Lighting For The Art Desk

What Kind of Lights?

Table Lamps

My lighting has evolved over time, beginning with just what I had around the house - a table lamp with a 40 or 60 watt lightbulb in it.  I soon found out, however, that not only did this not provide ample lighting for me to see what I was drawing or painting, but it also did not provide the right kind of light for taking photos of my subjects, nor could I use it to give a highlighted area for good contrast as is necessary for botanical illustration.

LED OttLites

Eventually I invested in an LED OttLite from Michaels, using their 50% off coupon, which was much needed as these lights can be quite expensive!  You can see this light in the left hand side of my photo below, and here is the link to Michaels - I believe you can also find them on Amazon periodically.  OttLite Natural Daylight LED Flex Lamp

This Flex Lamp is amazing for nice daylight, bright white lighting on my work area. Since the light itself is long, it stretches out over a good portion of my work area and is very helpful.  At this point, I plan to get another one for the right side of my desk as soon as I get another 50% off coupon!

You may notice in the photo below that I have another light attached to my Flex Lamp on the left. This is a smaller light that I use to give light on my subject at just the right place which in turn provides a nice highlighted area on my subject, resulting finally in a beautiful contrast of my composition.  This is also an OttLite from Michaels and is called the LED Cone Clip Lamp

Here's a photo of how I have the LED Cone Clip Lamp attached to my LED Flex Lamp...


Both lamp arms are bendable and this makes it so nice to have light just where I want it.

A Reading Lamp

Thirdly, this is a reading lamp that normally sits by my husband's reading chair, but which I use during the day when he's at work. It is a large floor lamp that gives nice 60 watt white daylight from my right side.  I'm okay with this for now and I do like the light that it gives, but as I said above, I will get another OttLite Natural Daylight LED Flex Lamp for this side of my desk as soon as I see another 50% off coupon from Michaels.  The LED lights are so much more efficient, lasting 100,000 + hours, and they do not get as hot as a regular bulb which is really nice if you have two or three of them on your art desk as I do.  If you are interested, the floor lamp I use right now is from Target and is called the Crosby Schoolhouse Floor Lamp - Threshold


Photography Lights

As well as these three lights that are constantly on or near my art desk - I also have two photography lights that I purchased on Amazon. These are for providing really bright light for white, white backgrounds of my botanical illustration pieces, as well as for providing really bright light when I begin providing art videos one day :)  You can see in this photo how much these two lights brighten up my surrounding for a video or photo...

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They are pretty big lights as you can see in the photo below, but they break down and fold up easily into their own carrying case. You do have to store the light bulbs carefully as they are huge and can break easily. But these two lights are very much worth saving up for and investing in, if you plan to shoot videos of your work one day, or plan to put your botanical illustration in exhibitions. Also, they do put off a lot of heat. 

There are different brands, but the ones I purchased are LimoStudio 700W Photography Softbox Lights.


Since I work mainly in the evenings when it is quite dark, I decided to added just one of these huge lights to the right side of my current studio area and it has provided so much great white light that I will never go without it again. By itself it has not been too hot to work under either. Here's a photo...


I need to reorganize a bit now or raise my light up to the very top corner of the ceiling (it is on an extendable rod), but you can see how much brighter my work area is and here's how much nicer my photos turn out!

 Photo without the large light...

Photo without the large light...

 Photo with the large light.

Photo with the large light.

So there you have it on lights for the art desk. If you have any great ideas for lights that you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email to - and I will be sure to share it here!



Constance Reeder