|From an 1892 F. W. Devoe and C. T. Raynolds Company catalog.|
The 48-inch support pole was made in two or three sections that screwed together, with a steel-tipped end that could stick into soft ground. The height was ideal for a painter sitting on a folding camp stool.
Here is John Singer Sargent sketching on a boat. Since he couldn't stick the pole in the deck, he lashed it to his leg and anchored it to other support points off to the right.
Modern umbrellas are a larger, made from a white nylon material, with an adjustable goose neck and a clamp that attaches to the easel, since soft ground is not always available. The white material is better than the light-blocking silver or black umbrellas. Those force your work to be lit by the light bouncing up from the ground, which is often strongly colored and prone to glare.
Any umbrella attached to an easel has a tendency to blow over when the wind comes up at all. One option is to attach the umbrella to a free-standing C-stand ballasted with sandbags. It's less likely to blow over, and if it does, it won't take the painting with it.
Do you have a story about problems with a sketching umbrella? Please share them in the comments.
Previously on GJ: White Umbrellas