Easels have always been associated with the world of art, especially since it plays a central role in the creation of paintings, drawings, and architectural designs. It is one of the primary reasons why knowing how to assemble an easel became a sought-after skill during the Golden Age of Art, regardless of which culture is currently celebrating it.
Wooden easels are traditionally used by painters and architects to hold up canvasses or sheets of paper as the leaning fixture supports the artist’s line of vision while maintaining a relative view of the subject. As you may imagine, being around for more than a century has seen the transformation of the simple easel from a basic frame to something more functional and multi-purpose.
Kinds of Drawing Easels
As with anything, the passage of time has brought upon different kinds of drawing easels, each having their design and purpose.
Also known as your basic A-frame easel, this is the most common form of the easel with a simple prop mechanism which makes it suitable for spaces with limited area for moving around.
With better stability than the A-frame, the H-Frame easel is ideal for artists who are working on larger art pieces as the added stability lets its hold up heavier canvasses.
As so-named, giant easels are meant for large scale drawings, but they can be a little bulky and heavy to use.
Convertible or hybrid easels often have multiple swiveling joints that allow this easel to convert from easel to drawing table and back, allowing you to use it to your preference.
Single Mast Easels
Almost similar to A-Frames and H-Frames, Single Mast easels are not as sturdy as the former and the latter, but they are equally great for artists on a budget or artists with smaller workspaces. Single mast because it has central support placed upon a tripod, as compared to the construction of A-frames.
Desktops have laptops and easels have these babies. These are for artists working on a smaller scale or at least a smaller canvas. These easels offer great portability in lieu of the size that they can support.
Plein Air Easels
Lightweight and easy to carry, these are easels of the modern times with its aluminum construction and collapsible tripods. Some models would even have a small shelf for art supplies and drawing implements.
Strictly made for outdoor painting, art horses or bench easels are handy as they come with a means of supporting the canvas, as well as a place to sit and contemplate about your masterpiece.
These kinds of easels are not meant to support canvasses as the tripods are too flimsy to hold up anything for a long period. Display easels are meant to be used in studio and gallery exhibitions. Some would prefer to display their artwork on the same easel that they used to create them while others beg to differ.
Made for aspiring artists, these are a lot smaller and more similar to hybrid easels than anything. Some would have chalkboards or whiteboards that serve as a means to deliver lessons to young ones or leave notes for the not-so-young.
Benefits of Using an Easel
Why should you use an easel when a perfectly sturdy table can help prop up the canvas against a wall? It takes more than such a simple act to improve and then gain prominence in the world of art. Here are some of the reasons why you should use an easel:
- Sets the Perspective
Propping up a canvas on an easel lets you maintain a straight line of vision between you and your subject while placing the canvas in the middle, right where your eyes can guide in translating what it can see.
- Gives Better Control
Easels let you control your medium better as you would tend to have a near-vertical view of what you want to draw in the first place.
- Keeps Your Hands Free
Well, your hands aren’t necessarily free as you would need to hold the palette and the brush, but an easel, at least, lets you maneuver your pencil and brush to where you want it to traverse.
- Showcases Your Art
Any easel can serve as a platform to display your art. Create your art piece in one easel and then transfer it to a display easel after, or you can leave it as it is and have fun with it.
- Lets You Practice Anywhere
The main benefit of having a portable easel is that you can bring it anywhere which allows you to practice the basics of drawing.
How to Assemble an Easel?
Half of knowing how to assemble an easel is knowing which part goes to which part. Typically, an easel comes with the following parts:
- Adjustable Legs: These are the tripods of the easel that allow the easel to lean without falling over.
- Canvas Arm: This is the central arm of the easel which usually originates from the center of the support bar and extends until the pinnacle of the three adjustable legs.
- Adjustable Clamp: This part runs along the canvas arm and can be adjusted to meet the height of the canvas.
- Support Bar: This horizontal bar supports the canvas and prevents it from falling as it rests on the incline formed by the canvas arm and the legs.
- Bottom Tray: With varying sizes, this part of the easel allows you to rest brushes, pencils and color tubes as you go about working on your creation.
Form Arms and Legs
Step 1: Find the Sweet Spot
Locate the best spot for your easel. It should provide you with an unobstructed view of your subject while ensuring that there is enough light to bring out the right colors.
Step 2: Adjust the Height
Decide if you would be sitting or standing as you create your artwork, this will help determine how high you would want the support bar to be from the floor, in relation to the clamps and the legs.
Step 3: Tilt Arms
Tilt the canvas arm to the angle that you feel is most comfortable to work on. This can be anywhere from 45 to 90 degrees.
Step 4: Adjust the Clamps
Once you’ve settled on the height of the support bar from the floor, adjust the clamps so that it will be on top of your canvas, holding it more secure.
The way that you assemble and set-up your easel is almost similar with any of the ten kinds of drawing easels, albeit with subtle differences. The trick is to get the right angle while maintaining everything else within an arm’s reach.