best art painting easels
Empty easels by @feverlane

Best Art Easels For All Ages

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Picking the right easel can be tough. It depends on your existing experience(or lack thereof) and you’ll need to consider options like size, build, price, and portability.

This guide assumes most readers are looking for a serious home easel to work on paintings, complete self portraits, or to just draw/paint objects around the house. But there are many other types of easels made specifically for tabletops, small easels for toddlers, or field easels for outdoor work.

But the best art easel for your average artist is the US Art Supply adjustable studio easel.

Not only is it made of a strong wood finish, but it also folds up for easy storage. It weighs 15lbs so that’s about half the weight of an average desk chair. It adjusts from a height of 5.8 feet up to 8ft in total. And the whole thing sits on locking casters so you can roll it around with ease!

Portable, strong, adjustable, and foldable for storage. No doubt this is the best all-around easel for artists.

But I’d like to delve into other options to cover the best easels for all artists considering many different sizes, prices, and features. I’ll cover as much detail as possible to help you find the right easel no matter what you’re looking for.

Picking The Right Easel

Before getting into the easels it’s important to understand what you need. I can’t tell you what you need. But I can help you figure it out.

Ask yourself “what do I want this easel for?”

Do you want to practice still lifes? Do you want to get outside and draw/paint more from nature? Are you buying an easel for your child or maybe a friend? Where would this easel be used?

Some artists want a versatile easel that can fold and fit onto a tabletop or on the ground. Others just want a strong easel that can handle any sized canvas while still fitting in a living room or bedroom(or home art studio).

If you’re a brand new artist then you’ll have no idea what you want. I’d recommend something cheap and foldable so that it doesn’t take up too much space.

But newer artists probably won’t be traveling around to spot landscapes and paint sunsets or vistas. Newer artists need to focus on fundamentals which mostly means drawing from life. A good easel around the house will help you with two useful exercises:

  • Drawing/painting self portraits
  • Drawing/painting random objects

Both of these exercises are valuable for experienced artists too. But their needs can skew towards adjustable easels with more options for getting outside or for traveling.

And artists with more experience tend to be open to local figure drawing classes too. Most studios have their own easels but you may be asked to bring your own(not common but possible). This is where a portable easel comes in handy.

It’s also important to consider the type of easel you’re looking for.

You can find many different shapes & sizes including H-frame easels, A-frame easels, single mast easels, tabletop easels, or even a nontraditional seated easel like an art horse. You can learn more from this guide covering the different types of easels and how they’re made.

Every easel recommended in this post is sturdy, reliable, and made to fit for individual needs. Be sure to measure how much space you have and how much room you’d be willing to spare. Do you want to fold it away when you’re done, or could it stay out all the time?

And what sort of budget are you working on? This is another big question since most good easels are not cheap.

But let’s dive into the top picks and I’ll explain their features along the way. And if you’re looking for more specific recommendations(best child’s easel, cheapest easel) then skip down to the bottom of this guide.


Top Pick: US Art Supply Adjustable Studio Easel

I cannot think of a better easel for home use than the US Art Supply Adjustable Studio Easel. For all its features this is definitely priced well and it comes with a sturdy beech wood construction.

You could easily fit a canvas pushing 50″ or even larger. And it’ll likely hold up to 50lbs or even more, so there’s really no limit to your artwork.

Physical dimensions:

  • Width: 24″ wide(2 ft)
  • Length: 22″ deep(about 2ft)
  • Height: 70″-96″ high(adjustable from 5.8ft up to 8ft)
  • Weight: 15 lbs

The base only takes up about 2 feet in all directions. If you can plot a square of about 2×2 then this should fit well, leaving yourself room to stand too.

Hitting the max height of 8 feet is tremendous. This thing can hold some pretty large canvases but it can also be just a simple working easel for home practice.

The casters make it easy to roll around. They don’t have locks but they have wing nuts(wing-shaped metal stoppers) that you can use to keep it in place.

Also the front storage area is plenty large enough for brushes, pencils, erasers, whatever you need. And it has a raised lip which keeps pencils from rolling onto the floor.

If you need to put it away you can fold it down and keep it in a closet or leaning in a corner. When folded flat this easel is still at least half a foot thick.

Still the adjustable height and folding features make this more than perfect for someone working in a small apartment or bedroom. Highly recommend this easel for anyone serious about art.

Bottom Line: Simple H-frame easel with adjustable height from 6-8ft, rolling casters for portability, and easily folds for storage. Amazing easel for just about any purpose.


Mont Marte Floor Easel w/Tilt

The Mont Marte Floor Easel is a classic A-frame easel which can take up more space than its H-frame counterparts. But this model is a beast and if you prefer the A-frame shape then you’ll really like this option.

It’s also made of beech wood and offers a backwards tilt along with a straight up-and-down setup. It can hold canvases up to 31″(about 2.8ft) tall with an adjustable height maxing out just past 8 feet!

Physical dimensions:

  • Width: 38″ wide(3.2 ft)
  • Length: 22″ deep(about 2ft)
  • Height: 100″ high(8.3 ft)
  • Weight: 16.5 lbs

This easel can hold a lot of weight and be adjusted pretty large. The A-frame shape makes it a lot wider and a bit deeper than typical H-frame easels. You’ll probably want a space of at least 3ft x 3ft just to ensure plenty of room.

But it can handle any size canvas which makes it surprisingly versatile for indoor & outdoor artwork.

On the negative side this easel can look a bit goofy in a space with small ceilings. When adjusted lower you’ll have the center piece sticking all the way up. If your canvas is only 1-1.5 feet high it can look weird.

But since this easel can be folded up you don’t need to leave it out all the time. If you just need a sturdy A-frame easel for painting during the day it won’t be an eyesore in any room.

I’d recommend this more for artists who know they want an A-frame easel. It does work well outside since it can be folded up and only weighs 16lbs. But it’s best to know that you want an A-frame easel rather than getting this as your first one.

Bottom Line: Excellent A-frame easel for the money. Max height can look a tad weird in rooms with smaller ceilings, but overall it works well and folds up if needed.


US Art Supply Topanga Easel

As far as tabletop easels go you’ll typically have to get an A-frame model. But the size and design can change drastically based on the brand.

US Art Supply has the Topanga Portable Travel Easel and it’s perfect for home use. It is fully adjustable but it is not large enough to sit on the ground. It maxes out around 32″ tall which is just under 3 feet.

Physical dimensions:

  • Width: 13″ wide(1.1 ft)
  • Length: 10.5″ deep(about 1ft)
  • Height: 18″ to 31.5″ high(adjustable height of 1.5ft to 2.8ft)
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs

It can fit canvases up to 27″ tall and probably a few feet wide. This thing is sturdy when setup correctly on a solid surface. You can’t have this resting on a bed or sofa ottoman and expect a clean drawing experience.

The A-frame design almost fits into a perfect square of about 1ft x 1ft. This does seem large but when you’re sitting there drawing/painting it really won’t feel like a big deal. Just make sure you have enough surface space on your desk.

One thing I don’t like is the thin design for the canvas rest. When you lean a canvas on the easel you can lock it in with the top sliding block. However I would’ve liked the bottom block to be a tad thicker.

But for the price and the adjustable height it’s tough to complain.

Not to mention this easel is super easy to fold up and bring on the go. It only weights about 1.5lbs so even a child could carry this around.

Granted I’m not sure this is the best easel for a younger kid, but I don’t think it’s the worst choice either. It does take some getting used to but once you’ve been drawing/painting on it for a while it’ll feel like second nature.

Bottom Line: Nice foldable tabletop easel with adjustable height. Great price. Works best for home use since it can fold and be stored with ease.


Art Alternatives Sonoma Sketchbox Easel

Sketchbox easels get their name from their ability to be folded into portable boxes. They often come with extra storage for art supplies which is great for plein air painters.

Art Alternatives is a big manufacturer and one of their best easels is the Sonoma Sketchbox Easel. It’s super affordable and surprisingly durable. When folded it only weighs 15lbs and it comes with a shoulder strap for carrying around.

Physical dimensions:

  • Width: 29″ wide(about 2.5 ft)
  • Length: 45″ deep(3.8ft)
  • Height: 71″ high(6ft)
  • Weight: 15 lbs

As you can tell this takes up a good amount of space when totally unpacked & setup. It comes with a sliding drawer in the front and a removable palette for painting.

When folded it measures 17″ wide by 22″ long, or just about 1.5ft by 2ft. It really does fold nicely and it folds up small too. The lateral height when folded is only 6.5″, or just about half a foot. This should slide under most beds or fit into most closets.

If you want to use this as a tabletop easel you can fold the legs up and lie it flat. This way you can still access the supplies drawer but it won’t be too large for a table.

Max canvas height is about 34″ or just under 3 feet. Pretty reasonable for a folding sketchbox easel!

The beechwood finish looks incredible and the legs are super sturdy. Overall a fantastic easel for the money and perfect if you like this style.

Bottom Line: If you want a portable easel for painting then the Sonoma Sketchbox Easel is beautiful. It can also work for newer artists who want an easel they can easily stow anywhere.


Colossal A-Frame Easel

What I like most about this easel is how it combines the A-frame shape with the H-frame design. The Colossal A-Frame Easel made by American Easel is fairly large with a solid build. It can hold up to a max of 50″ canvases.

The price is great and it works very much like my recommended pick at the top of this post. However this is a bit heavier and slightly larger because of the A-frame shape.

Physical dimensions:

  • Width: 25″ wide(2ft)
  • Length: 24″ deep(2ft)
  • Height: 68″ high(5.7ft)
  • Weight: 21 lbs

The entire easel is made of Northern red oak and built to be foldable. It can hold very large frames and the wood is surprisingly sturdy. Rubber bottoms on the legs hold this easel in place whether you’re working on carpet, hardwood, or in some grass outside.

And the rubber feet are specially designed to be skid-free so you can drag this thing anywhere.

So what’s the downside? Well it is very thin so even though it’s sturdy it can feel like it’s not. But there’s also nowhere to place your brushes or pencils, not to mention the movable holders can be tough to get into position.

The size and shape are a perfect fit against the Art Supply adjustable studio easel. These both seem like comparable models based on specs. But the Colossal falls short in a couple areas that really do make a difference.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for an A-frame shape with H-frame support then the Colossal will not disappoint. It can fit very large canvases but doesn’t have anywhere to store brushes or pencils.


Welland H-Frame Studio Easel

Winsor & Newton offer many different styles of easels including tabletops, sketching easels, and watercolor easels. But I think their best design is the Welland H-Frame Studio Easel.

It’s a sturdy design made of beech wood using casters with plastic stoppers for movement when you need it(and no movement when you don’t). This is a fairly pricey easel so I’ll say right away this isn’t great for beginners. But if you’re a semi-experienced artist looking for a reliable long-term easel then the W&N Welland can work wonders.

Physical dimensions:

  • Width: 25″ wide(about 2 ft)
  • Length: 24″ deep(2ft)
  • Height: 51″ high(4.25ft)
  • Weight: 30 lbs

One unique feature about this H-frame easel is the tilt. You can tilt the stand back quite a ways, possibly even further than 45° if you can keep it stable.

The total height is not adjustable which can be a huge turn-off for some people. But you can obviously move the top wood block up & down depending on the canvas size.

This is one of the heavier easels you can get weighing about 30lbs. This has to be one of the biggest downsides, at least for me personally because I like lightweight materials. But it’s really no heavier than a typical office desk chair so you can pick it up.

Thankfully the casters work wonders and they’re easy to move from any direction. You’ll also find plastic stoppers on the front for locking the easel into position.

The front tray has more than enough room for a few brushes and other tools if you’re drawing or using related materials like watercolors. It also comes with a small lip in the front to stop your brushes/pencils from rolling onto the floor.

Bottom Line: If height isn’t a problem(it’s under 5 feet) and you think the price is worth all the features then this is a great tilting H-frame easel.


Merytes Portable Tripod Easel

If you’re on a real strict budget then the Merytes Portable Adjustable Tripod Easel might be the only affordable option.

Note that in art, like all product markets, you get what you pay for. And this is by far the cheapest item in the list—but it works well.

You can adjust the height up to a max of 59″ high(5 feet) and can be reduced down to a minimum height of 22″(under 2 feet).

Physical dimensions:

  • Width: 30″ wide(about 2.5 ft)
  • Length: 23″ deep(2ft)
  • Height: 22″ to 59″ high(or from 1.8ft to 4.9ft)
  • Weight: 2.3 lbs

Merytes includes a free carrying bag with this easel so it’s perfect for on the go whether you’re sketching outside, setting up in your bedroom, or drawing on a table. However I do think this is a tad large to use as a tabletop easel. But it can work.

The legs and base are made of a strong aluminum alloy with secured rubber feet for traction. This thing does not wobble, which is amazing considering how cheap it is. One minor complaint you might have is the max height only hitting about 5 feet.

If you’re a super tall gal pushing 6 feet you might have to crouch a tiny bit to get marks lower on the canvas. But it really isn’t a terrible problem, and you could even bring a small lift or try painting on an incline if needed.

This field easel is awesome because it’s so lightweight and the adjustable legs make it work as a table easel too. The zip up bag is a huge bonus so all in all this is a great purchase.

Bottom Line: If you don’t have much money and want a sturdy home+field+tabletop easel then no question this is the easel for you.


Oak Yazhi American Easel

The super lightweight Oak Yazhi American Easel is cheap, strong, and easy to adjust for any occasion.

This easel maxes out at 5 feet tall which is pretty reasonable. It can hold a 44″ canvas and can be reinforced with a back leg chain if needed.

Physical dimensions:

  • Width: 21″ wide(1.8 ft)
  • Length: 20″ deep(1.8ft)
  • Height: 71″ high(6ft)
  • Weight: 9.8 lbs

The A-frame design takes the shape of a square about 2ft x 2ft on all sides. The center frame does lean back so the top mast sticks out. This can be a pain if it’s too close to the wall. I’d plan for at least 2.5 feet on all sides if you have this in a tight room.

Unfortunately the angle cannot be adjusted but it does work well for most canvases. Once you get your drawing board or canvas locked into place you probably won’t worry much about the tilt.

One huge downside is the lack of a supplies box. Usually you’ll find an empty cubby area to leave your pencils and paintbrushes. But since this is a cheaper model it’s rational to see the supplies box missing.

This does fold down but it doesn’t get as small as some others in this list. I like this design and of course the price point is great. But it’s not perfect for everyone.

Bottom Line: Lightweight(11lbs) and portable define this Oak Yazhi A-frame easel. It’s also a great price but with no tilt options and no supplies cubby this is basically a budget easel.


Royal & Langnickel Tabletop Easel

The great thing about tabletop easels is that they’re cheap and easy to setup. Even a beginner can get started painting on a tabletop easel with no constraints.

The Sorrento Tabletop Easel designed by Royal & Langnickel is a fantastic product. It’s made with hard oiled beech wood using brass hardware for the fixtures. It only weighs four pounds which is crazy light. It also folds flat for storage or travel which is super handy.

Physical dimensions:

  • Width: 13″ wide(1ft)
  • Length: 12″ deep(1ft)
  • Height: 31″ max high(2.5ft when upright)
  • Weight: 4 lbs

The Sorrento uses an H-frame design which is my favorite for traditional art. It only takes up a 1ft x 1ft area on the table with some overflow if you choose to tilt the canvas.

When positioned straight upwards it measures just under 3ft. A tremendous height for a portable table easel. But this also limits the canvases you can use with a general max around 24″ high.

Unfortunately some of the design isn’t as sound as it seems. Some of the bolts and wing nuts can get loose which is a pain if you don’t know how to tighten them. And the internals are glued together in some areas which isn’t the best protocol for an easel.

Should these construction flaws turn you off from this easel? It depends on your willingness to tighten bolts if needed. And on your art budget.

I’m happy with this design and I think it can be a perfect beginner easel for aspiring artists or even young kids. But will it satisfy a professional? Probably not.

Bottom Line: This tabletop easel works great for beginners who don’t need a five-star perfect design. Get this if you just want to paint small canvases on your desk without taking up much space.


Jullian Escort French Style Easel

Traveling out into nature to draw or paint requires a great easel. The Jullian Escort French Style Sketchbox Easel is the perfect traveling resource for any artist who wants a lightweight solution for all their drawing/painting supplies.

When folded this thing is maybe 1ft x 2ft and it’s only about 6″ thick. It can easily slide under a bed or get tucked away in a corner with no issues. And it comes with a drawer for storing oil paints, watercolors, or any other supplies together with the easel.

Physical dimensions:

  • Width: 32″ wide(2.6ft)
  • Length: 24″ deep(2ft)
  • Height: 71″ max high(about 6 feet when upright)
  • Weight: 14 lbs

The wood and build is really stable along with plastic bottoms on the legs. You can even fold in the legs and lie this flat on a table if you want to work tabletop.

The angle is crazy flexible too. You can have the canvas fixed straight up or lying back at 90°, or anything inbetween. The actual canvas board area measures 12″ x 16″ of beautiful mahogany wood. And it can hold canvases with a max height of 35″(just about 3 feet).

When you need to finish painting for the day you can fold up the easel and keep the canvas attached. It’ll stay fixed on the outside of the folded easel so the paint can dry while you’re on the go. There’s so much to say about this easel and it really is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship.

I would absolutely recommend the Escort French-style sketchbox for any serious artist. Whether you prefer plein air, watercolors, acrylics, oils, or even just carbon/charcoal, this easel can handle everything.

Bottom Line: The Jullian Escort easel is a solid buy for all the storable drawers, lightweight portability, and incredible price tag. It’s meant for more experienced artists but it can work well for anyone.


Best Easel For Toddlers

All of the easels in this guide mostly focus on professionals or aspiring professionals. But kids love art just as much! And kids should be encouraged to explore art because childhood is the best time for that.

Toddlers can work on tabletop easels but I think it’s better to get an easel designed for kids. And the best one you can get is the Kids Tabletop Art Easel by Discovery.

It comes with two sides: one with a chalkboard and the other for drawing on paper. In the middle there’s a bar where you can hang a roll of easel paper feeding through the other side. Whenever your kid’s done drawing just tear off the sheet and feed through another one.

Or you can use chip clips to hang a textured piece of paper from the board. This is specifically made for tables so it’ll be best suited for younger kids around toddler age.

However one thing to note about the Kids Tabletop Easel is that it does not fold. It’d be great for a kid’s playroom or even a bedroom if it can be stored in the corner.

If you need a kid’s easel that also folds for storage then check out the Art Alternatives Tabletop Easel. This one is much smaller than the Discovery easel and it doesn’t have a paper clip so you’ll need to pin sheets to the board.

However it does have a paper feeder in the center if you like that feature. And it folds up nicely being only about 1″ wide by 1.5″ long.

Generally I still lean towards the Discovery Kids Easel because it can grow with your child.

But both of these are great choices for kids so you cannot go wrong either way.


Best Easel For Kids Ages 5-12

As your child ages they may want to move onto a more “professional” easel that can support real artwork.

Little Partners Deluxe Easel is a standing easel which measures about 32″ tall(just under 3 feet). It comes with two sides: one with a chalkboard and the other with a dry erase board. But at the top you can insert a paper roll to pull down for a drawing surface.

This means your child can have three different mediums to play with: chalk, dry erase marker, or crayons/colored pencils on drawing paper. Awesome stuff!

You also get two little cubby boxes that fit underneath the easel for storage. All the markers, pencils, crayons, and everything else can stow away quietly underneath while your child plays.

One thing to note is that this easel does not fold. Once it’s put together that’s it. You’d have to take it apart to get it flat again, so make sure there’s room for this somewhere in your home or apartment.

If your child shows an aptitude towards art then I say encourage them to pursue it. Drawing & making art even as a hobby can be incredibly freeing and a good activity to start developing young. There’s no better time to start drawing than childhood.


Cheapest Art Easel

If you’re on a serious budget then you’ll notice most quality art easels cost good money. Granted you can get cheaper ones made of aluminum but they’re not always the sturdies choices.

However the Merytes Portable Tripod Easel is by far the cheapest easel you can get for the money. It’s sturdy and surprisingly light so you can carry it anywhere. Plus it comes with a free carrying bag and a one year limited manufacturer’s warranty.

It maxes out around 5 feet tall so it’s certainly not the tallest choice. It’s also not the strongest considering the lightweight build. You will not be able to support canvases much heavier than 6-7 lbs without a risk of the whole thing tipping over.

Still it is the cheapest model here without having major flaws or poor craftsmanship. And it’s a very portable option for beginners who want to move around the house drawing & painting various items(or people) in different locations.

Artists who want a budget easel probably want something that’s versatile enough to work anywhere. The Merytes easel can be shortened or heightened to a number of predefined heights. This means you can use it on your desk, in your room, or even in the backyard.

It’s definitely the best choice for someone looking to save without sacrificing much quality.


Best Tabletop Easel

There are two good answers for a tabletop easel: one for larger canvases and one for simpler beginner exercises/artwork.

The best real true easel made for tables & desks is the Royal & Langnickel Sorrento Tabletop Easel. The construction is not perfect and it doesn’t have the most polished finish. However it works well and it’ll hold whatever size canvas you need up to 2-2.5 feet.

Plus the Sorrento tabletop can pivot back with a good degree of tilt. This is mostly used by experienced painters or artists who want to hit different angles.

Beginners will not need such a complicated design just to get started. For complete beginners I’d recommend the Art Alternatives Marquis Desk Box Easel which is cheap, sturdy, and reliable.

Will it expand to allow for larger canvases? Not a chance. But when you’re new to art you really just need to put in practice, any practice, without worrying about making big canvas pieces.

This desk easel folds into a box for easy storage and it doesn’t rely on the traditional easel design. This means by default it’s super reliable and very sturdy. It also comes with compartments to store brushes/pencils on the go.

Hell, this can even work as a book holder if you want to keep a book/reference open while you draw on your desk. Tabletop easels are what you make them.

Both of these choices work well but they’re designed for different audiences. If you’re OK doing smaller paintings/drawings then go with the Marquis desk box(it’s awesome seriously).

Making A Pick

Picking an easel doesn’t have to be stressful. It should be fun! You’re getting a new tool in your arsenal to help you practice and improve your art.

If you are a complete beginner I recommend either a cheaper tabletop easel or the adjustable studio easel if you have the scratch. Your decision also greatly depends on your goals and ultimate purpose for getting an easel. A plein air painter won’t benefit from the same easel that a new beginner practicing charcoal might want.

If you still aren’t sure then take a look through this post again to see if anything draws you in. Whittle down your choices to your absolute favorites to make the process easier. And be sure to measure your room for space first!