Best Art Easels

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

20 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
346 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best art easels

Last Updated December 2019

To create art, you need the right tools. Photographers need a camera and lenses while artists need canvas and an easel. The artist's easel doesn't merely hold the canvas, however; the right one can help enhance your technique to bring your vision to more vibrant life.

If you're new to painting, you could be overwhelmed by the many different types of easels available. Which one is best for you? You need to consider how much space you have in your home for an easel. Will you be painting outside? What size canvas will you be working on? Knowing where and how you plan to use your art easel will narrow down your options to make purchasing the right one much easier.

If you'd like to learn about the different types of easels and what each is best suited for, keep reading. If you just dropped by this page to get a quick recommendation, consider one of the highly rated options we've listed in this article.

Working at an easel can keep spills, from paint to coffee, from ruining your work in progress.

Key considerations

As noted above, there are many different types of easels available, and each has its specific purpose. To simplify the decision-making process, rather than present an overwhelming variety of options, we’re going to put easels in five broad categories to help you quickly determine exactly what you need: studio, outdoor, tabletop, multipurpose, and display.

Studio

The artist with a dedicated studio has the greatest number of options. You want something sturdy that can be placed on the floor. If space is limited, an A-frame easel can be tucked in a corner. If space isn't a concern, you're better off with a heavy-duty H-frame easel. These offer greater stability and can accommodate larger canvases; however, they’re pricier and take up more room. If you're serious about your artwork, an H-frame easel is the way to go.

Outdoor

An easel that is designed for use outdoors should be lightweight and easily portable. Additionally, you need a tripod design with legs that adjust individually so you can have a stable work area if the ground is uneven.

Tabletop

If you primarily work on a smaller scale or you have very limited space, a tabletop easel is the choice for you. These units are small enough to place on a stable, level surface, which gives them the additional benefit of being extremely portable. Tabletop easels are best for individuals who have a studio that doubles as something else, such as a bedroom or office. Tabletop easels are small enough to be conveniently stored when not in use.

Multipurpose

Some artists like to work in a variety of situations. If you like working at a 90º angle as much as you like working on a horizontal surface, a hybrid easel is what you want. These versatile work stations can adapt to any position you desire. The downside is, because of the complexity of the design, these cost much more than other types of easels.

Display

Whether it's in your home or at a gallery, sometimes you want a different way to display your artwork. A display easel is what you need for this situation. These types of easels may be "invisible” to not draw attention away from the painting, or they can be ornate. An ornate easel can be a permanent focal point of your home's décor.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re working in a medium that takes a long time to dry, a vertical easel can help prevent dust from becoming part of your artwork.


Staff  | BestReviews

Art easel features

There are various features within each easel category, and, again, the options here are overwhelming, so we're pointing out just the most common ones.

Adjustability: Whether it’s the overall height of the easel or the size of the canvas it can hold, the best easels are adjustable so they can be fine-tuned to your specific needs.

Tray: Most easels do one thing: they support your canvas so you can paint or draw. Some, mostly tabletop models, feature trays and drawers so you can keep all your supplies in one convenient location. If this sounds appealing to you, look for an easel that has this feature.

Bench: If you like to sit when you create, you can get an easel that’s attached to a bench. The convenience here is that, in many models, the easel and the bench fold up as one, which makes it easier to transport than a separate chair or stool and easel. Be aware that you may forfeit some comfort for portability when choosing this option.

Carry bag: Many easels fold down flat and have a readily accessible handle to make storage and transportation a little easier. Some models can be folded down to a compact size that fits into a small carry bag. The carry bag is included with the purchase of the easel.

Children's easel: Easels for children have different features than easels for adults. These units are often A-frame designs that have two work surfaces and a built-in tray so your child can keep all the art supplies in one convenient location. A children's easel may either be a floor or tabletop model and shorter than an adult art easel.

Your easel needs to be large enough to effectively support the entire canvas that you’re working on.

Art easel prices

Because easels have a fairly broad price range, you should be able to find something suitable that fits your budget no matter what it is.

Inexpensive: On the lower end, from $8 to $50, the easels may not be perfect, but they will get the job done. Mostly you'll find portable, tabletop, or display easels in this general range.

Mid-range: From $50 to $100, you'll find easels of higher quality and greater stability. These can range from top-of-the-line tabletop models to quality A-frame easels.

Expensive: In the $100 to $200 price range, you'll find heavy-duty easels that provide the greatest stability for larger artworks. This range includes high-quality H-frame easels.

Premium: Over $200 is where you will find specialty easels, such as hybrid or bench models.

EXPERT TIP

If you prefer to work in pastels, tipping the easel slightly forward can help the dust fall away from your artwork.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Place your easel strategically. You want to be able to easily see what you’re painting or drawing.
  • Adjust the angle. Tilt or angle the easel so there is no glare while you’re working. Some people insist you should work with your easel at a 90º angle, but if that just doesn't work for you, either because of the medium you’re using or for comfort, adjust your tilt accordingly.
  • Adjust the height. You don’t want to strain to reach any area of the canvas.
  • Adjust the clamps. You want them to hold the canvas securely in place while you work.
  • Modify the easel. Make it easier to work on the bottom section of your painting by placing a small, one-inch piece of wood in the bottom tray to raise the canvas just enough. If you’re working on a small painting, you might want to place a thin board behind the canvas for better support.

Other products we considered

Just as art is subjective, the best easel for creating artwork can vary slightly from individual to individual. In the event that you’re looking for something other than what we've offered elsewhere in this article, here are three more top picks. The U.S. Art Supply PISMO Easel is a lightweight aluminum model with legs that adjust individually to provide a height range of 47 to 65 inches. They also make it possible to stabilize the easel on uneven surfaces. It comes with a tote bag for easy transport. The adjustable U.S. Art Supply Tabletop H-Frame Studio Easel is a sturdy, handcrafted beechwood model with rubber feet that protect your table while keeping the easel from slipping. If you're looking for a top-of-the-line floor model, the extra-large, adjustable U.S. Art Supply Malibu H-Frame Deluxe Studio Easel is an exceptional option. This impressive model can hold canvases up to 90 inches tall.

Besides holding the artwork that you’re currently working on, easels can be used to display finished artwork.

FAQ

Q. Why do I need an art easel?
A.
There are many reasons why it’s better to create your artwork at an easel. Artistically, you want to use an easel because it keeps the perspective consistent between what you’re seeing and what you’re painting. Also, working on an easel allows you to use the full range of motion of your body rather than being limited to the type of strokes you can produce with your wrist alone. Finally, working on an easel makes it possible to quickly step back from your work to get a better idea of how it’s progressing.

Q. Do I need different easels for different types of artwork?
A.
Ideally, yes. However, for most of us, owning a half dozen easels simply isn't practical. A much better solution is to use an adjustable easel that is adequate for the type of artwork that you create most often.

Q. I fatigue rather quickly when standing at an easel. Do you have any tips to help me work longer and more productively without injuring myself?
A.
Comfort is the key. Try lowering the easel so your painting hand never has to go above shoulder height. Add a small block in front of the easel for your foot so one knee can be bent to relieve the pressure on one side of your body. Alternate the block between your feet as needed. Don’t forget to take breaks that involve stepping back, sitting down, and/or elevating your feet. Don’t wait until you feel pain to stop, because by then the damage may have already been done.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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