Choosing the Right Easel for Plein Air Painting

Plein air painting, the practice of painting outdoors, allows artists to capture the beauty of nature in its most authentic form. To fully embrace this art form, it’s crucial to have the right equipment, and one of the most fundamental tools for plein air painting is the easel. A good easel provides stability, versatility, and ease of use, allowing the artist to focus on their creativity without being hindered by technical limitations. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the factors to consider when choosing the perfect easel for your plein air adventures.

1. Portability

Since plein air painting involves working outdoors, portability is key. Look for an easel that is lightweight and easy to carry. It should be compact enough to be transported comfortably, whether you’re hiking to a remote location or simply walking from your car to a nearby spot.

2. Stability

A stable easel is essential for creating precise and controlled strokes. It should securely hold your canvas or panel in place, even in windy conditions. Tripod-style easels are a popular choice for plein air painting due to their stability and adjustable legs that allow for placement on uneven terrain.

3. Adjustability

The ability to adjust the angle and height of the easel is crucial for achieving different perspectives and working comfortably. Look for an easel with adjustable legs and a tilting mechanism that allows you to position your canvas at various angles. This feature is especially important when working with changing light conditions.

4. Durability

Outdoor painting environments can be demanding, so your easel should be built to withstand various weather conditions. Consider materials like aluminium or sturdy wood, which are both lightweight and durable. Additionally, check for features like rust-resistant hardware for longevity.

5. Size and Capacity

Consider the size of canvases or panels you typically work with. Ensure that the easel you choose can accommodate your preferred canvas size. Some easels have specific size limitations, so make sure to check the specifications before purchasing.

6. Palette Holder

Having a built-in palette holder is a convenient feature that allows you to keep your paints within easy reach. This eliminates the need for an additional surface to mix colours and helps you stay organised while painting outdoors.

7. Storage Space

Some easels come with storage compartments or pockets for brushes, paint tubes, and other supplies. This can be a valuable feature, as it keeps your tools organised and easily accessible while you work.

8. Ease of Setup

The last thing you want when you’re eager to start painting is to struggle with a complicated setup process. Look for an easel that is intuitive and quick to set up, allowing you to focus on your creativity.

9. Budget Considerations

Easels come in a wide range of prices, so it’s important to set a budget based on your preferences and needs. While it’s worth investing in a high-quality easel, there are also budget-friendly options that offer good functionality.



Choosing the right easel for plein air painting can greatly enhance your outdoor painting experience. Consider factors like portability, stability, adjustability, durability, size, and additional features when making your decision. Ultimately, the best easel for you will be one that complements your painting style and preferences, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of outdoor artistry. Happy painting!

Learn more about everything you need to know about materials, colour, tone, edges, creating texture and painting surfaces, when painting with oils, in my FREE course: Apprentice Basics.

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