The history of the artist's easel can be traced back through millennia. Its invention has enabled artists to spend dedicated time to their subject, either in the studio or outside – the practice of which is called 'en plein air' (French for 'in the open air').
An early form of the easel can be found on an inscription in ancient Egypt – who also used them to display paintings, but the first written account was from the Roman author Pliny the Elder. Subsequent use can be found across classical ancient Europe and Asia in various forms.
The word easel is derived from the old Germanic word for donkey, 'Esel'; an animal traditionally associated with carrying heavy loads on its back.
An easel is an important investment. It should last a long time and it pays to choose one that is well made and suitable for the painting and drawing you want to do. It needs to be sturdy, reliable and long-lasting. If you are working with a fluid medium like watercolour then it is best to have an easel which supports your work horizontally.
If your media is less likely to drip – something like oils, acrylics or drawing materials, you will find one that holds your work in a vertical position is a good option.
You'll get better results investing in a quality product over cheap easels.
MABEF have been making high quality wooden artist’s easels since 1948 and the name is taken from its founders initials Mariotto Albino Bruno e Figi. The company was built on a tradition of fine cabinet making and flourished in post war Italy. Today, MABEF is probably the most highly respected easel brand in the world and continues to manufacture all of its easels in its factory in Cardano al Campo, Italy.
The company has always been family owned and run and the Mariotto family continue to play a major role. In 2004 MABEF obtained the FSC certification which guarantees that all of the solid beechwood used to manufacture their beautiful easels is sourced from sustainable controlled forests. MABEF also recycle all of its waste material by converting the wood scraps into special pellets and then using them to heat the entire factory.
MABEF easels are treated with raw linseed oil which represents the most natural method to protect the wood surface without drastically changing its natural features. The wood is impregnated in its internal fibres emphasising all the sensations that only a natural material can give.
To always keep its natural colour in the original wooden grains and to moisturise the wood, preserving it from cracking, we suggest to apply raw linseed oil with a soft cloth for the natural finishings. For lacquered finishings we suggest to use products made with bee wax, to be applied with a soft cloth.
As we are dealing with “live” materials, solid beech wood is subjected to shrinkage or expansion owing to changes in heat and/or in dampness which can cause a slight instability of the product or a light friction of the sliding parts. To remove these inconveniences, it is suggested to tighten or to unloose the screws or the nuts according to the problem.
When choosing your easel always take into account your preferred painting position (for example sitting or standing), canvas size, height and angle. If you are working with pastels for instance, find an easel that can tlit forwards allowing dust to fall away from the rest of your artwork.
For larger works, an upright easel will give you more freedom to move your whole arm instead of just your wrist. This provides broader and more confident strokes in your art.
By measuring your scenes angles with a pencil (looking past your easel), you can directly transfer its form to your upright picture more seamlessly. This does away with the need to mentally adjust a scene back to a canvas lying horizontally on the table.
Our range includes miniature easels and the M/30 Painting Workstation, which is specifically designed for use with wheelchairs.
MABEF continues to innovate and while many of their easels are based on traditional designs, they are still developing new easels to help artists to create and display their works.
All their products carry a “lifetime” guarantee, plus many in our range of art easels for sale include FREE delivery – more reasons to choose Broad Canvas as your easel provider.
View our easel range here: https://www.broadcanvas.co.uk/easels