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Old 02-12-2012, 06:10 PM
dustonpaper dustonpaper is offline
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Portrait painting/drawing from life in single room flat ... idea needed

Hello,

I would like to do more life work from models, from photo doesn't get me any further and bores me and the life drawing group for 2 hours a week hardly enough to satisfy my appetite for learning. The problem is that my room is limited to one single room flat where I do sleep, eat and paint. I live in one of the most expensive areas of my country, without earning the wage I would like in my dayjob , so renting a bigger flat or a small atelier gives me a dilemma: either I pay for more room and have no money left for good painting supplies and to pay models. Or I have the money I need to pay for my supplies and the models but I have to stay low profile with the flat rent. Using friends as model is no good ... to much expectation on both sides, I wait with portrait from friends until I am good enough.

So in the last days I was thinking and trying how to do something with my flat and this is the idea I came up with:

Since I work only standing I need the model to sit on a higher ground so I will be eye-level with the model while painting.
An extra platform takes too much room, so the best idea I came upon was to use my bed. I take out the mattress and lay in a masonite plate in instead ... seems to work fine.

It looks like this now:


The ugly dude in the overall thats me btw. Nevermind the scraped off portrait on the canvas.

Further I will buy some dark cloth to hang behind the model in the corner, some really dark grey, black or blue I guess, not exactly sure yet. That should suck up the light from the back so it does not reflect on the model from behind ?

With this setup I can step back about 3m from the canvas ... not as much as I liked to be able to, but that's all the room gives.

One problem with this setup is that the window is behind the model, so I will have to close the window blinds so the room is dark and use artificial light for "normal" portraits.
With artificial light I of course need to light my canvas as well, which I so with daylight lamps. And here is the problem. Those daylight lamps I use to make light on my canvas shine on the model as well and they look terrible. I would like a warm light on the model, like a halogen bulb or something. Ideal would be a nice Rembrandt lighting ... but I guess that will not be easy with that small room.

Do you have a good idea how to keep the light for the canvas separate from the model ? The photo does not show it well, but there is much more light on the model from the bright canvas light than the rather dim halogen light I have beside the locker (behind the canvas in the picture).

Maybe a black curtain from the left side of the canvas starting to go far to the right until the locker maybe that goes all the way up to the ceiling ... maybe that would do the trick so I can look left side beside the curtain at the model ?

I guess it is hard to answer from a single photo without being here and witness my miserable room in person. But I thought why not post and ask for an opinion or two.
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Last edited by dustonpaper : 02-12-2012 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 02-13-2012, 12:24 PM
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libby2 libby2 is offline
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Re: Portrait painting/drawing from life in single room flat ... idea needed

I've been thinking about this and can't quite figure out where the canvas/painting light is. Would it be possible for you to point out where it is located with some arrows on the photo? Thanks!
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Old 02-13-2012, 01:34 PM
dustonpaper dustonpaper is offline
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Re: Portrait painting/drawing from life in single room flat ... idea needed

Hello libby2 and thank you for looking ...

here is another photo I just made:



The canvas light is in the right upper corner mounted on a metal shelf. The distance from the lamp to the canvas is about 2m or 2,50m (looks more in the photo than in reality).
The problem becomes better visible in this picture ... you can see how strong it lights not only the canvas but the corner where I intend to position the model. Nevermind the balloon lamp, I will remove that one (originally I painted in another corner of the room where the balloon lamp was no problem, now it is in the way somewhat).

Today I ordered 15x3m Molton stage curtain with 300g/m≤ in black. That is supposed to be special fabric that absorbs maximum light and is used on theatre stages etc. ... also fire resistant to some point. With that I will cover the corner for the model and with the fabric left I'll try to make a curtain to block the canvas light from reaching the model but still allows me to look on the model to the left side.
Like in this schematic (not in proportion of the real room, just to visualize what I have in mind):


(the thing in the painters hand is meant to be a brush )

Maybe that could work ?
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Old 02-13-2012, 06:43 PM
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libby2 libby2 is offline
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Re: Portrait painting/drawing from life in single room flat ... idea needed

Hi Dustonpaper,

Yes, I think that would work. Could you attach the lamp to your easel? Because it has a long arm that could be positioned far enough away so there might not be glare on the canvas, and also not shine on your model.

BTW, all you really need is something dark enough and long enough to block the light from the lamp, it doesnít necessarily have to be floor to ceiling, just enough to block the section of light that hits the model. It could be cardboard, heavy cloth, blinds (Ikea has wood blinds that block the light, but these have to be mounted to the wall or ceiling), a quilt, anything that blocks that section of light.....just mentioning it in case you already have, or can easily get.

Here are some other ideas if available: I use clamp lights a lot, I just take them with me from room to room and plug in with an extension cord. They are fairly cheap over here selling in the discount stores and hardware stores for under $10, which Iíve clamped onto anything from hooks for hanging plants, to curtain rods. I also made some wood blocks that I use as stands for them:



Another thing I have is a clamp on easel lamp purchased at the hardware store for about $15... the art stores sell the same thing for around $75 I think (itís ridiculous!). Although it does glare somewhat on the canvas which can be annoying because the arm isnít long enough.


Hereís a link to a site to build studio lights cheaply, I particularly like the first one and am on the look-out (or rather my husband is on the look-out) for an old office chair base. But they can be made out of 2x4 wood studs or pvc tubing!
http://www.instructables.com/id/Phot...asy-and-handy/
http://www.instructables.com/id/30-P...-Setup-lights/
http://www.instructables.com/id/Buil...d-for-Under-5/
I think a couple of these designs could be easily combined with out too much difficulty. The instructables site is great for problem solving, Iíve spent many hours there.

I hope it helps some.

Libby

ps. I like your drawing, esp. the little guy w/the paint brush!

Last edited by libby2 : 02-13-2012 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 02-14-2012, 02:32 AM
dustonpaper dustonpaper is offline
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Re: Portrait painting/drawing from life in single room flat ... idea needed

Thank you so much Libby for taking your time to help me . These are GREAT suggestions and I love the ideas about building inexpensive yet fully functional light stands myself.

I think I will get my black cloth tomorrow and then set it all up and post an update. I intend to invite the first model the weekend after the coming weekend and if all goes well I plan to work a full day with a model twice a month.
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Old 02-14-2012, 02:06 PM
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Re: Portrait painting/drawing from life in single room flat ... idea needed

You're welcome! The lightstand's are cool aren't they? I plan on building one as soon as the "junk" room/former garage can be finished into a studio. Right now I have an old cast iron floor lamp that I clamp a light onto, it's a little short, only about 5' tall, but does the trick as long as I aim the light at the ceiling or wall.

Good luck with the models! Sounds like a lot of fun, to be able to paint all day without interuption.
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