How to light a small space in which to paint?

–because I am finding such a task intensely difficult and annoying. I have been fiddling around with acrylic paints, and I have an old drafting table set up for the purpose. It has one of those positionable-armature incandescent bulb lamps, but I am damned if I can figure out a way to light the table without a hot spot reflecting back at me from the painting surface. I set up an old chicken brooder lamp to throw light over my shoulder, and that didn’t work. I tried reflecting the light from a mirror to one side of the table, and that didn’t work. These are just ordinary art acrylics, not extra-shiny mirror paints. What the hell am I doing wrong? What arcane laws of geometry and optics am I not respecting here? I can’t paint if I can’t see what color I’m mixing.

Maybe you could try bouncing the light off of a white posterboard instead of a mirror?

You can buy plastic diffusers from photo supply stores. I have some that look like they would fit some regular lamps. You will probably need a bright bulb to get enough light with one though.

You could also try shining the light through a piece of tissue ot tracing paper but you need to keep the paper far enough from the bulb that you don’t start a fire.

In school for drafting we (those of use who were right handed) mounted them on the left side of the desk with the light directed to bounce off the table and off to the right.
Mount it on the right and your hand casts a shadow. Mount it on the top and it bounces light into your face.