An easel is a device for holding an artist's canvas or board. Easels come in various shapes and sizes. Some feature extra components like drawers for supplies or clips to hold down a canvas. The best easel for you may be different than the best easel for another artist because of the wide variety of uses artists put easels to.
There are many types of easels. An A-frame easel has two front legs that form the shape of an A. A Lobo easel has four legs for heavy canvases, and multiple hinge points to change the height and angle of the canvas holder. An H-frame easel has a sturdy H-shaped base and a long canvas holder for very tall canvases. A wall-mount easel does not have legs but instead attaches to a wall. A bench easel offers the artist a place to hold a canvas and a place to sit at the same time. A display easel simply holds up a canvas. A table easel has short legs and it is designed for use on a table. A French easel has folding legs, a canvas holder, and a drawer. A pochade box is similar to a French easel but without legs. It is smaller and has a hinged lid upon which the canvas sits.
Which is the best easel for you depends on the size of the canvas you'll use, the setting for the easel, and your budget. An A-frame easel works well in the studio and can be taken outside if it is collapsible and has adjustable-height legs. A Lobo easel is suited to a large studio since its sturdy base allows for wide and tall canvases. Its many hinges also allow the artist to adjust the canvas resting-angle and height quickly. An H-frame easel is also used as a studio easel because it is not portable; it will work well for you if you paint tall pieces since H-frame easels are often made with an 82-inch mast, or canvas holder. A table easel rests on a table and holds a small canvas while you sit in a chair. It can also be used to display a canvas for a show. A French easel is made for travelling, since the legs and canvas support collapse to the size of a carrying case. It also has storage for art supplies and even a sketchbook. Wall-mount easels hold canvases at different angles against a wall and are helpful if you are working in a small room since the easel does not take up any floor space. A pochade box is lightweight and easy to carry outside for plein air painting.
When choosing the best easel for you, go with an established brand. Established brands include Klopfenstein Art House, Best, Spectrum, Jack Richeson, Mabef, Jullian, Guerrilla Painter and Ultrecht. These companies make easels for a variety of uses.
Many easels come with additional features to make them stand out. For wall-mounted easels, look for a crank that allows a heavy canvas to be moved up and down, as well as adjustable hinges that allow you to position the canvas within a useful range of angles. For French easels and pochade boxes, look for secure supply drawers large enough to conveniently carry your supplies. For H-frame, A-frame and Lobo easels, look for extra shelves for supplies.