Easels – Different Types and Which You Should Go With

508 Shares

This post is a comprehensive guide to the artist easel. You will learn what an easel is, what type to go with and where to position it.

Rembrandt, The Artist in His Studio, 1626-1628
Rembrandt, The Artist in His Studio, 1626-1628

What Is an Easel?

An easel is basically a stand to hold your artwork. It allows you to paint in an upright position, rather than hunched over a desk.

Here are some benefits of painting with an easel:

  • You can step back and view your artwork from a distance (you cannot do this if your artwork is laying flat on a table).
  • It is good for your posture.
  • It allows you to paint with the full gesture of your arm and body, rather than just the limited range of motion provided by your wrist.
  • You can change the angle of the easel so that your painting is slanting toward or away from you (this can be useful for making sure there is no glare on your artwork).
  • Depending on what easel you go with, it can allow you to paint plein air (on location).

Summary of the Different Types of Easels

Here are the different types of easels I will discuss in more detail in this post:

  • A-Frame Easel
  • H-Frame Easel
  • Giant Easel
  • Convertible Easel
  • Single Mast Easel
  • Tabletop Easel
  • French Easel
  • Display Easel
Claude Monet, In the Woods at Giverny, Blanche Hoschedé at Her Easel with Suzanne Hoschedé Reading, 1887
Claude Monet, In the Woods at Giverny, Blanche Hoschedé at Her Easel with Suzanne Hoschedé Reading, 1887

Which Is the Best Type of Easel for You?

The best type of easel for you depends on many variables, such as how you paint, what mediums you work with, how large your artwork is going to be and where you prefer to paint. The following information will help you decide which easel is best for you.

A-Frame Easel

  • A three-legged easel (two at the front and one at the back) is economical and portable but lacks stability.
  • Suitable for all levels of artists, from absolute beginners to professional artists. (Professional artists should look for higher-quality products).
  • Does not have any built-in storage for painting supplies (usually).
  • Folds away for easy storage.
  • Often used for painting plein air (see the photo below of Joaquín Sorolla).
  • Can handle small to large artworks depending on the size of the easel.
  • An affordable option, depending on the quality of the easel.

Top Selling A-Frame Easels:

US Art Supply A-Frame Easel

Sorillo Brands A Frame Wooden Easel

Ohuhu Floor & Tabletop Stand

Suitable For: Beginners looking for an entry-level option or artists who need portability and ease of storage.

Joaquín Sorolla Painting on Location
Joaquín Sorolla Painting on Location

H-Frame Easel

  • A popular option for a studio easel.
  • Sturdy but lacks portability. The easel does (usually) come with wheels at the bottom so you can move it around your studio, but it is large and bulky.
  • It will not move that much under your brush whilst painting.
  • Suitable for all levels of artists, from absolute beginners to professional artists. (Professional artists should look for higher-quality products).
  • Can handle small to large artworks.
  • Comes with a ledge to hold art supplies.

Top Selling H-Frame Easels

Tangkula H-Frame Wooden Easel

ShowMaven H-Frame Floor Easel

Suitable For: Artists who need a sturdy, studio easel.

Carl Larsson, Self-Portrait, 1895
Carl Larsson, Self-Portrait, 1895

Giant Easel

  • Strictly for those who are working with really large artworks.
  • Can handle artworks anywhere between 85″ to 120″ tall.
  • Extremely sturdy in order to support the heavy canvas frame.
  • Expensive compared to the other options available.

If you are looking for a giant easel, then you should consult your local art store.

Suitable For: Advanced artists who work on really large artworks.

Joaquín Sorolla Painting in the Studio
Joaquín Sorolla Painting in the Studio

Convertible Easel

  • Converts between a standard upright easel and a horizontal, tabletop easel. This makes it suitable for artists who work with various mediums. The upright position is commonly used for oils and acrylics, whilst a more horizontal position is used for watercolors, drawing, and pastels
  • Can handle small to large artworks, depending on the size of the easel.
  • Can come with built-in storage for art supplies.

Top Selling Convertible Easel

Creative Mark – Da Vinci Multi-Angle Convertible Art Easel

Suitable For: Artists who work with various mediums which require a change between upright and horizontal positions.

Single Mast Easel

  • Smaller designs are a great entry-level easel for beginners. Larger designs are suitable for more advanced artists looking for a reliable studio easel.
  • Lacks the stability of an H-Frame easel.
  • Designed for studio use (lacks portability).
  • Does not usually come with built-in storage for art supplies.

Top Selling Single Mast Easel

Art Advantage’s Single Mast Easel

Suitable For: Beginners looking for an entry-level option or artists who need portability and ease of storage.

Tabletop Easel

  • Allows you to work sitting down at a desk.
  • Can be used for drawing or painting.
  • Usually includes built-in storage.
  • Easy to pack up and place in storage.
  • Sturdy and compact.
  • Available in A-frame, H-frame and single mast designs.

Top Selling Tabletop Easels

Arteza Wooden Desktop Easel

U.S. Art Supply Adjustable Desk Table Easel

Art Alternatives Adjustable Desk Box Easel

Suitable For: Artists who prefer to work sitting down at a table.

French Easel

  • Basically a tabletop easel with three legs.
  • A favorable choice for plein air painting due to its built-in storage and portability.
  • Some designs come with a built-in wet canvas carrier for painting plein air.
  • Can be lacking in terms of stability.

I personally use a French easel for smaller works and have no issues with it. The built-in storage is useful for holding paint, brushes and other supplies and the lack of stability is not much of an issue to me.

Top Selling French Easels

U.S. Art Supply French Style Easel, Sketchbox & Wooden Palette

Mont Marte Black French Box Easel

Evergreen Art Supply’s Portable French Style Easel

Suitable For: Artists who paint plein air (on location) or just need some extra storage.

Display Easel

  • For display purposes only (not for painting on).
  • A classic way to display artwork.
  • Lacks stability, but is usually portable depending on the design.
  • Useful for art galleries wanting to display a feature piece.

Top Selling Display Easels

US Art Supply Display & Presentation Floor Easel

Lightweight Aluminium Display Easel by Audio-Visual Direct

Suitable For: Anyone looking to display artwork.

(See the supplies page for details about what I use and recommend.)

My Recommendation

If you are just starting out in painting, then I suggest you go with an entry-level A-frame or H-frame easel.

If you are looking for something more advanced for your studio, then a higher-quality H-frame or single mast easel should suit you.

If you paint plein air and need portability, then go with a A-frame or French easel.

The other easels are more specialized; giant easels for large artworks; convertible easels for using various mediums; and tabletop easels for painting on a table.

Where to Position Your Easel

You should position your easel in a place where:

  • There is enough light hitting your canvas (evenly if possible);
  • There is no glare whilst you are painting; and
  • You have room to step back from your painting to view it from a distance (try to avoid placing your easel with a wall directly behind you).

Your Next Steps

I hope you found this information useful. If you are looking to buy your first easel, you may want to take a look at some of the different easel types at your local art store to see which might suit you. If you already have an easel, then now would be a great time to consider if it is working for you and if it is positioned in the right spot.

Thanks for Reading!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate it! Feel free to share with friends. If you want more painting tips, check out my Painting Academy course.

Happy painting!

Signature Draw Paint Academy

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read the disclosure for more information. 

1 thought on “Easels – Different Types and Which You Should Go With”

  1. This was extremely informative as I am looking for a sturdy studio easel for my daughter as a art school graduation present. Now I know what not to buy and what to look into.
    Thank you for sharing you expertise.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]