Monday, August 17, 2015

Artist's Bike-easels and Stroller-easels

You know what they say, "Necessity is the mother of invention". Plein air painting requires that the artist carry a fair amount of gear and I wondered, "How did they manage in the days before cars?" and how do "car-less" artists manage today?

Biking and painting. 

The photo of the painter's bicycle from the first half of the twentieth century below was found at Museo Galileo : "With the increasing use of the bicycle, artists who painted en plein air began to use them to wander through the countryside, stopping at attractive sites. The vehicle was usually equipped with wooden cases holding the paints, brushes, rags and palette. The bag on the front could be transformed into an easel."

The Painter's Bicycle
( First half of the 20th century) 

It made me curious about current day modifications and "Painter's Bicycles" so I searched for images.

Artist Robert Genn did a blog post entitled "Mobile Methodologies" and said "A few years ago I built an "Art-Dog", a mobile paintbox I towed behind my bike."

Robert Genn's "Art Dog"

I understand the need to tow art equipment but, for my personal needs, I was hoping to find something more compact and lightweight.

I like this compact modification (below) from the Try Everything blog.

Found on Try Everything blog
Matthew Mattingly went mobile with his rig, which he calls the Bi-Sketch-Cycle. (Instructions here)


This one from Brian Bickrell is quite an elaborate modification of the towing variety but Brian travels extensively in his RV and this set-up was exactly what he needed.

Brian Buckrell's modification
and bike-easel set up
I was actually drawn to much more simple modifications and there are a few more images with links to the artist's pages below.
Poppy Balser's set-up

Andre Jute's acrylic set up

Found on a Wet Canvas forum
Found on a Wet Canvas forum

Brazilian artist from Rio de Janeiro, Sandra Nunes bike-easel set up

Brazilian artist from Rio de Janeiro, Sandra Nunes bike-easel set up

Artist Strollers

I loved when I stumbled across artist strollers like this one complete with instructions at Loriann Sigori's blog. She explained, "Last year I met up with my friend Mike McMullin in Washington state. He was sporting a new plein air painting machine, the Cadillac of transports. The magician that he is, Mike took a used baby jogging stroller and turned it into an easel and transport system on the go. Check it out!"

And here is a modification of an umbrella stroller by Diana Horowitz who found it challenging to cityscape paint with small children:
Diana Horowitz stroller modification
And lastly, I love this one that I found at Gurney's Journey gas station painting challenge page. He writes, "Jared Cullum captured the full scene with all its detail: the signs, the plantings, and even the cars. The result gives a strong feeling of being there....He deserves special commendation for doing the painting while babysitting and adapting the stroller into an easel."

Gurney's Journey Gas Station challenge

More Bike-Easel Internet Finds Since August 2015

Florida artist David Alejandro Del Toro‎ post in the
Plein Air Painters Facebook page (Oct 8, 2015)
Last, but certainly not least, 
enjoy this James Gurney video 
of the 
Unicycle Painter!

Links to DIY Easels


  1. Nice post ! The ultra-light Maclaren Volo (9 pounds) packs a lot of style and convenience into a small package!! The Maclaren Volo has a sturdy frame and beautiful steering. You won't struggle to make tight corners with this stroller. Thanks!!

  2. Great post! Have been thinking about rigging something up, but hadn't done any research. The unicycle bit is crazy awesome! Many thanks,

    1. Would love to see what you set up Tim!!
      Glad you liked the post

  3. Great post! WoW so cute baby!!! Nice post!!! This whole stroller thing is so indicative of the whole mothering world right now. I am SO over it. Eloise gets pushed around in an umbrella stroller.Thanks!

  4. This stroller was given to Avery when she was 2 or 3 and she pushed Tyson in it, they both pushed Mia in it, and now Violet gets pushed by all of them in it.
    Check out the best baby carriers for hiking reviews. Thanks!