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Studio light and etc

edited June 2018 in Studio & Supplies
When I was in Austin, Mark had a light fixture he made with three bulbs that was mounted 8 feet high at 30 degrees to the canvas behind my head.  I have been disappointed with my previous lighting so I made a replacement to mimic Mark's.  Mark specified that it should be 5000k (kelvin, which is white sunshine) to 5200k and lumens equivalent to a 100w incandescent bulb, which happens to be about 1600 lumens.  I bought a package of 4 LED bulbs at Home Depot for $25, a cheap $10 3-bulb bathroom fixture and a 14 gauge 25 ft appliance cord for $20.  All told, since the wood was free, I am in for $55.  If i paid for the wood it would have cost me an additional $5.  I was making additional Carder easels and it dawned on me that I could mount the lights on an easel.  This is the result.  I can move it where I need it and position it so the angle is correct.  The jug is full of water.  It is 8ft up just like Mark's.  It does need a paint job.  :)



  • Nice set up Mike.  Thanks for the info. 
  • Is this much light OK using a color checker with a still life? ...or is this much light only for painting photos?  It would seem that you would have to significanly increase the intensity inside the still life to maintain white balanced light.  Secondly, black paint on the color checker starts to look more and more gray as I increase the the studio light by adding more and more bulbs.  Should you still be able to distinguish dark colors with the color checker on the still life with more and more bulbs?
  • Mark's studio light had a top and sides when I was in Austin. Are you going to add those, @MikeDerby? Funny, I thought he had four bulbs, maybe I was wrong. I built mine with four and sides and a top and mounted it on the ceiling. My problem is that my ceiling is comparatively low and I don't know what kind of influence that's having. I did set mine at a 35 degree angle to my canvas on the easel.
  • Thanks Mike. ..I just would like to say from experience to newbies, pay attention to what your wearing when you paint especially outdoors. The color of your shirt/blouse. When i started i painted everything flat black, I made sure my lighting was set up at the angle Mr. Carder recommends and I was having trouble seeing through the glare. Yes, i was wearing a white tee-shirt. I then thought of what Forrest Gump,said. And it wasn´t the ¨box of chocolates¨ quip either. I now wear black; much better, less glare. ;)
  • MikeDerby - Nice job.  Question if I may.  You have three bulbs mounted - is the total of all three 1600 lumens?  i.e. each bulb is about 500 lumens?  You did not specify re the package of 4 LED bulbs what the equivalent wattage was of each bulb. i.e. was each a 40 watt equivalent? 

    I'm finding that when the light gets too low, I have trouble discerning dark colors on the palette and on the canvas.  Maybe it's just me and age related.   

    Thank you

  • Gosh, I forgot what I wrote in my own blog. Mark actually has 6 bulbs at the student worksite. They are hung from the ceiling so there is a sort of shield over them but the fixture was homemade so there was no shield to the sides. I think Martin may be referring to Marks light boxes.  @unPintor I cannot speak to shadow boxes because I don't use them.  Mark has a video on how to properly light it.  This light is for the painting you have in front of you and the angle should eliminate glare on your color checker. @ph1 each bulb is 1575 lumens.  Martin is correct, the angle of the light should be 35 degrees from the canvas.
  • I like your set up for lights great idea and simple enough, however I need to get this straight for myself, is it 3, 4 or 5 of these 100 watt LED bulbs? for 9 ft ceiling.
  • Well I will answer with what Mark has. 12 bulbs, 5200k and 1600 lumens at 12 ft high for filming.  6 bulbs of the same type at 8 ft for students
  • @MikeDerby thank you, I like the set up for students. In my case I will start with 4 bulbs and add more if necessary.
  • Thanks @MikeDerby nice set up and good info. What's in the jug? A libation perhaps?
  • A Studio lighting question...8x9  room with barely 8 ft ceiling . Do I need 1 or 2 bulbs for this size space? Thanks so much.
  • bmw

    Mark's supply list says:

    Two 85-watt bulbs in either 5000K or 5500K color make a great studio light if your ceiling is 8 to 10 feet high. If your ceiling is higher you will need more bulbs.


  • I saw that info but I wasn't sure if I needed 2 bulbs for the size of the room.  Thanks.

  • bmw

    Mark recommends a minimum studio as 10 x 10. Two bulbs will be more than adequate.


  • Thank you kind sir!
  • I got the 2 85 W bulbs. Equivalent to 300 watts each. I found them too bright at 7'6" height and replaced one with equal to 100 W they are three feet apart. I'm right handed so the brightest is to my left and behind the 100 is to the right and directly in line with my palette. The 85s would be perfect if I had dark walls and ceiling or a ten foot high ceiling. Mark needs the brighter light for video work and probably is ok with having things brighter than necessary in his darkened surroundings.
  • Thanks for the info.
  • I now have 6 x100 W bulbs @ 8' feet. I may change again later, but for now I feel as though I've been painting in the dark (unbelievable) and feel satisfied now. Time for another painting soon, to celebrate and to test ride. Thanks for the fantastic info!
  • What's the matter @MikeDerby don't you like HATS anymore? Actually I like your new "face". 
  • I have 100 hats of all kinds and that is after wearing many out and giving lots away.  But there is a portrait drawing thread on another forum and this one turned out so good i just kind of adopted it as my thumbnail.  Here i am in another hat, which is a studio supply, so its kind of appropriate. 

  • Any headgear of any proportion, purpose or supplier is appropriate when you are out on a boat in the water!
  • Three lights were not cutting it so SIX!!!

    The result is terrific.  I also put a switch on it.  So convenient now.
  • edited April 2017
    This is what I have also and works great for me! I don't miss painting and drawing in the dark at all! 6 bulbs, 8' feet high @ 35 degree angle behind me, 100 watts,1500 Lumens, 5000 K. What a tremendous difference, thanks so much for sharing! I also have to be much more aware of what clothes I am wearing in the studio to avoid weird and difficult color reflections bouncing into my painting and reference photo and painting palette and still life. Fantastic!
  • edited April 2017
    Thank you! funny how the photo doesn't really catch just how bright it really is! feels like absolute daytime (or very close to it) or like being in a well lit professional art gallery with these in my studio! WOW! Getting to know comparing game, before and after, since my first painting here! Ha!
  • Thanks @Forgiveness. I have had a lot of fun getting my studio right. I owe a lot to @summer. And @megans.  The light difference is fantastic and I have also had to be very careful of what I wear to paint.  Next for me is a better laminator.  My laminate throws a lot of reflections at me.  Mark's did not, so I want one of his.
  • Acknowledgement to you @MikeDerby and @Summer, and to Mark of course, for this one! Thanks again!
  • What BRIGHT ideas from all of you, BRILLIANT even. I feel so enlightened!!! THANKS ALL.
  • Are the bulbs full spectrum or just regular bulbs ?
  • my ceiling is only 6' 9"  do you think one bulb is enough should i still have two?
  • @Kschaben full spectrum bulbs 85W, 5000K, 5350 Lumens, You will need just one of these, the very brightest white light, If your room is 10' x 10' or so. I hope this helps.
  • edited June 2017
    @Kschaben also you may want to consult with the following thread posted here "Studio Lighting" - Celestial May 21/2017.
  • Check out my new drafting table, and @Kaustav !, in the process of being rendered.
    Its just some scrape plywood on a hinge screwed to a table but it works great.

  • @wow! You took a print. Table looks great! It is almost like those table box easels. Excellent!
  • edited June 2017
    Does it open up to a full 45 and are you going to finish the edges, round off any sharp ones? And your sketch is coming along quite well.
  • its done cuz its all i need.  if i get a splinter i will sand it some more!  =)
  • Kaustav's eyebrows are darker than you have them but the drawing board is great.
  • I think i want Marks new pallettes to go with my new light/backdrop!  The old backdrop was just such a monstrosity.  It was constantly in the way and i found myself using less and less of the backdrop.  Finally i attached it to the light stand and it works great.  Its a $10 black twin flat sheet from Target stapled to a scrap board screwed to the top of my light stand.  I have a 40 lb weight on the stand to hold it all down.  it is surprisingly stable. i have to tug on it to tip it.  The stand is made just like Marks easel with a 2x4.  I left it 8 feet because i have a 10 foot ceiling but it could easily be shorter.

  • I like it I'm going to copy it. do you think a bowling ball is enough counter weight. I can't find a  vanity f
    ixture like that for under $100. I'll keep looking.
  • i took a plastic bottle that used to hold kitty litter and put 5 gallons of water in it.  40 lbs.  The light fixture was less than $20 at home depot.  it was the cheapest thing they had.  the bulbs were a economy pak of  4 LED's that are 5000k and 1750 lumens (100 watt equivalent) for less than 20 dollars.  the wood cost less than 10.
  • Water is good. the only other 40 pounder around here is my neighbor's three-tear-old. Nope, three-year-olds are too much trouble and never stay in one spot very long.
  • My studio is 20x20 and has a wall of windows.  The ceiling goes from 18' to 9'.  I have several white light florescent fixtures in the ceiling.  So far I LOVE it.  However, I mostly do ceramic pottery and stained glass.  I would like to get back to painting more and I am not sure how to set up the painting area of the studio.  I live int he PNW, so waiting to paint until it get dark is past my bedtime.  Suggestions?
  • edited July 2017
    @ArtStudio491 ,Under Videos and Tutorials(free) top of this page, THE FULL COURSE, Step #1 Setting Up Your Studio.
  • Darkness is good but Mark and Emily both emphasized that i only needed a black drape behind me to kill reflected glare.  I think you should experiment with my little apparatus, since it is so cheap, and take advantage of all that wonderful natural light ... if it works  :)

  • each "traveler" has two 4 inch bolts and 2 t-nuts.  I made my own knobs from scrap plywood and t-nuts.  they are held tight with lock washers or the plywood sandwich.  The hangers are made from a fairly soft construction hanger which was a 90 degree.  I then added another 90 degree so that it looked like a big L like this.  

    I made them deep enough that I can use them for 1 inch to 1.5 inch wide stretchers.  I use wedges to make them fit tight and not flop around.  So far it works like a charm.  I currently have a 48x40 canvas in place and will let you know how it goes.  
    BTW, its all on Mark's home made easel, which cost me about $10 to make. Each traveler was about $3 in parts. 
  • Very cool!  I am going to try to retrofit my easel to work this way!
  • Do you have the lights directly behind you or off to the side?
  • @Wishiwaspainting, I have my lights directly behind me. You can also consult with Mark C.'s free videos/tutorials.
  • The lights should be 35 degrees above and behind you. This throws the reflected light on the floor.  It's also the second best way to take a photo of your painting 
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