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Light on the painting

Lately I’ve come to real­ize that the light on a paint­ing as you’re work­ing on it is as impor­tant as the light on what­ever you are painting.

I’ve recently added a light over my easel that pro­vides more illu­mi­na­tion than any­one would actu­ally shine on a paint­ing that was being dis­played. I tend to keep it off much of the time while paint­ing, but turn it on peri­od­i­cally to check my work. Under a higher level of illu­mi­na­tion, I often catch prob­lems, espe­cially in the deeper shad­ows. With­out enough light, it’s easy to miss inac­cu­ra­cies in value, hue, chroma, or gra­da­tion. These prob­lems might not show up too strongly when the paint­ing is dis­played, but can be sig­nif­i­cant enough to cause notice­able errors.

Of course, the color of the light shin­ing on your paint­ing should be neu­tral enough that it does not itself intro­duce dis­tor­tions and thereby lead you mis­un­der­stand hue rela­tion­ships while mix­ing paint.

Posted in art technique, painting.

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4 Responses

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  1. Tim says

    I’ve used the “full spec­trum” bulbs, as opposed to the blue day­light bulbs, and found them to be very good. The light is cold but you can really see things you might have missed otherwise.

  2. Michael says

    I tried a num­ber of bulbs and con­fig­u­ra­tions. I have ended up using 4 tubes as fill lights and three coil bulbs of vary­ing wattage depend­ing on their posi­tion and func­tion. Until the addi­tion of the Blue Max spot­lights I always felt that there was a veil pre­vent­ing me from see­ing what I knew was there. It has been such a dra­matic improve­ment I con­tin­u­ally expe­ri­ence a height­ened plea­sure while paint­ing. When I have taken this work to view under other light­ing con­di­tions I have been com­fort­able with the results.

    Two spot­lights on the can­vas, one over my palette: Blue Max HD Com­pact Flu­o­res­cent Bulbs
    http://​www​.blue​max​light​ing​.com/​c​o​m​p​a​c​t​_​f​l​u​o​r​e​s​c​e​n​t​_​39​_​c​t​g​.​htm

    As fill lights I have four tubes bounced off the white ceil­ing. These at 3300 lumens are pur­ported to give off more light than other bulbs with a 250 lumens increase over their com­pa­ra­ble tubes (3050 lumens) how­ever there was absolutely no notice­able dif­fer­ence between these bulbs and the Phillips 2950 lumens full spec­trum “Nat­ural Sun­shine” tubes these replaced. There is a sig­nif­i­cant increase in CRI rat­ing how­ever it is known that CRI rat­ings are not reli­able. It is rea­son­ably safe to assume a 91 CRI is going to offer a lit­tle bet­ter qual­ity than 86 CRI respec­tively. Because of the spots over­pow­er­ing the role of the tubes as fill lights I am plan­ning on going back to the eco­nom­i­cal Phillips “Nat­ural Sun­shine” tubes as the Blue Max wear out.

    Blue Max Full Spec­trum Maxum 5000 http://76.164.194.49/product_180_detailed.htm



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