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Plein Air Easels: A 2020 Buyers Guide 1

Plein Air Easels: A 2020 Buyers Guide

Plein air easel reviews

If you own a plein air easel, review it here and tell us what you like and don’t like.

If you own a pochade box, review it here.

The reviews on this website are independent of any manufacturer. Also this site does not contain any affiliate links. This means you get completely unbiased advice here.

What are the different types of plein air easels?

Plein air painting or (en plein air) is getting increasingly popular both as an art form and as a lifestyle. Here are your choices for plein air easels.

When you are out plein air painting, you need the maximum usability but with the minimum weight. Check out the companion guide: A Guide to Pochade Boxes, for some useful weight comparison tables. That guide covers pochade boxes which you might also want to consider if you are thinking of buying an easel. It also has some guidance for what system might be best for you.

Here are the major types of plein air easel systems:

Tripod-mounted plein air easel systems

These systems use a camera tripod to support your painting in a panel holder, and a palette for you to put your colors on.

6 Plein Air Easels (Palette Boxes and Panel Supports)

These systems have a separate box for your palette that rests on two of the tripod legs. A panel holder attaches to the camera mount of the tripod using a quick release plate.

Plein Air Easels: A 2020 Buyers Guide 2

Box-type plein air easels with integrated legs

These systems have three or four legs that fold out from under a box.

2 Lightweight Compact French Easels

Compact French Easels are smaller versions of the traditional French Easel.

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The Russian Easel

Russian Easels – a lighter style of easel compared with a French Easel. These used to be distributed in the US, but are no longer sold. You can sometimes buy them second-hand.

Yarka russian easel
Yarka Russian Easel

2 Aluminium Box Plein Air Easels

Aluminium Box Easels are similar to the French Easel concept but lighter, since they are made from modern materials rather than wood.

Soltek Easel
Soltek Easel

Tripod plein air easels

These systems use a regular wooden tripod for supporting both the palette and the painting.

2 Gloucester Style Plein Air Easels

Gloucester Easels are a tripod easel systems modeled on a traditional early 20th New England design built in wood.

Take It Easel
A type of Gloucester Easel

The principle of the Gloucester easel is quite clever. Because of the top pole that supports the canvas, you can get your canvas into a vertical position. This means that you don’t get light reflecting onto your painting from the sky. The three points holding your canvas make sure it is held firmly in place. From a design point of view it is very efficient in terms of weight and strength. I have not found a better design for a plein air easel.

2 Aluminum Plein Air Easels

Aluminum Easels are easels designed for painting (and sometimes drawing) made of aluminium. Some have separate attachments for hooking on a palette.

Bristol Aluminium Sketching Easel
Bristol Aluminium Sketching Easel

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Also don’t forget to check out the Guide to Pochade Boxes.

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