Whether you’re in the early stages of an art hobby or you’re a professional artist mounting impressive gallery exhibitions, you may find that the use of proper equipment and materials results in the most favorable artistic outcomes. For painting and drawing, the best easel places your art project at the most advantageous height and angle. Painting and drawing sessions become more comfortable, enjoyable, and productive when the easel functions as an aid to artistic expression. Artists working with acrylics, oils, watercolors, and other media employ easels in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and constructions to meet their artistic needs.
This guide will explore the myriad factors to consider when shopping for the best easel for your art projects and then review a selection of some of the top-rated products on the market today.
- BEST OVERALL: MEEDEN Versatile Studio H-Frame Easel – Adjustable
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: T-Sign 66″ Reinforced Artist Easel Stand, Extra Thick
- BEST PORTABLE: U.S. Art Supply Coronado Large Wooden French Style
- BEST OUTDOOR: NIECHO 66 Inches Easel Stand with Tray, Aluminum
- BEST FOR KIDS: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Art Easel
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Easel
The best easel for art projects is one that meets the needs of the artist by offering comfortable positioning of canvases or other painting and drawing surfaces. The size and shape of the easel can make it suitable for large or small art projects, and the material from which the easel is constructed will affect its weight and sturdiness. Additionally, many artists take into account the portability and durability of an easel for art excursions and outdoor use. Read on to learn about these important considerations and several more for choosing the best easel for your art projects.
Depending on the anticipated use for an easel, shoppers may consider a variety of easel types.
- A-frame easels feature a tripod design with two legs at the front and one leg at the back. Combined with the horizontal base on which to place the canvas, this triangular design resembles the letter A.
- H-frame easels offer the sturdiest design, and this type is a favorite for professional artists’ studios. Shaped like the letter H, the vertical surface can be tilted to suit artists’ particular needs and preferences.
- Convertible easels are sometimes called hybrid easels. These H-frame easels tilt from a vertical position to a horizontal position, offering the versatility to convert to a flat tabletop surface when desired.
- Tabletop easels are useful for displaying completed artwork as well as for painting and drawing. A-frame easels with telescoping legs may be shortened in height for tabletop use.
- Portable easels are made from lightweight materials, and they fold into a compact shape. Many portable easels include carry bags or attached handles and shoulder straps for easy transport.
- Single-mast easels are not as sturdy as A-frame or H-frame designs. They feature one narrow vertical support with a horizontal base, making them simple and affordable.
- Children’s easels are constructed of colorful, sturdy, and safe materials in child-appropriate sizes. They often feature chalkboards and dry-erase boards as well as surfaces that hold paper for drawing and painting.
The material from which an easel is constructed affects its durability, weight, portability, and resistance to adverse weather conditions. Several manufacturers offer wooden easels made from beechwood. With smooth, sanded, and oiled finishes, these attractive easels serve aesthetic as well as utilitarian purposes. Large, sturdy H-frame easels for art studios generally feature wood construction. They tend to be more expensive than A-frame models.
Easels made from aluminum offer weatherproof qualities along with a lighter weight, making them ideal for portable use. Many A-frame easels are made from aluminum, and they are easy to erect, fold, and transport. With its combination of strength, durability, and minimal weight, aluminum is an optimal material for easels. Additionally, aluminum easels tend to be affordable.
Manufacturers of children’s easels employ tough, molded plastic and wooden materials that are nontoxic and safe for use by children. These easels withstand rough use and feature washable surfaces.
Easels feature movable parts that allow artists to position their artwork at optimal heights and angles. H-frame easels tend to offer the greatest number of adjustable options. They extend and retract vertically to accommodate canvases of varying heights, and they also tilt to various angles, ranging from vertical to flat horizontal.
Artists prefer working at various angles for comfort as well as adaptability to light sources, art techniques, and media. For example, a vertical angle might be appropriate for painting with acrylics and oils, but an artist may utilize a flat, horizontal position for working with watercolors or paint pouring.
Many A-frame easels offer telescoping legs that adjust for height. The legs may be shortened for sitting or tabletop use or, alternatively, extended to full height to allow artists to stand while painting. For outdoor use, the adjustable legs of A-frame easels offer the advantage to adapt to uneven ground. The telescoping legs may be adjusted individually for positioning the easel on a slope.
When choosing an easel, artists may consider the typical size of their painting and drawing surfaces as well as the type of art media and materials with which they most often work. For an artist who works with watercolors and paint pouring as well as acrylics and oils, an H-frame, convertible (hybrid) easel offers the greatest versatility. With full adjustability from vertical to flat/horizontal positioning, artists can modify these easels to facilitate varying types of art projects.
Additionally, the optimal easel adjusts in height to accommodate canvases of varying sizes. Artists who plan to create large works will benefit from choosing easels that extend to the necessary dimensions for large-scale work.
Over its lifetime, an easel will hold numerous canvases or other painting and drawing surfaces for an abundance of art projects. Artists must consider the scale of the artwork they plan to execute as they shop for the best easel to accommodate even their largest works. In some cases, a large H-frame easel that extends vertically to hold canvases up to 90 inches tall may be necessary.
For small-scale paintings and drawings, a smaller easel will suffice. Some small easels adapt for either standing or tabletop use. Many lightweight A-frame easels feature sizes and designs that hold dry-erase boards, chalkboards, and large pads of paper. In addition to being used for art canvases, these easels are useful for classrooms, conferences, meetings, and displays.
A-frame easels tend to offer easier storage solutions than H-frame easels. Many of them fold or retract into compact sizes, and some include carry bags for neat storage and portability. Furthermore, easels made from aluminum are lightweight to make moving and storing them less of a chore.
Sturdy and adjustable H-frame easels are frequently more difficult to store. Although some H-frame models fold flat for storage, many of them do not. Most H-frame easels feature rolling casters or wheels, so they may be rolled from place to place for storage.
Specialty easels—most often designed for fieldwork—extend vertically from storage boxes that hold art supplies. Constructed for portability, these easels fold compactly and provide easy storage.
Our Top Picks
The best easel for artists is one that most closely meets their needs. Considering size, shape, portability, adjustability, and budget, different artists choose different easels to suit their diverse purposes. The following list of recommended products consists of high-quality easels that can complement a host of art projects. Additionally, the top picks feature two easels for children and toddlers that are offered by manufacturers who produce safe, engaging, and educational toys for children.
This versatile, adjustable H-frame easel meets the needs of artists from beginners to professionals. It’s made from attractively finished smooth beechwood and folds flat when not in use. With two large front wheels, the easel rolls easily for portability and storage.
Use this easel for a wide range of canvas sizes. Three sliders move freely to accommodate canvas up to 77 inches in height. Quickly modify this H-frame easel from vertical to horizontal or different angles in between. The sturdy base provides stability, yet the rear support conveniently folds when it’s time to move or store the easel.
Weighing in at 26.5 pounds, the MEEDEN easel measures 19 inches wide and 21 inches deep. The overall height is adjustable from 59 to 95 inches.
Made from high-quality aluminum alloy, this A-frame easel is portable yet sturdy. Adjusting from 21 inches to 66 inches in height, it functions as a tabletop stand or as a full-standing easel. With a spring-loaded top clamp to hold canvases in place, the T-Sign easel accommodates canvases up to 33 inches high and 1.2 inches deep.
Although it’s well suited for studio use, the telescoping legs also make this easel ideal for outdoor use on uneven ground. Each leg adjusts individually to keep artwork level at the desired height. An included carry bag allows artists to transport this lightweight easel on field excursions. Although it weighs only 3.1 pounds, this easel will support up to 25 pounds.
Because of its versatility, portability, and economical price, this easel offers exceptional value. Use it for home and studio painting sessions, outdoor art excursions, or art displays. Placed on a table or extended to full height, it will hold posters and paintings, whiteboards and dry-erase boards, and large pads of paper. Choose from a black or silver finish.
With an uncomplicated set-up process, as well as easy dismantling, folding, and carrying, this portable easel with a storage drawer is ideal for art expeditions. Its folded size measures 17 inches wide by 22 inches deep by 6.5 inches high. A leatherette handle along with a canvas shoulder strap provide options for carrying. Constructed from high-quality German beechwood, this U.S. Art Supply easel is both elegant and durable.
When it’s set up, the easel adjusts to a maximum height of 72 inches. To accommodate a variety of art projects, it holds canvases up to 34 inches tall. The legs adjust from 21 inches to 34 inches so artists can find the optimal position for their work.
Keep art supplies organized and ready to go for creative outings with this easel. A large-capacity storage drawer can be divided into four sections via three removable slats. It holds an ample supply of brushes, paints, pencils, and other tools. The drawer then shuts, locks in, and folds for safe carrying.
Made from durable aluminum, this NIECHO easel is impervious to rain and other inclement weather. When folded, the A-frame easel measures 20 inches long. It weighs only 2.5 pounds and includes a convenient carry bag, so taking this easel along on outdoor art excursions is a breeze.
The telescoping legs extend individually, allowing artists to erect the easel on uneven ground and find level positioning for their artwork. A durable plastic tray is attached to hold brushes, paints, and other items. Measuring 13.3 by 3.9 by 0.4 inches, the tray holds up to 2.2 pounds of art supplies.
Designed for both tabletop and full-standing use, the easel adjusts from 21 inches to 66 inches in height. Use it for painting sessions or art displays. It holds chalkboards, dry-erase boards, and large pads of paper as well as art canvases. Panels or canvases measuring up to 33 inches high by 1.1 inches thick and weighing up to 8 pounds will fit securely on this easel.
Children can develop creative thinking skills when they are encouraged to express themselves through drawing and painting. This sturdy wood-frame easel from Melissa & Doug includes a dry-erase board, a chalkboard, and a locking paper-roll holder to give children ample options for creative expression. Two large plastic trays attached to the easel can hold plenty of art supplies, such as paints, brushes, markers, and crayons.
Four large, easy-to-grip clips in bright colors secure drawing paper, poster board, or other materials to the easel’s vertical surface as children draw or paint. Paper rolls are available separately from Melissa & Doug for the included paper-roll holder. The easel also features a child-safe paper cutter.
In addition to painting and drawing, young scholars can practice writing letters and numbers on this double-sided easel that provides the dry-erase board on one side and the chalkboard on the other side. The easel is recommended for ages 3 and up.
FAQs About Easels
With the best easel to suit your purposes, a new world of artistic expression and creativity may open up. Whether you plan to transport your easel on art expeditions or leave it permanently erected in a studio, the easel should offer versatility and comfortable usage. On the other hand, you may be selecting an easel for a child or a toddler. While choosing an easel with the optimal size, design, weight, and material for your purposes, you may have some additional questions. Here are the answers to a few questions shoppers frequently ask.
Q. How do I choose an art easel?
Consider your intended use for the easel, including portability, outdoor use, and studio use. Additionally, think about size requirements for large or small canvases as well as comfortable standing and sitting options while you draw or paint. Finally, consider your budget for purchasing an easel.
Q. What is the best easel for a toddler?
One of the best easels for toddlers is the QDH Art Easel for Kids. It features both a magnetic dry-erase board with markers and a chalkboard with colored chalk and an eraser.
Q. Should I use an easel for drawing?
Not all artists use easels for drawing, but they do offer a couple of advantages. The artist does not need to continually look down and then up while drawing. Additionally, working on large surfaces is easier with an easel, as it facilitates the freedom of hand, arm, and shoulder movement.
Q. How is an easel set up?
Because setup depends on the design of the easel, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. With telescoping legs, it’s easier to lay the easel flat and extend the legs before setting it upright. For optimal use, turn knobs or other mechanisms for adjustments and lock them securely, but do not overtighten.