Saturday, September 25, 2010
Painting under artificial light
Because most of the students who take my classes have day jobs, I teach a still life class on Tuesday evenings from 6pm-9pm. This means that I have to use artificial light, instead of the beautiful natural light coming from the north-facing skylights. To replicate the effect of natural light, I have a series of full spectrum lights installed above and parallel to my skylights. This allows the light to come in at the same (or approximately the same) angle as the natural light from the skylights. Sometimes I choose to turn all of the lights on, but I have the option of just using the middle lights or the end lights, too. In general, I have many still life arrangements for the students to choose from set up on the east and west sides of the studio and the students are in the middle of the room, so any of the lighting possibilities work, and we try them all to see what looks best. It all depends on the effect we are trying to get on the arrangements.
Before teaching in the evenings, I generally never painted under artificial light, but these lights and the high angle make it an acceptable alternative, and we have gotten some nice results. With artificial light the shadows are harsher than with natural light, but knowing this, one can soften these.