Saturday, February 16, 2013

On the Verge


My Studio
Since I got a few confused emails I thought I'd clarify that my post the other day about lights was what I use to light my still life. Recently I have heard it's best to light your still life, painting and palette all with the same light. Unfortunately I didn't get the memo early enough and have been doing that all wrong for years (among other things). And since I feel honestly that it can be done either way, I will now show you how I light my painting and palette.

I have a north facing window in my studio directly next to my easel, but since I live in Oregon where the sun isn't terribly reliable, I also use a florescent light directly above my easel. I bought a nice fixture (the cheaper ones buzz and flicker) and installed 4 bulbs. Unfortunately I found my paintings were often too dark, so I removed the bulbs one by one until I had just one left. This seemed to be perfect. Then I met an artist who used two bulbs (one warm, one cool) and so I tried that. I like it, but with 2 bulbs again I found it too bright. My solution? I covered parts of the light with tin foil to cut down the light (so you know I have an 8 ft ceiling). This is perfect for me now ... until I find something better.

I use Philips, Alto, T8, Natural Light (5000K) and Cool White (4100K). The balance is a little on the warm side, but I reason most paintings are going to hang in a warmer light, so it behooves me to paint in the same. If you have a different opinion I'd love to hear it.


Bruce Bingham said...

I loved your light show Carol. I also agree with your philosophy here. When we go outside under an umbrella and are painting a sunny subject it's impossible to get the same lighting on your palette as your subject. We just do the best we can in an imperfect situation. I also use a combo of ambient light and warm and cool bulbs in the studio, and it seems to work best for work that will most likely hang in a warm lighting environment. You explained it really well:)

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

Love the color of the plate, (my favorite!) and the gorgeous flowers, on this snowy, blustery day... it is a real pick-me-up! And you are so, so generous to explain so often about your light, your set up, etc. etc. Be well, and paint Happy, Carol!

Dan Kent said...

Thank you so much! I appreciate the info and will incorporate it into the way I paint as well. I like the composition of this painting, and the pedals of the flowers.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

thanks for the info. Although it may be beneficial to use the same lights on the palette, setup and canvas, I don't think there's any evidence that what you've been doing isn't working.
I sometimes paint with no light on my canvas or palette, in a daylight situation and again, I still get where I want to go.

Kathy P. said...

I just found your blog and this post. Just wanted to say that your experience with lighting is very similar to mine.

Many years ago I found an in-depth article - specific to artists, if memory serves - online explaining how to calculate the amount of light needed to light a given area, taking into account ceiling height, etc. I followed the instructions, and hung 3, 4' (2 tube) fluorescent fixtures over my drawing board and easel area. I paid extra for tubes designed for accurate color rendition, suitable for interior design studios, framing shops, etc. - anywhere you need to be able to accurately evaluate color.

Like you, I found myself unconsiously compensating for all that light - my paintings were coming out waaaaaay too dark, so I turned off all but one fixture. So I'm still painting under two bulbs, but may try your solution of partially blocking even that with foil or a scrap of fome-cor or something.