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Painting Easels
and Other Painting Equipment

There are two main types of painting easels: studio easel and outdoor or sketching easel .

If you purchase a sketching easel, select one that folds into a small,compact unit.

Remember that you will be carrying a paint box and probably a sketching stool along with the easel.

A sketching easel can be used for working indoors, but it will lack the stability of a regular studio easel.

A sketching easel will also limit the size of your canvas because the grips on a sketching easel are not designed to hold large canvases.

The painting easel stability can be improved by placing rubber tips on its legs when it is used indoors.

Whatever easel you select, make certain that it contains a fixture that allows the canvas to be tilted at an angle to eliminate surface glare.

The Palette Knife

Apart from painting easels, you'll need a palette knife for removing paint from your palette as you work. It can also be used to scrape unwanted paint from the surface of the canvas before repainting, and it can supplement a brush in mixing colors.


A painting medium, or vehicle, is necessary to make the paint workable. I recommend that you buy a prepared copal painting medium and use it at the start.

Later on, you may want to prepare your own medium.

A good home­made mixture is one-third turpentine, one-third linseed oil, and one-third copal oil varnish.

You can vary the effect by using more turpentine in the preliminary stages of a painting, to speed the drying as well as to thin the consistency of the paint. Then, as the painting builds up, cut down on the turpentine and use more linseed oil, painting in a heavier manner.

When you are more experienced, you may want to experiment with other painting mediums. Stand oil, which gives an enamel-like finish to a painting, is a very heavy oil and should be thinned with turpentine to make it workable. Sun-thickened oil will also add a gloss to your painting and it dries faster than stand oil.

All mediums should be purchased at an art supply shop to insure high quality.

Retouch Varnish

It will not be necessary to carry a bottle of retouch varnish in your paint box, but you should have it on hand in the studio.

When a canvas is worked on over a period of time, some color areas go dull as they dry, and brushing or spraying some retouch varnish over the painting brightens the sunken colors.

Retouch varnish also helps the adherence of the paint film of subsequent work. Do not overuse this varnish; it will not be neededuntil the paint­ing is well under way.

Oil Cups

You should have two cups that can be fastened to your palette. One cup is for the medium you are mixing with your colors, the other holds turpentine for cleaning your brush quickly, particularly when working outdoors. Make sure both cups are big enough to take a large brush.

Charcoal Pencils

Always have some fairly soft charcoal pencils or sticks in your paint box. Charcoal allows more flexible handling than an ordinary leadpencil in making the basic sketch on the canvas.

Fixatif or Fixative

A fixatif is used to keep the charcoal drawing from smudging; it is sprayed on with a small atomizer. This can be omitted when the sketching is done outdoors, and the surplus charcoal can be dusted off the canvas with a rag or a chamois. Dust lightly so that a faint image remains to guide you in the later painting.

Paint Rags

You have now the painting easel, your medium, your painting knives, and other equipment. You'll be glad to know that the next item in your list is one of the cheapest: Paint Rags!

Have enough rags in your paint box for wiping your brushes and palette, and for general cleaning up.

The Sketching Stool

If you prefer to sit while working, you will need a sketching stool.

Choose one that is light in weight but sturdily constructed and that will fold up and use as little space as possible when you are carrying the rest of your sketching material.

Some painters dispense with a painting easel and instead carry a second stool, on which they set the open paint box with a panel inserted in the lid.

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Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez


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