The Top 5 Best Plein Air Easels for Oil Paintings

Are you an artist that works or wants to work outside? Why limit yourself to only working inside your home or studio? The possibilities truly become endless when you decide to paint outside. If you do not know what plein air painting is, please let us explain!

Plein air painting can date back to many centuries ago, but it was made famous by French Impressionists. Portable box studios were soon created in order to allow these artists to better capture light in their paintings. The French wanted to paint “en plein air”, which translates to “in the open air”.

Today, you might see a painter at the local park or out by the water splashing colors on their easel. People have painting parties outside and embrace being in the landscape while they are painting it. We truly resonate with these modern day artists and wanted to curate a list of the top five best plein air easels for oil painting.

When people see oil paintings, they may be intimidated at first and think something like, “There’s just no way I could ever do that”. Oil painting as been around for centuries. So, what is the best technique? What is our pro tip, you may be wondering? Do not be afraid of making mistakes! Mistakes are the building blocks to success and will provide you with learning experiences. The best thing about oil painting is that it is super easy to correct a “mistake” and paint over it or blend it out.

Painting outdoors using oil paints can be exhilarating. Just imagine looking over a pond at sunset or a mountain range in the distance. It will truly help you get in touch with nature. If you are thinking about getting started or are looking for the next best easel, consider one of our top picks for the top five best plein air easels for oil painting.

1. Advanced Series En Plein Air Pro Oil & Acrylic Easel Package with Sliding Shelf

If you are looking for a sturdy and professional setup, then the Advanced Series En Plein Air Pro is perfect for you. That is why it is one of the best plein air easels for oil painting we have ever found. The panels are completely adjustable, so you will be able to hold whichever kind of canvas you would like to use, making this product very versatile. The holder for the panels can hold up to 12 inches by 16 inches and down to 6 inches by 8 inches.

The feature that really sets this product apart from the rest is the tripod the easel is connected to. You may have noticed that with other similar styled models, such as tripods, you tend to get an unwanted rocking motions. It has a wide stance, making it more sturdy. It also features aluminum plates along the tripod legs to make it more durable. Due to this easel’s design, that is eliminated. The tripod is also adjustable, making it easy to paint while standing or sitting. The tripod can easily be changed to make it suitable for a tabletop easel, but it can also be removed completely as well.

We really love the palette on this one! We have heard good things about the palette, so we had to check it out. The palette is constructed of one-fourth inch ABS material. The frame is sturdy and durable. The design of the palette is unique and very functional. An addition to the palette is the palette cover that slides over it. This also has additional storage area. The working area where you will be setting your canvas is made out of a material that is resistant to scratching. This means that you know this product was designed with durability in mind.

This easel is sure to last you many more years to come. It also comes with an awesome duffel bag that also doubles as a backpack. This is great for storing everything and transporting all your materials.

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2. Sienna Plein Air Artist Pochade Box Easel

When we think of easels with the best design, we always keep going back to the Sienna Plein Air Box Easel. The design of this easel alone is simply stunning. That is why we have chosen it as one of the best plein air easels for oil painting. Any oil painter will take one look at the Sienna and just know that this product was designed after careful consideration.

The canvas holders are adjustable and can hold stretched canvas and panels. One of the key features that is included for oil painters is the palette. This tempered glass palette can be removed. The box also includes a flip out brush tray. Made of a beautiful wooden material, this easel can easily fold in on itself and be locked, resembling a small briefcase.

The ease of use and versatility puts this easel apart from the pack. Underneath this box is a handy attachment. This attachment can fit virtually any type of tripod. This means you can have your easel on your lap, eye level, or above you while you’re sitting. The options are actually endless. This heavy duty studio easel will not be wobbling as your trying to paint and has a very sturdy arm.


3. Art Alternatives Sonoma Sketchbox Easel

One of our favorite plein air easels by far is the Sonoma Sketchbox. It is made for the oil outdoor painter. It is composed of elm wood and has brass features. Art Alternatives prides itself on making the Sonoma Sketchbox incredibly adjustable, being able to fit canvases up to 32 inches.

We were actually most impressed by the amount of storage the easel has. There is a lift out sliding drawer included. Inside the sliding door is there are four different divided compartments. Underneath, are an additional two compartments. It folds down completely to resemble a briefcase.

The dimensions of the easel when it is folded down is 17 inches by 22 inches. We love that this easel does not just have a simple handle to carry it with. It actually has a high quality leather strap, so this easel can be slung on your shoulder to make carrying it easier. But, it also features a leather handle as well.

The palette is absolutely beautiful and can be removed for easier painting. Any medium can be adjusted to fit on the easel. You have the ability to slant your easel at just the perfect angle that works for you. Basically, there is enough storage in this easel to hold everything you could need. This easel will provide you with the perfect outdoor painting studio, while still being able to be compact for traveling and transport.


4. Guerrilla Painter 9x12 Guerrilla Box Plein Air Painting Easel

If you are looking for a truly innovative and uniquely designed plein air easel, then look no further than what Guerrilla Painter has created. This easel setup is perfect for you if you are looking for a whole studio in a box. What more could you possibly need? The box can hold up to four wet 9 inch by 12 inch canvases. In order to hold canvases while you paint, the lid has clips that you will use when you flip the lid up.

When you slide out the top drawer you will see that the palette is removable. Guerrilla Painter designed the palette with the traveling oil painter in mind! You can easily store and transport paint that is already on the palette without making a mess inside the box. There are three storage compartments underneath the palette. One of these compartments has a divider that is able to be moved. Since it has this feature, this easel can store brushes, paints, and other tools you may need. The side of the easel features special clips to lock the easel lid in place for you to paint on. These are adjustable, so you are able to find the perfect angle.

The whole easel easily collapses downward to make it the perfect size to travel with and carry with you. It is constructed of a solid and durable basswood with stainless steel hardware. Underneath the easel box is something a quality painter can not live without! A universal tripod mount is situated on the bottom, making this product truly versatile. It features an easy to use shoulder strap and a durable leather handle for easy transportation.


5. U.S. Art Supply Coronado French Style Easel & Sketchbox with 12" Drawer

The Coronado by U.S. Art Supply finishes off our list of the best plein air easels for oil painting off strong and we could not be happier with what this easel has in store for painters at all levels. It is sturdy and durable, partly because it is made of hand-sanded beechwood.

This adjustable easel can stand tall, short, or be a tabletop easel all because of it’s adjustable legs. The wooden palette is large enough to hold all your paint colors and is easily removable. When you remove the palette, you will see what we love most about this plein air easel: storage! You can never have too much storage for your brushes and oil paints. Since you will be painting outside, you may not want or be able to run inside and get something you need. The twelve inch sliding drawer has divided compartments to fit everything you need for a day of painting and relaxing.

Brass hooks on the easel are perfect for transporting your wet canvases. It can fit up to a 34 inch canvas. The best part? This amazing easel can fold down to 17 inches by 22 inches, making it briefcase size. Do not worry about not being able to carry it because it comes with a handy leather strap to sling around your shoulder to transport easily.

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Oil painting outdoors can be relaxing, meditative, and give you a newfound appreciation for nature. Even though painting “en plein air” was coined centuries ago, artists everywhere can still appreciate what the French Impressionists were originally experiencing and how badly they wanted to express that onto their canvas.

These top five best plein air easels deliver superior quality and exceptional detail to artists everywhere. We love their versatility, but most importantly the storage that they provide. So, consider getting one to jumpstart your oil painting career or to switch out with an old one you have been hanging on to!

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