Saturday, November 14, 2015

Gathering My Painters Tools - Finding the Right Easel

Whereas I may be cavalier about following other peoples ideas about creating my art form I am very much attuned to the importance of learning as much as you can about the proper tools to create your art. My mother used to say "A worker is as good as his tools".  I believe that to be true. Choosing the right tools is most important. In my search for the right tools I am finding I spend the most time looking on line at Dick Blick, Jerry's Artarama and Amazon. I'm sure I will discover others as I move along.

I'm trying to figure out what easel to purchase. I figured I needed one of those to even begin. What are you going to do? Nail a blank canvas to the wall? (I thought I was being cute when I said that but have since found a forum where a guy actually suggested just it!)

For heaven's sake who would have thought choosing an easel would be such a show stopper. I'm already stumped. There are so many variables to consider. Right off the bat you need to consider what size canvases you want to work with. Well, how the devil should I know? I'm thinking I would start smaller and see where I end up. If and when bigger feels better I'll go bigger.
I've narrowed the easels down to two styles, the A-Frame and the H-Frame. The H-Frame seems the more sturdy and versatile choice. You can spend a couple of grand on one of these easels. I think two things could cause you to spend that much (1) You are a master or (2) You have more money than brains.

Having narrowed it down to the H-Frame, I'm thinking I could buy a nice starter easel in the $100 to $150 range. I have been looking at the various models in my target range and reading buyer reviews.  Egads! No sooner do I find one that looks good than I read the reviews to find things like "It's so short you can only work at it sitting. Or, "The mast is so high it hits the ceiling".

I'm a tire kicker kind of person. What I would not give to be able to actually see some of the darned things in person. That isn't going to happen, particularly anywhere near where I live in Montana. I may check Craig's list but don't hold out much hope there. I live in a pretty small community but you never know.

Bottom line; I do not feel ready to choose the easel. OTOH, I am really anxious to do something. So, I'm going to do something many artists say I shouldn't. I have ordered a little table top beginners kit from Amazon. I think it's probably a half step above a child's kit. Juniper's Custom Kit. 

The big thing I have read you should not do is use cheap paint. The paint in this kit is made by Reese and I think it's rated student grade. It's fairly low quality stuff. I had to laugh at what I read on a beginner's forum where one person remarked. "How would you feel if you were using a low grade paint and painted a masterpiece?"Uhm, I'm thinking I am liking my odds of that not happening.

Here's where a little self knowledge comes in handy. I can be very close with a dollar. I come by it naturally. There is a lot of Scottish blood running in my veins and Scots have a well deserved reputation of being tight with their coin. I recall when I was using Velvia film for my photography. The film was expensive. The processing was expensive. And, I bet I missed a lot of great images because I wasn't quite sure a subject was worth the expenditure. I don't want to find myself in front of a canvas, paralyzed with the fear that what I am about to waste a bunch of money. It's just a thing I know about myself.

So, here's the plan. I'm getting this kit and some canvas paper. I am going to play and experiment to my hearts content and with reckless abandon without breaking the bank to do it. I'll experiment with mixing paints and creating color. I'll experiment with the strokes of different shaped brushes. I feel I can learn a lot and have fun doing it, maybe even build some confidence whilst I do it. As it is I have none. I've never used a paint brush to do anything but paint fences and barns.

That's my plan. I can always use the table easel for paint storage when it's served it's purpose.

Meanwhile, I'll keep researching easels and gathering whatever moss I can.

PS: To painters who may stop by, any tips you might have to help me along my way would be most appreciated.

©Kinsey Barnard


  1. Canvas boards are good for beginners. Don't limit yourself to canvas. I actually used scraps of paneling a few times because canvas was to expensive. The affect was pretty neat.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion. I've got some canvas boards in my Amazon order. The boards are fairly cheap.