Saturday, May 27, 2017

How to Make a Sketch Easel

A plein-air easel should achieve the following goals:

1. Allow you to stand or sit.
2. Hold your panel or sketchbook up out of your hands, so that both hands are free.
3. Position the work close to your line of sight so that you can achieve accuracy.
4. Allow easy adjustments of height, slope, and angle.
5. Diffuse the direct sunlight to get rid of glare and cast shadows.
6. Resist being blown over by the wind.
7. Set up and take down quickly, fit into a lightweight and compact bag.
8. Be easy to build from readily available materials.

After decades of tinkering—and with the generous input of you, the GJ Community here on the blog—I think we've got something that really achieves these goals.

People are calling it "The Gurney Easel," but I just call it the "sketch easel."

(Umbrella Video on YouTube) I recently headed into the workshop to build a sketch easel for Jeanette. And being the needlecraft wizard, she helped me create some light diffusers. We documented the whole process in a new Gumroad video.

It will show you exactly how to build one. If you don't have the workshop tools or skills, why not get the video for a friend who can build it for you?

(Quick-Release-Plate video on YouTube)

The video is loaded with valuable tips. For example, instead of attaching the quick release plate each time to the back of your easel, you can get a few extra cheaper generic plates.

Screw one of them semi-permanently into the back of your easel. Each camera and each easel gets its own plate, and the slot on the tripod is left empty when not in use (I use Velbon or Amazon tripods) which have a square slot.

The video covers how to make both the easel and four different diffuser designs. I'll talk more about tools and materials tomorrow, and share some of your design ideas on Monday.

The HD download of "How to Make a Sketch Easel" is more than an hour long and costs only $14.95.

It's available now from Gumroad, and I'll upload it to Sellfy and Cubebrush later today.

The DVD version is available for $24.50, and it includes a slide show. The DVD is also available on Amazon


Fabio Porta said...

Bought just now, thanks for doing this James!

Jared Cullum said...

Cool! Man, that is genius about attaching the quick release. I have been getting asparagus rubber bands and just wrapping them tight under it. It works but it makes it a pain to get back off.
So cool. I've made a couple pochade boxes, each trying to do everything and finally decided to copy yours by photos from your post and I've had the most luck with that. I always give credit and direct people to your blog for that often. I'm glad to have something really specific to direct them to.
Even though I already built one I'll have to get this at some point to see what other advice you have. :)

Steve said...

Looking forward to seeing the full length video. Your workshop scenes remind me of photos I've seen of Maxfield Parrish. He had a well-equipped workshop and delighted in making a range of objects, including custom-built packing crates for his paintings.

VickiRossArt said...

James, any chance you might sell a diffuser?