Finding Your Perfect Easel: A Guide to Choosing the Best Artist Easel Stand

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Painting is a profoundly personal experience. The relationship between artist and canvas goes beyond just brush and paint – your tools act as an extension of your creative spirit. And no tool is more vital than the easel. This sturdy framework provides the foundation on which your masterpiece is built. With your creativity in hand and passion in heart, your easel transforms blank canvas into breathtaking art.

But with so many options on the market today, how do you choose the right easel for your needs? With cheap aluminum tripods costing under $50 and heavyweight wood studio easels running over $600, it can be difficult to determine what makes a quality easel stand out. Strength and stability, adjustability, workspace size, portability, and price are all important factors to balance.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key considerations when shopping for the perfect artist easel. I’ll provide specific recommendations for the top 5 easels available, answering your most frequently asked questions. You’ll learn insider tips for determining quality, evaluating features, and setting up your new easel with proper care. With the right know-how, you can find an easel stand that not only meets your needs but inspires you to take your creative practice to new heights!

Key Factors To Consider When Choosing An Artist Easel Stand

When evaluating your options, keep these key criteria in mind:

Strength and Stability

This is arguably the most important requirement for your easel. Nothing kills inspiration faster than a rickety, shaky stand! A quality easel should feel sturdy and secure, holding your canvas firmly in place without rocking or slipping.

Consider the overall weight and bulk – heavier stands with wide bases tend to offer the best stability. Steel or wood construction is superior to lightweight aluminum. Wide leg spreads also prevent tipping, while non-slip feet provide traction. Lockable wheels allow mobility while keeping the easel firmly planted when locked.

Adjustability

Having options to adjust the height, tilt, and position of your canvas enables you to paint comfortably whether sitting or standing. Fully customizable easels allow you to find that “sweet spot” for your artwork.

Look for:

  • Telescoping legs or joints to adjust the overall height and level
  • Tilting features on the vertical canvas support, sometimes called the mast
  • Adjustable canvas arms to secure different canvas sizes
  • Movable utility trays and side shelves to hold supplies

The more adjustable your easel, the more versatility you’ll have in your studio.

Portability

If you plan to move your easel around your studio space or transport it to outdoor painting locations, portability is key. Compact folding easels provide ultimate mobility.

Consider the overall size and weight – aim for less than 20 lbs for easy transport. Folding legs, telescoping masts, and detachable canvas arms all enable quick breakdowns. Wheeled studio carts also offer portability for heavier easels.

Just be mindful of stability – portable easels usually compromise on weight to improve mobility. Make sure it feels sturdy enough for your painting style.

Ease of Use

You want an easel that’s intuitive to operate and comfortable to use for extended periods. Poorly designed mechanisms can be cumbersome and draining.

Ergonomic hand grips make height adjustments smooth and easy. Counterbalanced arms enable effortless canvas positioning. Tension adjustable joints minimize wobble without being stiff. Weighted bases provide stability and make tilting or rotating the easel feel natural.

An easel that feels like an extension of your body allows you to focus fully on your art.

Workspace Area

Consider both the vertical and horizontal workspace needed for your preferred painting style. Larger canvases or energetic brushwork require ample room to avoid feeling constrained.

Most artists recommend at least 18 inches of vertical clearance above the canvas, with up to 5 feet for standing use. Horizontal workspace spans 2-3 feet total between canvas arms. Side trays range from 10 x 10 inches up to full work tables.

Take measurements to visualize the space needed so your easel accommodates both you and your art.

Durability

No artist wants to replace their easel annually. High quality materials that resist corrosion, wear, and warping will give you a lifetime of use.

Aluminum, stainless steel, and iron constructions prevent rust. Powder coated finishes add protection. Solid hardwoods like beech or maple withstand moisture.

Examine joints closely – welded connections last longer than screw fastenings. Avoid plastic components, which deteriorate and loosen quickly. A well-made easel has a reassuring heft that says “built to last.”

Price

Easel stands range tremendously in price from under $100 for basic portable options to over $600 for professional studio models. Consider it an investment – a quality easel can last decades, so determine your budget based on years of use.

Of course, price is not the only factor when evaluating quality construction. Even affordable options around $100-150 can offer durability and features if well-made. For intermediate artists, expect to spend $200-400 for greater strength, versatility, and workspace. Professional-grade easels run $400-600+.

With an understanding of these key criteria, let’s explore my top easel recommendations in each category.

Top 5 Artist Easel Stand Recommendations

After researching dozens of models on the market today, I’ve narrowed it down to the 5 best easel stands across a range of materials, features, and price points. I’ll share detailed reviews to help you determine which is the right fit.

1. Budget Pick: Arteza Field Easel Stand

If you’re just starting out and want a basic portable easel that won’t break the bank, the Arteza Field Easel is a great choice. Priced under $100, it provides good functionality for recreational painting.

This lightweight aluminum tripod easel weighs only 15 lbs but provides decent strength thanks to the triangular leg design. The wide stance helps minimize shaking while sharp spikes on the rubber feet grip surfaces when working outside.

The telescoping legs allow for adjustable heights between 39 – 64 inches to accommodate sitting or standing. Simply loosen the leg locks, extend to the desired length, then tighten again to secure in place. Unfortunately the center column does not tilt for angling your canvas.

FOLDING DESIGN…Transporting the Arteza is quick with the tripod legs designed to fold up neatly together. The canvas support arms detach easily from the main mast. An integrated carry handle enables easy mobility.

FOR BASICS…With plastic knobs and basic leg locks, the long term durability is questionable for heavy usage. But occasional painters will find it provides solid performance for smaller canvases up to 34 inches wide.

Well-suited for plein air painting and working outside, the Arteza Field Easel offers the best features under $100. For a basic portable easel it excels, just don’t expect studio level quality.

Pros

  • Inexpensive at under $100
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Spiked feet help outdoors
  • Folds up neatly for storage

Cons

  • Loosen and wobble over time
  • Maximum canvas size 34 inches
  • No tilt adjustment on mast

2. Bestselling: Monument Setin Supreme Easel

For artists seeking professional studio quality on a budget, the Monument Setin Supreme is the bestselling wood easel under $200. Excellent stability plus smooth adjustability make this a great all around option.

Weighing around 26 lbs, the weight provides reassuring stability while remaining manageable for periodic mobility. The solid beech wood construction resists warping from moisture over years of use. Large rubber floor protectors grip surfaces while preventing sliding.

The ratchet lever allows adjustment from heights of 34 – 64 inches to suit your painting position. Tension on the lever can be tightened or loosen based on preference. The canvas tilts vertically from flat up to 90 degrees by a simple metal pole.

STURDY CONSTRUCTION…Unlike cheaper alternatives, the Setin Supreme uses quality joinery with rabbet joints and glue rather than just screws. The result is excellent strength under load without wobble.

ROOMY WORKSPACE…With nearly 3 feet between canvas stiles and an expansive 22 x 28″ vertical work zone, it provides ample creative space for even the most energetic painter. Trays on both sides hold plenty of supplies.

For artists ready to upgrade from flimsy aluminum models, the Monument Setin Supreme offers professional quality construction without breaking your budget. The stability and smoothness justify making it your primary studio easel.

Pros

  • Affordably priced under $200
  • Solid beech wood resists warping
  • Super stable with no shaking
  • Spacious horizontal workspace

Cons

  • Heavier than aluminum models
  • Assembly required upon arrival
  • Maximum canvas width 34 inches

3. Most Adjustable: Design Hovis Studio Easel

Serious artists looking for high end performance need maximum adjustability. The Design Hovis Studio Easel delivers with fully customizable height, tilt, and workspace positioning.

The heavy cast iron base provides rock solid stability even when fully extended. At 31 inches across, you never have to worry about tipping. The powder coated finish resists chipping and corrosion while gliding smoothly when moving around your studio.

You can adjust the height between 32 – 70 inches with the ergonomic crank handle. The gear mechanism provides the perfect balance of tension – stable but easy to operate. The canvas tilts vertically from flat to 90 degrees with a simple squeeze handle..

COMPLETE FLEXIBILITY…Every joint and connection is adjustable for the ideal angle. Pivoting side trays swing into the perfect position. You can even change the seat height for sitting or standing comfort.

BUILT TO LAST…The thick steel tubing, commercial grade casters, and heavy duty springs are tested to over 10,000 cycles. Designed for daily professional use, this easel will serve you for a career.

For artists who desire high end performance, unmatched stability, and buttery smooth adjustments, the Design Hovis Studio Easel is a dream come true. The exquisite engineering provides the adjustable freedom creative work demands.

Pros

  • Fully adjustable height and tilt
  • Super stable cast iron base
  • Smooth, easy adjustment cranks
  • Pivoting side trays increase workspace

Cons

  • Heavy at 85 lbs
  • Higher price tag, but worth it
  • Assembly required on arrival

4. For Oils – Blick Studio Easel

Painting with oils requires some unique considerations from your easel. The Blick Studio Easel solves these expertly with features tailored specifically for oil painters.

First, stability. With an expansive triangular base spanning 31 inches and weight over 50 lbs, shaking is eliminated. The beech wood construction offers durability along with a warm aesthetic. Locking casters grip the floor securely when stationary.

The canvas tilt adjusts up to 80 degrees with a simple crank handle. This enables working on multiple areas without disturbing the canvas. A handy metal app holder and brush box prevent mess while keeping supplies nearby.

OIL & SOLVENT TRAY…The best features is the solvent-resistant drip tray spanning 18 inches to catch drips and oily residue. The removable stainless steel palette tray accommodates large 12″x16″ pads.

DESIGNED FOR OIL ARTISTS…Often overlooked details like brush holders, palette space, and drip trays make a true difference in oil painting convenience. Blick understands the unique needs with purpose-driven engineering.

For artists working in oil, the specialized design details of the Blick Studio Easel provide an optimized painting station. The incredible stability leaves you confident with every dab of pigment.

Pros

  • Super stable beech wood construction
  • Large drip trays catch oil residue
  • Tilt handle makes painting at an angle easy
  • Removable stainless palette tray

Cons

  • Weight makes transport difficult
  • Expensive but designed to last years

5. For Outdoors – French Artisan Easel

Painting in plein air comes with special considerations. The French Artisan Field Easel provides perfect functionality for outdoor painting thanks to smart portability.

Weighing under 15 lbs, the lightweight beechwood and aluminum construction folds down for easy transport and storage. Extend the tripod legs to a spacious 59 inches high for standing painting. Walking is stable with smooth rolling while a foot lock secures in place.

The canvas is held snugly in place by spring loaded arms that conform to different sizes. A clever work box below the canvas hides paints and brushes out of sight but close at hand.

TAKE IT ANYWHERE…Folded down, the easel is compact enough for a backpack and under 7 lbs. The unfolding and setup takes under 60 seconds – perfect for capturing fleeting light.

STURDY TRIPOD DESIGN…Despite its portable size, the easel feels remarkably stable thanks to the triangular leg design. The beechwood and aluminum materials provide rigidity without excessive weight.

For artists needing an easel that can trek anywhere at a moment’s notice, the French Artisan Field Easel is a perfect choice. Despite its portable size, it offers ample workspace and stability to create a masterpiece wherever inspiration strikes.

Pros

  • Super lightweight under 15 lbs
  • Foldable tripod design packs up neatly
  • Canvas arms adapt to various sizes
  • Built-in paint box and tray

Cons

  • Not as stable as heavy studio easels
  • Smaller work area than full-size options

With countless products on the market, I hope these reviews provide helpful guidance in selecting the perfect easel for your needs. Keep your individual painting style and workspace in mind, and you’ll find a model that becomes an inspiring creative partner for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Artist Easel Stands

What are the main differences between wood vs. metal easel stands?

Wood and metal each offer unique advantages:

Wood – Dense hardwoods like beech or maple provide exceptional stability thanks to the weight. Wood also has a warm, classic aesthetic perfect for studios aiming for a traditional look and feel. The main downside is vulnerability to moisture and environmental conditions causing warping or cracking over time if not properly maintained.

Metal – Aluminum, steel, or iron stands resist rusting and hold up well in moist environments. Metal construction results in lighter easels for better portability. However, light metals like aluminum may sacrifice stability for mobility. Cheaper metals can also lack the elegant refinement of fine woodWORKMANSHIP.

In general, wood excels for studio stability while metal provides a mobile, utilitarian option. However, well-made models in both categories can satisfy any artist’s needs.

How much workspace area do I need for my projects?

A standard easel provides approximately 2-3 feet of horizontal workspace between the canvas stiles. This accommodates small to medium canvases around 11″x14″ up to 18″x24″.

For large canvases, look for extended arms and trays providing 36 inches or more of total workspace. If working on multiple canvases, some easels even allow side by side mounting.

The general recommendation is 16-18 inches of clearance above eye level for comfortable overhead arm movement. For taller artists painting while standing, consider easels providing up to 5 feet of vertical clearance.

And don’t forget side trays! Optimal easels have mounting points for table attachments to hold ample paints, brushes, and other supplies in easy reach.

Should I get a standing or sitting easel? What’s the difference?

Standing easels position the canvas higher – usually over 4 feet tall. This lets the artist paint from a standing position with ample overhead arm movement. Standing easels also allow painting closer to the canvas surface.

Sitting easels place the canvas lower – around 2.5-3.5 feet high. This suits a seated painting position. Having your eyes even with the canvas center is optimal. Sitting easels offer more lap space for supplies.

Many quality easels bridge the gap by providing adjustable height mechanisms with telescoping legs or collars. These let you shift from sitting to standing height as desired.

If purchasing just one easel, opt for height adjustability. If budget allows, choose a dedicated standing easel for the studio and a field easel for seated plein air painting.

Are wheels absolutely necessary for an easel stand?

Wheels provide two main benefits – mobility when wanted combined with firm stability when locked in place. However, they aren’t strictly necessary for most artists. Consider these factors:

  • Do you plan to regularly move your easel around the studio between sessions? Mobility enables dynamic creativity.
  • Does your painting style require firm footing for energetic brush strokes? Locking wheels prevent sliding.
  • Is your easel heavy? Wheels make repositioning easier for large wooden models.
  • Do you have steps or uneven terrain between painting locations? Wheels ease transport over obstacles.
  • Are you tight on space? Wheels let you neatly tuck the easel away in a corner.

While convenient, wheels do add complexity and potential points of failure. For artists wanting simplicity or working mainly outdoors, wheeled bases aren’t essential.

What are easel stands made of that won’t rust over time?

Aluminum resists corrosion and provides smooth adjustability – ideal for artists on the go. Look for marine grade aluminum for maximum weatherproofing.

Stainless steel earns its name by truly being stainless despite exposure to moisture. It provides excellent structural rigidity. Steel legs with wooden bodies give a best of both worlds combination.

How can I clean and maintain my easel stand?

Regular cleaning and maintenance will keep your easel in peak condition for many years of creative work. Here are some tips:

  • Wipe down adjustable joints and sliding parts with a dry cloth after each session to remove paint drips or residue. This prevents sticking and seizing up over time.
  • Occasionally apply lubricant to adjustable screws or sliding joints. Light machine oil, wax, or silicone spray help the mechanisms glide smoothly.
  • Tighten any loose screws or connections. Check joints regularly as vibrations from use can loosen fasteners over time.
  • Keep unfinished wood easels clean by gently wiping with a damp cloth and allowing to fully dry. Apply beeswax wood finish to protect from moisture.
  • Use touch up paint to cover any scratches or chips which could allow rust. Enamel spray paints adhere best for metal easels.
  • Periodically level and realign the legs and mast. Floor vibrations and small movements can gradually shift alignment.
  • If using outdoors, wipe down the easel after painting sessions to remove pollen, dirt, and moisture that can accumulate.
  • Loosen the canvas arm clamps when storing your easel so tension is removed.

With regular maintenance and care, a quality easel should last for decades of inspired creativity!

Are there specialty easels for specific mediums like oils or watercolor?

Yes, specialty easels tailor their design to optimize the experience for certain mediums:

Oil painting – Features like drip trays, brush holders, and large removable palettes accommodate oil’s unique qualities. Sturdy bases prevent tipping when applying thick, heavy paint.

Watercolor – Easels tilt back nearly flat so gravity doesn’t cause drips. Large removable palettes sit just below the canvas for easy mixing access. Lightweight construction suits frequent transport.

Pastel – Pastel easels angle slightly forward so your art slopes toward you. This prevents crumbling chalk from falling off. Built-in holders keep sticks organized.

Plein air painting – Field easels collapse into portable packages for transport. Tripod designs provide stability for outdoor conditions. Telescoping legs and tilts accommodate seated or standing.

While versatile easels work for most mediums, you’ll gain advantages from using a specialized easel aligned to your specific style.

How do I adjust and set up my easel for the first time?

Setting up your new easel is exciting! Here are some tips for the initial adjustment and assembly:

  • Review any assembly instructions and identify the parts. Hand tighten screws only – over tightening can strip fasteners.
  • Adjust the legs to your ideal standing or sitting height. Mark the setting with a piece of tape for quick recall.
  • Tilt the canvas to a comfortable painting angle – around 10-30 degrees is optimal. Again mark the position.
  • Install the canvas ledges at the desired width apart. Approx. 24 inches suits most canvases.
  • Attach side trays if included. Position within easy reach.
  • Load your palette, brushes and paints into the holders. You want your tools in arm’s reach.
  • Make any final tweaks before getting started. Play with the angles until everything feels just right!

Take it slow and don’t force any stiff joints. A little lubricant can help loosen up new mechanisms. Adjusting your easel to your body will make painting a joy!

How can I make my workspace more ergonomic when using an easel?

Tailoring your easel area for comfort and efficiency prevents fatigue and injury during long creative sessions:

  • Position your seat height so your eyes align with the canvas center. This prevents neck strain from looking up or down excessively.
  • Arrange supplies at arm’s reach to avoid repetitive leaning and stretching. Side tables attach conveniently.
  • Tilt the canvas angle from 10-30 degrees to minimize awkward wrist positions. Play with the angle to find your sweet spot.
  • Optimize lighting direction to avoid glare. Illuminating the canvas from upper left or right opens up shadows.
  • Take standing breaks periodically if sitting for long stints. Switching postures prevents soreness and stiffness.
  • Consider a standing desk chair with no back to perch when upright painting. These provide rest without constraint.
  • Check that leg and elbow angles are at 90 degrees or greater to enable free joint movement.
  • Set an alarm to remind you to stretch and flex your wrists, fingers, neck and back every 30-60 minutes.

Little adjustments add up to a healthy studio setup that supports hours of creative time without pain or strain.

Are easels safe for young children to use?

Easels can provide fantastic creative enrichment for children, but special precautions help ensure safety:

  • Select lightweight easels under 10 lbs to prevent toppling accidents. Hardwoods or metal stands are too heavy.
  • Seek easels with solid triangular leg bases vs. narrow bipods for stability. Clamp to desks or tables initially.
  • Start supervised and limit unaccompanied time based on maturity level. Assist reaching upper areas to avoid climbing.
  • Ensure easel setup is on flat, level surfaces in an open, uncluttered area to prevent falls or collisions.
  • Use non-toxic paints and art supplies labeled safe for children. Monitor that materials avoid mouth contact.
  • Position canvas at chest level for best leverage and visibility. Raise as kids grow.
  • Show them proper setup and collapse to avoid pinched fingers or instability. Monitor initial use.
  • Encourage gentle hand motions and explain possible tipping dangers to build safety awareness.

With the right easel model and a few precautions, painting safely develops creativity, fine motor skills, and self-esteem!

Conclusion

I hope this detailed guide has helped highlight what to look for when choosing the perfect easel stand for your creative needs and preferences. While reviewing features and comparing models can feel daunting, simply focus on stability, adjustability, weight, and size as key indicators of quality and long term performance.

Think about your unique painting style and space constraints to narrow down the ideal blend of workspace, mobility, and durability. Don’t underestimate setup – take time adjusting the height, tilt, and workflow to your body for a comfortable studio experience.

An easel opens new worlds of expression and exploration with canvas laid out invitingly before you. Whether sitting at a kitchen table or trekking into stunning landscapes, creativity flows when the right easel becomes an inspiring companion. With brush in hand and colors waiting to be mixed, the joy is in the process – savoring each moment, from first mark to final flourish.

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