Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two Cool Plein Air Products

Anytime I mention products in my workshops, books or videos, you can be sure that they are things I actually use and like. Lately, I've been introduced to two that I like very much - the Art Cocoon and the Best Brella.

The Art Cocoon is something I've wanted for a long time. I'd gotten tired of toting around a bulky wet canvas carrier and wanted a carrier I could stuff in my backpack along with my pochade box. The smaller Art Cocoon, the "I," fits the bill. It's small enough so I can stuff a couple into my backpack. It takes standard-size panels anywhere from 4x6 to 8x10, and it is designed to fit into the lid of my 9x12 Guerrilla Painter box. (The Art Cocoon II goes from 8x10 to 11x14.) It's a bit taller than the lid of the box, so when I'm done, I take out the Art Cocoon, secure its cover with the rubber band, and stuff it back into my pack. Of course, you can use it on any other type of easel, too.

The Art Cocoon has some other neat features. You can stack them. You can use the enclosed stand to display your work in a workshop or painting event. Plus, each carrier can be configured for a variety of sizes. Visit the website www.myartcocoon.com for more pictures and pricing.

I've also wanted an umbrella that lives up to its hype. I've gone through a dozen different umbrellas. Some of them have a Mary Poppins effect, others shred, fall over all the time or otherwise self-destruct. The Best Brella doesn't do any of this. It's got a clamp designed to last. It fits on both my tripod and French easel and rotates in any direction. It has an extension pole to get it up high - an important feature for me, since I'm over 6' tall. The umbrella itself has vents to minimize wind problems. It's also black on the inside, which cuts down on glare, and silver on the outside, which cuts down on heat. The Best Brella is a well-built unit. Visit the website www.bestbrella.com for more.


Casey Klahn said...

This is the new umbrella that I just got. I endorse it, too. It really does stay up!

I did fumble with taking it down in the wind the first time, but finally got it under control.

Now, to figure out how to set it up independent of my easel, just for kicks.

Carol Fogelsong said...

Hi Michael!
The Art Cocoon looks interesting, but I don't quite see how it keeps the surface from getting touched. The website didn't show much more detail either. Bottom line: do you think this would work well with pastels, particularly pastels done on sanded paper?
Hope you, Trina, and Saba are doing well. I haven't commented for a while, but I'm still a loyal reader!
Carol Fogelsong

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thanks, Casey and Carol! Carol,the top cover has a recessed area that keeps it from touching the painting surface. It really works well. As for pastel, it works best with paper mounted on a backboard or with something like Pastelbord.