Plein-air painters know that the sun is both friend and foe. While it can bathe a landscape in beautiful light, it can also hit you hard, making your artistic creation less and less enjoyable. To protect yourself from harmful UV rays and stay a little cooler on a hot day, bring a portable umbrella with you. A good one can reduce glare on your canvas or paper and even protect you from sudden gusts of wind. Below, we outline five of the best patio umbrellas that are convenient to carry and easy to set up.
1. JoeShade Portable Umbrella
Paint without fear of sunburn any time of the day with this large canopy umbrella. The 60 inch diameter canopy can easily cover you, your easel and even a side table or a friend. This shade cover is supported by a sturdy tripod that can be extended between three and eight feet. You can easily tilt the canopy to follow the movement of the sun, and vents in the fabric allow wind and heat to escape. This umbrella weighs only eight pounds and folds up to fit into a long carry bag that you can carry over your shoulder.
2. G4Free Beach Umbrella
If you want your setup to keep a small footprint, consider buying an umbrella that you can attach directly to your easel. This one is designed primarily for beach use, but it features a universal clamp at its base that you can clip to the top or side of your easel without damaging it. Its 45-inch diameter canopy features a silver exterior to reflect the sun and fiberglass ribs that add strength while reducing weight. In fact, this umbrella weighs only 1.5 pounds and fits into a 40-inch carry bag. When the sun moves, just bend its flexible stem to reposition your shade.
3. Sport-Brella Super-Brella
If you need shade for really long paint sessions where you expect to be seated, consider this huge umbrella, aptly called the SuperBrella. When open, it measures eight feet wide and can be extended to just over 57 inches tall. It has the shape of a traditional umbrella when placed on the ground at an angle; with the addition of side flaps, it provides shelter on three sides. Although this model requires you to anchor it in the ground with stakes and tie-down cords, setup is actually quite quick and packing it into its carry bag is a breeze.
4. Quik Shade MAX Shade Chair
Sit back and comb in comfort with this handy lounge chair, which has a built-in shade to protect you from the sun. The seat is a standard camping chair with two cup holders and a side pocket, convenient for storing small art supplies. The shade, which is securely attached to the back of the chair, can be tilted left and right as well as up and down so you can make quick adjustments without having to change perspective. While not the best for wind protection, this model offers comfort and convenience without taking up too much space. The whole contraption collapses to fit in a long bag and weighs around 10 pounds.
5. Shadebuddy Guerrilla Painter
Designed specifically for painters, this large umbrella can reach a height of 6.5 feet, and its 48-inch-diameter shade provides ample coverage for an artist and an easel. Its base is a simple shaft with a small foot lever that you stand on to drive the shaft into the ground or other penetrable ground, and the whole structure remains stable even at its tallest. The umbrella is vented to let the wind through and its angle is easily adjusted with the turn of a knob. Weighing just 4.25 pounds, this umbrella is ideal for field painters who need protection from the sun and wind, but have to juggle lots of supplies.