An Online Artist's Coop for Artists who Paint on Location
Plein air painting at night requires artificial light. Unless you can set up under a lamppost, or before a bright storefront, it's BYOL- Bring Your Own Light.
I thought I would briefly share my search for a good portable light, and welcome any comments or suggestions from other Painters Of The Night.
You may have already experienced the effects of working with a tinted light source. I was painting an urban nightscape in Montreal a few years ago, with a new lamp clipped onto my easel. The light was intended to illuminate sheet music for musicians in an orchestra pit or on a darkened stage, and had a slight bluish tinge. I was shocked when I saw my painting in natural light- very orange and brown (see below). This started my quest for a usable plein air light.
After several other missteps, I've ended with a bicycle lamp that straps to my head. The light is very white, adjustable, and the head-mounting means the lamp follows my vision, from palette to panel. My current lamp is a Black Diamond, but I've also used a Petzl, which was excellent.
I'm interested in any experiences you've had with lighting.
I use a campers L.E.D headlamp.(I think that's the same as your light emitting diode flash light Don) It has a slightly blue hue, which doesn't seem to impede my colour mixing. If you find that your light is too blue, Michael Richardson gave me a handy tip a while ago.. He suggested taping some gold cellophane over the blue light, which would warm it a little.
About strapping it to your head..on one of our first nocturne paint outs in Wexford, I strapped mine to my head and got on with the business of painting.I had a double "drive past" from our local Gardai (police cars), and the rest of our painting group told me later that they thought they were looking at tuskar lighthouse ( as my head kept bobbing up and down)
So I guess the moral of the story is..try to avoid causing a distraction to passing motorists..or fellow painters:))
I find lately that I just hold the lamp in one hand. It's quite small and weightless, and I'm able to direct the light best that way. In an ideal setup, I think the lamp needs to be a certain distance away from your canvas/ pallette, to avoid shine etc. To achieve that one would need a light holder that would attach to your easel, and keep the light about 8 inches or more away .I tried a couple of set ups trying to achieve this...and just ended up holding the light - less bother!!
I tried out a Mighty Bright clip on light when we went camping last week. It clipped onto the top of my Easyl and I had no trouble seeing the canvas panel or the paints. I painted from 9:30 to 3:00am by the fire to stay warm. It takes 4 AA batteries and never lost power.I was pretty happy how it performed.
Thanks Patrick for the info and great presentation of the Mighty Brite clip on light.
I have done it holding a flashlight... not good. My cab light in my truck is broken. I have often parked under lamp posts, especially easy in parking lots of malls. And I recently bought both an ear light and reading glasses with two lights, all LED s and not very bright. A bit blueish too,so I don't know. It is hard to judge color. I have been giving less importance to exact color and worrying more about the values. I think the answer, the simple answer, is to just have a flash light, bright enough to see the actual color and then the dimmer lights to do the painting.