Art History Lab

Choosing the Perfect Easel: A Complete Guide for Artists

TITLE: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Best Easel for Your Painting NeedsAs an artist, finding the right easel can make all the difference in your painting experience and the final outcome of your masterpiece. Easels are an essential component of any artist’s toolkit, and they come in various types and sizes to cater to different painting styles, mediums, and preferences.

With so many options available, choosing the right easel can be a daunting task. Fear not! In this article, we will provide you with an in-depth guide on the factors to consider when choosing an easel, types of easels, and how to match them to your painting style and size.

Types of Easels

Definition of Easel and Types of Easels

Let’s start by defining an easel. An easel is a vertical stand that artists use to hold their canvas or paper while painting.

The most common types of easels are the H-Frame, A-Frame, and French easels.

The H-Frame easel is the sturdiest and heaviest of the three and is ideal for artists who work with large canvases or heavy mediums.

It has a robust structure that can support the weight of large canvases and provides more stability.

The A-Frame easel is the most popular and versatile easel and is suitable for all levels of artists.

It has a straightforward design that allows the user to adjust the height and angle of the canvas easily.

The French easel is a portable easel that is ideal for outdoor painting or artists who prefer to work on the go.

It has a compact and lightweight design and can hold both the canvas and painting supplies.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Easel

Before you invest in an easel, there are several factors you need to consider. These include the size of your artwork, your painting style, and the medium you use.

If you work on large canvases, it is essential to choose an easel that can hold the weight and size of the canvas. The H-Frame easel is the best option for large canvases, while the A-Frame easel can hold medium-sized artworks.

Your painting style can also influence the type of easel you choose. If you prefer to stand while painting, the A-Frame easel is ideal for you.

If you like working on a table or desk, a tabletop easel may be a better option.

The type of medium you use can also affect your choice of easel.

For example, if you use watercolors, a horizontal easel that lays flat on the table is the best option. If you use oil paints, a vertical A-Frame easel is ideal.

Painting Style and Easel Selection

Painting Style and Easel Selection

Your painting style can help you choose the right easel to ensure a comfortable and productive painting experience.

If you prefer to paint standing up, an A-Frame easel is the best option as it provides an adjustable height that can suit your posture.

If you prefer to sit while painting, an H-Frame easel can offer more stability and support.

If you work on small canvases, a tabletop easel is the perfect choice.

It can sit on any table or desk and hold your canvas securely.

If you enjoy painting outdoors, a French easel is ideal as it is lightweight and portable, and you can easily pack your painting supplies.

Size and Weight of Paintings and Easel Selection

The size and weight of your artwork can also influence your choice of easel.

If you work on large canvases, you need an easel that can support their weight and size, such as an H-Frame easel.

If you work with small canvases, a tabletop easel is the best option as it provides adequate support and is easy to move around.

If you prefer to paint in a variety of locations, a French easel is ideal as it is portable and can hold both your canvas and painting supplies.


Choosing the right easel is crucial to your painting experience and the final outcome of your artwork. With this guide, we hope you can make an informed decision on the type of easel that suits your painting style, medium, and canvas size.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, selecting the right easel can cause a positive impact on your artwork and your artistic journey. Happy painting!

Expanding the Article on Choosing the Best Easel for Your Painting Needs

Workspace and Easel Selection

Workspace and Easel Selection

One of the essential factors to consider when selecting the best easel for your painting needs is your workspace. The size and layout of your workspace can determine the type of easel you can comfortably use.

For example, if you have limited space, a tabletop easel is the best choice. It can sit on your desk and hold your canvas securely while you paint.

It’s also portable, allowing you to easily move it around.

If you have a dedicated studio space, an H-Frame easel may be the best option as it is sturdy and provides more stability when working on large canvases.

It’s also designed to take up less floor space, allowing you more room in your studio.

If you prefer to work outside, a French easel can be ideal.

Its compact and lightweight design makes it easy to transport, and it can hold your painting supplies as well as your canvas.

Mediums and Easel Selection

Another critical factor to consider when choosing an easel is the medium you use. Different mediums require different types of easels to ensure a comfortable and productive painting experience.

For example, watercolor painters can use a flat horizontal easel that sits on a desk or table. It allows the artist to create a wash effect by laying the paper flat and pouring pigment.

Acrylic painters can use an A-Frame easel that allows for adjusting the height and angle of the canvas to control the flow of paint.

Oil painters can use an H-Frame easel that provides more support and allows artists to work on larger canvases for oil paintings that take longer to dry.

H-Frame Easels and

Giant Easels

H-Frame Easels

H-Frame easels are known for their sturdy and robust structure, making them ideal for artists who work on large or heavy canvases. They’re designed with a horizontal beam that’s shaped like the letter “H,” with two vertical poles at the front and back of the easel base.

One of the advantages of an H-Frame easel is its ability to hold a canvas securely in place, preventing any wobbling or shifting while painting. It also offers versatile adjustments for comfortable painting positions.

H-Frame easels are typically more expensive than other easels due to their robust and detailed design. However, the investment is worth it for professional artists and those working on large, heavy canvases.

Giant Easels

For artists working on massive canvases, giant easels are essential. These easels are designed specifically for artists who work on murals or extremely large paintings.

Giant easels are larger in size and can hold up to 500 pounds of weight.

One of the advantages of giant easels is their ability to adjust to various angles and heights, allowing artists to position their canvas at the appropriate level for painting.

The platform’s sturdy design ensures that the canvas remains secured in place while painting.

Giant easels may be overwhelming to use and are typically designed for professional artists or art institutions that require them frequently.


Choosing the right easel for your painting needs can make all the difference in your artwork’s final outcome and your painting experience. Consider factors such as your painting style, medium, workspace, and canvas size when selecting the best easel for you, whether it’s a tabletop easel for small canvases, an A-frame easel for versatility, or an H-frame easel or giant easel for heavy or oversized canvases.

Choose an easel that suits your needs and aids your artistic journey.

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A-Frame or Lyre Easels and

Single-Mast Easels

A-Frame or Lyre Easels

A-Frame or Lyre Easels are ideal for artists who work on smaller-sized canvases or prefer a compact and versatile option. The A-Frame easel is named for its shape, which is similar to that of the letter “A.” These easels provide an adjustable and sturdy support system for canvases up to 44 inches in height.

Lyre easels got their name from the lyre, a stringed instrument. These easels have a curved shape and resemble the lyre’s shape, which allows for additional support for the canvas.

They are also adjustable and can hold canvases sized up to 38 inches.

Both the A-Frame and Lyre ease’s simplicity in design makes them ideal for classrooms, workshops, and art studios.

Single-Mast Easels

Single-mast Easels offer an adjustable system for painting and are suitable for artists who need a versatile option. Single-mast easels are sturdy, lightweight, and take up minimal space.

They have a vertical pole at the center, supporting the canvas, and allow for height adjustment as necessary.

One of the advantages of single-mast easels is that they take up minimal space and can support canvases of various sizes with a solid upright design.

These easels can also be used in various types of locations, such as a studio, classroom, or outdoor area.

Tabletop Art Easels and

Convertible or Hybrid Easels

Tabletop Art Easels

Tabletop Art Easels are compact easels that are designed to hold smaller canvases or paper. These easels are perfect for artists who want a simple and portable option for painting on-the-go.

They’re usually lightweight, take up minimal space, and are easy to store. Tabletop art easels come in various designs, from the basic wooden model to more sophisticated models that include built-in storage.

These easels are ideal for artists working at home, in a small studio space, or while traveling.

Convertible or Hybrid Easels

Convertible or Hybrid Easels are versatile and adaptable easels that can accommodate various art forms, from drawing and painting to sketching and drafting. These easels combine the features of several different types of easels into one, providing a multi-functional option for artists.

Convertible or Hybrid easels can convert from an A-Frame easel design to a tabletop easel design, allowing for adaptation to the artist’s changing needs. They also have adjustable height settings, making them suitable for various canvas sizes.

The versatility of convertible easels makes them a favorite for artists who require a dynamic easel option.


Choosing the right easel for your painting needs requires careful consideration of the style of painting, medium, canvas size, layout of the workspace, and personal preferences. From the compact and portable tabletop easels to large and robust easels suitable for giant canvases, there is an easel that suits every artist’s needs.

Additionally, hybrid easels offer a dynamic option that can adapt to various art forms, providing more flexibility than traditional easels. Consider your unique artistic style and preferences before choosing the ideal easel for you.

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Portable or En Plein Air Easels and

Bench Easels or Art Horses

Portable or En Plein Air Easels

Portable easels, also known as en plein air easels, are designed specifically for outdoor painting. These easels prioritize portability, allowing artists to carry them to various locations to capture the beauty of nature.

En plein air easels are lightweight, compact, and easy to assemble and disassemble. They often come with adjustable legs, allowing artists to set their canvas at different heights and angles.

The durability of portable easels is crucial, as they need to withstand the elements when used outdoors.

These easels are a favorite among landscape painters, as they provide the stability and flexibility needed to work on location.

They also often include storage compartments for art supplies, making it convenient for artists to carry all their essentials with them.

Bench Easels or Art Horses

Bench easels, also known as art horses, are versatile tools that provide both a seat and an easel in one. These easels come in various designs but typically consist of a sturdy bench-like structure with an adjustable ledge that can hold canvases or boards.

Art horses are favored by artists who prefer to sit while they paint. The bench provides a comfortable seat, and the adjustable ledge allows for easy positioning of the canvas at different angles.

These easels are especially popular among painters who work with wet or loose media that may drip or run, as the inclined ledge helps to prevent any damage to the artwork.

Art horses are also valuable for life drawing or figure painting, as they provide a stable surface for supporting drawing boards or canvases while providing a comfortable seated position for the artist.

Display Easels and Children’s Easels

Display Easels

Display easels are not meant for painting but are instead designed to showcase finished artworks. These easels are commonly used in art galleries, museums, exhibitions, or even at home to display paintings, photographs, or other visual media.

Display easels often have adjustable height mechanisms and secure holders for the artwork. They come in various sizes and designs, ranging from simple wooden easels to more elaborate metal stands.

Some display easels are also collapsible for easy storage and transport.

When choosing a display easel, consider the size and weight of the artwork you plan to showcase, as well as the aesthetic design that will complement the overall presentation.

Children’s Easels

Children’s easels are specially designed for young artists to nurture their creativity and engage in art activities. These easels are typically smaller in size, made with child-friendly materials, and designed with safety in mind.

Children’s easels often include a whiteboard or blackboard surface, as well as clips or holders for paper or canvases. Some models even have additional storage trays for art supplies.

These easels encourage children to explore their artistic abilities and provide a safe and dedicated space for them to express themselves.

When selecting a children’s easel, consider the sturdiness of the construction, the ease of adjusting the height, and the overall durability to withstand the energetic creativity of young artists.


Selecting the right easel for your artistic needs involves considering various factors such as portability, workspace, painting style, canvas size, and the specific requirements of your medium. From portable en plein air easels for painting outdoors to bench easels or art horses that provide a comfortable seated position, there is an easel designed to cater to each artist’s unique preferences.

Display easels are valuable for showcasing finished artwork, while children’s easels provide young artists with a safe and engaging way to explore their creative potential. Take the time to evaluate your needs and preferences to find the perfect easel that will enhance your artistic journey.

Expanding the Article on Choosing the Best Easel for Your Artistic Needs

Positioning of Easel,

Origin of the Term Easel,

Sitting and Painting at an Easel,

Best Easel for Beginners

Positioning of Easel

The positioning of your easel plays a crucial role in creating a comfortable and efficient painting experience. Proper positioning can help prevent strain or discomfort while also allowing for better control and accuracy in your brushwork.

Here are a few tips to consider when setting up your easel:

– Stand directly in front of your easel to have the best view of your canvas. This allows you to see the artwork from the same perspective as your intended viewer.

– Position your easel at a height where your arm can comfortably reach the canvas without overreaching or straining. Adjust the height as necessary to ensure your strokes are fluid and natural.

– Make sure your easel is stable and secure. It should not wobble or shake while you paint.

If needed, use additional support or stabilize the base of the easel. – Consider the lighting in your workspace.

Place your easel in a well-lit area or invest in additional lighting to ensure proper illumination of your artwork. Shadows can affect your perception and accuracy when painting.

Origin of the Term Easel

The term “easel” originates from the Old Dutch word “ezel,” meaning “donkey.” This name is derived from early easels, which had a similar structure to a donkey’s back with an adjustable support system. Over time, the term easel evolved to describe the portable stands used by artists to hold their canvases or boards while painting.

The simplicity and utility of the design led to its enduring usage in the art world.

Sitting and Painting at an Easel

While painting at an easel is often associated with standing, many artists choose to paint while sitting for various reasons. Sitting can provide comfort for longer painting sessions and decreases the strain on the legs and back.

Here are a few considerations for sitting and painting at an easel:

– Adjust the height of your easel to match the level of your seated position. Ensure that your canvas is at eye level to maintain a comfortable viewing angle without straining your neck or back.

– Use a comfortable chair that provides proper support for your posture. Consider a chair with adjustable height and backrest to accommodate your preferences and maintain proper alignment.

– Keep your painting supplies within easy reach. Organizing your brushes, paints, and other materials nearby ensures that you don’t have to constantly reach or stretch, allowing for more uninterrupted painting time.

Best Easel for Beginners

For beginners exploring the world of art, selecting the right easel is crucial to building a solid foundation. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when choosing an easel as a beginner:

– Look for a versatile easel that can accommodate various canvas sizes and angles.

This allows you to experiment with different styles and techniques without limitations. – Consider an easel with adjustable features, such as height and tilt adjustments.

This flexibility enables you to find a comfortable working position as you explore different painting approaches. – Opt for an easel made with durable materials that can withstand regular use and adjustments.

Beginners often spend more time practicing and experimenting, so durability is essential for longevity. – For beginners on a budget, there are affordable options available, such as compact tabletop easels or entry-level A-frame easels.

These easels offer a cost-effective solution while still providing stability and functionality for learning and practice.


Selecting the right easel involves considering factors such as positioning, comfort, stability, and functionality. Properly positioning your easel allows for comfortable working conditions and optimal vision of your artwork.

Understanding the origin of the term easel adds a historical perspective to its usage in the art world. Whether you choose to sit or stand while painting at an easel, prioritize comfort and proper posture to enhance your artistic experience.

Beginners should seek an easel that provides versatility, adjustability, durability, and affordability. By taking these factors into account, you can find the perfect easel to support your artistic journey.

Choosing the best easel is essential for artists as it significantly impacts their painting experience and final artwork. Factors such as the type of easel, positioning, and suitability for different styles, mediums, and canvas sizes should be carefully considered.

From the robust H-Frame easels for large canvases to portable en plein air easels for outdoor painting, there is a wide range of options to suit every artist’s needs. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned artist, finding the right easel can enhance your creativity and productivity.

Ultimately, investing time and thought into selecting the perfect easel will contribute to a more enjoyable and successful artistic journey.

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