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The best easel for painting in 2021 for beginners and pros

best art easels
(Image credit: BJI / Blue Jean Images via Getty Images)

The best art easels might cost a little more. But given that they will help make painting more pleasurable, and improve the quality of your artwork, aren't they an investment worth making? With that in mind, it's worth thinking carefully about the kind of art easel that will suit you best. 

The most important factor to consider is where you're likely to be doing most of your painting. For instance, if you travel to a studio, or do a lot of en plein air paining, you'll want an art easel that's lightweight, portable and folds up easily. Conversely if you paint at home, or have your own studio space, you'll be better with something more robust, heavyweight and stable. 

Head below to find the best art easels for a range of skill levels, uses and budgets. We'll begin with the best art easels for people in the USA, and then look at the best art easels available in the UK

And if you're new to painting, don't stop there! It's also worth taking a look at our roundup of essential art supplies, our guide to canvas painting for beginners, and our explanation of all the art terms you'll need to know. 

The best art easels: US

Best art easel: U.S. Art Supply Medium Wooden H-Frame Studio Easel

(Image credit: US Art Supply)

01. US Art Supply Medium Wooden H-Frame Studio Easel

The best art easel overall

Specifications
Materials: Beechwood
Max canvas height: 48 inches
Product size: 22 x 22 x 64.5-96 inches
Weight: 5.44lbs
Reasons to buy
+Well-built+On wheels+Sit or stand
Reasons to avoid
-Assembly is tricky

Need a large easel, sturdy and flexible easel for your studio? Then we recommend this US Art Supply Medium Wooden H-Frame Studio Easel, which is our choice as the best art easel overall. It can hold a canvas up to 48 inches tall, and is very well-constructed from high quality beechwood. It sits on a stable, square base with lockable castors, allowing you to wheel around your studio to find the best light. 

There's also a built-in storage tray for holding your art materials, with a metal ratchet adjustment to raise it from six to 42 inches high off the floor, depending on if you are sitting or standing while painting. It’s easy to tilt and adjust, and can be folded flat when you’re done. 

Mont Marte Heavy Duty Tripod Easel

(Image credit: Mont Matre)

02. Mont Marte Heavy Duty Tripod Easel

The best A-frame art easel

Specifications
Materials: Beech wood, steel
Max canvas height: 31 inches
Product size: 38 x 27 x 51-75 inches
Weight: 8 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Strong and stable+Ledge for brushes and paints+Reasonable price
Reasons to avoid
-A little tricky to assemble

When you think of an art easel, the shape that comes to most people's mind is the classic A-frame. And the Mont Marte Heavy Duty Tripod Easel is the best art easel in this style. 

Expertly handcrafted from seasoned beech wood, with high-quality steel fittings, it's strong, stable and durable. It's capable of holding a canvas up to 31 inches (79cm) high, there's a handy ledge for your brushes and paints, and the frame can be adjusted to a multitude of positions.

It folds away nice and easily too, and while it's a little tricky to assemble, the reasonable price makes this an excellent value choice for both home and studio.

Best art easel: MEEDEN Heavy-Duty Tabletop Studio H-Frame Wooden Easel- Solid Beech Wood Adjustable Artists Desktop Wood Easel

(Image credit: Meeden)

03. Meeden Heavy-Duty Tabletop Studio H-Frame

The best art easel for tabletop use

Specifications
Materials: Beechwood
Max canvas height: 23 inches
Product size: 13 x 14 x 19-24.5 inches
Weight: 3.6 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Fits on table+Easy to adjust
Reasons to avoid
-Limited tilt angle

Looking for a smaller easel that can fit on a table? Then we'd point you to this beautifully compact Meeden Heavy-Duty Tabletop Studio H-Frame. It measures just 13 x 14 x 4 inches when folded down. 

Solidly constructed from beechwood – making it a stable base for working on tables – this easel can be tilted using seven adjustable settings from 41 degrees to 78 degrees. Light and portable, it’s easy to carry around, and holds a canvas size up to 23 inches high. It's very affordable too.

best art easel: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel

(Image credit: Melissa & Doug)

04. Melissa & Doug Deluxe standing art easel

The best art easel for children

Specifications
Material: Wooden frame with plastic fixings and trays
Max canvas size: N/A
Product size: 27 x 26 x 47 inches
Weight: 21 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Versatile+Designed for children+Large storage trays
Reasons to avoid
-Not cheap

Designed for three- to six-year-olds, the Melissa & Doug Deluxe standing art easel is the best art easel for kids we've seen to date. It's very versatile: kids can use it as a a dry-erase board, chalkboard, or attach a piece of paper with the easy-clip grips included and crack out the paint or crayons. 

There are lots of added extras, too, such as a paper-roll holder for wiping away spills, child-safe paper cutter, and two large and removable plastic trays for storing art materials. Handily, this easel folds flat for easy storage when not in use, and while it's not cheap, its solid and robust construction makes it well worth the money. 

best art easel: Ohuhu 66" aluminum field easel

(Image credit: Ohuhu)

05. Ohuhu 66" aluminum field easel 2 pack

The best easel for outside use

Specifications
Material: Aluminum alloy
Max canvas size: 33.4 inches
Product size: 21 x 6 x 4 inches
Weight: 3.39 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight and portable+Adjustable height+Carry bag included  
Reasons to avoid
-Not the sturdiest

If you're heading out to do some plein air painting and drawing, you'll need a field easel. And this Ohuhu Aluminum Field Easel Stand is our top choice for outside use. You can not only alter the height, but also adjust each leg individually, to keep your easel stable on uneven ground. 

A spring clamp keeps your canvas firmly in place, even in windy conditions. With a lightweight aluminum construction, it's very portable, and folds down to just 21 inches, fitting nicely in one of the provided carry bags. And despite the low price, you get two easels here for the price of one, making it a great budget choice.

best art easel: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Double-Sided Tabletop Easel

(Image credit: Melissa & Doug)

06. Melissa & Doug double-sided tabletop easel

The best art easel for toddlers

Specifications
Material: Wood and plastic
Max canvas size: N/A
Product size: 3.5 x 18.8 x 22.5 inches
Weight: 4.69 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Easily convertible+Folds flat+Storage for art materials
Reasons to avoid
-Lots of plastic

If your children aren't quite old enough to handle a full easel yet, this Melissa & Doug double-sided tabletop art easel is a great place to get them started. It comes with a variety of added extras, including five chalks, an eraser, 36 number and letter magnets, a built-in, 50-feet long paper roll, and chalkboard side with coloured chalks. 

Made from high quality wood, it folds flat for handy storage. And the makers say: "If your child is not inspired, give us a call and we’ll make it right. Our phone number is on every product!"

The best art easels: UK

best art easel: Basic Studio Easel Mabef M/09

(Image credit: Mabef)

01. Basic Studio Easel Mabef M/09

The best art easel overall

Specifications
Materials: Beechwood and metal fixings
Max canvas height: 119 cm
Product size: 52 x 55 x 143 cm
Weight: 10.5 kg
Reasons to buy
+Beautifully crafted+Made to last
Reasons to avoid
-Not cheap-Not lightweight

Mabef has a great reputation for its easels, which are known for their quality and longevity. And its M/09 model is our clear choice as the best art easel overall. Made from stain-resistant oiled beech wood, the finishing on this frame is quite beautiful, and it's solidly and expertly constructed. Overall, this is a robust art easel that will stand the test of time and will prove a good studio workhorse for the burgeoning professional studio.

Mont Marte Heavy Duty Tripod Easel

(Image credit: Mont Matre)

02. Mont Marte Heavy Duty Tripod Easel

The best mid-priced art easel

Specifications
Materials: Beech wood, steel
Max canvas height: 31 inches
Product size: 97 x 68 x 130-191cm
Weight: 3.63kg
Reasons to buy
+Strong and stable+Ledge for brushes and paints+Reasonable price
Reasons to avoid
-A little tricky to assemble

Want a decent art easel, but want to spend less than the price of number one on our list? Then the Mont Marte Heavy Duty Tripod Easel should fit your needs very nicely. 

Suitable for painting at home, in the studio of out in the field or in the studio, this  well made beechwood frame is very portable, flexible in its positioning, and folds up neatly at the end of the day.

It's able to support a canvas approx 79cm (31 inches) high, and its height can be adjusted between 130 and 191cm (51 to 75 inches). It's nice and sturdy in use, and it comes with a ledge for you to store your brushes and paints. All this at a very affordable price means this art easel offers excellent value.

best art easel Daler Rowney Simply Table Easel

(Image credit: Daler-Rowney)

03. Daler-Rowney Simply Table Easel

The best art easel for tabletop use

Specifications
Materials: Wood
Max canvas height: 55 cm
Product size: 67.49 x 30.99 x 7.39 cm
Weight: 1.7 kg
Reasons to buy
+Sturdy+Easy to adjust+Inexpensive
Reasons to avoid
-Somewhat tricky assembly

The Daler-Rowney Simply Table Easel is suitable for students, hobbyists, and pros alike who want the comfort of sitting down whilst painting. It's not only sturdy, but it's also lightweight enough to easily transport from one location to another. Assembly may be a tad fiddly in practice, but with a little bit of patience, you can have yourself one of the best easels available for tabletop use.

best art easel: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel

(Image credit: Melissa & Doug)

04. Melissa & Doug wooden standing art easel

The best art easel for children.

Specifications
Material: Wooden frame with plastic fixings and trays
Max canvas size: N/A
Product size: 11.9 x 6.9 x 6.6cm
Weight: 9.53 kg
Reasons to buy
+Loads of versatility+Specifically built for kids
Reasons to avoid
-Not cheap-Doesn't include materials

Melissa & Doug have developed a reputation as one of the top suppliers of kids' creative equipment over the past 30 years, and this multi-use easel by Melissa & Doug more than meets expectations. It's easy to assemble, folds away easily for storage, is well constructed, and was a slam-dunk choice for best art easel for kids. 

There are lots of great extras too, including a dry-erase board, chalkboard, locking paper-roll holder, child-safe paper cutter, four easy-clip grips and two large plastic trays that can be removed for easy cleaning. Hours of messy fun.

best art easel: Ohuhu 66" aluminum field easel

(Image credit: Ohuhu)

05. Ohuhu 66" aluminium field easel 2 pack

The best easel for outdoor use

Specifications
Materials: Aluminium
Max canvas height: 122 cm
Product size: 53.3 x 15.2 x 10.2 cm
Weight: 12 kg
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight +Cheap+Carry bag included  
Reasons to avoid
-Not the sturdiest

For painting and drawing en plein air you'll need a field easel, and this Ohuhu aluminum easel is an excellent option. Alter the height for use on a table or standing, and you can even adjust each leg individually to ensure the easel stays stable on uneven ground.

A spring clamp keeps your canvas firmly in place, wherever conditions you might be painting in. Remember, though, this is a field easel, which means it's not the sturdiest in this list. Portability is the priority here, and this lightweight aluminium easel folds down to just 53cm, ready to be toted around in one of the included carry bags. Finally, the price of this easel is very reasonable, bearing in mind that this is a two-pack.

best art easel: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Double-Sided Tabletop Easel

(Image credit: Melissa & Doug)

06. Melissa & Doug double-sided tabletop easel

The best small art easel for toddlers

Specifications
Material: Wood and plastic
Max canvas size: N/A
Product size: 8.9 x 47.8 x 57.2cm
Weight: 2 kg
Reasons to buy
+Easily convertible+Everything close to hand+Storage for art materials
Reasons to avoid
-Lots of plastic

Tiny tots won’t stand for long at an art easel, and will probably be more inclined to push it over. So a table easel are a better option, and here's one that can be set up on the floor for better accessibility. With the reassurance you get from a trusted name like Melissa & Doug, this double-sided tabletop easel is a great option for those younger Picassos. Its built-in paper roll, reversible design and sturdy wooden construction make this certain to inspire hours of fun.

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Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design, photography and tech. He is author of Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books. He has previously been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine.