The 10 Best Art Easels

Updated September 24, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best Art Easels
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether the artist in question is a seasoned painter with an established style, or a child learning how to make art with something more nuanced than his or her finger, the creator in your life will adore one of the art easels on our list. We've included models ideal for kids and beginners all the way up to units that would feel right at home in a professional studio. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best art easel on Amazon.

10. US Art Supply Cardiff

The US Art Supply Cardiff is made from solid, high-quality pine, and comes with two large plastic bins at its base for holding your child's art supplies. Its sturdy and dependable legs are also adjustable from 46 to 54 inches in height.
  • each tray has 6 paint holders
  • rubber feet protect floors
  • too heavy for kids to move
Brand US Art Supply
Model E-325
Weight 22.6 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. Step2 Easel For Two

The Step2 Easel For Two comes with 77 multicolored foam magnetic letters, numbers, and signs, which your child can easily use on its smooth surface. Its deep trays and pencil ledges also keep his or her supplies well within reach.
  • helps develop reading and counting
  • sets up quickly
  • dry-erase board tends to stain
Brand Step2
Model 885200
Weight 15.3 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

8. US Art Supply 21-Piece Table Set

The US Art Supply 21-Piece Table Set is exceptionally easy to set up. Its hard-mounted bottom canvas holder limits the height of your available workspace, but the overall package is thorough enough to get young artists started. You can always move on to bigger models.
  • 12 x 12ml paints included
  • bare wood can be treated
  • mixing tray is cheap plastic
Brand US Art Supply
Model PS-071
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

7. Royal & Langnickel Artist Set

Designed as part storage box and part pop-up easel, the Royal & Langnickel Artist Set is housed in a heavy-duty, latched wooden case with two drawers and enough additional storage space for all of your sketching, drawing, and painting needs.
  • comes with paint and colored pencils
  • 3 plastic palette knives
  • the brushes are rather flimsy
Brand Royal & Langnickel
Model REA6000
Weight 12.5 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Melissa & Doug Deluxe

Fuel your child's imagination and encourage their free-form expression with the Melissa & Doug Deluxe. It features a bi-fold wooden frame with two art stations, a child-safe paper cutter, and a height-adjustable design that can follow your kids as they grow.
  • colorful clips to hang work
  • removable boards and trays
  • chalk board is difficult to write on
Brand Melissa & Doug
Model 2001
Weight 18.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Art Alternatives Ravenna

Designed specifically for tabletop use, the Art Alternatives Ravenna combines form, versatility, and beauty at an affordable price. It has simple sliding stands that support canvases up to 34 inches tall, as well as a built-in handle for convenient carrying.
  • locks up snugly for travel
  • easy-access side drawer
  • moves a bit while you work
Brand Art Alternatives
Model pending
Weight 8.7 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

4. Wood Designs WD29200 Big Book

The Wood Designs WD29200 Big Book utilizes a unique glue-mortise-steel pin joinery, as well as 5/8-inch thick Healthy Kids plywood on both its surfaces for extra durability. Its A-frame is constructed from 100% solid maple.
  • five dowels for hanging work
  • lifetime warranty from manufacturer
  • no utensil storage
Brand Wood Designs
Model WD29200
Weight 16.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Martin Julian Classic-Style French

If you imagine yourself painting in a wheat field next to Van Gogh, your're going to need the Martin Julian Classic-Style French. Its handcrafted elm wood body is accented with sturdy brass-plated hardware, and its internal drawer comes with a metal organizer.
  • richly stained exterior
  • leather strap and tag holder
  • mahogany palette included
Brand Martin Furniture
Model 92-CLASSIC/G
Weight 13.8 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Art Advantage Masters Beech Studio

The Art Advantage Masters Beech Studio features a tray that's 9-3/4-inches deep and 22-1/2-inches wide to accommodate a variety of art supplies, including a mixing palette, paints, or brushes. Its heavy beech wood construction also keeps it stable on almost any surface.
  • supports up to 70-inch canvases
  • ideal for large studios
  • elegant and stylish
Brand Art Advantage
Model E353
Weight 39.9 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Best Classic Santa Fe II

For the professional artist working with large canvases, the Best Classic Santa Fe II is a superior choice. Its large, double-mast H-frame is made from sturdy oak and supports up to 300 pounds, while its marine-style winch raises and lowers the bottom holder easily.
  • adjustable angles
  • made in the usa
  • locking casters keep it steady
Brand Best
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Types of Art Easels

An art easel stands upright and is used to support or display artwork such as paintings, sketches, watercolors, and drawings. They are generally built to accommodate small to large canvases so the artist can easily work or show off his creations. Most are made of wood, but some children’s easels are made from plastic or other child-friendly material.

Art easels are commonly produced in three basic designs: tripod, H-frame, and multipurpose.

The tripod design, as its name suggests, is supported on three legs. Crossbars are placed between the legs to help the structure remain stable, and they often fold for portability and storage while the height adjusts to accommodate the artist.

The H-Frame design uses posts that are parallel to one another so that the base sits in a rectangular shape. It generally holds a horizontal crossbar on one or both sides creating the “H” design and allowing for a seat on which to rest the canvas.

Finally, multipurpose designs attempt to capitalize on the best of both worlds. They are intended to be more versatile and allow for more adjustment options so that paintings can be positioned according to the artist's whims. Some of these art easels rest on a tabletop and can be folded to the size of a briefcase for easy portability. These easels generally allow the artist to work faster and more efficiently and are often a favorite for being used in studios or outdoors.

When shopping for an art easel, you are generally going to encounter either the versatile artist easel, paint stations, or children’s easels. Artist easels have many moving parts and are designed for flexibility. Paint stations are just what they sound like - they are generally stationary and have amenities such as shelves and slots for paints, brushes, and other accessories.

Assess Before You Buy

If you are shopping for a children’s art easel, there are only a few things you need to consider such as your child’s age and whether or not the easel will grow with him. You will want him to get a lot of use out of whatever you decide to purchase. Children’s easels are made to be durable. They are generally equipped with a chalkboard or dry erase board and sometimes have rolls of paper and included storage buckets and trays for crayons, paints, and other art supplies. Some come with dry erase boards or chalkboards and are two-sided so more than one child can play.

However, if you are shopping for an art easel for yourself, you will want to consider your needs in a bit more detail. In order to decide which type of easel is best for you and your art, take the following four factors into consideration.

First, consider your medium. Do you work with paints, acrylics, oil, watercolor? For instance, if you work mainly with watercolors, you will want something that allows you to paint in a mostly horizontal position. If you use mainly acrylics or oils, you will need something that stands vertically or tilts slightly forward to keep the dust away.

Second, consider where you plan to work. Will you be staying in your art studio, or do you intend to travel around and work en plein air? If you will be working outside, an easel that folds into a sketch box and is easily portable is going to be far more convenient than a standing tripod easel.

Third, consider your work space. Do you have room for a large easel that stands on the floor? If you generally work with large canvases or have a lot of studio space, a standing tripod easel would work for you. However, if your space is limited, a table easel or sketch box might be your best bet.

Finally, think about how you like to work. If you work on large canvases with heavy brush strokes, you will need something sturdy. The H-frame easels are often best for this type of work, but keep in mind that they tend to be more expensive than their less sturdy counterparts. If your style is much more gentle and delicate, a table or tripod easel will suffice.

A Brief History of the Art Easel

The art easel appears to date back to the ancient Egyptians. They originally displayed their hieroglyphic art on elevated platforms. Pliny the Elder referenced the first easel as a “large panel” in the first century.

There is some evidence of the easel being used in China during the eighth century through depictions by the artist, Wang Wei. However, even though easels existed for some time, murals and other wall paintings dominated the art world until the thirteenth century. Canvas paintings increased in popularity as less people desired murals. The renaissance increased the need for easels as art became more commonplace.

During the renaissance, commissioned art became more in demand. This meant that the easel had to be modified in order to meet the growing needs of artists. The portable easel was invented in the fifteenth century led to an increase in landscape art. Artists could not only transport their easel but their materials as well.

Some antique easels are still hugely popular among dedicated artists and are considered works of art in themselves. These often date back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and were designed with ornate decorations. Modern day easels are much more practical with less focus on aesthetics and more focus on functionality.

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Last updated on September 24, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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