Category / Basics

Basics Creative Tool Painting

EASEL 101: The Ease of the Easel

A Table Easel, one of the many different types of easels.
A Table Easel, one of the many different types of easels.

OVERVIEW:

An easel is defined as an upright support used for displaying or creating a canvas, board, or panel (aka: surface area).  The surface area rests upon the easel from a range of about 20° to fully vertical.

Traditionally easels are used by painters to support a painting while they work on it, normally standing up, and are also sometimes used to display finished paintings. The vast majority of easel’s are typically made out of wood.

While, not immediately essential to the painter, once a painter introduces this tool to their process it quickly becomes indispensable. The easel lives up to its name adding an ease and flexibility to the creative’s process.

 

TYPES OF EASELS:

Types of Easel's
The Range of Easel’s

There are many types of easels to meet the various needs of each artist. Below you can find the description of each type, recommendations for purpose, and a link to what our research as the best selection and best price through Blick Art Materials.

 

A-frame Easels (Lyre easels):

A Frame Easel
A Frame

A-frame easels are easels with 3 legs – 2 in front and 1 in back, triangular in silhouette. Then are called “A” frame because from the center front the structure resembles the letter “A”. The Tripod design allows for a sturdy foundation for painting and this shape is easy to setup in corners or tight spaces. Most models rear legs flatten for convenient storage.

Canvas Range: holds surface area up to 38″-75″

Price Ranges: $50-200

Recommended for: limited space (apartment or city living), or if you work in small or medium scale

Not recommended for: large-scale works,heavy works

 

H-frame Easels:

H Frame Easel
H Frame

“H” frame easels that most resemble the capital letter “H”. The shape of these lend for a much sturdier design than A-Frame easels. Due to their sturdiness H-frame easels are pieces of furniture, so it is ideal if you have dedicated studio space where you can leave them up. Some models come with storage areas for your paints and brushes. Any working artist will tell you that an investment in a good H-frame easel is well worth the money.

“H-Frame Easels derive a solid stance from their rectangular silhouette and their substantial rectangular bases. Several models accept giant canvases, most afford a forward tilt, and some have crank adjustments and paint tray features that offer even more convenience to the painter. These substantial workhorses command a presence in the studio. Many models can be collapsed for storage and transport, but they are heavier and clumsier in their collapsed state than A-Frame and Single-Mast easels.”

Canvas Range: holds surface up to 84″ – 96″

Price Range: $100-1500

Recommended for: large scale works, dedicated area (not very convenient to store), stable surface area support

Not recommended for: small scale works, tight spaces, or where portability is required

 

Giant Easels:

Giant Easel
Giant Easel

Giant easels are for artists who want to work in large scale, or extra large scale that is works taller than 8 feet(244 cm).  These Giant’s are especially sturdy and durable and can handle extra weight for heavy works that need extra support. Some models have the extra feature of  a double mast, or a winch to hoist heavy surfaces.

Canvas Range: extra large scale that is works taller than 8 feet (244 cm)

Price Range: $300-1800

Recommended for: large scale works, dedicated studio space, maximum stability for surface-area support

Not recommended for: small scale works, tight spaces, or where portability is required, requires lots of space

 

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Convertible (Hybrid Easels):

Hybrid Easel
Convertible, Hybrid or Swing Easel

Named convertible because these easels convert from an easel to a table top. This configuration is meant for multi-media artists who work in a variety of mediums and whose creative needs vary. Convertible easels are more sturdy than A-Frame easels.

“Convertible and Hybrid Easels serve the artist who is not satisfied to work in one medium. Most are designed to accommodate the needs of oil/acrylic painters while converting to the needs of the watercolorist or pastel painter. Most closely related to the H-Frame family, these easels provide a maximum of flexibility.”

Canvas Range: range varies depending on model, some with a max canvas size of 84″

Price Range: $90-750

Recommended for: artists who work in a variety of mediums, great for artists who need ease and flexibility in their creative flow

Not recommended for: large scale works, small spaces

 

Single Mast Easels:

Single Mast Easel
Single Mast

“Single-Mast Easels are the simplest of easel forms. Their more affordable architecture can be appreciated for its elegance but cannot be counted on to provide the same sturdiness or flexibility of the other traditional forms. Single-Mast easels are often seen in cramped apartments or school studios where their advantages are clear. They take up less space, they collapse and store with great ease, and they are generally more affordable.”

Canvas Range: range varies depending on model, some with a max canvas size of 72″

Price Range: $40-650

Recommended for: limited space (apartment or city living), or if you work in small or medium scale, collapsable for storage, affordable

Not recommended for: large scale works, heavy works, large scale works

 

Tabletop Easels:

Tabletop Easel
Tabletop

Tabletop or table mount Easels are great for artists who need to sit while working, artists who do not have a lot of floor space, or who prefer to work smaller. Available in many of the same styles as the larger floor models, the artist should be able to find the right style for their needs. These easels are perfect for artists who work in a small scale. Tabletop art easels are available in A-Frame, H-Frame, and single mast designs, with some models having room for supplies.

Some contain a drawer for holding art supplies, which is handy for artists who need to take their easel and supplies to and from home and school, for example. Depending on the specific model, some tabletop art easels can hold paintings up to 32″ high. The price range for tabletop art easels ranges from $15 – $200.

Canvas Range: range varies depending on model, some with a max canvas size of 72″

Price Range: $10-222

Recommended for: artists who work at a table or sitting down, limited space (apartment or city living), or if you work in small or medium scale, collapsable for storage, affordable

Not recommended for: large scale works, heavy works

 

Plein Air Easels (portable easels):

Plein Air Easels
Standing Plein Air

“Portable and Field Easels are designed for artists who plan on traveling with their easels, need to be able to easily move them around their studio, or who want to plein air paint. These easels fold to a compact size for easy storage and portability and are considerably lighter weight. These easels usually contain the minimal necessities to successfully use them effectively.”

Canvas Range: can hold paintings up to 45″ – 78″ inches high

Price Range: $15-550

Recommended for:  artists that need portability, and to travel. Lightweight and convenient.

Not recommended for: large scale works, heavy works,

 

Bench Easel (Art Horse Easels):

Art Horse Easel
Bench/Easel

Bench easels are for the artist who needs to have a place to sit. This type of easel combines a bench and either an easel, a drawing board, or another form of support bar. This allows the artist to sit while drawing or painting. They are collapsable for added connivence.

Canvas Range: can hold paintings up to 24″ inches high

Price Range: $210-400

Recommended for:  artists that need portability, to sit and to travel. Lightweight and convenient.

Not recommended for: large scale works, heavy works,

 

Display Easels:

Display Easels“Display Easels are not recommended for using as a working artists easel. They tend to be made from lighter weight material, for easier storage and portability, but because of this they cannot hold heavier signs or artworks. Available in either wood or metal, table top or floor models, and collapsible or not, we have something to fit most needs.”

Canvas Range: can hold works up to 55″ inches high

Price Range: $15-420

Recommended for:  display purposes only

Not recommended for: this is not a working easel, the structure does not have the stability to support any type of working art or artist.

 

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Children’s Easels:

Childrens Easel“Children’s Easels are designed with the younger artist in mind. Designed to be shorter than traditional, adult style easels, they also tend to offer at least two sides to work on instead of just one. Some easels contain sides with dry erase panels, chalk board panels, or rolls of paper for drawing and painting. Many of these floor easels also have additional storage and trays for holding the child’s art supplies.”

“Display Easels are not recommended for actually using as a working easel. They tend to be made from lighter weight material, for easier storage and portability, but because of this they cannot hold heavier signs or artworks. Available in either wood or metal, table top or floor models, and collapsible or not, we have something to fit most needs.”

Canvas Range: can hold paintings up to 55″ inches high

Price Range: $30-410

Recommended for:  younger children, to young kids this type of easel functions as a vertical standing table top with extras.

Not recommended for: adults- this type of easel does not offer range, flexibility or maneuverability that the mature artist prefers.

 

RECCOMENDATIONS:

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WATCH: LOOKING AT EASEL FEATURES

Would you like more information? Watch this short video about the various features on certain easels.

Shop Blick Art Materials, for the most extensive selection of artist easels.

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The following resources were used in the compilation of this article:

Blick Art Materials (website)

Types of Easels (website)

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Patron of the Arts- Creativity & Inspiration Crown

-article compiled, photographed & written by Lyrica Glory, founder of Patron of the Arts

Basics Oil Painting

TOOLS: Choosing Brushes (oil paint)

Oil Paint Brush Guide- Which Brushes to Use

THE BASICS:

The Anatomy of a Paint Brush
The Anatomy of a Paint Brush

A paint brush is to an oil painter, what a magic wand is to a wizard.  That is to say that it is a tool that makes all the difference to the practitioner.  A good brush is well worth the investment and will get better once it is broken in.

Traditionally, brushes used for oil painting are made out of hog’s hair (bristle) and sable. Increasingly, synthetic brushes made from materials such as nylon, are becoming more and more popular. A good brush will hold its shape, in paint and on canvas, bouncing back to its original shape. The bristles should be firm, neither overly limp or to springy.

Oil painting brushes have 2 handle sizes- long wooden handle and which is up to 12 inches and short- meant for detail.

Long handle brushes are used in a horizontal position with the painting surface vertical.The long handle serves to balance the brush in your hand, centering the brush so the paint will flow better.

The size of the brush by the brush head with No. 1 being the finest and No.12/14 the broadest.

TYPES OF BRUSHES:

The three most important shapes for oil painting brushes are- flat, round and filbert.

Types of Paintbrushes

SHAPE:

flat: these have a wedge-shaped square tip. Flat brushes are primarily used for blocking in large areas of color, in the painting’s early stage.

round: these brushes taper at the tip. Round brushes are used to create a more linear/straight brush stroke.

filbert: these brushes resemble a finger tip. Filbert brushes are used to apply color broadly. Used on its side, a filbert gives a thin line; used on it’s broad side (flat) it produces a heavy thick brush stroke.

MATERIALS:

Sable: also known as “soft” brushes, and are used for finer detail.

Bristle: also known as hog’s hair. These are a stiffer bristle, and are therefore better for larger brushes.

 

OUR RECOMMENDATION:

If your looking at filling in the of your oil painting basic brush collection for oil painting, we recommend getting the following brushes:

Flats: #12,#4-8 and #2
Filberts: #12,#4-8 and #2
Rounds: #2 or #3

If you are looking to get the most value for money, we would suggest investing in a complete set of brushes rather than buying each one individually. Brush sets, contain most of the brushes that you need in addition to a few extra’s that are just nice to have. These sets generally tend to be a good deal.

Most major brands have great sets, but we would suggest checking out the following sets:

Set of Oil Paint Brushes

Visit Blick Art Materials, to see a comprehensive selection of brushes. Selection can be found here:

 

CLEANING YOUR BRUSHES:

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In order to maintain a long lasting relationship with your brush it is good practice to clean your brushes after each session. Integrate this extra step into your painting regime and this will drastically help prolong the life of each brush.

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For oil paint use mineral spirits, or terpenoid.
-Start by wiping excess paint on a rag, removing extra paint will make the job much easier.
-Rinse brush in mineral solvent, it’s okay to use the used solvent from your painting session. Try to get all the paint off the bristles.
-Use RAG to remove solvent and paint on bristles.
-Rinse brush under running water.
-Once brush is clean, remove excess liquid from bristles and shape into correct form. Store upright in container to dry.

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[item title=”2. Dish Soap“]
-Wipe excess paint on a rag, removing extra paint will make the job much easier.
-Squeeze liquid dish soap into the palm of your hand. With water running work soap into brush bristles until. Work through, rinse and repeat until there is no more paint remaining.
-Reshape brush, and let it dry completely.
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[item title=”3. Fabric Softener“]
-Wipe excess paint on a rag, removing extra paint will make the job much easier.
-Mix together a gallon of warm water and 1/2 cup fabric softener.
-Swirl brush in solution, paint should begin to come off in the mixture. Shake off and rinse any remaining solution.
-Reshape brush into correct shape and let dry.
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-Soak the brush in vinegar for an hour.
-Place the brush in an old pot and cover it with vinegar. You want the bristles to be completely covered with vinegar
-Bring the vinegar to a slow simmer on the stove. Simmer vinegar with the paintbrushes for a few minutes.
-Remove brushes, let them cool.
-Comb bristles, working paint out of the bristles.
-Rise and shape brush.

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BRUSH CLEANER & WASHER:

Metal Brush CleanerWe have become huge fans of this type of brush cleaner. This metal brush cleaner features a grate at the bottom of the cleaning chamber that allows paint sediment from your brushes to fall to the bottom of the outer pot. This helps keep the fluid fresh for the next use, saving you time and preserving your solvent. The lid has a built-in gasket that forms an air tight, leak proof seal, preventing the smells and harsh fumes of solvents from escaping, and keeping solvents from spilling out.

Less expensive versions are made from glass and contain a metal grate at the bottom, and is also sealable.

USE FOR PALETTE KNIVES:

Palette knives are mainly used for mixing and blending colors on a palette. Some artists use this tool as an instrument to paint with, although it generally is not recommended for most painting styles as it creates a heavy chunky stroke.

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Brush Sets

Brush Cleaner

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BOOK: The Complete Book of Painting & Drawing by Gerald Woods
ONLINE RESOURCE: 4 Ways to Clean Your Brush
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TIP: If you live in the United States, the best selection and prices come from Blick Art Materials, the most convenient and fast is Amazon.

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-article compiled, photographed & written by Lyrica Glory, founder of Patron of the Arts

Basics Oil Painting

Prepping a Surface to Oil Paint On (canvas,panel,board)

Preparing & Priming a Canvas,Panel or Wood Board
“PRIMER: is a preparatory coating put on materials before painting. Priming ensures better adhesion of paint to the surface, increases paint durability, and provides additional protection for the material being painted. “(-Wiki)

PRACTICAL INFORMATION:

A surface area (or support) is the name given to a supporting surface on which all (oil,acrylic,etc) paintings are created, or carried out.

The most popular surface or support’s to paint on are: canvas (stretched & board), wood panel, board (i.e. masonite, gessobord) and stretched linen. (see, Detailed Information section below)

Many artists prefer to use panel or board because the surface is rigid, smooth and not heavily textured and requires less prep-work and priming. Canvas is flexible and heavily textured and requires extra work to get a firm desirable surface for painting.

PRIMING:

Primer is the first coat of paint applied to the support. One of the main purposes of a primer is to prevent the color pigment from absorbing into the surface. A white coat of primer or Gesso keeps the brilliance of the paint.

Gesso can be purchased ready made. It is similar in consistency to acrylic paint and comes in a multitude of colors. Gesso firms the surface, preventing the paint from soaking into the support; giving the veneer a little more texture or “tooth,” enabling the paint to stick better.

Adding primer to ALL surfaces is HIGHLY recommended- with an application of between 2-4 coats before actual pigment painting can begin.

Apply first coat with a vertical brush stroke and apply second coat with a horizontal stroke to fill in the groove. For each coat alternate and repeat, letting each coat dry thoroughly.

WATCH: HOW TO PRIME YOUR SURFACE

(full supply list in the tabbed section below)

OUR RECOMMENDATION:

Based on ease, quality and convenience- we recommend a gessobord with a 3/4 inch +(plus) cradle, meaning the support is attached and thicker widths can also function as a frame. Take into account what you want your finished product to be.

Cradle of Gessoboard

Application of a coat of gesso is still recommended, before painting, even on gessobord.

Check Blick Art Materials for the best selection of Gessobord panels, here.

DETAILED INFORMATION:

complete information on prepping your surface to paint on

(expand sections below)

 

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CANVAS: The traditional surface of the painter. Canvas comes in both a coarse and fine weave. The texture of a canvas is called the “tooth” of the canvas. The “tooth” when primed becomes very responsive to oil paint. A stretched canvas is easy and lightweight (easy to ship).

LINEN: Linen is the finest weave of canvas. Linen is less likely to shrink or loose its shape than regular canvas. Cotton canvas more inexpensive but is more prone to distortion. Linen is on the pricey side.

HARDBOARDS: Hardboard is made from compressed wood pulp. This type of surface area is largely favored by artists because it comes pre-made, it is lightweight, inexpensive and strong. Hardboard should be properly primed so that acid or oils do not leach in from the board which could result in yellowing of the painting. (This includes Gessobord and Masonite, which are both brands.)

WOOD PANELS: Hard woods are more suitable to use as panels, as softer woods are more likely to warp. It is believed that paintings on wood panel are likely to last longer. Panels can be should be cut from well seasoned wood and be free of knots, cracks and or defects. Painting on wood panels can create a heavy painting, and is therefore not recommended for shipping.

*best hard woods to paint on include: oak, cedar, birch, walnut, or mahogany.  

(Visit Blick Art Materials, for our recommended selection of pre-made hard wood panels)

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The “drumlike” tautness of a canvas is achieved by stretching the canvas over a wooden frame called a stretcher. The stretcher is a mitered frame in which the beveled corners do not press against the stretched canvas. Ready made stretcher bars can be purchased here, and a list of full supplies below for stretching your linen or canvas.

WATCH HOW TO STRETCH A CANVAS:

(full supply list in the tabbed section below)

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When considering what size you want your surface area to be, consider using standard framing sizes. If you plan on doing an framing you will be thanking yourself.

Below is the Standard Canvas Size chart in both inches and centimeters:

 

 

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SUPPLIES & RESOURCES:

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PRIMING & GESSO SUPPLIES:

gesso

gesso brushes

 

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SUPPLIES TO STRETCH A CANVAS:

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We recommend gessobord, and if you live in the United States, the best selection and prices come from Blick Art Materials.

[imagebox maintitle=”BUY CANVAS & BOARD TO PAINT ON” subtitle=”AT BLICK ART MATERIALS” image=”http://www.patronofthearts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Cradle-of-Gessoboard-copy.jpg” color=”black” space=”33″ link=”http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-7769694-11424370-1406562358000?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dickblick.com%2Fwood%2Fpanels%2F”]

Blick Art Materials has the best selection for all supplies and materials listed above.

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These were the resources that were used in the creation of this article:
BOOK: The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting- With Notes on the Techniques of the Old Masters by Max Doerner
BOOK: The Complete Book of Painting & Drawing by Gerald Woods

If you require large quantities of Gesso, it can be made from scratch. Recipe to follow in a separate post.
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Patron of the Arts- Creativity & Inspiration Crown

-article compiled, photographed & written by Lyrica Glory, founder of Patron of the Arts