Perfect for Beginning Plein Air Painters and it is affordable.
This photo is of a typical French Easel.
The French Easel has been around for many, many decades and is a good choice for Beginning Plein Air Artists.
You can get one quite inexpensively - you can probably find one at a yard sale or on Craigs List.
This piece of equipment is a traveling easel that folds up into itself.
It is made of wood - the legs and other components fold up and tuck away into the unit when not in use. There is a small amount of storage space within the unit itself for brushes and some paint tubes.
Benefits: Inexpensive to buy. Relatively portable.
Once folded away it can be stored at home in a small amount of space.
Gives you ample room to work.
Will accomodate painting panels or canvas of many different sizes from the small to quite large. Certainly more than sufficient for plein air painting sized painting panels.
Is sturdy in the wind. Legs can be adjusted to allow for uneven terrain.
Drawbacks: Still quite a heavy set-up especially if you plan to walk any distance from your car.
The storage area gets into a mess very quickly and has to be reorganized every time you use it.
Unfolding the legs can be difficult for people to figure out until you get used to it.
Don't ever use this easel in the rain!
The wood swells and you will be unable to retract them for transport!
This has happened to me and it was a real pain to deal with.
To cure this problem - wait for the wood to completely dry, and then take the whole unit apart and coat the wood with a waterproofing coating such as one would use on an outdoor wooden deck. Once I did this the wood no longer swelled.
Not a suitable easel for traveling - it's just too cumbersome and heavy, especially with today's weight restrictions and overweight charges by the airlines on luggage of any kind.
The Bottom Line: Good for Beginners who want to try Plein Air Painting without having to mortgage the house to buy expensive stuff.
Price Range for French Easels:
New: $150.00 maximum - on sale at Amazon or other places - $60.00 or less
Used: On Craigs List or Amazon - $40.00 or less