French Easel

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mdmattin
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French Easel

Post by mdmattin » Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:25 pm

Back in the winter I had started refurbishing my decrepit old French easel, and had installed a cardboard prototype of the drawer dividers.
I recently went back and built a permanent version out of luan plywood:
Layout for the base and longitudinal dividers on a single piece of luan:
layout.jpg
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Safety first! In retrospect, I should have added a dust mask - the router kicked up a lot of dust and whatever industrial adhesive they glue plywood together with.
safety.jpg
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About to start routing out the groove to hold the dividers:
router.jpg
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Done with the grooves:
routed.jpg
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Cutting off the longitudinal dividers. It made it easier to get the grooves to line up right to do them as part of the base.
cuts.jpg
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Test assembly before gluing. It was almost tight enough to just leave unglued.
assembly.jpg
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Completed and installed. Note the Velcro strips holding the paint tubes in place
complete.jpg
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I then took it for a test spin on my bike:
bike with french easel.jpg
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On top of Mt. Pollux, ready to paint.
on top of mt pollux.jpg
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I got off to a late start, so I only got a basic sketch in before the light failed.
sketch.jpg
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Re: French Easel

Post by Andre Jute » Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:58 pm

In those goggles you look like One of Those Daring Men in their Flying Machines.

Looks like you have the tools and the skills to build your own French box easel from scratch.

Perhaps you should leave that sketch a few days, Matthew, and see if it grows on you as finished art: it looks good, and close up the texture of the canvas will give an impressive novelty further interest. Maybe you should varnish it as is and see who else it impresses. At the very least it will be useful as a teaching stage.

Real painters bicycle!
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Re: French Easel

Post by Alitogata » Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:49 pm

Andre Jute wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:58 pm
[...]
Real painters bicycle!
And that's what they do...

@Matthew by the time that your easel is so compact and flat it would be more convenient for transporting it with your bicycle, to attach on its underside two of these hooks that pannier bags have.

Something similar to these

https://www.ortlieb.com/us/e162

These are f.e Orlieb hooks that have a locking mechanism and a handle. When you pull the handle you unlock/detach the hooks from the bicycles rack. Otherwise they stay there locked in the rack. This is of course a German brand :roll: but the concept is to show you what you should look for.

It is a safer option IMHO to transport the easel mounted on the sides of the bicycle than on top or its rack. :)

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Re: French Easel

Post by Andre Jute » Thu Nov 28, 2019 3:29 pm

Ortlieb gear is widely available in the States. Mathew will, depending on how his carrier is made, require either a third hook for attachment to the carrier near the hub, or tie of some kind. I use a belt of heavy olive green canvas with double steel loops for tightening against itself as the bottom tie for stuff in the position of the panniers on my rack. But mostly I just throw my smallest pochade box into a pannier basket, so I presume that Matthew's folding easel is too big to fit in his rather good-looking collapsible pannier baskets.
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Re: French Easel

Post by Alitogata » Fri Nov 29, 2019 3:11 pm

He can use a wide velcro strap to secure the bottom of the easel on the sides of the rack or on the chain stays of the bicycle.
Generally speaking it is better to transport large and flat items on the sides of the bicycle for safety reasons. To retain for instance your balance on the bicycle in windy conditions, to avoid take with you car mirrors or scratch car doors, ( that cost you to fix them) to manoeuvre easier between stopped cars and of course in the worst case scenario that you might have an accident, the easel will not injure you and it will end up scratched instead of broken.

Panniers are fine if you don't need an easel box. And I doubt that there are available so large panniers to contain large easels. On the other hand what is the point to carry on the bicycle the weight of the pannier too by the time that the easel is already enough to hold your painting equipment. You can modify the easel with the hooks of a pannier. It is more affordable afterall.

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Re: French Easel

Post by sketchjo » Wed Jan 29, 2020 1:12 pm

Love what you have done with your easel, I am looking for a new one at the moment but I'm not skilled enough to build my own - I was looking at this article for inspiration https://9mousai.com/best-easels-for-artists/ has anyone got any views on what to buy- I want to it for indoor or outdoor use

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Re: French Easel

Post by mdmattin » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:37 pm

Hi Sketchjo,
So much depends on what you want to use it for and how much you want to invest. Some the main things to consider would be whether to get a standard easel which simply holds your canvas or drawing board, and you carry your paints and palette separately, or a French easel, like I show in this post, or a pochade box style easel, which sits on a photographer's tripod and supports the painting surface and can contain either built-in palette or a palette and paintbox. These all have tradeoffs - the French is a bit cumbersome to set up, but accommodates a wide range of sizes, the pochade style is very convenient, but tends to limit the size of the artwork, and the kind with a paintbox is heavier and requires a sturdier tripod - and, in my experience, doesn't completely contain everything, so you need a small supply bag as well.
The paintbox style pochade Box I use is the Alla Prima Bitterroot, which is very nice. There are less pricey versions made by Guerrilla Painter and Sienna.
I haven't worked with the palette-only kind, but some popular names are Open Box M, Strada, and Easy-L.
In the standard easel area, if you want to use it indoors and outdoors, you don't have to consider the big, heavy, studio easels (although I have seen people lugging some pretty hefty beasts out in the wild). There are a lot of plein-air style easels that are also fine for indoor use, at least for moderately sized pieces.
The top of line for me is the TakeitEasel Gloucester easel, which is also costly, but very well made and designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor painting. There is a cheaper version called the Beauport, which some people swear by and others swear at. You can find many discussions of their relative merits online.
There are many other types and brands of "standard" easel, broken out into wood versus metal and with varying designs. One design I have not had good experiences with is the "swing top," which allows you to vary the angle of the work. My problem has been that the swinging piece is only held by one screw, and gets loose. I'd be interested to hear if others have done better with this, because the feature would be nice to have if it worked right.
I have an inexpensive metal easel made by Stanrite that I like a lot. I don't think they make that same model anymore, but it would be worth seeing if they have something that suits you.
Like many purchasing decisions, the trick is buy the thing that will reliably meet your needs without paying for a lot of features you will never use, or paying a premium for a brand name.
Matthew

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