Easel Assistant

This was a project from a few years ago.  I had a request to make a drawing board suitable for putting onto an artist easel.  Normally a canvas will be held in place between the bottom ant top canvas holders.  As the artist wished to work primarily on paper, working with pastels, watercolour and acrylics, a backing board was asked for to be held as if a canvas, onto which she could affix the paper.

As she was used to having all her art materials on her art bench when making art on that same bench, I asked how working at the easel would work for her.  It seemed that tables either side of the easel would be the obvious solution for keeping water brushes and paint. As I prepared to make the board, I had some ideas, and went back to her and suggested making and fitting accessories the sides of the board, which would give her free space (or hands) around the easel. The board I subsequently designed with attachments, I call the Easel Assistant.

Whether using a standard ‘A frame’  or a ‘H frame’ (or derivative) the Easel Assistant is equally at home on either.

The easel I originally designed for was  the Windsor & Newton Hamilton Studio Easel, which is a ‘H frame hybrid’  ideal for watercolour, acrylics/oils and pastels alike.

I started with a piece of plywood 760cm x 920cm. to easily fit A1 size paper.

To attach the accessories I drilled and added several metal threaded inserts down each side of the board to receive the attachments. I created several fixing points to give full flexibility in several configurations.

The first accessory designed was the palette wing, for the ‘special’ glass stay wet palette (pyrex tray & dish washing sponges) to sit in. A lid fits on top, to keep the palette moist when not in use. I have since found that a more lightweight option is a white enamel cooking tray which dried on acrylic paint (when soaked), washes off really easily.

To compliment the palette, I added  a water holster, this handily sits just below the palette. The water jar in this project is a ceramic plant pot. Other plastic tub options are a more lightweight option here.

The wet brush tray attachment was made to fit to the left side of the board. Though, the design of the attachments and brackets means they can be fitted either side, and anywhere on the board.

The wet brush tray is actually an up-cycled plastic cutlery drawer insert.

Using the flip down toggle clamps that I screwed to the top of the board, work can be held directly by clamping the paper, or alternatively do it the good old fashioned way and tape it to the board.

If the easel were to be tilted forward for working with pastels or tilted near horizontal for watercolours, each accessory can be loosened and repositioned easily by a single locking knob.

Here it is fitted to the easel, and with the attachments added in less than 5 minutes.

If you know an artist who might benefit from this beautifully crafted but simple solution, drop me a line from the ‘Contact’ page.

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