Solving the Easel Puzzle

A short simple post answering questions about selecting an Easel or a Drawing Board. People usually have two opposing thoughts on this topic. Some feel “what is there to select? Every artist or painter needs an Easel” while others feel “it is the last thing to invest in”. There are a lot of myths about an Easel. No doubt it makes an excellent gift to give an artist, but do you know which one to select?

Easels are a one-time investment and costly. Every artist uses whatever he or she is comfortable with. Not all artists draw, sketch or paint on an inclined surface. Different painting styles can mean using or not using the Easel. What I feel is that earlier people began carving or drawing on walls and ceilings most people would draw or paint like that. Then later when the paper was discovered, our writing desks had a slight inclined table top. Now if you have noticed, our table tops are flat.

Great! So do you need an Easel or not? All photos depicting an artist will always show an artist with an Easel. It is very symbolic. However only artists painting a canvas use an Easel. We can and many artists sketching in pencil or charcoal attach their paper to a drawing board and put it on an Easel.

For my art exams and in school we did not have Easels. Drawing on our school desk during class or then most of the times sitting on the floor. It was with the drawing board in my lap sitting cross-legged on the floor. Yes, it can mean a backache after long hours of work. Whenever, I draw and paint on paper, I keep the paper on a drawing board or a flat table top. But for Acrylic Painting or Oil Painting, I need an Easel. The canvas is painted keeping it upright.

Easels are usually wooden or metal. An Easel made of metal is more versatile and is like a tripod for lights or a camera. It is suitable both outdoors and indoors and the height is adjustable. Next, we get travel Easels with a drawer for art supplies to carry on outdoor trips. Then there is the authentic symbolic wooden Easel. Yes, we do get two or three variants in them. Last but not least we get Easels used only with a display board.

Things to keep in mind while selecting an Easel are :-

  • The Easel is heavyweight and sturdy. It stands upright correctly balanced and doesn’t move or shiver while painting.
  • The Easel is suitable to draw or paint on the size of the canvas or drawing board that the artist most commonly uses.
  • The height of the Easel – whether the artist paints while sitting or standing and if by any chance the artist is taller or shorter than average. The comfortable height that he or she paints at.
  • The finish polish or coating on the Easel that is there to protect it from rusting. This is important because the canvas or paper can develop stains or mould if the Easel is damaged.
  • Outdoors or Indoors – some artists paint outdoors on tours or trips.

Similarly when selecting a drawing board it is important to look at it from a similar point of view. I would say it is like selecting a cricket bat. The drawing board gets seasoned over time and the artist gets used to it. Common sense isn’t it? But a very important decision. Because it is a one-time buy and it is the highest investment compared to all the other art materials.

Some artists prefer custom-made Drawing Boards and Easels. It is a good idea to get one made if one has a source. We can put our drawing board on the Easel as well. Special clips that will not leave a mark on the paper when secured tightly to the board are easily available. Note the thickness of the drawing board while selecting the clips.

Then after years when it wares off and the artist has to buy a new one, it takes a really long while to set up with a new one. It affects the art or rather the comfort level while drawing or painting. That’s a small post on Easels and Drawing Boards this weekend. Have a great week ahead!

Did you know? The wooden pieces that come along with the canvas are actually keys used to tighten or stretch the canvas.

Photo Courtesy – WordPress Library