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Old 04-06-2010, 04:00 AM
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TitusPullo TitusPullo is offline
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Question about Plein Air Easels

I need one and mostly what im finding is the French Easel 3 legged wooden box. Ive seen them for between $50-150 and can't see a dang bit of difference in any of them. They also all seem quite flimsy.

I plan to do outdoor painting about 30% of the time so need a portable easel but need one that can double as an around the house one.

Is a French style the right thing to look for?
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Old 04-06-2010, 06:52 AM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

Well, it appears I'll be the first to put in two cents worth. I suppose about half of my activity is plein air and I've used the French easel for several years. It's heavier and bulkier than a pochade/tripod combo maybe, but with the 0ver-the-shoulder strap it's quite easy to take along even if you plan to walk a fair distance. I nearly always stand when painting plein air but it adjusts easily to work well if you sit. Between Judith and myself, we have five of them and always keep two ready to grab and go for plein air. Two of them we keep in studio and they work very well either upright or else without legs extended sitting on a table top. The better quality ones definitely DO earn their keep. The hardware is better, all the moving parts are smoother, and so on. However, the cheaper variety will do fine in studio since they aren't set up and taken down so frequently. Much has been offered in these different forums and you'll probably get many opinions. Dan
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Old 04-06-2010, 07:24 AM
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Mick Sunderland Mick Sunderland is offline
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

I'm a pochade/tripod man and my Open Box M handles everything up to 20 x 16 with no problems. The whole kit fits in one of my rucksacks and makes for comfortable transport when in the field.
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Old 04-06-2010, 08:55 AM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

Honestly, I do not enjoy MY French easel I bought it on sale at @ 80$ CDN and maybe that is the problem ?? The screws are always loose eventhough I try to screw them in tight, so this makes the easel wobbly too often for my patience........but other than this problem it is a very well thaught out system to hold you art material. Mine can also be positionned lower but I prefer to stand.

I will be shopping for equipment like Mick's .....

Have fun
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:16 AM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

Yes, Linda, I agree that there is trouble keeping the things tightened up with our cheaper versions. But the Julian just has better hardware, I guess, and doesn't present the same problems. I have made several pochade boxes of different sizes and enjoy using those too but my tripod has never been adequate. Just need a heavier, sturdier one I think. This is always a subject of interest even though it is cussed and discussed. Dan
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:57 AM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

I also bought a wooden French when I first started and I regret it. It is like hauling around a wooden crate - and I I got a half-easel. Wooden easels use the technology of 100 years ago. Big deal. If I had to do it over again, I would get an aluminum one, like the Open M or the Solteck. They are lighter and they collapse smaller, and and they are quicker to set up. They even look more professional. Also, my wooden easel cannot hold small canvases, like 6x8 or 8x10, so I basically just have to lean them in there.

When they invented wooden french easels, they were designed with wooden places to hold your brushes and supplies, and wooden places to carry your wet canvases. That's a lot of extra wood to be hauling around. Now we have backpacks, tripods, cardboard carriers, and lightweight plastic to put brushes and things in. With a wooden easel, you wind up hauling around a LOT of extra wood for nothing.

I also think the aluminum easels LOOK more professional. I think a lot of people start with the wooden French easels because they are cheap (compared to the aluminum ones), they look so "artsy" (like in the pictures of Monet), and you can pick one up at the local hobby shop. But once you have been using them for a while, you see what a lot of extra schlepping around they are, so you get online, do your research, and order an aluminum one from a REAL art supply store. When I go to a workshop, it just seems to me that the better painters have aluminum easels: they have been painting long enough to justify dumping their aluminum one. So start out on the right foot and DON'T get a wooden one.
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:53 AM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

Is the Soltek and Open M the only aluminum ones out right now?

I went down to Jerrys Art a Rama the other day and they had no aluminum ones at all. Heck they dont even have Golden OPen acrylic yet in store.
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Old 04-06-2010, 11:32 AM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

I don't know where you could go online in your Country but we can order Art material online with very reliable companies ! I'm sure others will suggest a few for you !

edit; oh! but where do you live, it doesn't say in your profile ??
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:03 PM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

Months ago, I picked-up a like-nu Julian half-French for a nominal $40-, only missing the prissy leather strap. Unlike other FE copies, the Julian is a quality rig with parts that will not come off and be lost and the fit & trim is relatively precise. However, it is an FE and a pain in the butt to erect and take-down. Also, a half-French presents the challenge of a fold-out palette, the total easel folding up relatively small but "fat". I use this as a back-up or for a guest. I had two other FEs' previously which I considered as close to "tinder" prior to giving away! I have a delightful Guerrilla Painter “cigar box” which I really enjoy playin’ around with for small stuff, but also easily use it for 9x12” boards. The cigar box requires a separate tripod (when not table-top used), spread wide, as it may get blown over and cheap tripod parts have broken in the past. I bought a new HD tripod lately, but ANY tripod takes time to remove from case, put-up and affix the box to. I’ve had a SolTek “pro” for about 3.5yrs and, just this month, returned it for a factory rehab. The $50- charge included their cost of a 2-day UPS return and replacement of some parts and, importantly, servicing of the legs and a replacement backpack. This unit had about 250+ PA days on it and a few parts had become worn in-time and a cast leg-top broke from my own abuse. Because I reside in SoCal, a majority of my Plein Air days are spent on the Coast with sand the major culprit. I use a small tarp, over sand, to place the SolTek on and use balloons over leg tips, also, covering the leg adjustment pegs. I try to remember to wipe down the legs prior to fold-up, they do present a challenge at times.
Having not used the SolTek for a few moons and returning to it last weekend was a magical experience! This easel stands tall, is VERY stable, goes up & down in a snap and is EXTREMELY efficient with fold-out palette "wings", very adequate storage below the main ample palette and capacity to handle all sizes of canvas/boards. Most importantly, the total package is light/small and doesn't take a toll on my aging knees!
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:29 PM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

But how would the Soltek be for using indoors as a main easel for studio work? Could it double?
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:36 PM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

The last time I bought a half box Julian it lasted less than 6 months before falling apart. They do not make Julian like they did in the old days. Big pochade box/tripod fan here. When I want to use larger format, I bring along a little fold up wooden field easel and use the pochade box as the palette. It works great. Have friends who have had bad experiences with the Soltecs.

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Old 04-06-2010, 02:37 PM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

My two cents...

You can't go wrong with an Alla Prima Pochade Box!!!

http://allaprimapochade.com/

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Old 04-06-2010, 04:54 PM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

Thanks for the link ! I need to sell a few more paintings now to afford the one I want
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Old 04-07-2010, 03:03 PM
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Re: Question about Plein Air Easels

Check out Cheaps Joes also as he just designed a French type easel with four legs and many more options - it looks like a good one.
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