Plein air painters know that the sun is both friend and foe. While it can bathe a landscape in beautiful light, it can also beat down on you hard, making your artmaking 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 profile five of the best shade umbrellas that are convenient to carry around and easy to set up.
1. JoeShade Portable Sun Umbrella
Paint without fear of sunburn any hour of the day with this large-canopied umbrella. With a 60-inch-diameter canopy can easily cover you, your easel, and even a side table or a friend. Supporting this shady cover is a sturdy tripod stand that can be extended between 3 and 8 feet. You can easily tilt the canopy to follow the movement of the sun, and wind vents in the fabric allow wind and heat to escape. This umbrella weighs just 8 pounds and folds to fit into a long carry bag you can sling over your shoulder.
2. G4Free Beach Umbrella
If you want your setup to maintain a small footprint, consider purchasing an umbrella you can clamp directly to your easel. This one is built primarily for beach use, but it features a universal clamp at its base that you can attach 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 boost strength while reducing weight. Indeed, this umbrella weighs just 1.5 pounds and slips into a 40-inch carry bag. When the sun moves, simply bend its flexible shaft to reposition your shade.
3. Sport-Brella Super-Brella
If you need shade for very long painting sessions during which you expect to be sitting, consider this enormous umbrella, fittingly called the SuperBrella. When open, it measures 8 feet wide and can be extended to just over 57 inches tall. It’s shaped like a traditional umbrella when placed on the ground at an angle; with the addition of side flaps, it provides shelter on three sides. While this model requires that you anchor it into the ground with stakes and tie-down cords, set up is actually pretty fast, and packing it up into its carry bag is a breeze.
4. Quik Shade MAX Shade Chair
Sit and paint in comfort with this handy lounge chair, which has a built-in shade to keep you out of the sun. The seat is a standard camping chair with two cup holders and a side pocket—handy for storing small art supplies. The shade, which is securely attached to the chair’s back, can be tilted left and right as well as up and down so you can make quick adjustments without having to shift your perspective. While not the best at guarding against wind, this model provides comfort and convenience without taking up too much space. The entire contraption collapses to fit into a long bag and weighs about 10 pounds.
5. Guerrilla Painter Shadebuddy
Designed specifically for painters, this tall umbrella can reach a height of 6.5 feet, and its 48-inch-diameter shade provides ample cover for an artist and an easel. Its base is a simple shaft with a small foot lever that you stand on to press the shaft into soil or other penetrable ground, and the entire structure remains steady even at its tallest. The umbrella is vented to let wind pass through, and its angle easily adjusts at the twist of a knob. Weighing just 4.25 pounds, this umbrella is ideal for field painters who need sun and wind protection but need to juggle many supplies.