The best easels for painting in 2023

Three of the best easels for painting on a green background
(Image credit: Future / US Art Supply / Meeden)

They may seem like simple props, but the best easels for painting do more than just hold your canvas. A good easel can transform how you work, improving your posture and even improving your art itself.

Choosing the best painting easel for you requires some consideration of how and where you work For plein air painting, you're likely to want a reasonable portable easel. If you're working in a studio and have the space to leave an easel fixed, you might want a more solid structure that can hold large canvases and last a long time. 

To make the guide below, we've consulted the professional artists that contribute their expertise to Creative Bloq in order to pick the best easel for different needs, including the best plein air easels and easels for kids. We've considered versatility, build quality and price, starting with floor-length easels and wrapping up with the best tabletop easels.

If you're stocking up creative gear, make sure to also check out our guides to the best coloured pencils and the best oil paints. If you want to reproduce your art with accuracy, then also take a look the best art printers and best light boxes for tracing and drawing.

The best easels for painting

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The best easels for painting: floor standing

The best easels for painting: tabletop easels


What are the different types of easel?

There are two main types of easels used by artists. Tripod easels, as the name suggests, have three legs, and may include crossbars to make the easel more stable. H-Frame easels, again as you'd expect, resemble a letter 'H' and are constructed of two vertical posts with a horizontal crossbar support. Both types of design may have extra features for rotating the canvas and adjusting it horizontally and vertically.

Children's easels are generally simpler, smaller and more durable; the younger the target age range, the more so in all respects. Finally, tabletop easels are designed for artists with a limited amount of space, enabling them to angle their canvas while fitting onto a table or desk. 

How do you choose the best easel?

There are many factors which dictate what kind of easel will be best for you. The first is where you paint. If it's always going to be in the studio, you'll want an easel that's as sturdy as possible, however heavy that makes it. (Although if you plan to move it around the room to capture the light, you'll want it to be on wheels.) If you mainly paint outdoors, though, you'll want a lighter easel that's easy to collapse and carry around. Too lightweight and flimsy, though, and it might tip over in a strong wind, so there's a balance to be struck there.

The overall size of your easel will depend on how big a canvas you like to work on, and what height you like to paint at. So it's important to check the dimensions of any easel before you buy it, measure this out with a tape measure, and make sure you're not going to be stooped over or stretching up too much. 

Most easels are adjustable, but only within a certain range, so take that into account too. Also, if use a heavy canvas, a lot of thick paint, and/or heavy collage pieces, think about the amount of weight your easel will need to support.

Finally, consider how you paint. If you like to be energetic, lively and passionate with your strokes, you may need something pretty sturdy to hold everything in place. Conversely, if your approach is more gentle and quiet, you'll be fine with a more lightweight frame.

What's the best easel for painting?

The best easel for painting you can buy today depends on your location. If you're in the US, I recommend the US Art Supply Medium Wooden H-Frame Studio Easel. This solid and sturdy easel can hold a canvas up to 48 inches high, and can be tilted back if required. It folds flat for easy storage and the wheels make it portable for transporting. In short, it provides everything an artist might need, at a very reasonable price. 

If you're in the UK, I recommend the Basic Studio Easel Mabef M/09. Made from stain-resistant oiled beech wood, it's solidly made, easy to assemble, and adjusts up to 96 inches in total maximum height via a user-friendly ratchet system. Although it's on the pricey side, this is a quality piece of workmanship that should last you for years.

What's the best easel for children?

Melissa & Doug's wooden standing art easel is our top recommendation for kids. It's easy to assemble, folds away easily for storage, is well constructed, and comes with lots of great extras, including a dry-erase board, chalkboard, locking paper-roll holder, child-safe paper cutter and four easy-clip grips. Best of all, there are two large plastic trays that can be removed for easy cleaning after your little ones have covered them in mess.

What's the best easel for plein air?

The best easel for plein air comes in two styles. First, if you prefer a wooden one, I recommend the Mabef M22 Sketch Box. It's a large, adjustable easel that's designed for outdoor use, and is equally suitable for indoor painting. Made from oiled, stain-resistant beechwood, it comes with a handy and stylish box with four compartments, with a sliding drawer and a wooden palette, which also acts as a cover when the easel is folded up for transporting. All this makes it perfect for holding your paints, brushes and more while you're out in the field. 

Adjustable legs make it easy to place your canvas in the ideal position, letting you work on your surfaces flat, vertically or anywhere in between. This easel can accommodate canvas of up 34inches in height. And it weighs over 16lbs, making it nice and sturdy, although that also makes it a little heavy to carry. 

Meanwhile, if you prefer a metal stand, check out the Ohuhu 66" aluminium field easel. A spring clamp on the top of the easel stand keeps your canvas firmly in place, the height can be adjusted from 21 to 66 inches using easy-turn knobs, and if the floor is uneven, the legs can be adjusted to adapt to the floor. It can be folded to only 21 inches for easy storage and it comes with a carry bag for easy transportation.

How did we choose the best easels for this guide?

To choose the best easels for this guide I asked for recommendations and feedback from the wide range of working artists who contribute reviews and tutorials to our site. I then tested the easels myself where possible or compared online reviews and specs based on my own experience as an artist. The factors that I took into consideration were structure and build quality, adjustability, extra features such as groves for different supports and value. I've aimed to choose easels that suit different sizes of canvas and portable options too.

Ian Dean
Editor, Digital Arts & 3D

Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & 3D at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.

With contributions from