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Painting at night and studio lighting

I can only paint at night these days thanks to my wonderful 18 month old twins. I am struggling with how to have ample lighting. Right now, I have an overhead light, 3 spotlights, and 2 lamps, and I am still not happy! Looking for your suggestions and expertise!

I was in the very same boat!! (Only my reason was different for having to work at night.) My hubby bought me a very long fluorescent light fixture with 2 bulbs and you can change them out as well with cool light or warm light not just the old fashioned bulbs that used to come in these commercial overhead lights. Works great.

As a matter of fact, I realized some of my art was a little dark in the beginning, one the acrylics dry a little darker but more from having it so bright in here where I’m working. Played around and bought some ‘daylight’ bulbs and it works great.

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Have you tried the new LED lights? I quite like the colour that comes from them.

What fixture are you using?

I am using them, but still it’s not quite right.

Twins! Oh boy, I would think you would be struggling with sleep.
You don’t mention what kind lighting fixtures you are using but really it is the bulbs and what kind of light they put out that matters.
I too paint at night a lot and primarily use 3 art lamps, the common Combination Swing Arm ones you find anywhere. 2 are mounted to drawing tables 1 is on a base with casters so I can roll it around and position it in the studio where I need.
All are the swivel and articulating lamps for adjusting. Try not to buy a cheap one. Luxo is a good quality brand I have had for years and built well.

What is important is each has a ‘donut’ fluorescent and a screw-in socket in the middle of it.
I use to use a cool ‘donut’ fluorescent bulb and an incandescent bulb (warm) and that worked fine. Now with incandescent bulbs gone I use a compact fluorescent bulb.
What matters is getting color temperature balance. 1 bulb warm, 1 cool.
‘Daylight’ or ‘Natural light’ bulbs can be used too but depending on the manufacturer they can vary slightly and I prefer to always have consistent lighting.
Using 1 warm, 1 cool, even from different manufacturers, I get consistent lighting because I am not relying on a single warm/cool source.
Each bulb has a color temperature rendering index so pay attention to that and don’t use any under a 60 watt equivalent or it won’t be bright enough.

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You have 6 light sources on your subject, navajudith?
Try bringing this down to 1 or 2. Use a diffuser if you don’t like hard shadow edges. This can be a white plastic box, a white umbrella, or some thin white cloth. Be careful if your light source becomes hot.

I use 5000K fluorescent lamps ranging from 32W to 80W.
With a diffuser in front of the lamp, it takes some extra power to get enough light on the subject, hence the 80W
I use the 32W lamps to light my easel. They are the same temperature.

I have been struggling for some time with lighting in my studio. I think I have finally come up with a solution that should work for me. My research led me to the conclusion that I should be painting them in similar lighting conditions to how they would be displayed. Even though this could be just about anything depending on what home they finally end up in, the galleries tend to set the standard. Galleries are moving to led lighting for economic reasons, as well as the lack of damaging heat and uv. They also tend to use lights that are 3000K which just on the edge of warm and cool but shifted slightly warm. The cool lights tend to be to harsh for artwork and are mostly used in jewelry stores.

I also had a problem with intensity but this resolved when I put PAR 30 floods in my track lighting (75 watt equivalent). Their colour is 3000K. I use two of them shining from the ceiling onto my easel and palette.

This solved an additional issue that I had with my photographs. I had never been able before to photograph indoors and usually ended up using the scanner on my printer. I had not been totally happy with the results because some of the colours were a bit off. Now with the greater intensity, I can put my camera on a tripod and photograph the painting right on the easel in the same light as I paint in and the photo comes out closer to the original than I have been able to do before. The settings would be different for different cameras but mine is set for a white balance of 3600K.


Hi I had same problem, but not with twins, but early evening ( autumn and winter).But lucky me,my husband did a special portable lamp for me. The lamp has adjustable height and rotation of the lens, so you can eliminate flare. But the most important is color rendering index over 90! and temperature about 5200 kelvins( white light), it’s one long bulb (115 cm) 54 kw=about 4000 lumens. In addition white light is like sun in noon, you are not sleepy and the colors are true.
the bulb is philips MASTER TL5 HO 90 De Luxe 54W/950 1SL.
Draws attention to the importance 54w / 950.
9 means that the color rendering index is more than 90 but these are professional lamps to work with color. 50 is the color temperature is over 5000 kelwinów- white light.
regards Beata

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This is a great theme, I am also a big fan of photography at night!

You might find this article on studio lighting by Will Kemp helpful? https://willkempartschool.com/art-studio-lighting-design/
Best wishes