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Old 01-04-2009, 12:16 PM   #5
Clayton J. Beck III Clayton J. Beck III is offline
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Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Oak Lawn, IL
Posts: 100
Hi Lacey,

A little late in response but I hope it's still relevant. One solution to the problem of lighting your subject, your canvas and your palette is this:

In my studio I have a set of lights over my model stand (five sets of four tube fixtures, which type of 4 foot fixtures and tubes are your choice). These fixtures are individually switched and each has been placed on ropes and pulleys for mobility.

Over my working area, I have three-four tube fixtures placed high over the my easel and my palette. A short curtain is placed on the ceiling to block the light from my working area from reaching my model stand. This allows me to control the light on the model stand and my work area separately. The lighting arrangement like this allows for maximum variety. I can keep the light on my work area consistent and vary the light on the model stand, which is ideal.

The only other considerations I would have to say is that the lights from your model stand should not shine into your eyes for obvious reasons and lights over your model stand should be packed very tightly together to not create conflicting shadows. In other words they should act as one light source. The lights over my working area should be separated so that I do not create a solid shadow on my palette or my canvas. This is the theory behind three light sources over a pool table.

One other consideration is that the lighting on your canvas should be a color balanced light source and of the average brightness (meaning not too bright or too dim). The idea that you should "paint for the light source the painting will be hung in" is not advisable because lighting technology and fashions in lighting change all the time. You have no idea what lighting will be on your painting in the future. By working with a color balance light you are assured that your work will look the best under most lighting conditions. Caravaggio's commissioned paintings were to be seen in very dark churches. He had no idea that in the future electric light would change everything. As we look at his work in well lit museums (not as he intended) his work looks rather harsh and I don't believe that was his intent.

The hope this helps.
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