Easels and Stools

I am not a great believer in easels for outdoor sketching. If you have to walk around a bit before settling on a subject they can be a burden to carry about.

Nevertheless there are some good light sketching easels on the market that will serve you both indoors and out. As you will probably be painting indoors with an easel, it is wiser to get one that can be taken out at well. Some folding easels are designed both for indoor and outdoor work and when folded are easily transportable.

The problems in working outdoors are added to when complicated by the presence of an easel. Easels have a tendency to blow over at the slightest breeze. They reduce your mobility and are troublesome to pack up when you are in a hurry. However you may like to try working with them later on as they are helpful when painting in watercolors. Nevertheless to begin with, until you have gained some confidence and experience, leave them behind in the studio.

A small seat or stool is another matter. Though I rarely use one myself, some students find that they are unable to work without being comfortably seated. Any lightweight stool that folds simply will do for this purpose and can be bought in most large stores where they sell picnic or garden furniture. Sometimes they sell them in the sports department for fishermen. If you don't mind not having a stool, but dislike sitting about on cold and hard surfaces, an inflatable cushion is a good addition to your equipment (Fig. 17).


Oil paints aren't really designed for outdoor work. As you will see in the next chapter they are more complicated to handle than watercolors. By this I mean that you will need lots of gear. Bottles of oil and turps, lots of brushes, canvases, canvas holder for protecting the wet paint, a palette and dippers, an easel, rags, palette knife and so on.

You always have to keep your equipment clean when mixing oil paint and this is difficult enough in the studio without the added complication of the weather. Unless you have had a great deal of experience in handling oil paint, and can be certain of fine weather, it is best to leave them completely alone and use them for indoor work only. Numerous artists do paint outdoors, especially in the hotter countries. Cezanne did, for one, but he had to hire a cart each time he wanted to paint to accommodate all his equipment which included a large umbrella to keep the sun off.

So, for the moment, I would suggest that for outdoor sketching stick to drawing and painting in opaque and transparent watercolors.