Friday, March 13, 2015

Into the Light OttLite Easel Lamp Review

Artists are painters of light and shade. Without light, contrasts in values can’t exist, colours can’t be judged and form is weak.

In the ideal world artists’ studios all have north facing windows with natural light flooding in during the day. You wish, right?? Few of us live in an ideal world and we need to artificially boost our ability to judge light and colour values in the studio.  Whether painting under less than ideal conditions, such as grey days, short daylight hours or needing to paint at night or under constant artificial light, every artist looks for a solution to provide a daylight equivalent in their studio.

The OttLite Easel Lamp may be that solution.

Often studio lighting is overhead or through spotlights as we manipulate space and set up to avoid working in our own shadow, or put up with yellowish incandescent or other less than ideal light quality. OttLite has created an easel lamp that clamps on to a variety of easel sizes and provides even daylight direct onto your support.

The Easel Lamp – specifications
Max. Height: 26.5"
Min. Height: 10"
Clamp Width: 6.5" (clamp opening adjusts from .32” to 2” widths)
Weight: 3.97 lbs
Bulb included. Rated to last up to 10,000 hours (Replacement bulb type B)

Where to buy
OttLite easel lamps are available at art supply and specialty lighting stores across North America.  You can find stockists on the OttLite website.

Ease of Assembly
The clamp has generous proportions and fits .32" - 2" mast width
For anything to work for me, assembly has to be simple.  If something comes with a 25 page instruction book and 16 bags of screws and bolts, I’m doomed from the start.  OttLite has ensured that there is minimal assembly required and I had the attachment on the easel in moments, slotted the lamp into the clamped base, plugged it into a wall socket and I was ready to draw, all in less than 5 minutes.

Clamp to the front or side of your easel
There are no tiny moving parts.  This makes adjustment and placement quick and easy.  The clamp is screwed onto the easel mast and locked into place with a lever.  The lamp is slotted into the clamp, and its done. Plug the lamp into a power source and you’re ready to go. Really, its that simple!

Tighten the clamp to fit with the dial, then pull the lever forward to lock into position

Insert the lamp into the clamp, place the power cord into an outlet
The on/off switch is located on the underside of the lamp with a large enough switch to avoid fumbling to make the connection.  With just two pieces, moving the lamp from one easel to another is quick and easy.

Light Quality
My painting Coastal, lit by diffused natural light from a north facing window; the second photo of the painting is lit with an Ottlite Easel lamp. These photos are not edited and were taken with a Canon Rebel XS SLR camera. As you can see there is very little difference, if any, in the light quality

Natural north light

OttLite easel lamp
The lamp performs well under low light conditions and as a supplement to overhead light sources.
Under artificial daylight fluorescent tubes in the studio the first image shows the colour range.

Overhead daylight fluorescent lighting source

Daylight fluorescent overhead lighting with OttLite Easel Lamp as supplement.
OttLite Easel Lamp as the only lighting source in a dark room.

I found the light quality is excellent, giving cool daylight reproduction without glare and true to life colour representation whether as a supplement to natural or overhead lighting or on its own.  There are subtle variances in colour values more than hues between lighting conditions but not enough to cause a significant and unexpected shift when viewed between lighting conditions.

As few artists have, a: north facing windows or b: unlimited daytime hours to paint, this easel lamp can make a huge difference by creating a constant, dependable light source that is accessible whenever required regardless of external variables.

Easel Compatibility

I tried this lamp on a wooden easel with a single mast that has a width of 1.25” x 1” and an aluminum easel with a 1” x .5” wide mast. The lamp looked a little top heavy on the lighter weight easel, but there was no movement in the easel to cause instability from the additional weight.

A smaller easel lamp for portable or lighter weight easels would be a welcome addition to this line of lighting to balance the easel size.  For a studio easel however, the Easel Lamp provides ample light coverage without the ends of a painting or drawing being in shadow.  The flexible goose neck of the lamp allows one hand adjustment to direct the light just where its needed.

Win an OttLite Easel Lamp!
Here’s the chance to win your own lamp through the generosity of OttLite.

To enter the draw for an easel lamp, leave your name and email (your email will not be public) through the Inlinkz widget below.  On April 1st, a winning name from will be drawn from entries received and the winner notified by email.

Sorry, entries are accepted only from continental USA and Canada.