There are just some things that you need as a painter. Pigment and brushes are essential, of course, as is a canvas and palette, but don't forget about the easel. Although this frame might feel like an afterthought, an easel will be your greatest companion as you put in the hours to paint.
An easel has many benefits, perhaps the most important being the way in which it displays your work. Most easels hold your work upright and at a slight angle. This allows you to see the whole piece at once and ensures that your view of it is not distorted, unlike when you’re hunched over a drawing laying flat on your desk. If something isn’t working in your composition, you’re sure to notice it a lot quicker when you can back away from the painting and see it all once.
So, how do you select the best easel? We’ve done some of the work for you and have compiled a list of top-rated easels for everyone from painting enthusiasts to pros. Scroll down to learn how to determine the best easel for you and some models we love.
What kind of easel is best for you?
Not all easels are the same. Depending on a few factors in your painting practice, some easels will work better for you than others. Here are some things you’ll want to consider.
Easels range in size, style, and material. Going through our list, you’ll find that some easels are an A-frame shape while others are built like the letter H. Other designs are more minimalist and won’t be as large as some other easels on the market. When it comes to materials, wood is the most popular on the market, but there are some easels made of metal, too. Consider what you need to determine what will work for you.
The type of paint you use will guide the type of easel you buy. If you’re using oil or acrylic paint, you’ll want to look for an easel that sits upright. But if you’re planning on painting with watercolors, find an easel that tilts back, as that type of pigment is looser and will roll down your paper if sat too upright.
Traveling? There are easels for that. For on-location painting (also known as en plein air), look for an easel that is meant for traveling. These types of easels are collapsible—some become the size of a briefcase—making them easily portable.
New Wave u.go Plein Air Anywhere Pochade
This “anywhere” easel is intended to be taken on the go. Created using Baltic birch wood, the easel box is crack-proof and chip-proof, and it’s meant to attach to a tripod (not included).
Bamboo French Sketchbox Easel
When you think of an easel, this might be what you’re picturing: a classical sketchbox style. With adjustable legs, it can extend to up to 70″ high and will hold canvases that are up to 32″ high. It’s also portable and fully folds down, including wheels and a pop-up handle to maneuver with ease.
Santa Fe II Easel
If you’re looking to splurge on an easel, this one might be it. It’s ideal for large work with non-skid rubber grips to secure paintings, and there’s even a built-in painting tray with two stainless steel canisters. Although hefty, you can move it around on casters and it folds flat for easy storage.
Studio Convertible Studio Easel
This versatile easel is intended to accommodate many types of media. You can tilt it completely upright, at an angle, or horizontal (for watercolor painting). It can hold canvases up to 61″ high and includes a lower shelf to keep your supplies within reach.
Studio Tabletop Easel
Do you only have room for a table-top easel? Blick has created a foldable easel that will sit atop your work surface. The minimalist design has non-skid feet to protect a table and can hold a canvas up to 22” high.
The Halley easel can accommodate canvases up to 80″ tall with many height and tilt settings—including the ability to lay flat like a table. Although it has such capabilities, it’s recommended for mid-size canvases and ideal if you prefer to sit while you paint. It comes with a paint-mixing surface and a stainless steel canister for solvents or other materials.
Giant Field Easel
This minimalist easel folds into a compact unit that weighs only eight pounds and includes a leather handle for easy transport. It can also pivot to hold the canvas at any angle, making it a great choice for any type of media.
San Jacinto Bamboo Easel
Another compact design, Pacific Arc’s bamboo easel is crafted using an environmentally responsible material. Minimalist and mighty, this easel can hold canvases up to 66″ high and fold flat to be stored in small spaces.