Which easel or pochade and tripod for Plein Air Painting?

People often ask about the best equipment for plein air painting so here is a look at my kit and some links to suppliers.

I have two kinds of easel that I use outside: a French Easel and a panel/palette holder on a tripod.

The French easel is the one that looks most like a traditional  easel. It’s made of wood, has a tray on the back to rest my brushes, brush washer/turps can etc.  There is a drawer at the front to store tubes of paint and the palette sits on top of this. It’s a very versatile piece of kit that can support anything from a tiny board a few inches high to large canvas four feet across.

Jullian Half box French Easel JB40

French Easel

I also have a more lightwight kit in the form of a Palette/Panel Holder from Open Box M. This sits on a tripod with a quick release plate and has a small shelf for brushes, dipper etc. A spring clamp system holds panels up to 20 inches across.

recommended plein air tripod

The tripod I use with my pochades and Open Box M panel holder is a Velbon Ultra Rexi L. It’s light weight, packs up small and is very sturdy.  The legs are able to open out wide which is great for setting up in windy locations and when set up normally it takes up very little room – ideal for street scenes.  I recommend using a tripod head with a quick release plate as that allows you to set up and dismantle your kit quickly. I have found a small Manfrotto ball head is ideal, it’s compact in size and rock solid.

Velbon Ultra 655 – updated replacement for the Ultra Rexi L.

Manfrotto 494RC2 Ball Head with Friction Control

Roy Connelly painting Lands End Cornwall Painting at Lands End.
Pochade: Open Box M. Tripod: Velbon Ultra Rexi L.



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4 Responses to Which easel or pochade and tripod for Plein Air Painting?

  1. Alison Dibble says:

    Looking good, Roy! Expensive, though, RE the Open Box M. But if it gets you out there painting, that’s worth it, right? All the best, Alison

  2. Nic says:

    Hi there

    Really like your website it is really helpful, I have just started plein air painting and I want to keep the costs down setting up a kit, can I ask could I use a camera tripod to attach to a box somehow with a nut do you think that would be possible as the costs for the full kit are pretty expensive as I may only paint a couple of times a year as in the due to the weather is rubbish. Many thx

  3. Roy says:

    Hi Nic.
    Yes, that would work. A lot of people do that. Before I got my current set-up I used one of these to connect a pochade box to a camera tripod: https://www.artsupplies.co.uk/item-camera-tripod-mounting-bracket.htm
    Good luck!

  4. Nic says:

    Great thank you for your help

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