An artist's studio easel that is close to perfection...
Hi, my name is David Sorg. I've been fortunate
enough to earn part of my living as a professional painter for several years, and painted
as an amateur long before. Sometimes "making do" with what you have on
hand is part of the fun of painting, but when it comes to easels, it seems like the
best one should just disappear. It would allow you to paint without a thought of
But I couldn't find anything like that. If you've spent much time looking at or
working with different studio easels, you too have probably discovered that each of them
have their strengths and weaknesses. Those weak points really bugged me; I was
disappointed to see how poorly most expensive easels worked. You'd expect it for 300
dollars, but for 900 and 1200 dollars and more? And even the smoothly operating but expensive Hughes Easel lacked too many features that I thought were important.
I'm sure I should have been painting instead, but I began to tinker and sketch
easel designs, talking with other artists, and looking at what was available from other
easel manufacturers. I turned some perfectly good wood into scraps, but eventually came
up with something that had everything I wanted from an easel, and I hope it turns out to be
pretty darned close to exactly what you would like to have, too.
The Two Most Important Features
First: The easel has a paint tray, a lower canvas support,
and an upper canvas support. Once you have placed your canvas or panel onto this
easel, you won't
have to touch another knob, crank handle, pin, or ratchet. The three pieces and your
canvas all move up and down as a unit. No more stooping low or reaching high because it's
too much work to move the canvas. Even with very tall canvases you can always work at
whatever is your most comfortable level. Sit or stand; it will take about one
second to adjust the canvas to your new height.
Many, if not most other easels require you to separately move all three trays
each time you want to adjust your canvas. Adding insult to injury, they also jamb or
stick, have to be jiggled, or come slamming down if you forget to hold on to the right
part of the thing.
Second: The entire carriage assembly is externally counterbalanced. This
means that your canvas almost floats, regardless of weight, and can be moved up or
down with your fingertips.
These two qualities are so wonderful to have! I really believe you'll wonder how
you lived without them. With more than 40 inches of nearly effortless vertical travel,
you will always have your painting exactly where you want it.
If you're old enough, or when you're old enough to wear bifocals or trifocals (like I do, dangit) you will love being able to nudge your canvas up or down instead of constantly tilting and peering to find the place where your eyes and your glasses and your canvas all line up.
Other Good Stuff
Painting Tray: I think paint trays are extremely convenient
for holding all kinds
of items close at hand; paint tubes, pastels, charcoal, pencils, brushes, photos,
beverages... it's a long list. The bottom of the tray is melamine, so it's easy to keep
clean. It contains two stainless steel canisters that are most likely used for solvents,
but can have a variety of other uses. There are removable brushwashing screens in the
bottom, as well as lids if you want to prevent mineral spirits from evaporating
between sessions. These canisters are a perfect convenience; always in the same spot,
right where you need them. You can wash or rinse your brush without even looking. They'll
never tip over, yet are easy to remove. (If you have ever had the horrible experience of knocking over an old coffee can filled with paint sludge and dirty solvent and trying to clean up afterwards...well, you'll know why I had to have these canisters!)
The tray also has pencil grooves across the top and bottom; again, very handy for
a variety of items.
Mounted underneath the paint tray is a paper towel holder. The perfect location
for those ever-useful towels, and you only need one hand to grab a clean one.
Brush Rest: Maybe I'm too delighted with these little items. Attached to each
side of the paint tray are brush rests that will hold a half-dozen or so of your brushes
(or pastels) that you're using the most. In the past I've tried perching, balancing,
holding, or parking brushes temporarily. They would get paint on each other or I'd pick
up a handle
that had rolled into paint on my palette or..., it was just a pain.
Now they're always right at hand. Each brush rest slides in and out to stay out of the way
when you don't need it.
Canvas Trays: The canvas trays or holders are designed to grip a range of
stretcher bar depths without any slipping. This includes the ability to place the
canvas so that it can be painted from edge to edge. Both trays glide smoothly up and down
the center mast with no binding and tighten quickly and securely with ergonomically
friendly knobs. No scraped knuckles, no pliers ever needed.
...Take a Tour...
Below is a brief video describing the easel.
...And the Rest...
The Sorg Easel is sturdily built of solid Italian Beechwood that has been lacquered
and rubbed. (You feel kind of bad the first time you get paint on it, but
hey, that's what it's for!) It comes with locking casters. (These are a must for a
studio easel in my opinion.)
It's designed to accept canvas or panels up to 72 inches (6 feet)
high with a 41 inch range of movement. Its maximum working height is 132 inches (11
feet), but works fine with lower ceilings, especially if you're not using its maximum 72" capacity.
It will also securely hold canvases up to 108 inches on its back side, but it won't be
The easel easily tilts forward or backward of vertical. It also folds for storage.
What About the Price?
Unfortunately, the price of the easel itself has risen because of recently imposed tariffs, though it is still a very reasonable (I believe!) $950. But there has been a large change in shipping rates. The increases seem to be blamed on a variety of reasons including COVID, but the current rates are high, especially in the West. For a list of shipping charges by state, see the "ORDER" page. I think you'll agree with artist Todd Reifers who said, "For the money, it is miles ahead of the competition." (And see the "What Others Say" page to see what a few others have had to say about the easel as well.)
I'm hoping that if you are considering the purchase of a new easel that you'll keep this one in mind. It really is so much nicer to use than anything else you've ever tried, even at twice the price.
Beginners (and anyone else), if you would like some ideas and opinions
of what to look for and what to avoid in any studio
easel you are contemplating, here is a short article that will
appear in another window.