View Full Version : Do you use an easel?

08-18-2000, 11:35 AM
I have an easel -- for oil painting and pastels -- but wonder about its usefulness for watercolor, which I've only done with the paper flat on a table. What advantages or disadvantages are there to using an easel for watercolor?


08-18-2000, 08:23 PM

As a newcomer to painting, I can't give much advise, but, I attended a one day workshop at a local stately home by the artist in residence.

He had a wonderful piece of equipment which he called a 'kneasel' (not sure if the spelling is correct)

It is made of aluminium, and very portable, and basically has a couple of legs that rest on the ground, and then the main part rests on your knee, and can be moved to different angles.

I was quite impressed with it, it's on my christmas list!!!


08-18-2000, 10:50 PM
Watercolours are normally done with your board at about 15 degrees. Or quite often flat when doing wet into wet,

Rodzart from New Zealand (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/rodzart/)

08-19-2000, 12:32 AM
I use an easel. I have one of those lightweight, steel tripod easels. It can be adjusted to tilt at a 15 degree angle, when necessary. I have found my basic sketches are better when I stand and draw with the easel upright.

I, also, like to set my painting upright when I am doing details and checking the alignment of the painting in progress...otherwise, I find my drawing and the painting listing from right to left, I am a lefty.

I am a beginner, but, I can see the probability that eventually I will be painting with the watercolor upright as well. I seem to be gravitating that way. It seems to work for me, except when doing the wettest washes.

I recall a magazine article that suggested trying to paint your watercolor upright on the easel...I can't remember the reasoning behind it, but, found I adapted to it immediately. Now I am uncomfortable trying to paint anything over a quater page without the easel.

Billie Dawn

08-19-2000, 12:47 AM
I prefer to lay my watercolors flat,, but do sometimes put something behind the paper/board to give it an angle. Easels work for many watercolorists, guess it is just whatever works for you best ! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Carol

08-20-2000, 01:40 PM
I use a piece of masonite with a 2x4 lifting the back and that rest on my drafting table.
It is a cheap alternative to more expensive pieces of equipment.


Mary Kay
08-20-2000, 10:33 PM
Painting vertically is an interesting and challenging way to paint in watercolor. you have to be courageous to allow the drips and runs to become a part of your painting. I occasionally do this when I need to loosen up my paintings. Normally I just paint at a slight angle. Charles Reid is an artist that paints vertically and has written a few books. "Painting what you want to see" "Flower painting in watercolor" are two of his books. You'll be able to see how he uses this technique.

Mary kay


08-20-2000, 10:56 PM
When I paint vertically, I don't have drips and runs...anymore. With practice you adjust how much water you brush onto the paper, dry the brush then mop up the little puddle at the bottom. The pigment will only flow where the paper is wet. It really doesn't take much practice to learn this, after the first dark green drizzle down the center of a perfect pale yellow, alizarin tinged cotton blossom, I figured out to mop the puddle. I paint pretty tight. Also, my easel allows you to tilt pretty quickly.

But, to be honest, I was surprised how quickly I adjusted to using the easel. Maybe, because I started using the easel very soon after starting to use watercolor it seems very natural to me. I really find it easier than working on a tabletop. It also helps me, because my workspace is very limited. If I have to keep moving everything off the kitchen table every time we eat, it would eventually be put aside to wait until I get a bigger house. (I don't foresee that in the near future.) I guess in this case necessity was the mother of technique, http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif !

Billie Dawn

08-21-2000, 11:52 AM
Thank you all for your responses. I'm going to try it with the easel, paper towel in hand; hunching over the table gives me a stiff neck. I'm going to check out the Charles Reid books.

Karen, that "kneasel" thing sounds like a great idea. I've never seen anything like that.


08-21-2000, 07:19 PM

I've looked around in various art supply catalogues and on-line, but haven't found one yet.

The artist chap I mentioned said that he would make the arrangements when I can afford one. I think he said it will be about 50.

He's on holiday at the moment I think (in the USA), but if I get any further details, I'll post them for you.


08-22-2000, 06:48 PM
Since I have an aluminum easel too, I thought I'd see if it would adjust for watercolor...and guess what! it does. I like this better than my table even with the painting propped up at an angle. I was getting a sore neck too! Now I can adjust the height for comfort and work at any angle from 15 degrees to upright! Thanks for the tip everyone!

08-24-2000, 07:34 AM
I use the super light weight aluminum easel when on location. It is so light you can pick it up to tilt sidewise when you want a run - for verticle you can adjust quickly with handle. At class we have flat tables and I roll a bath towel to tip the board; this works for me because it's easy to pack and, depending on how I fold it, will make different heights.

08-24-2000, 04:28 PM
I have a Jullian french easel which I use for oil painting. When I do watercolors, I have been working horizontally on the kitchen table. I have been thinking, however, that i ought to try using the easel for H20-color too, if only to help "loosen me up."

I tend to work very small (5" x 7" typically), and very, VERY tight. I need to loosen up a little. Hunching over the watercolor block hasn't been great for my back, neck or shoulders either, so I guess I ought to give it a go! Apparently, I'm not the only one, so I don't feel so bad...


08-26-2000, 05:48 PM
I sit on the couch with a board on my lap and my water and paint balanced precariously nearby and have at 'er! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif My knees oblige me when I desire a particular angle, though I do not recommend this method to anyone...it certainly does not eliminate stiff neck syndrome, disaster paint spill syndrome, or couch potato syndrome!! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/tongue.gif

08-29-2000, 09:19 AM
Angela - love your discription - I got this silly mind picture of you jiggling you knees to make the colors flow http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

Lady Artist
09-11-2000, 04:27 PM
I use a flat table. If I want runs I just tilt the paper. It just is a more comfortable position for me and it's what I've gotten used to. I'd probably have to go with an easel if I worked outside though, which I don't. I think working on my lap would be a challenge. I like the above description! Got a chuckle out of that!
Hey, you do what you can with the space you've got! Good for you for painting -- anyway you can! :-)

09-12-2000, 10:26 AM
I have a wooden tabletop easel and I find that you can see better how your drawing or painting is coming along and be able to judge better if it's right or if you needto fix something in your painting.I was laying with my toddler to get her to sleep and was looking at my art and saw that a couple of objects were not aligned.

Also I find that having your art at eye level is less stress on your back and you can get to objects better.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif I'm a lefty too

05-18-2004, 01:46 PM
never for watercolors...I use it for oils and pastels

I use a tilted board

Rich Williams
05-18-2004, 05:06 PM
I do some times depending on what effect I want to show in the watercolor.....
Other wise its all done on the drafting table in the studio,

When painting plien-air I use an easel but have the paper almost flat.


05-18-2004, 07:20 PM
I have an aluminum easel that I use just for full sheet paintings. Otherwise I have a drafting table set at an angle for all my other work. I use the easel primarily so I can set the larger work aside to work on smaller projects.


05-18-2004, 07:24 PM
I have a lovely easel that my Mum bought me for Christmas and as yet I havent used it as I dont have any room to put it up....lol.....so currently I balance my painting on my knees.


05-18-2004, 07:59 PM
I use my easel for photographing my watercolours.

I use blocks or a board on my lap. (Arms get a bit tired on the biggies, but it is worth it)