Plein Air Painting Under the Umbrella

Painting the Binnekill, 1, Photograph by Joseph Kiss, originally uploaded by ahtravis.

An umbrella equals freedom–to the plein air painter, that is.

Last year I finally purchased a large beach umbrella.  I had searched for years for a white one; white does not exist. Mine is blue and green but if the color effects my paper and paint the effect must be very slight because I am not aware of it.

The umbrella has a 7 foot spread, is 9 feet tall, very light and comes in two pieces.  There is plenty of room to position my equipment and me underneath.  The long pole ends in a treaded point so that the pole can be “screwed” into the ground.  When the ground is soft that works fine.  However, when the ground is hard and dry, as it has been for so much of this summer, the pole will not screw into the ground no matter what.  To cope with such occasions I have been on the lookout for helpful gadgets.

So far, I have collect two very useful tools:.  The first was a metal stake for holding “tiki lamps”.  I carry a hammer or mallet to “nail” the stake into the ground and then place the umbrella into the stake.  I found the “tiki lamp” holder at the hardware store.

The second fine is a large plastic square box that can be carried empty or filled with water.  When filled with water it becomes very heavy.  Inserted into the heavy weight is an umbrella holder that adjusts to various sizes and then fits into the water filled weight.  With this tool nothing has to go in the ground but the umbrella is always held perpandicular to the ground, no tilting is possible.   The plastic water weight was purchased at Ikea.

Now I can choose to paint any view that appeals to me without regard for existing shade.   That’s FREEDOM!

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