Monday, 5 December 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel

Here's the little corner of the house where I do most of my painting. It's nothing fancy, nor permanent. It's simply one end of the dining table, covered with an old cloth. The grey plastic box contains most of my paints, brushes, etc. These are then stored away in a cupboard at the end of each day (so we can use the table to eat from!).

The patio window faces south east, which means it gets plenty of sunlight in the morning, less in the afternoon. In spring and autumn this is ideal, I can generally paint all day long in good, natural light. Summer can be a bit problematic, in that too much light (and heat) streams in, so I tend to use a portable desk away from the direct light, sometimes in the garden in the shade of a tree. But winter causes the biggest problem of all.

You probably cannot see it, but there's snow falling in the garden. And the light levels are very low at this time of year. Painting by natural light is often impossible during these darker months.

The solution is one I have struggled with for years. I have tried several lamps, with varying costs and various levels of success. The main problem is not so much the bulbs, but the lamps, with complicated angle poise or bendy metal arms to allow multiple positioning of the lamp. I have gone through three in as many years, and at £100 per lamp it's costing me dearly.

However, I think I might have found the solution. My latest attempt at illumination is showing great promise. It's a floor lamp that sits just above head height (when seated), so it's perfect at providing plenty of light just over the shoulder, at eye level. I don't have to hunch forward to peer into the pool of light provided by a desk lamp, I can sit back, which is comfortable and more healthy. It has "daylight" bulbs, which are supposed to roughly match the ambient light that would be produced at midday in summer, or at least that's the claim. It's not the same as natural light, it's more of a white light, which is a decent second best to the real thing (for me at any rate). So it gives a good amount of light that is similar to the real thing, a little bit brighter than I would like, but nothing is ever going to match that lovely soft light from an overcast day in the north of England!

Best of all, it's much, much cheaper than previous lamps. I got mine from Amazon in the UK. I had been looking at it for a few weeks, it was already a bargain at £40, but then amazingly it cropped up in the Black Friday promotion and I snapped it up for £30. Here's a link for the lamp in question, still a very good buy at the £40 price tag, if you are looking for a new lamp.

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