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Easels

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Artists’ Easels

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  1. History
  2. Types of easels by design
  3. Types of easels by intended use
  4. Materials

The easel is one of the main tools of the artist. A special stand allows fixing the canvas while working. Also, it enables changing the height and the angle of inclination.

The very concept of "easel" came from the German language. It is translated as "donkey". Probably, it got its name for its design: a rack with four legs.

The easel is an indispensable attribute of the creative process. It is equally necessary for both beginners and experienced artists, greatly facilitating the process.

Working with the easel has a number of obvious advantages:

  • Ability to place the canvas in a vertical plane with a convenience;
  • Reliable attachment of the canvas, preventing its fall in the process;
  • Ease usage while standing or sitting;
  • Ease movement the canvas for drawing particular parts of the picture;
  • Tilt control;
  • A compact and well-ordered workplace.

History

The first description of the device resembling a modern easel is found in works of famous Roman historian Pliny the Elder (1st century BC). In one of his works Pliny the Elder described the stand in the form of a panel on three supporting legs. It was equipped with a wooden board, which served as the basis for the ancient artist's painting. Probably, the art of painting was sufficiently developed even in those times. This is confirmed by the Fayum portraits and Byzantine iconography. It is obviously and natural for artists to invent special devices just for comfort.

In the Middle Ages, in addition to the stands for canvases, compact desktop easels were also used. They were prevalent in monasteries for copying books and drawing miniatures on their pages.

Since the Renaissance, easels have become an irreplaceable artist attribute. Many artists, creating self-portraits, necessarily depicted a wooden easel in the interior.

In 1635, the court painter of the French King Charles Lebrun creates an “Essay on the wonders of painting”, where he literally called the easel the most important tool for the artist. Similar devices were also used by weavers to create complicated tapestries.

Nowadays, there are many antique easels dating from the XVII - XIX centuries, made of expensive varieties of wood. Mostly they are richly decorated with carvings and inlays. In fact, they have become independent pieces of art.

With the invention of oil paints, stored in tubes, the artists were able to work anywhere outside the workshop. Easels became a portable tool to provide freedom of movement.

Modern painters have an opportunity to choose different models of easels, differing in design, purpose, and dimensions.

Types of easels by design

By design type, there are three main types of easels:

  • Tripod. A compact model that is easy to fold and carry. Allows adjusting the height and tilt. For stability, cross bars are used. Steady construction is reliable and practical. Also, the classic tripod is the lightweight easel.
  • H-Frame. In the basis of this easel are the right angles. The base of the tool is rectangular. Vertical poles are connected by a transverse horizontal support. This model is heavier, less mobile, but more functional.
  • Multiple purpose easels. Special designs are equipped with additional slats, supports, tools, and controllers. For example, some of them allow the complete rotation of the working surface, choosing a comfortable plane. Most often, multiple purpose easels are foldable. They are more convenient and practical, but heavier and more expensive.

Types of easels by intended use

Modern easels are multifunctional tools used for different tasks.

  • Studio’s easels. Basically, they are the most functional, with flexible settings, with various latches and anti-slip plates. Traditionally, these easels are quite foldable, thin and compact enough to fit even into a small studio. The simplest version is a classical tripod.
  • Paint stations. These are mostly fixed easels with different accessories and stands for brushes, paints and other tools placement. They can be assembled personally, for own needs.
  • Children’s easels. Children’s easels are lower and lighter. The basic requirements are stability and reliability.
  • Display easels. They are used for presentation and demonstration of paintings, etc.

Also, there are specialized modifications, for example, easels for photo paper or other tasks.

Materials

Usually, easels are made of wood or metal.

Wooden tripods are the traditional medieval classic. They are elegant, refined and cozy. Easels made of wood fit well into the interior and create an especial art atmosphere. Finally, wood is an ecological and absolutely safe material, proven for centuries.

Metal designs provide great functionality. They are easy to equip with various folding and sliding mechanisms, magnets, telescopic legs and other useful additional elements. These easels are almost impossible to damage. Furthermore, they are easy to clean.

A wooden easel is perfect for a cozy workshop or for a house. The metal one is easy to keep and transport. Also, it is good and safe enough for children.