I love my French easel.

I got it from an estate sale many years ago where another artist had loved it and broken it in first. Not sure how old it is, but it looked like it had hardly been used. I tried to find out what type it was and the nearest I can figure out is that it is a Grumbacher easel #286. It is supposed to be one of the best easels ever made for plein air. It is sturdy, but, really? Could this not be tougher to set up? There is no graceful way to unfold, unclip, slid, unscrew, tighten, snap, unlock, rescrew, adjust, twirl, stretch, clamp, measure and tighten again….and tighten again. All the while knowing that people are trying hard not to stare at me. But I know that to paint plein air then I must summon up my courage and in my head yell in my best pirate voice, ”Avar, ye Kraken! I fear ye not!” then proceed to wrangle my easel into submission.

Once it is set up it is so fun to use. It is better than the easels in my classroom. Best thing about this easel is the drawer which is deep and made of tin. I can pull it out and set everything on it and in it. It is very sturdy. And it makes me feel official somehow. As though over the past 50 years that I have created artwork (I count my toddler years drawing my dog ) somehow doesn’t validate me as an official artist until I stand in front of a French easel. After I had gotten it I took a sharpie and signed my name to it. I guess in a weird way I was hoping some artist would be happy to have my easel after me someday.

Painting every week out and about in Greenville has definitely given it a workout. I keep trying to get a good dozen paintings together from around town, but I keep selling the paintings to passersby who see them. Good problem to have….

Anyway, there are a lot of easels out there. Some work great as a backpack, some are very thin and more flimsy, but if you get a chance to get a good one, do it. It has become my friend and even though it is a bit heavy, it has been a great addition to my painting arsenal.

Plus, it makes you look official. More next week.

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