Choosing one of the best easels for painting from my list below can not only help you improve your art but it can help perfect your posture and ease back pain. The best painting easels can also ensure your room is kept tidy and my guide includes art easels that can be used in many ways, and includes the best table top paint easels as well as the best plein air easels.
Whether you're a professional artist, a total beginner, or somewhere in between, a good painting easel is well worth the investment. So how do you pick the best easel for your specific needs? Well, first think about where you paint. If you travel often, or do a lot of plein air work, you'll want something nice and portable. So the best easel for you will be light, easy to collapse, and not too bulky.
If you always paint in one place, though – your home or studio, for example – then those things become less important. In fact, you'll probably prefer an easel that's robust, heavyweight and stable. (Unless, of course, you're working in a small space or need to store your easel away at the end of the day.)
I've gathered together the best easels for painting below, starting with the best floor length easels for painting. However, if you're looking for something more compact, jump straight to the best tabletop easels for painting.
If you're new to painting and drawing and are looking to get setup, then you should take a look at our buying guides to the best coloured pencils and the best mechanical pencils for creatives. If you want to reproduce your art with accuracy then also take a look at our guides to the best art printers and best light boxes for tracing and drawing.
The best easels for painting: floor standing
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Well-constructed from solid beechwood, finished with natural oils, this medium-sized, wooden H-Frame is one of the best easels on the market today. It sits on a stable, square base with lockable castors, which makes it easy to wheel it around your studio to find the best light. With a mast that's adjustable to 96 inches high, it can hold a canvas up to 48 inches tall, which should suit most artists' needs nicely. Plus it's easy to tilt and adjust, and can be folded flat when you’re done.
And that's not all! There's also a 22-inch deep storage tray that does a great job of 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. However, note that because of its sophistication, and the fact the instructions aren't brilliant, assembly is a little bit fiddly.
The Meeden Walnut Large H- Frame Studio Easel is a great painting easel if you want something sturdy, large and durable. This easel for painting can hold large canvases of up to 78 inches and features strong and moveable hinges to place the canvas exactly where you need it, including dropping the canvas to the floor so you can work on details at the top of your painting with ease.
Unlike some other large H-frame painting easels on this list the Meeden H-Frame features rubber grips on the bottom to keep it in place. Many similar easels feature wheels to roll it around, this doesn't, so you give up mobility for stability. There's no shake or wobble when painting using this large frame.
This is a nicely thought through product too, as while it's self assembly the brand offers a video alongside instructions to ensure piecing this together is as easy as possible. The final touch of a storage draw for your paints and brushes ensures this is an all-round excellent painting easel. Note: the Meeden H- Frame is available in the UK as well as the US.
Like working on a large canvas? This art easel from Mont Martre should fit the bill. Constructed from quality beech wood, its fittings are made from brass plated steel, and it adjusts to up to 139 inches high. That means it'll comfortably hold a canvas that's up to 78 inches tall: perfect for larger artworks.
More generally, this is a well-built canvas with a stable square base that can be wheeled around your studio on lockable castors, so that you can always get the best light. And it's super-flexible, with a large tilt range (from vertical to completely horizontal) making it suitable for all manner of paints, including watercolour, pastel, gesso, varnish and glazes.
This easel also features an adjustable central column and trigger action height adjustment, so that you can easily work in a position that suits you best. And there's also a built-in storage tray for holding your art materials, too.
We'll start with our number one choice: the Mabef M/09 is the best easel for painting overall. And it's a great option, whether you're a professional artist or just dabbling.
Mabel has a great reputation for its easels, which are known for their quality and longevity. This model, made from stain-resistant oiled beechwood, is solidly and expertly constructed, and the finishing is quite beautiful.
The Mabef M/09 is simple to assemble, and adjusts up to 96 inches in height through a user-friendly ratchet system. Overall, this is a robust art easel that will stand the test of time and will prove a good studio workhorse for a professional studio.
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 easel offers excellent value.
Do a lot of plein air painting? The Mabef M22 Sketch Box is a large, adjustable easel that's primarily designed for outdoor use, but is equally suitable for painting at home or in the studio too.
In keeping with the entire Mabef range, this easel beautifully made from oiled, stain-resistant beechwood with quality steel fittings. And it's not just a good-looker, but flexible in use too.
It can accommodate canvas of up 34 inches in height, and adjustable legs make it easy to position your canvas for optimum painting. But the real hero here is the storage box, which has a sliding drawer and a wooden palette. The latter also acts as a cover when the easel is folded up for transportation or storage.
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 collapsible, 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. This is similar quality to the Meeden large H-Frame above but on wheels for greater mobility, and it's smaller.
The T-Sign Reinforced Artist Easel Stand is a great choice for plein air painting as it's very light weight (3.10Lbs) and easily packs down into its own carry bag. T-Sign brags this is America's best-selling easel. Because it's made of aluminium this is lighter than a wooden easel, though some prefer the solidity of wood.
This easel can be used as a small 21-inch frame or extend fully to its 66-inches, making it one of the largest on my list. This easel is quite sturdy and has been designed to be used on uneven surfaces, as each leg can be adjusted and the rubber feet ensure it won't slip. Yet, this is an aluminium frame meaning it can be prone to wobble if you're using a heavy canvas, so it's best as a watercolour easel – which suits most.
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.
Kids love painting too! And the Melissa & Doug Deluxe standing art easel is the best art easel for children we've seen to date.
Designed for three- to six-year-olds, it's very versatile. Youngsters 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.
The best easels for painting: tabletop easels
If you're short on space, or just don't like painting standing up, you may be looking for a smaller easel that can fit on a table. In which case, this lovingly-made, compact H-frame is just the job. Solidly constructed from beechwood – making it a stable base for working on tables – it holds a canvas size up to 23 inches high, and can be tilted using seven adjustable settings from 41 degrees to 78 degrees.
This light and portable H-frame easel is easy to carry around, and it measures just 13 x 14 x 4 inches when folded down. It's nice and easy to assemble too, and very affordable too.
I love the Kuyal Art Supplies Box Easel as it's a sturdy little box that folds out to a nice level for painting and sketching, but best of all you can pack away all of your paints, pencils and brushes onto the box itself. Sure, you still need a surface to place it on, as it's realistically half a classic French easel (no legs) but it's a strong and neat box easel.
Inside are four compartments, ensuring you can keep all of your art supplies apart. The two locking clasps ensure it stays securely shut. It's this kind of attention to detail that I like, for example the corners are rounded so you don't snag yourself on it, and makes it a great kids easel too.
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.
The U.S. Art Supply Newport Table Sketchbox is not only one of the best easels for sketching but also makes for a good plein air easel. There is plenty of storage in the box behind the easel itself, but naturally this adds to the weight. I found it's not ideal for watercolour as the adjustable stand lacks a full base below the canvas, but if you're sketching in pencils and charcoal, or using acrylics, it's a good starter easel.
The best aspect to this well-made tabletop easel is the range of adjustments it offers, the canvas size can be extended to 28 inches, with the pillar being pulled above and below the backboard so you can have a piece of your canvas below the table.
The Newport Table Sketchbox is portable and light, well made and easy to use. The adjustable canvas board uses wingnuts to tighten at a new angle, which may be a little old-fashioned but it works. Overall, this is an excellent tabletop easel or starter easel for newcomers.
It's always good to start kids painting as early in life as possible. And if yours aren't old enough to handle a full easel yet, the 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!"
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, we recommend the US Art Supply Medium Wooden H-Frame Studio Easel (opens in new tab). 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.
Meanwhile, if you're in the UK we recommend the Basic Studio Easel Mabef M/09 (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab) 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, we recommend the Mabef M22 Sketch Box (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab). 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.