Best Tabletop Easel for Travel, Events, or Limited Space

Are you looking for the best tabletop easel for your painting needs? Not to mention for display and presentation purposes, too.) Intrigued with the floor length ones, but are either short on space or looking for something easy to tote with you, in the case of taking classes, or just being away from home? Well I hear you.

In this article I will discuss the advantages of using one of these kinds of easels as opposed to the larger “studio style” and then I’ll talk about some options that I think you will enjoy and find helpful for your situation. Ok, let’s dive in!

Pin Me, Crafters…


Main Advantages of Tabletop Easels

I always preferred smaller tabletop easels to the bigger ones for various reasons. One, when I got started with classes we all had to share a room with long tables so we had limited space. A folding small easel made sense. Also, my instructor had back trouble and so he wasn’t keen on standing to paint for long periods.

a frame easelI do happen to own a floor length easel. It is beautiful and solid wood. This baby is sturdy for sure, having required assembly. Only thing is its gawky. I also have to be careful how I move it as I may have hit the ceiling fan once. Yikes. It does not have wheels or anything. After 20 years of faithful use, I finally disassembled it…For awhile I thought about donating it to my college art department, but something in me said hold off for awhile.

(Update: I finally gave it away to someone on Facebook Marketplace…Hopefully he didn’t have a hard time putting it back together. No regrets. I am free of one more thing taking up room in my space!)

So, limited space is one disadvantage and a reason you might prefer to seek a more compact art easel.Let’s say you’re one of those people who enjoys working plein air (painting outdoors) something like that is impractical. You’re going from place to place, and don’t want to get bogged down with heavy objects to transport.

Lastly,  what if you are planning to throw a “paint and sip” event and you need a lot of easels for your participants? Depending on how many people will be in attendance, the easels you choose need to be nice and small and the type that folds up and out easily for setup.

Check Out My 2-Piece Easel…

One time I got an opportunity to test and review a product – a small easel with a minimalist design. It consists of two pieces with notches in them to support your canvas. I also like that it has non skid padding on the bottom.

I like that it’s so portable. It did have a weird smell to it though. I let it air out for awhile…The smell never did dissipate much, unfortunately.

small portable easel by colorana

I don’t know for sure but I think it is made from wood. Only thing is the notches, when you’re painting, you’re going to be forced to be careful in those areas, and paint around them (possibly leaving bare spots.) It is better suited for smaller canvases.

Here it its supporting an 11 x 14 size. That aside I think it would also be good to use as a display easel. Also, it would not work with flat canvas panels, or masonite boards, as it does not support those well.

portable easel in use

Lastly, my video review here…

Now I made this video in 2016, and when I checked, the same brand I got is no longer available, but you can find one just like it here. Ideal if you’re looking for something you can just throw in a bag and take with you to class.

Tripod Style Easels

Tripod easels are sometimes known as “a frame”. Folding aluminum or metal easels are a good idea, I have had one for a long time. They weigh almost nothing and are great to have. When you are done for the day you can collapse it back down and just throw it in with the rest of your art stuff and be on your way. The thing I DON’T like about them, is their stability is not very reliable, although it may depend on the size of the canvas you’re working with. I have worked with them comfortably with canvases up to about 16″ x 20″.

I know I’ve had many a painting or board tip at the hand of my elbow at the wrong time. Also, wood tripod style easels can be more supportive. In one of my classes we worked on a wooden tripod style. There was a chain the back of them somewhere.It didn’t collapse like the aluminum ones do, but they were fairly stable. Nowadays more of them are designed differently to be able to collapse, like this one I found here.

Conda 25Conda 25″ Folding Wood EaselSee on Amazon

This is a great budget buy at the time of writing, it was under $20, you can check and see if that’s still the case. It is excellent for display purposes as well as doing artwork. The adjustable brace at the top can be raised to accommodate a canvas up to 24″. It’s constructed from unfinished pine but you could stain it if you preferred. And yes, it can be folded up and stored when you’re going somewhere .

A-frame/tripod easels are best suited for:

  • Students and hobbyists
  • Paint and sip events
  • Displaying finished work
  • Smaller canvases under 25″

Best Multi-Use Tabletop Easel

Are you looking for a tripod style tabletop easel that is highly versatile, and can be used in the office or boardroom as well as the studio? Look no further than this aluminum one by US Art Supply – it is very similar to the one I used to own, but it has enhancements that make it far better and more sturdy. The first is the two  support wings at the top that can be extended out or up so if you’ve got a canvas or board that’s slightly bigger (up to about 24″) it will keep it in place securely.

Each leg is covered with rubber tips to prevent skidding on scratching on your work surface. As another bonus, the back piece has a wingnut  that you can adjust so your substrate can sit at a slightly different angle. The tray base folds in the middle as well as the support wings, so you can collapse it on a dime and take it anywhere.

U.S. Art Supply Adjustable Folding Tripod EaselU.S. Art Supply Adjustable Folding Tripod EaselSee on Amazon

Can be used for painting classes, paint and sip events (many consumers love it for this) presentations, social events. There are options to get this in bulk amounts too, which is ideal for the first two uses.

Features and stats:

  • Tray base is 15″ wide
  • Support wings extend out to 21″
  • Weighs one pound – can support up to 10 according to mfr.

H-Frame Style

For a long time I’ve had an H frame easel – which by far is one of the sturdiest I’ve ever used bar none. It’s also the same one I mentioned earlier that is a floor length one. If you’re looking for the kind of easel that can stand up to whatever you can dish out, this is it!  I found this beechwood beauty not too long ago and I can tell you this is one I’ve loved to have had back when I was taking lessons.

It can be tilted back or forward to various degrees and secured into one of the grooves at the base, The center bar and top brace ensure your canvas will never jog as you work. This should be on every student and hobbyists’ list now.

h frame tabletop easel
See on Amazon
Solid beechwood, can be adjusted, ideal for serious practice.

Storage Box Style Easels

I think the folding box style is the best kind of tabletop easel if you are actively seeking. My art professor had one of these and was always carrying it with him during off-hours.

This is a particular style that doubles as a storage desk. Inside is ample room to hold all of your materials. It will support smaller canvases much better if you tend to use them more. They are made of real wood not MSF which is nice. I hate that stuff that isn’t real wood because if you get it wet it may swell up and look bloated or stained.

When you are done for the day you can close it back up and all of your supplies will be inside, you just tighten the latch and be on your way! (hey, just like a suitcase.)

sketchbox easel
Check Amazon’s Price
Made of solid wood, plenty of room for all your tools, and will hold paper as well as canvases.



Well that’s my take on tabletop easels, and the different options available to you. I have given you five different styles and the best overall model out of them, now it is up to you to choose what best suits your needs and lifestyle. Good luck and happy painting.

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