I didn’t want to buy new fixtures and hire an electrician every time I moved. Instead I came up with a portable lighting system (above). On one side of a 1x4x60-inch board, I attached a 4-foot strip of track lighting, which can accommodate up to six track lights. On the other side, I inserted four hooks, one into each corner of the board. I initially hold the board flush against the ceiling above where I paint, so that I can mark where the hooks are and thus where to place respective screw eyes.
With screw eyes inserted into the ceiling, I then loop a length of metal chain through each screw eye and attach the chains to the respective hooks. I adjust the distance of the lights from my work by varying the lengths of the chain until I have good illumination. The track light cord is then plugged into the closest outlet. (Most track lighting strips and circuits can readily accommodate the wattage produced by six compact fluorescent light bulbs. Still, be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations.)
For more information on lighting a studio, see “Everything Is Illuminated,” by Michael Chesley Johnson from the October 2007 issue of The Artist’s Magazine.
A board member of the Society of Tempera Painters, Koo Schadler conducts workshops for egg tempera and old master painting. She’s a master painter of the Copley Society of Art in Boston and author of the book Egg Tempera Painting. For more on her book and her work, visit www.kooschadler.com.