience and mobility is important. Spotlight's range of artist easel styles includes:
- A-frame/lyre - named because they look like an A when viewed head-on, these easels have three legs, two at the front and one at the back. Each leg comes to a point at the top of the easel in a triangle shape. Because of their design, these art easels are great for tucking into a corner and are well-suited for artists who might not have a huge space to paint in.
- H-frame - the defining feature of an H-frame easel is its sturdy base, making it ideal for artists who want to start easel painting on a large canvas. They are often large and heavy, and so are not easy to move but great for artists who might be using erratic painting techniques that would wobble a lesser frame. They are ideal for use in a permanent studio setting.
- Tabletop - the smallest type of painting easel available, table easels are designed to rest on - you guessed it - a table. They are ideal for artists who like to paint smaller canvases as they allow you to sit as you work, and they are also very transportable. Some table easels even come with storage for painting supplies!
- Display - show off your finished piece with a display easel. While they are not strong enough for painting on, display easels are designed to make your art look as good as possible, and sometimes come with extra-special features to help you present your art as impressively as possible.
What are the best easels for painting with?
The location you choose to make your easel painting in will help determine what kind of artist easel you should choose. Check out the following examples of what easels are best suited where!
- You want to paint outdoors in a field - painting 'plein air' is a wonderful way to let nature inspire your art, but you'll want an easel that is easy to transport and can withstand the outdoors. Easels made of aluminium or beechwood will be light enough for you to carry comfortably - try to choose easels especially made for outdoor painting, as they will have studs on the bottom of the legs you can dig into the ground for stability. You may like to bring some sort of outdoor umbrella or shade to protect you from any adverse weather.
- You want to paint in your studio - if you are lucky enough to have a dedicated studio for painting, it's a great opportunity to shell out for the best quality painting stand you can find. An oak H-frame painting easel gives you the strength and adjustability professional artists need, while also allowing you to step back and view your artwork from a distance to check things like ratio, colour balance and overall composition.
- You want to paint in your spare room - if you have the space to paint in an extra bedroom or office at home, you can afford to have a larger art easel but will need one that can be packed away when you're finished. A-frame easels can hold larger canvases, but fold away neatly and can fit into tight corners, so they're perfect for quickly setting up in your spare room, painting and then being put away.
- You want to paint on your dining room table - if you decide to paint easel art at home on a bench or table, a tabletop easel will let you work comfortably while seated and will also prevent drips and spills from falling onto your workspace. If the table you are working on is small, consider a table easel with built-in storage so you can have your paints and tools within easy reach.
How to care for your easel
A well-made easel should last you a very long time, but there are some small things you can do to keep your art easel clean and in good condition.
- Oil it - if your painting easel is made from wood, keeping it oiled will prevent it from drying and cracking over time. You can use home olive oil for this or linseed oil, but both oils act quite differently on wood so please research which one you would like to use carefully. You should also use a little machine oil on the knobs every few years to keep them lubricated.
- Clean it - if you love the look of a paint-splattered easel, you can skip this step! Otherwise cleaning off water-based paints like acrylic and watercolour is easy - just wipe it off quickly while the paint is wet. Wiping oil paint on the other hand can cause it to sink into your easel if it is made of wood. It's best to wait for oil paint to dry before carefully scraping it off a wooden easel.
- Store it - easels should be stored in a dry, shaded area of your property to prevent warping, cracking or rusting due to moisture and heat. If your painting easel folds up, consider storing it in a cupboard or underneath a desk or bed.
Be sure to give your easel a thorough once-over every few years to tighten screws, check for cracks and clean out any dirt or dust accumulating in compact areas.
Find the right art easel at Spotlight
Create your next easel art masterpiece on a Spotlight painting easel! You can purchase your easel online and choose from home delivery or click and collect options, or simply head to your nearest Spotlight store and our team will help you find the right easel for your project.
If you are unsure of the kinds of art supplies you need, let our buying guides help you make the right purchase choice for the lowest price.