Night light for Nocturnes

edited October 2021 in Studio & Supplies
I need a light for discrete painting, possibly for indoors, but mostly for night time plein air.

I have decided between two models I can get locally.  They both have adjustment for colour temperature, and brightness.  The cheaper/smaller model only adjusts to 3 color temp from cool, natural, and warm,  A range from 3000, 400, and 6500 K.  I seem to recall Mark saying he wanted 5000-5500. 

One well known outdoor painter said he preferred slightly blue light at night, so maybe 4K would be OK.  Just wondering whether I should splash out for the more expensive light that has infinite adjustment, I would anyway, were it not for the fact it is a little large and heavy.  Otherwise it is really nice.  But is 4000K a deal breaker?

They have different "clamps" but that is OK, I expect to have to adapt those.

I would also be interested if you got similar lights for computer work.  I would be interested if the light range is really low to POW.  I figure at night outside I would need fairly low light.


  • So the simple version would be is 4000K a reasonable light for the easel in outdoor painting?
  • edited October 2021
    Just so you know how much weight to put on my response, I have absolutely no idea, I've never tried it - I'm just having conversation and trying to think it through.
    I find the idea of painting at night really challenging. I'm sure people have sorted it out.
    Eyes adjusting between light and dark: Every time you look at your canvas your eyes have to adjust to the bright light and then again at source. I would definitely want to kill the white on canvas before I started to reduce that effect.  I guess you balance it by dropping the brightness of the light as well?
    Using blue light changes your colours: The second thing is - if you use light with more blue I would think that all of your colours will look different in daylight. They will all shift towards orange, in theory.  Whereas in the dark the last light we can see I think is blue - which we associate with dark. The 'blue hour' around sunset caused by Rayleigh Scattering. So you probably want blue light in the picture but you're mixing under a blue cast light so you will mix too orange?
    What colour light do you want the painting to be viewed? My limited study of lighting suggests we should always paint in the light we want to display the painting.
    But it sounds like you've read up on people who have done this, so you probably know more about it.
  • Here is what I use and it works great.

    EverBrite 2-Pack Headlamp Flashlight for Running, Camping, Reading, Fishing, Hunting, Walking, Jogging Head Light Durable, Lightweight Batteries Included - - AmazonSmile

     I decided to not overthink the color temperature of the light because no one is going to know what it is that I saw anyway.  It give me a good idea of what I am mixing and what the painting is going to look like on the wall. There are a "white" LED and the brightness is adjustable.  The colors in my paintings look like what I remember from the scene.  Most nocturne painters "push" their colors anyway. 

    Yes, I definitely have to turn the light off and let my eyes adjust to the lighting of my scene, but this isn't a big problem.  

    Here's a nocturne I did recently of a moonrise over Sea Island, Georgia.  The view was across a marsh and it was pitch black except for the moonlight.  So fairly extreme difference.

  • There are some people who have good video on YT for this stuff, or OK anyway.  I noticed one was using a special light for night painting that has a lot of adjustments.  The nearest I could find were monitor lights, and I think it could be good for a small still life box also.  I am holding off because I am away from home and can't take delivery anyway.

    Most nocturnes seem to be urban, so you are not going to get a whole lot of natural light anyway.

    People seem to use one light on the canvas, and one light on the palette. 

    This guy does them professionally.

    Two book light set up,

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