The best painting easels not only facilitate painting and drawing, making them easier and more fun, but also encourage the best posture and position, and therefore the best techniques as well as better physical health and mental clarity when working. So I’ve put together a guide for artists to choose the best painting easel
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If you are in a hurry, here are my top three picks for the best easels for painting on the market today:
Table of Contents
- What Are the Different Kinds of Easels?
- Overview: Best Easels for Painting and Drawing in 2022
Even in this age of digital art, and with the dominance of laptops and tablets for painting and drawing, there is still maybe nothing more clearly and dearly associated with artists and making art than the good old easel.
Whether we see somebody out in the field, painting a lily pond or rustic barn, or in their studio, the morning sun filtering through the windows, brush in one hand and a big, messy palette in the other, there is always a beautiful wooden easel in front of them – usually covered with more paint than the canvas it holds.
And indeed, these days – again despite the dominance of digital media – more and more artists are getting easels and getting back into more traditional forms, and art easels are becoming more and more popular.
I thought it would be a great idea to put together a buyer’s guide for painting easels, talking a little about the different kinds of easels and which may be best for you, and then offering a pretty comprehensive list of recommendations of the best easels available on the market today.
In this article, I will try to answer the following questions
How do I choose an artist’s easel?
Which easel stand is best?
Do I really need an easel?
Are easels used for drawing too?
Is it better to paint with an easel?
What are the different types of easels?
What kind of easel is best?
Which easel do professional artists use?
What easel stand do fine artists use?
What Are the Different Kinds of Easels?
There are lots of different types, styles and variations of easels, but here is a list of the most popular and widely used types:
Probably the most popular type these days, the A-frame easel is not as sturdy or stable as an H-frame, but usually less expensive, and quite easy to set up and store away
A sturdy but often quite large and heavy easel, the H-frame can be more expensive, but is great for studios and large canvases,
Single Mast Easels
A lightweight easel that can be easily portable, the single mast is not always as sturdy as other types, but is generally quite affordable
A small easel designed to be set up on a table or work surface, the tabletop easel can actually be pretty sturdy, but is not for large canvases. It is great, though, if you have limited space
An ingenious design that allows you to work on canvases either vertically – usually best for oils or acrylics – or flat like a tabletop – which can be best for watercolors, pastels or pouring
Easels that are, as you might have gotten from the name, giant, and can hold very large canvases. Often the best studio easels, like a lot of H-frame easels, are in this range.
A portable easel is great for outdoor (or plein air) painting, going to and from art school or working on location, and some artists use them at home or in the studio as well – just make sure you get a sturdy one
What Should You Look for in the Best Art Easels?
You can really get overwhelmed when considering what is most important in selecting your new art easel, but we can make it much simpler by focusing in on a few of the most important considerations:
Stability – there’s nothing worse than an easel that wobbles or moves when you are painting or drawing, or one that seems ready to collapse with larger canvases or more vigorous brush strokes
Adjustability – the best art easels should have height and tilt adjustment, and some will even accommodate sitting positions
Affordability – you really shouldn’t skimp on such an important art tool, but there are many expensive art easels that are just not worth their price, and many really excellent easels for surprisingly low prices
Stowability – if you are limited in space, and need to stow your easel away between uses, an A-frame or single mast (or maybe even a portable) is best, but if you have a studio or permanent dedicated work space, you may want to consider a beautiful, solid and substantial H-frame.
Portability – if you want a portable easel, it should be lightweight and easily packed, but also very strong and sturdy, and if you get a really good portable it might also serve as your general use easel
People often ask if your medium or style of painting matters, and the best answer is “yes and no.”
If you tend to get a little lost or overly animated when painting, and kind of attack the canvas, or throw big buckets of paint at it, you want a sturdy and stable easel – but then we all do (want a stable easel, that is, not attack our canvases!).
What is not really important, though, is the question of media.
You may see an easel that says it is for oil painting, but rest assured it is just as good for acrylics or other paints, or for drawing.
On the other hand, a convertible easel, which will let you lay a canvas down flat, may be great if you do a lot of paint pouring or varnishing, or if you like to work with watercolors or pastel paints on a flat surface.
Other than that, there’s not that much to think about.
Yeah, sure, we can talk about lots of other stuff, like materials and construction quality, the size of your canvases, storage drawers, cup holders and other nifty features, but let’s just assume that:
- The best easels for artists, and certainly all of the choices we’ll include here, are made of high quality materials, are built well and will last a long time
- If you are painting a canvas bigger than you, you should get a giant easel… and maybe a step stool
- You do not want your coffee cup that close to your canvas, because eventually you will absentmindedly dip your brush into it
How Can You Find the Best Easel for You and Your Art?
There are a lot of things you can kind of figure out when shopping online for your next (or first) new art easel – budget and price, of course, but also adjustability, portability, design and other factors and features.
But to me one of the most important things – maybe even the most – is stability.
We can say that H-frame easels are more stable than A-frames, which are more stable than single mast easels, and so forth, but they should all be stable and strong, and they should all let you fall into your creative zone without distraction or worry.
And as much as I myself love online shopping (perhaps a little too much…), I have to say that something like stability is a quality you can’t really determine from web pages, product descriptions or even customer reviews.
You kind of need to see the easel, push it around a little, ideally even do some painting, some drawing or some whatever your art thing is.
So that’s where I and my own experience come in. In this buyer’s guide to the best easels for painting and drawing I am going to include easels I have actually used myself, and know to be excellent for working and really worth the money.
I will also rely on first-hand accounts from my friends and colleagues, and some of my students, in selecting, and I have only used online reviews very selectively – only from actual verified customers, only when I have read enough of them to get a balanced picture, and especially reviews that talk about long-term use.
In this way, I think I have put together a really useful and comprehensive list of the best easels on the market today, and I am confident that you can choose any one of my recommendations and end up with an easel that is great to work with, solid, sturdy and very high quality, and will last for years and years.
I will talk a little about each of the easels I recommend below, but here is the short list (ok, not really so short…):
We’ve got a lot to get through, so let’s set up our easel, clamp on a canvas and paint a picture of the best art easels you can buy on the market today!
Overview: Best Easels for Painting and Drawing in 2022
Best Premium A-Frame Easel
Even the very best high end A-frame easels are never that expensive, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be premium quality, and that’s really obvious in this beautiful, solid and well made Richeson lyptus wood art easel.
Nicely adjustable height and working angle, and a design that provides absolute security when clamping down canvases up to 49 inches, and absolute steadiness when you’re working, make this a perfect easel for the fine artist or serious student.
Best Mid-Priced A-Frame Easel
Best Mid-Priced A-Frame Easel
Solid Beech Wood Studio Easel with Brush Holder, Holds Canvas up to 48"
Maybe not quite as beautiful an object as the Richeson lyptus wood easel above, this Meeden large painter’s easel, for canvases up to four feet in height, may be an even better value, with similar levels of construction and material quality, adjustability and stability.
And really, its solid beechwood frame is quite beautiful, and this easel has a truly premium fit and finish. A great affordable easel for artists on any level.
Best Budget A-Frame Easel
Dropping so far down in price, you’d think the T-Sign would be significantly less stable and solid, and seem pretty shabby in comparison to the two premium easels above.
But in fact this super-cheap easel is remarkably steady when you are painting or drawing, is highly adjustable and very strong and actually looks quite nice.
For canvases up to 31 inches this is a fantastic budget choice for your home or studio, and folds up to be extremely stowable or portable as well.
Best Premium H-Frame Easel
The superb Mabef Master H-frame studio easel is exactly the kind of easel serious fine artists insist upon – absolutely solid, extremely strong and perfectly stable when working on even gigantic canvases (up to 92 inches), easily and precisely adjustable, with premium hardware and construction that ensures that stability at any angle or height, and with heavy duty casters that allow the easel to be moved around the studio but lock completely and securely.
Indeed, many fine artists on the top levels not only insist on an easel just like this, they insist on the Mabef Master specifically. To be sure, without spending a lot more, there may be no finer easel on the market today.
Best Mid-Priced H-Frame Easel
But realistically we can’t all afford over a thousand dollars for an easel, no matter how amazing it is. For really top level fine artists, working commercial artists and serious students there is a great option for a mid-priced H-frame easel with comparable levels of stability and security in the Meeden Master studio easel.
This heavy duty adjustable easel with take canvases up to 83 inches and will keep them, and itself, steady at any height or angle, and it allows you to work either sitting and standing.
A beautiful finished and high quality piece, the Medeed Master is a great value, and highly recommended.
Best Budget H-Frame Easel
Best Budget / Student Grade H-Frame Easel
Adjustable H-Frame Studio Easel with Artist Storage Tray - Tilts Flat, Sturdy Wooden Beech Wood Painting Canvas Holder Stand - Locking Caster Wheels
It’s hard to imagine that this wonderful US Art Supply Malibu studio easel stand is almost a thousand dollars less than the Mabef above, or that anything this nice looking and high quality, or this solid and secure, could be so inexpensive.
But in fact, while not as heavy or ultimately quite as stable as the more expensive H-frame easels on our list of best art easels, the Malibu is a premium fully adjustable easel that can handle huge canvases, tilt them from vertical to fully flat, and accommodates both sitting and standing positions.
A solid, stable and very usable art easel, this US Art Supply Malibu is an incredible bargain, and the perfect choice for any artist on a budget.
Single Mast Easels
Best Premium Single Mast Easel
It’s generally thought that even the best single mast easels won’t have the stability of an H-frame, or even an A-frame, but this doesn’t take into consideration the Meeden extra large studio easel.
Beautifully finished, fully adjustable, amazingly solid and steady, and able to hold canvases almost 6 feet tall, it is much lighter and less imposing than many studio easels, easier to assemble and easier to move around, and offers a great alternative at a lower price.
No, ultimately it is not quite as solid as premium H-frame easels, but the Meeden single mast studio easel is a great product for the money, and will more than satisfy artists on all levels.
Best Mid-Priced Single Mast Easel
An extremely simple and light single mast easel, the Mabef MBM-25 features the company’s legendary material and build quality in a piece clearly designed for artists and their needs, but at a much lower price than you might imagine.
It can hold canvases up to 78 inches, or up to 39 inches when they are laid flat, and is much steadier than you would expect for the price. A great value from one of the true leaders in easel design and manufacture, this Mabef single mast is easy to move around and use pretty much anywhere, and can be a smart alternative to heavy, expensive and imposing studio easels.
Best Budget Single Mast Easel
Best Budget Single Mast Easel
69" High Aluminum Single Mast Artists Studio Easel and Floor Display Stand - Professional Heavy Duty Adjustable Extra Large Canvas Height Up To 47"
When you look at the US Art Supply Del Mar, you may think it isn’t that steady – the aluminum frame is not terribly thick, and the Del Mar definitely looks light weight compared to so many solid wood easels.
And it is, in fact like all aluminum easels, extremely light weight, and super easy to move around and stash away, but at the same time is amazingly solid and steady.
For medium to large canvases (up to 52 inches) this is a very usable easel, and for around 60 dollars it is one of the best values I know.
Best Premium Tabletop Easel
A truly premium and really compelling studio in a box, the Mabef table easel just oozes quality, from its finely finished beechwood and metal-lined storage to its stable and smoothly adjustable stand and polished brass hardware.
A perfect table easel, that will hold canvases up to 34 inches and folds away to a small product size when you’re done, and a great choice for painting anywhere and anytime, the Mabef MBM-24 is a lifetime piece, and fittingly enough has a lifetime warranty. Strongly recommended!
Best Mid-Priced Tabletop Easel
For about half the price of the stunning Mabef above, this Jack Richeson lyptus wood table easel is also quite beautiful, and also quite similar in its quality fit and finish, and its stability when you’re drawing or painting.
This is a more of a simple adjustable easel, without a storage box or palette, and is easy to assemble and easy to use, and is a wonderful and affordable tabletop easel for artists at any level!
Best Budget Tabletop Easel
Best Budget Tabletop Easel
Artists Adjustable Beechwood Painting and Display Easel, Holds Up To 27" Canvas, Portable Sturdy Table Desktop Holder Stand
It’s easy enough to say that for around fifty dollars you aren’t going to get the same beauty, quality or solidity in a tabletop easel as you would from, say, the premium Mabef above, which costs more than five times as much.
But actually fifty bucks is still a substantial chunk of change for many of us, and US Art Supply tabletop easel understands this better than almost any company out there, and gives us a simple but really solid, usable and nice looking little easel for canvases up to 27 inches. A great buy!
Best Premium Convertible Easel
Several of the choices on our list of best art easels are in fact convertible, allowing you to lay a canvas fully flat for watercolor, paint pouring, varnish or other uses (including all of our H-frame recommendations), but for an incredibly stable and high quality studio easel for serious artists there are very few better choices than this Mabef convertible, and none anywhere near this price.
For a professional easel for fine artists even at the highest level, with absolute stability for even gigantic canvases and complete and precise adjustability, the Mabef MBM-18D actually represents a significant value.
Best Budget Convertible Easel
We can’t really recommend any of the super-cheap convertible art easels that are available today, because you need an easel that is not just angle adjustable down to fully horizontal, but one that is strong and stable enough to work well at that angle, or any angle, with even larger canvases.
The still quite affordable Creative Mark Da Vinci is all that, though, and is so well designed and well made that the artists I know who have one are absolutely in love with it. A high quality and incredibly useful easel at a great price!
Best Premium Giant Easel
Just like with convertible easels, several of the other choices on our list of best easels for artists can hold canvases in the large to gigantic range, and indeed this Meeden extra large studio easel is also my choice for best premium single mast easel (see above).
I wanted to give it a little extra love here, though, because this Meeden easel is pretty special for its price – beautifully finished, really strong and secure – even with canvases up to 6 feet tall – and very high quality overall.
It may, in fact, not really be expensive enough to make it a valid “premium” choice in either category, but what the heck – save your money here and spend it on paints and brushes!
Best Budget Giant Easel
And speaking of saving money, here we have another winner from Meeden, which might not have the premium fit and finish of the more expensive single mast above, but is comparably strong and stable, and handles even larger canvases – up to 93 inches.
For just a tad over a hundred dollars, this Meeden extra large H-frame easel is an amazing buy, and a great choice as an all-around studio easel for students or even advanced artists on a budget.
Best Premium Portable Easel
Considering that some of the choices in this buyer’s guide to best easels for drawing and painting come in at over a thousand dollars – well, one of the choices at least – it might be surprising to see a premium recommendation that is well under a hundred dollars.
But in truth there is no real reason to spend a lot more for a portable easel, especially when you can get one like this Mont Marte tripod easel, which is simple, solid and lightweight, easy to fold down and easy to move. A smart choice for anybody who wants to work outdoors or on site, or for students who schlep their art supplies and art materials back and forth, and just a great easel for the money.
Best Budget Portable Easel
Best Budget Portable Easel
21"to 60"Adjustable Easel for Painting Canvases Aluminum Art Easel with Paintbrush Tray Display Stand
Our choice for best budget portable art easel is a remarkably solid, light and functional easel for the price – which is almost shockingly low for what you get.
Not as stable as a real studio easel, the Coestai portable is nonetheless surprisingly steady when you’re working, and is adjustable for standing, sitting and tabletop use.
Nicely finished in high grade aluminum alloy, and with a high quality carry bag, this is a really great bargain.
But if you want a really cheap portable easel, don’t forget about the T-Sign Artist Easel reviewed above as my choice for best budget A-frame easel.
Art Easels for Kids
If you’ve read some of my blogs in the past, you know just how much I love the idea of children having good quality art supplies available to them.
Nothing I can think of can have such a positive effect on kids than having fun with art, which can develop their creativity, talent, curiosity, coordination and self confidence and so much more.
And so I’m thrilled to close our art easel buyer’s guide with a couple of really nice choices for children.
Best Premium Art Easel for Kids
Best Premium Easel for Kids
2-Sided A-Frame Art Easel with Chalk Board, Magnetic Dry Erase, Storage, Paper Feed and Accessories for Toddlers
Our premium choice for the best art easel for kids is the Little Partner’s two sided A-frame, which is as nifty as it gets!
With a chalkboard on one side, a magnetic white board on the other, a top-mounted art paper roll, shelves and supply trays and a lot more, this premium quality easel lets your children explore lots of different creative paths, and is strong and stable enough to withstand even the most rambunctious of kids.
Best Budget Art Easel for Kids
And the last choice in our list of best art easels is another wonderfully designed easel for kids – in fact it is basically the same design as the more expensive Little Partners above – and while this Joyooss kids easel may not have the same very high levels of material and construction quality, it is still a very well made and durable piece, and it comes with more stuff for your kids to play with, like markers, chalk, magnetic letters and numbers. So much fun!
Thanks so much for reading my latest article – Best Easels for Artists : A Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide and Review – and please check out my website – Art Side of Life – for more buyer’s guides, articles, tutorials, artist interviews and tons of other resources for commercial artists, fine artists, art students and beginners, crafters and anybody else exploring their own creative side!
Other articles in the Watercolor, Acrylic, Gouache, and Oils series:
- Best Acrylic Paint Brushes for Artists
- Best Acrylic Paint for Artists
- Best Acrylic Paper and Canvas for Artists
- Artist’s Guide to Oil Painting for Beginners
- Essential Oil Painting Supplies for Artists
- Best Oil Paints and Oil Paint Set
- Choosing the Best Oil Paint Brushes
- Choosing the Best Oil Paint Palette
- Choosing the Best Canvas for Oil Painting
- Best Oil Pastels for Artists
- Best Gouche Paint Sets
- Best Palette Knives and Pallete Knife Set
- Best Professional Artist Kits
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