Choosing a Plein Air Easel

Strada Plein Air Easel Setup

For those of you who might be shopping for a Plein Air Rig, here are some suggestions.

Whichever you choose, please read the last item on the list, the support (Very Important).

Plein Air Painting Easel Options

Option 1:

"I only paint outside occasionally, like once every month or year. . ."

The French Easel

The French easel is a design that has not changed much in the last 100 years. It is a universal indoor and outdoor easel.

But sometimes setting it up is like trying to put sneakers on a cow. Parts can be cumbersome, and it's not something you will want to hike with.

It will hold huge canvases and because of this, I own one of these and use it once in a while.

Blick French Easel by Jullian
Dick Blick Art Materials

French Easel for Plein Air Painting
Blick French Easel

Option 2:

"I paint outside more than twice a month, sometimes even once a week!"

The Cigar Box

No frills, lightweight and easy to carry, this particular pochade box made by Judsons Art Outfitters, Guerrilla Painter is very sturdy.

It has the limitation of accommodating only 8x10 and smaller canvases which can be carried inside the box. When I paint I usually paint no larger than 8x10 anyway.

A good starter pochade box, decent price.

Guerrilla Painter
8x10 Cigar Box V2

Judsons Art Outfitters

Guerrilla Painter 8x10 Cigar Box for Plein Air Painting
8x10 Cigar Box

Option 3:

"I paint outside once a week, sometimes even 3 times a week!"

The Pochade Box: French Resistance

This Pochade Box by Judsons Art Outfitter, Guerrilla Painter is a main box for Plein Air painters.

Easy to carry, a little heavier than the Cigar Box. It usually has compartments and accommodates a range of canvas sizes and accessories.

I have a medium size version, but it will accommodate a 16x20 canvas with its telescoping support arm.

They offer discounts for seconds (slightly factory dinged).

Medium French Resistance Easel SECOND
Judsons Art Outfitters

Medium French Resistance Pochade Box for Plein Air Painting
Medium French Resistance Easel

Plein Air Accessories:

Umbrella and clamp.

I strongly suggest at some point you buy an umbrella and mount. The umbrella is for shade not water, and not shade for you but for your canvas and palette.

Guerrilla Painter Silver Soft Clamp Umbrella
Judsons Art Outfitters

Umbrella for Plein Air Painting
Painting Umbrella
Hook for hanging solvent can.

Guerrilla Painter
Handy Hook
Judsons Art Outfitters

Handy Hook to Hold Turpentine Can when Plein Air Painting
Hook for Turp Can
Palette Extension

Guerrilla Painter Extension Wing
(very handy for brushes)

Attachable Extension Wing Side Tray for Guerrilla Painter Pochade Box
Side Tray

Guerrilla Painter
Palette Extension Kit
for the Medium French Resistance Box

from Judsons Art Outfitters

Option 4:

"I'm staying in the Amazon jungle for eight months" Rig."

The Strada Easel

All-aluminum construction and will survive many years of abuse. However it is NOT any lighter than the wooden boxes mentioned!

The "friction" canvas holder is adequately designed, but it does not always hold and is limited by its height to accommodate 11x14 canvases. (I have the first version. Newer versions may have more capability.)

The strength of this box is its potential for longevity. I own one and use it daily and it shows.


Durable Strada Easel for Plein Air Painting
Strada Easel

Side Tray

Attachable Side Tray for Strada Plein Air Painting Easel
Strada Easel Side Tray

Useful for mixing paint, holding brushes and supplies.

Easel Support: Tripod

Whichever box you choose (aside from the French Easel with built in legs) you will need a support tripod.

Word of advice: Don't skimp here! A flimsy, shaky tripod is the worst thing to try and manage out in the field.

I use the Manfrotto Tripods. They are very sturdy and rugged, fairly lightweight and fold up small (ish).

Lightweight Collapsible Manfrotto Tripod
Manfrotto Tripod

I also recommend this kit, or something comparable.

A pre-attached "Ball Style" head with Quick Release plate really saves time out in the field.

Quick Release Ball Head for Manfrotto Tripod
Ball Head with Quick Release

Manfrotto 293 Tripod with Ball Head with Quick Release

Posted on Jan 5, 2017

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