To begin this painting, I drew the lamp first and then all the books, at all their differing angles. The inspiration here was the light cast by the kerosene as this particular fuel projects a very bright yellow shadow around itself.
I painted in the background first, painting the reference books on the left red, with yellow ochre writing, and blue label. The books on the right I painted green and red. Once the background was 100% dry I added medium yellow to the parts of the books that the light was reflected on. I then made a weak glaze of a chromatic black. I glazed all areas of the background with that glaze except the yellow glimpses of cast light.
I then painted the lamp, this was great fun. I underpainted with medium yellow and carefully added the light to the lamp from the flame. I mixed a wide variety of brown colours, from light to dark using a mix of burnt sienna, burnt umber and chromatic black, all varying degrees of the three colours. I worked from light to dark adding the brown mixes and was guided by the light from the lamp.
I then painted the crocheted table covering. I mixed a yellow ochre with white as the colour of the cover is not a true colour, more manufactured. After painting the pattern of the cloth, I used a Prussian blue to paint around the cloth and add the negative spaces of the holes in the pattern.
I then painted the pile of books in the foreground. I used medium yellow for the bright cast shadows, chromatic black (almost neat) for the darkest shadows and chromatic black washes for the lighter areas of shadow. I used scarlet red for the red book cover, viridian for the green one and cerulean blue for the blue one. I used yellow ochre to paint in the edges of the pages. I added a passage of writing I composed myself to the book. When that was dry I glazed over it with a wash of zinc white mixed with 10% red, to give the pages an aged appearance.
Finally, I added a very dark mix of chromatic black to the extreme right hand side of the composition, which is in total darkness.