There comes a time when every painter feels the need to go out and paint in the field capturing the landscapes in a much more realistic way. It is very important that you have the right tools and to know what to look for when purchasing a perfect easel for your plain air painting. Back in the day easels were made solely of wood. Now there are many lighter materials that allow easel manufacturers to make perfect lightweight easels.
And yet many painters including myself feel much more comfortable using a wooden easel. One of the wooden Plein air easels I’ll talk to you bout is Beauport Artist easel- Large format outdoor Plein air painting easel. Yes, it often happens that those are a bit heavier than all the modern tripods made of aluminium or graphite but there is something deep and inspiring in using the easel that was used by artists centuries ago.
When you are purchasing a field easel there are a few things you should pay attention too in order to choose the right one for you.
First of all, that’s the weight of the easel. Not all areas you will be painting on are easily accessible by a vehicle so it often happens that you have to carry all of your painting equipment quite far until you reach the desired spot where you will set it all up.
If the easel is too heavy to carry not only that will slow you down it will completely ruin your mood and kill your will to paint making you less productive than what you could have been if it wasn’t so. You might think it is all right if the easel is a bit heavier but then you have to think of all the other things you will be carrying with you like canvas or a panel to paint on, all the paints, brushes, solvents…So yes, I would say it is essential to first check how heavy is the easel you are about to purchase.
A second very important thing you should know is how easy it is to set up your easel. It can be really nerve-racking if the setup goes slow and or wrong and it can spoil your mood and kill your inspiration completely.
Beauport Artist Easel
The Beauport Easel is a large Plein air easel that can support a really large canvas or panel and can withstand even strong wind without flipping. It is an improved version of the famous Gloucester and Anderson Easel, which were first used in the early part of the 20th century.
It has great stability due to the very wide footprint which spans 65″ across and 65″ from front to back. It is suggested that you attach some weight to it as a sand bag just to ensure it is stable enough if it is too windy though usually palette box does the job and keeps it in place and anyway I don’t think you would paint in extremely windy conditions.
Appearance And Performance
Easel is made of seasoned hardwood. It has a wide range of canvas sizes it can support thanks to its excellent design. It can support canvases as small as 4″ x 6″ and as large as 48″ x 60″.
Easel has three legs with lever spring system so it is easy to adjust the size of each leg separately with just a pull of a lever. This is very useful if you are painting on uneven terrain also helps you to adjust your easel to the right position for sitting or standing while painting.
Once you adjusted the height of the legs as you desire there is a crossbar to keep your easel securely in place. There is also a dual support bar which comes quite handy to place a palette box on it to have it at hand while working.
For larger size canvas or pannel there are removable pegs to secure canvas in place along with a hooked rod for the top part of the canvas. Pegs together with the hooked rod take just a little bit of front surface of the canvas allowing you to easily paint to each end of the canvas.
For smaller canvas, there is a support bar to hold it in place together with the hooked rod for the top end. canvas can be tilted in many angles allowing you to reduce the glare while working.
When it comes to the weight of the easel and I would say its a tad too heavy yes the easel itself has only 9 pounds but there is other equipment you carry along with the easel so I would recommend you to park as close as you can to the desired location, not only that it is a bit heavy it is also quite long and bulky when you fold it and place it in the carrying bag that you get whey you purchase the easel.
The carrying bag has a strap you can put over the shoulder and carry the easel that way but since I am very short I found it half dragging on the ground half hitting my heels while walking.
When you finally manage to get to the desired location there comes the part of setting it all up for work. When you open the beg there are many different parts and it seems like you need a bit of practice on how to assemble all before you even consider taking it out in the field. Once you learn what goes where it is easy to assemble it.
So to summarize: this is a large field easel that can accommodate a large canvas or panel 48″ x 60″. BIg footprint makes it very stable even in very windy conditions. Footprint spans 65″ across and 65″ from front to back. When folded it is 46″ long which is simply too much for carrying. The weight is 14lbs making it too heavy if you have to carry it to some remote location that is not accessible by a car.
In my opinion, there are much better options if you like working on large surfaces that are in a similar price range but of much better quality. One of those would be Mabefs M32 field easel made of top quality beechwood with a lifetime guarantee. M32 is much lighter than Beauport easel. Made of far better material. Much easier to set up and more practical to carry.