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Plein Air Painting using a Tarp as a Shade Canopy

Plein Air Painting using a Tarp as a Shade Canopy

Having a Shade Canopy can make a massive difference in your outdoor space for plein air painting, as well as other creative applications. Having a canopy outside that provides shade but allows you to have the benefits of natural ambient light and fresh air can really enhance all your creative endeavors. It also allows you to a great way share your creative workspace with others, and can really make a difference in your art.

Many artists prefer a shade canopy for working outdoors and many build theirs from scratch. The reason for this approach is the resulting canopy is often more sturdy and cheaper than commercially built canopies. Making shade canopies requires only a few materials for you to get started, so when making your canopy from scratch, you will need the following:

  • A good quality Tarp with grommets.
  • Four pieces of 7-8ft tent poles for the corners.  
  • One 8-10ft tent pole.
  • 6-millimetre nylon rope.
  • Tent stakes.

For a canopy shade, many select reflective white or silver, while other prefer the decorative qualities of black, green or blue tarps. In all case, tarp covering s give you excellent protection from various weather conditions. White Tarps help protect you from UV light, though they are not as UV-proof as a silver tarp. For this reason, many select silver for their canopy.

When it comes to framing poles, you could either go with wood/bamboo poles or metal poles. You could also use stainless steel poles because they don’t rust, which you could consider since the canopy is usually exposed to various weather conditions. You could also come up with a Halo-shaped ceiling so that it could offer better protection.  The great thing about going DIY is being able to get exactly what you want, which is often not the case with more expensive store-bought solutions.

Steps to follow when making your Shade Canopy

  1. Prepare the area

Before you make your canopy shade, ensure you have cleared the area and there are no obstacles on the way. Afterwards, spread the tarp flat on the ground.

  • Attach the poles to the corners

Take the 7-8ft pole and place each bar at each corner of the tarp, fitting the end of the pole into the circular grommet. Once you attach the rods, secure each stick with a rope.

  • Tie the corners

When tying the corners, you will need help from a family member or a friend. Carefully lift the poles so that the tarp canopy is held in the air. Ideally, you will need to have one person holding the rod at each corner. This particular exercise employs you all to be a team.

  • Secure the poles to the ground

Pull one rope towards the ground away from the middle portion of the canopy. Once the rope has stretched, you can attach it to the bottom by hammering a tent stake and trying the string. It would help if you also did this for all the other corners.

  • Attach the central pole

The pole that is in the middle will give the canopy shade better strength and support, and this is where you will need to use the additional 8-10ft tent pole. Position the pole towards the centre of the tarp and then push it upwards to the desired height. Afterwards, sink the bar to the ground as securely as possible.

  • Secure the canopy

Tighten the canopy until the surface becomes smooth; when you do this, you are assured that no water or debris will get trapped on the surface of the tarp. The strength of your canopy shade depends on how well you secured the tarp to the poles and how firm the bars were attached to the ground.

  • Decorate

This is the most fun part of making your canopy. You have a chance to decorate it the way you want and to a specific design. The reason outdoor awnings are outstanding is that you can change the decor from time to time, depending on your occasion. You could also install something so you and your family can hang out and have a fantastic time under the canopy, even during the evening.


When making your tarp canopy make sure you choose the suitable material that will fit your roof and material that won’t get spoilt quickly and fast. When you get a top made of solid materials, it will last for an extended period and won’t be affected by different weather conditions. You could also make it a family activity when you decide to build your canopy.

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