One of the best art easels is an essential purchase for any artist. While a board or table might cut it for small, quick sketches, working on an easel is the obvious choice for anything longer or more large-scale. You have the flexibility to move around and to view your work from a distance, you won't find your perspective skewed by working flat, and it'll be much more comfortable, too.
An art easel is one of the most important art supplies you can own, and there are a few key things to consider to ensure you get the best easel for your needs. First up, what kind of space are you working in? If you need to pack away your setup at the end of each session, you'll want to go for a foldaway or lightweight portable easel (also useful if you want to work en plein air). If you have a permanent studio, you could go for something more bulky and solid. Or perhaps you're looking for a basic art easel for kids to get creative with?
In our roundup, we've included the best art easels for a range of uses and budgets. And when you're ready to start creating, check out our guide to canvas painting for beginners as well as our guide to all the art terms you'll need to know. For more art kit, see our posts on the best pencils and the best sketchbooks.
- In the UK? Jump straight to the best UK art easels
US: The best art easels
If you have space for a large studio easel, this US Art Supply Malibu H-frame easel is a great choice. It's sturdy and well built, capable of holding large-scale artworks (up to 90" tall). Four large knobs make adjustments easy, and the painting surface can be set to anything between slightly past vertical and completely horizontal, like a table. While it's bulky and heavy, the lockable wheels mean it's easy to move around the studio when required. There's an integrated storage tray to hold your art materials, and this too can be raised or lowered depending on if you're sitting or standing.
This Juvale H frame model is the one of the best tabletop art easels around. The compact, well built design will provide a stable base for working on a table. The thing that helps this art easel stand out is the variety of adjustment options – including the ability to raise or lower the level of your canvas to where you need it (not possible on all tabletop easels). As you'd expect, it's nice and portable. Do bear in mind, though, that an easel this compact will only be suitable for fairly small artworks, so if you want to go big, you'll need to be prepared to wrangle something bulkier.
If you're looking for something for 3-6 year-olds, we'd recommend this Melissa & Doug standing art easel. 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 to help your kids embrace their creative sides, too – a paper-roll holder for wiping away spills, child-safe paper cutter, and two large plastic trays for storing art materials (these are removable for easy cleaning). This is sturdier than your average toy, and the price reflects that, but we think it's the best kids art easel around. It folds flat for easy storage when not in use, too.
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. This is a field easel, which means it's not the sturdiest in this list – portability is the priority here, and this lightweight aluminum easel folds down to just 21", ready to be toted around in one of the included carry bags. Weirdly, it comes in a 2-pack.
This Melissa & Doug double-sided tabletop art easel is ideal for younger children who might be tempted to push a freestanding easel over. There are lots of options to encourage creative play, including 36 number and letter magnets to be used on the magnetic side of the board, a built-in 50ft long paper roll, and chalkboard side with coloured chalks. Again, it's quite pricey, but the study wooden build and thoughtful added extras make this a worthwhile investment.
UK: The best art easels
Mabef easels are designed for quality and longevity. I have personally owned a number of Mabef designs for over 25 years and they’re all still going strong. Made from stain-resistant oiled beech wood, the finishing on this art easel is beautiful and well worth the investment. The M/09 model is a great starting point for the serious studio artist on a budget. Although it doesn’t have some of the frills of other models, the M/09 is a solid model that will stand the test of time and will prove a good studio workhorse for the burgeoning professional studio.
Some table easels come as a box with ample storage to save space, which can seem like a good option at first. The stumbling block of these designs is their lack of adjustability. If you’re working at a table then you need to be able to adjust the baseline of your canvas, that’s to say, how high the bottom of your canvas is from the table. That's where this mini easel really comes into its own. The adjustability of this art easel enables you to work at your own height, which will save you a lot of discomfort in the long run.
When it comes to your child’s creativity you don’t want to instal limitations so versatility is the key word. Melissa & Doug have built themselves a name as one of the top suppliers of kids' creative kit over the past 30 years so they must be doing something right. This multi-use easel by Melissa & Doug is easy to assemble, folds away easily for storage and includes 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 guaranteed.
This Meeden studio art easel is a great mid-point for a lot of artists’ needs. The overall functionality is great, as an H-frame easel will give you a more stable easel to work on. Although it’s not collapsable, the wheels make it easy to move around the studio as needed. You can also convert it into a horizontal easel, which gives you a wealth of options when it comes to your medium. Convertible easels are perfect for watercolour painting or just as extra table space.
Younger children won’t stand for long at an art easel, and will often be tempted to push their easel over, so a table easel can be a better option, and table easels can also be set up on the floor to make them even more accessible. A table-top easel from a trusted name like Melissa & Doug such as 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 a great option that’s designed to inspire hours of fun.