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art easel, blank canvas, and paintbrushes
Easel, Canvas, and Paintbrushes
easel An easel is a frame that is designed to support an artist's canvas, a marker board, presentation materials, or drawings.  Some easels may simply be used to display art, photos, signs, or ceramics.  Easels can be made of wood or metal, and are generally intended for specific purposes.  Some easels are stationary while others are lightweight and portable.  Easels are widely used by artists and business professionals as well as by teachers and children.

Artist Easels

Artist easels are designed to support an artist's canvas, board, or paper, and are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials.  Most easels, except those designed for display purposes, are working easels.  These art easels can be used for all types of drawing and sketching as well as for oil, acrylic, and watercolor painting.  Sketching easels and box easels are portable and easy to carry outdoors, while studio easels, meant for indoor use, are usually heavier.  Studio easels may also have wheels for easier movement.  Table easels save floor space and allow the artist to easily work at a table.

french easel in a garden
Artist Painting on a French Easel in a Garden

Some art easels have adjustable legs and canvas trays, enabling artists to customize work surface heights and angles to their liking.  For instance, watercolor painting often requires a horizontal surface.  Pastel artists need an easel that tilts forward so the dust will not fall back on the artist's work.  (An easel with multiple tilt settings is ideal for pastel work.)  An oil painter may need an easel that is more vertical, so dust will not settle on the painting while it is drying.

Display Easels

menu board display easel Display easels may be used to display artwork and photography or signs and menus.  They may stand on the floor or sit on top of tables or furniture.  Display easels tend to be decorative, and vary from rustic wood styles to metal in many finishes and elegant designs.  They can be designed to fit just about any decor.  Some feature grooves or hooks to hold bowls or plates.  You might find a display easel standing on the sidewalk outside your local cafe, listing the day's menu offerings.  Display easels are also used in art galleries to display finished art.  Match your display easel style to the mood of the artwork.  For instance, pair a fancy design with a gold frame or a rustic design with a classic western painting.

Presentation Easels

How often have you been called to present the results of a project or an idea you have researched?  You need a method to present your findings in an organized manner so that everyone can see your graphs, charts, and drawings.  Easels are ideal for presenting this sort of information in boardrooms, classrooms, and small group settings.  Presentation easels are available in a variety of styles and writing surfaces.  A flip chart easel may have a paper pad for writing.  Or you may choose a dry erase or fabric tack board surface.  Some rotate between two different sides or have magnetic surfaces.  Whatever choice you make, presentation easels make it easier to present your information to your audience.

This Toastmaster article provides some valuable insights concerning the use of flip charts and marker boards as presentation tools.

Easels For Children

Teachers use children's easels as an instructional aid and children use them for drawing and painting pictures.  Children's easels are available with large paper pads or with flannel board, magnetic board, whiteboard, or chalkboard surfaces.  They may have storage spaces for felt cutouts, magnetic letters, markers, and accessories.  Other easels hold sheets of paper for drawing or painting.  Child size easels adjust to children's heights, and may include double sides or even 3 or 4 sides for multiple artists.

The New Jersey Department of Education offers guidelines for the use of art easels in preschool classrooms.

Artists' Easel and Drafting Table Manufacturers

  • The Easel Shop
    Custom designed artists' easels made of solid Pennsylvania red oak.
  • Display Easels
    UK-based supplier of oak and cherry display easels and lecterns.
  • Artist Easel
    Offers the Valpod, a professionally-designed lightweight portable artist's easel.
  • Sun-Eden Artists' Gear
    Portable easels for pastel artists, oil artists, and watercolor artists.
  • American Easel
    Manufactures a wide range of wooden easels, paint stations, and palettes.
  • Xylem Design
    Offers a broad selection of display easels, decorative easels, and pedestals.
  • The Sorg Easel
    Manufacturer of a unique studio easel for professional and serious amateur artists.
  • Take-It-Easel
    Offers a versatile, handcrafted field easel that is both lightweight and sturdy.

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little girl painting a picture on an easel
Little Girl Painting a Picture

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