The Glazing Wall Easel I designed

4May 2011

A few years ago I built a glazing easel with my grandfather, Greg.  We designed it simply to meet my exact needs, and then we added some flare.  
Glazing is a technique I use in oil painting where I apply a very thin layer of oil-color to the entire surface of my painting in order to change the value of the color slightly and smothly.  It is an extremely useful technique for transitioning from one color to another, where the change becomes almost undetectable.  At times it can seem as if all the layers of thin oil are visible at the same time, as they give off a blended appearance.  There is a lot of blending in my work, and within each glaze, I work mainly in opaque colors.  Traditionally it’s a transparent layer, but I go both ways and spice it up with an opaque set and transparent set of colors.  I start out laying small amounts of the opaque colors, then after the opaques have dried, I hit it up with the transparent pigments, and back to the opaques…
…over and over and over until I am satisfied with the results.  
I do this, I just do.  Glazing makes my work look as if it were glowing, and reduces the chances that the oil paint will crack from age in the future.
In order for me to glaze an oil painting properly, or as I want to, I need my painting to not move an inch, not a wiggle.  Glazing is a vigorous process for me.  I use enough force behind the brush to move the painting if it isn’t secured tightly.  So together Pop and I built this easel.  It is perfectly balanced, and solid.  Once installed, its not going anywhere and neither is the work once its fastened down.
The easel is 75″ tall, and can hold a 63″ tall painting edge easily.  In this picture, it is bolted to a support system I framed a window with in the studio.  The support system can be replaced and adjusted if I need to, but its a lot of work to do that so I like set it up once and leave it.  The easel is made from cedar, milled aluminum, and some tightening knobs we bought from the hardware store.  Everything is made by us except the tightener knobs.
the top support is 32″ long…
 the bottom support is 45″ long…

This knob sits under the bottom support and is useless at the moment.  When the easel is used with the back riser it lets me raise the bottom of the easel as high as 8 feet.  That lets me move the easel up and out of the way when I am done working on it.
Back riser…
When we built this we decided that it would be great if the entire easel wold be able to adjust vertically at the same height as the total height of the easel itself.  We built a second runner beam, when mounted the entire easel can slide up and out of the way leaving you with the extra wall space to work with.  It helps to protect the work of art between glazes as it drys.  You need 15 feet or more to really use this feature and at the moment I only have 10 feet of wall-space.
 This is Flare, it was an unnecessary design element that made the easel look good.  The angles of the outer edges of the supports don’t add the the function of the easel at all.
When I said that this easel was perfectly balanced, I meant it.  This is a picture of a large painting just resting on 1/2 of the bottom support.  As you can see the painting is a full inch away from the easel.

Top support…
Bottom support…
Even though its not tightened down with the top support, I could leave my painting there indefinitely and it would never move.  It does not lean forward or backward, the painting just rests wherever you place it.  That is perfect balance.  
Here it is with an unfinished oil painting on it.  The painting is 48″ x 36″ and this piece has gone through no less than 20 separate glazes (more like 25, I just cant remember at this point since I have been working on this thing for months now).  You can see how comfortable the work sits on the easel.
I really enjoy designing my tools as I can tailor them exactly to my needs.