Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Studio, Part II

Getting good light out of any new studio can be difficult. Good light in this case refers to the quality, not quantity of light in an art studio.

The ideal setup for natural light would be a high-facing north window. This provides the simplest, most stable light source throughout the day, avoiding direct sunlight. Having reliable, stable light and shadow patterns is incredibly important when it comes to figurative work.

My studio was not the ideal. On one wall there was a large window facing the southwest. On the roof,  several large skylights flooded the studio with light. Direct sunlight flooded the room at various times of day. The challenge was to figure out if I could work around the studio's limitations. Long term, I could consider finding a better workspace.

To deal with the window, I built a small wooden frame to inside. The frame was covered top to bottom with tracing paper, blocking direct sunlight helping to disperse the light. There was nothing I could do about the skylight.

To test things out,  I hired a model and did a quick charcoal sketch. This was done in a single shot one morning.

The results were only acceptable. This confirmed my suspicions that I was not going to be able to get the kinds of light that I wanted from this particular studio.

One alternative I explored was constructing a light box. The concept of the light box was to artificially mimic the good attributes of natural light. The light source would be multiple daylight temperature fluorescent lights. A simple box would house and support the lights, and a frame would elevate the box up in the air.

I threw together a quick prototype, which was a challenge without easy access to power tools.

Here is a shot of the light box fully ablaze. This box uses a pair of cool daylight temp grow lights. These are compact, bright for their size, and are designed to be easy to hook up together. The mouth of the box is covered with vellum to help disperse the light.

The frame is constructed from PVC tubing and is about 8 feet tall. DIY grow light stands are built a similar way, that was my inspiration.

The light produced by the box was decent but nothing to write home about. It did share some positive attributes of natural light, and had some unnatural qualities I did not like. Perhaps with some tinkering and a real box I could improve the concept further.

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