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A drawing horse is like a bench that can support your weight along with an art board. This setup allows artists to work hands-free without an easel.
These drawing horses(also called “art horses”) are most common in figure rooms when drawing from life. But what if you want one for your house or apartment?
Unfortunately they’re tough to research because if you Google any phrase like ‘drawing horse’ you’re just gonna find a ton of animal drawings. That’s why I made this article: to help artists find the perfect drawing horse for their studies.
If you don’t have time to read this whole post then I’ll cut to the chase: my #1 recommendation is the Beechwood Belgian Art Horse by Creative Mark. The legs are sturdy enough to hold anything so it’s a very safe horse for kids & adults.
The top part actually folds up so you have a back to rest the board against. This back measures a total of 32″ tall(just under 3 feet) from the floor when open. This should be plenty tall enough to rest a drawing board while still having a clear view ahead whether you’re drawing an object or a model.
However the legs do not fold which means this is not great for a storable bench. Since the top part does fold down it can double as general seating for an art room.
But there are so many other benches to consider with varying styles, sizes, and even some with padded seats. So if you really want to compare & contrast let’s dig into the best art horses you can find.
What To Look For
Every drawing horse needs to be sturdy. This is a given since you’ll be sitting on it for hours. This means it also needs to be comfortable.
Most art horses do not have foldable legs so they’re tough to put into a closet. So if storage is a concern you’ll want a bench that can fold.
Also if you plan to drag this around the house then weight is another factor. Most benches are light enough to move around because they’re just wooden blocks, usually sized around 1ft wide by 2ft long.
Every art horse should have little pegs or grooves near the front portion of the bench. These grooves hold your drawing board in place so it doesn’t need to rest up against your lap.
It is possible to draw on a regular bench. But art horses are designed for artists and these grooves are a crucial feature.
So generally you’ll need to weigh the drawing experience for each art horse against it’s price. The biggest factors to consider:
If you have a dedicated room where you typically work then portability won’t be a problem. But if you’ll be lugging the horse inside, outside, or up the stairs then you’ll want something lighter.
Since each person’s situation is different it can be tough to nail down a single “best” art horse. But I’ve whittled this list down to only the best choices and you can read through each one below.
Beechwood Belgian Art Horse
I mentioned the Creative Mark Belgian Art Horse at the beginning of this post and still think this is the overall best choice.
It comes with a small storage compartment which is a great place to hold art supplies. This drawing horse can hold pencils, paint brushes, and almost anything you’d need to work from a drawing board.
Plus it’s about the average weight of a drawing horse at about 20lbs. Most desk chairs average 35lbs so this horse weighs about half that much. If you can pick up your desk chair then you can definitely move this art horse.
All four legs are bolted into the horse so they don’t fold or move at all. It’s super sturdy which makes it one of the safest art horses you can get.
It may feel a little small at first but you’ll get used to drawing in the seated position. The wood finish is fantastic and it really feels smooth to handle(carrying, adjusting, etc). I can’t say if the wood can hold up in wet grass, but I have a feeling it’ll do fine.
This horse comes with three individual grooves for placing your drawing board at varying angles. These grooves are deep so they can hold any size art board no problem.
The seating area is plenty large enough measuring about 40″ long. This should be enough room for any adult or child. Really this is a one-size-fits-all drawing bench.
Combining the fact that it’s reasonably priced and very sturdy I have to say this drawing horse should work for any occasion. I’d recommend this to beginners and experts alike.
Padded Bench by Studio Designs
Some artists may not like how the wood feels on their butts drawing all day. For those artists I’d recommend this Padded Studio Bench made by Studio Designs.
This comes with a great price and it’s super lightweight. The legs are built with some type of metal alloy rather than wood so it does feel incredibly strong.
The front pole can hinge down if you need to make it smaller or easier to carry. Adjusting the pole height also lets you work with a total height of 32″ or shorter. And this horse comes with six individual grooves for your board.
I didn’t measure the precise angles for each groove but I’d estimate you can get anywhere from 5° fully upright to around 45° resting in the last groove. This offers a lot of flexibility depending on the size of your board and how you like to work.
This studio bench is totally safe for outdoor use and it weighs just under 20lbs.
In full this art horse spans about 30″ long which is about 2½ feet. The padded seating measures 20″ long which is a tad short but should be enough room. If you want a lengthy art horse then you might have to go with a wooden model.
But if you’re OK with the slightly shorter design then this studio bench is incredible. It’s perfect for beginner-level artists who don’t want to spend much and want a padded seating area for maximum comfort.
I have to say this is one of the simplest yet most professional-looking art horses you can get. If you’re looking for simplicity then this is a great choice.
All metrics are similar to other horses. This Woodcraft Art Horse weighs about 20lbs measuring about 1ft wide, 2ft long, and almost 3ft tall(actually 33″). Unlike the prior two models, this one is built as-is with no flexibility.
You can’t adjust the height or fold the back. This design makes it a lot more sturdy. But it also means this can be difficult to move since you have to watch where the front part sticks out while carrying.
This comes with two grooves in the front which isn’t a lot but it should suffice. I do wish they were a bit deeper though. To me the indentations feel shallow and you may have trouble keeping a thick art board in place.
Because of this drawback I only recommend the Woodcraft horse to artists who use very thin drawing boards. It’s still a great unit based on size, shape, and sturdiness. Not to mention the beautiful maple finish!
But if you want an art horse with lots of versatility then this isn’t for you. It’s actually best suited for the classroom or in a figure room, or in a fixed position in a home studio/home art space.
Jonti-Craft 0300JC Art Horse
If you have a child who loves to draw then the Jonti-Craft 0300JC Art Horse is absolutely the best choice. This art horse is specially designed by the team at Jonti-Craft to be kid friendly and super safe.
This is the lightest art horse in the entire list weighing only 15lbs. Yet surprisingly this horse still measures the same as others: 1ft width, 2ft long, and almost 3ft tall totaling 33 inches from the ground.
If you’re doing the math then you’ll realize this isn’t just a child’s art horse. It can work great for adults too!
It’s super light, sturdy, and measures the same as other art horses. However the reason I don’t specifically recommend this horse for adults is because of the design.
Just look at the bolts and the finish on the wood. It gives off a very childish feeling.
Can it work for adults? Absolutely! But I think there are better choices in this list for adults. This horse works best for kids around the ages of 3-12 who show early signs of pursuing art.
And it’s an affordable model too so it can make a great birthday or Christmas gift.
Caballo Art Horse Bench
I’ve saved the most feature-packed one for last and it’s quite a doozy. The Caballo Art Horse comes with everything you could possibly image.
Note this art horse won’t come cheap. But it does come with a lot of great features:
Wheels & straps for easy portability
Storage drawer for supplies(16″ long)
Full easel built into the bench
Easel folds down for easy transport
With the Caballo Art Horse you’re getting more of everything. It weighs more(about 30lbs) and when adjusted to its highest setting it measures 52″ tall. That’s about 4½ feet tall from the ground!
The easel on this art horse means it functions differently than the others. Instead of placing your board into grooves you’ll instead mount the board into the easel. This can be adjusted based on the size of your drawing board or canvas.
But it can only hold canvases up to 27″ tall so be sure to measure your canvas before buying.
This drawing horse is really a beast. But there are many reasons why I don’t recommend this as the overall best drawing horse:
It’s very pricey
Uses easel instead of grooves
The price alone is sky high compared to any other model. But that’s not the primary reason why I moved this lower in the list.
My reasoning is that most people just want a simple drawing horse. This thing comes with so many features that it’s almost too much for anyone.
The only artists who would enjoy this are trained professionals who want a specialized easel+art horse combo. It really is glorious and the structure feels incredibly sturdy(hence the weight).
But if you’re just looking for a simple drawing horse for home then this is far beyond what you need.
It’s worth considering if you like the design and like the idea of working on an easel while sitting. But it’s tough to justify the costs unless you really want a more complex horse.
Best Drawing Horse For Beginners
As a complete beginner you probably want an art horse that’ll grow with your skills and be around for years. That’s why I still recommend Creative Mark’s Belgian Art Horse for beginners and experts alike.
The pricing is very reasonable and it’s a great intro horse with enough features to be valuable as you develop your skills. The little supplies cubby is fantastic and it offers a way to store all your art supplies in one place.
If you’ve never used a drawing horse before then you may feel intimidated with the buying process. If possible try to get out to a life drawing class or even take a trip to a nearby college and ask for a tour of the art rooms.
This way you can sit on the wooden horses, see what they feel like, and estimate how much room you’d need for one at home.
Almost every art horse you’ll find online measures about the same. So what you want is a reasonably priced model that’s durable, easy to use, and simple for beginners to pick up.
Creative Mark’s horse is my pick for any art newbie. But you could also go with the budget option which I’ve listed below.
Cheapest Drawing Horse
If you want an art horse on tight purse strings then the Padded Studio Bench is your best choice.
It’s one of the most comfortable art horses you can get and also one of the smallest. And even though it’s made of lightweight metal it still operates just like any other horse. But the price is a lot cheaper so this can even be great for young kids or teenagers pursuing art.
It comes with six notches for varying degrees of tilt for your drawing board. This is the most variety out of any horse you’ll find so it’s a great way to cut your teeth(figuratively) with a drawing horse.
One thing to note is that the cushioned seating is not normal or even common in other art horses.
If you ever take a figure drawing glass with no easel then you’ll need to adjust to the hard wooden drawing horse.
But for a comfy home choice on a budget the Studio Bench is stellar.
Final Pick: Best of the Best
Even though the padded studio and the Woodcraft models are close competition, I still have to side with the Beechwood Belgian Art Horse made by Creative Mark. It checks all the boxes for durability, size, weight, price, and extra features like the storage compartment.
This should hold any sized board and it’s easy to get used to the positioning. The design works for beginners and experts alike so it really does offer the best solution across the board.
However I will make one exception for parents who have young kids pursuing art. If your child is 12 or younger then consider getting the Jonti-Craft 0300JC Art Horse instead.
That model is specifically designed for young children and it’s a lot lighter to carry.
But as kids grow into teenagers and adults there’s good reason to upgrade into a better model with more features and a stronger build. This is why the Creative Mark art horse fits perfectly for anyone from teenagers to retired empty nesters picking up art of the first time.
Art horses can be tricky at first. You need to adjust to sitting and drawing in that position without hunching or straining your back.
Most artists eventually learn to work from an art horse when drawing from life so it’s a handy item to have. Especially if you’re frequently drawing things around the house or drawing/painting outside in the beautiful weather.
And remember that whatever art horse you get won’t make you a better artist. Only time, patience, and hard work can do that. But an art horse certainly helps you get one step closer.