Best plein air painting umbrellas
Buy a shade to protect your skin and for best painting conditions in bright sun light
In situations where painters cannot place the easel in natural shade under a tree or near some other sort of roof a plein air shade like the Guerilla shadebuddy (image on the left,available on amazon)is a necessity. Learn here about various Plein air parasols their functions, technical trims and prices.
The most important function of the umbrella is to cast a shade on the painting support without changing the colour balance and to keep the artist in cool shade. It is extremely difficult to paint on a white or even colored canvas in direct bright sunlight. The strong reflection hurts the eye and it is impossible to judge colours and their tonalities properly. As a result paintings done in direct sunlight tend to look not so good, i.e. much to bright or even chalky at home. The shaded canvas will give the best neutral conditions for working with colours under a sunny sky.
For that reason good plein air umbrellas come with a black non reflective lining on the inside whereas the outside is mostly covered with a highly reflective,silver foil to reflect sunlight and heat to keep the painter and the work relatively cool. Heavy exposure to sun and UV-light is a health risk, this is a serious consideration in hot close to desert climates.
How to select your plein air painting umbrella
The most painting sun umbrellas have the same basic technical trim: reflective, silver surface outside (keeps the person in shade cool) and a non- reflective black inside surface, which will not change the appearance of your colours on the canvas, plus wind vents(slots)that allow winds and guts to escape from under the umbrella.
There are mainly two types of umbrellas available. One type comes in a kind of standard length of ca. 35-40 inches which has to be attached to your painting easel. The other type comes with a mount that can be placed into the ground on top of that the umbrella will be mounted in the desired angle.
Attaching the umbrella to your easel is convenient when there are no strong winds or gusts i.e. there is no danger that your whole equipment falls over when a strong wind catches under your umbrella. Under windy conditions it might be better to have the umbrella separated from your painting easel.
Apart from those technical aspects the main buying criteria for the plein air umbrellas are :
One can start with the price and determine a maximum you want to pay for an umbrella first.
And then get the best value at the maximum price level. There are umbrellas between
20 and 120 $ available.
2. Size and weight
Most plein air umbrellas are in size of ca. 45-50 inches in diameter, which will be sufficient to cast a big enough shadow on a standard to mediums sized canvas. The weight and size to carry varies depending of the type of umbrella you are choosing, a short one or a long version for ground mounting
The less weight you have to carry the more likely it is that you will use the umbrella according to my experience.
3. Durability, quality of materials
The quality of the material is an important aspect. In most situations strong winds are the exception, but nevertheless a good and lasting umbrella must be strong enough to withstand strong winds and other mechanical stress in the field.
4. Mounting, flexibility
No matter what type of umbrella you chose it should be easy and quick to mount and flexible to adjust to the conditions on location.
The shadebuddy plein air set: Umbrelly stand with shade and bag
Guerrilla Painter Shadebuddy Umbrella Stand with Umbrella and Bag
This is an umbrella that you can mount into the gorund. Of course on rocks and concrete pavement you cannot use this device. This is the only disadvantage. Otherwise it is easy and quick to mount. the sturdy construction is durable and you get an extra bag with shoulder strap and handle for transport.
Light weight plein air shade
Guerrilla Painter Multi-Mount Collapsible Umbrella
With a weight of only 20 ounces weight this umbrella is a light weight model. The canopy is 42″ wide and very flat. This umbrella has to be attached to your easel,table or other painting support. Near the clamp there is a flexible area that allows to adjust the position easily.
It can be collapsed to small size for transport an ideal painting companion for not so windy days.
The century stand – a heavy duty tripod for artists plein air
If you go around in a car to paint on location a Century stand may be a suitable tool for your plein air painting. This thing has a weight of 22lbs which is great under windy conditions, but not so great to carry along with you on foot walks.
Matthews 40 Inch Century Stand with Sliding Leg, Grip Head, Arm, Maximum Height 10.5 feet , Supports 22 lbs., Chrome
With this separate tripod sort of stand you are prepared for many situations and grounds you can encounter in plein air painting. The stand is adjustable at the feet and in height so it is easy to find the best position to attach your sun umbrella.