Should I Use an Easel?

Ah, as you walk amongst the throngs of Parisian street artists, you see that some of them have easels nestled comfortably under their canvasses. Confusingly, you also see some artists who are using their laps, and let’s not forget the dreamers who are using artists’ board. Who is right?

Don’t bother trying to peak over someone’s shoulder in order to compare results; chances are, they’ll all be good.

Many mainstream artists will say that an easel is necessary to avoid losing the 3D-ness and to get caught up in the foreshortening of the drawing, and while that may be true for many, it’s not the case for everyone!

It takes some practice to get accustomed to using an easel, because there’s no longer anywhere to rest your drawing arm. The whole process can feel awkward and uncomfortable, but like many things, it gets easier the more you do it and get used to it.

I myself have an easel, but I don’t use it very often. I like to think of it as my travel companion; it comes out of its case mainly when I’m away from home, or sometimes I take it out to place finished works on it until I’ve decided what to do with everything.
In general, I use an artist’s board. It’s smaller than an easel, fits in a portfolio bag, and I can sit with it on my lap when I’m working. The downside, of course, is the horrendous posture that comes with hovering over the board.

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As you can see from the image of my unfinished drawing above, an art board can still be used effectively to achieve good results.

I also have, in my beloved art studio (a colorful room in my basement that contains only some shelves, yarn, and piles of art supplies), a glass art desk that tilts. It’s much more posture friendly, while still allowing me to comfortably tilt my work. It’s a fantastic thing to have, but definitely bigger and pricier than an easel or board.

My point is that what you use is up to you. Don’t knock anything until you’ve tried it a few times; something as subtle as your drawing support could make a world of difference to your end product.