Sunday, February 9, 2014

Correct Lighting for an Artist's Studio

We can’t all be lucky enough to have huge, custom built studios, complete with a wall of north light windows. Here's a White Stripes video to explain how we all have feel at some point about needing a bigger, better room!

So what do you do when you you are working in a spare bedroom, (where my old studio was) the basement, a garage, a corner of the kitchen (I've also had one there) or a converted family room? That's where my current studio is and I love it. I've had many different light solutions but this is the best yet for my space.

Things to consider:

Size of the studio:

My ceiling height is 9'7" and the floor space of the area where I paint is 14.5"x20". The corners of the room are a little dark, but there is plenty of light over my easel area. The ceiling are tall enough that I don't get a glare on the painting.

What kind and how many light fixtures do you need:

We replaced the standard family room ceiling fixture with two kitchen fixtures. Each holds 4- 48" florescent lights. We had two switches in the room, one for the light and one for a ceiling fan. We wired one switch to each light so I have the flexibility of having only one light on at a time. This is useful for still life set ups or lighting a model.

Choosing bulbs:

Color Temperature or K-When choosing lights we looked for daylight bulbs, 5000k which is considered horizon daylight. Bulbs below 5000k tend to be too warm, and 5500-6000k is considered vertical daylight and equivalent to electronic flash. Those bulbs are too cool blue for my taste. 

CRI or Color Rendering Index of the bulb- The CRI measures of the ability of a light source to reproduce the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source. Bulbs with a number close to 100 are the best, preferred for use in print businesses and anywhere color accuracy is important. This Philips bulb (F32T8/TL950) is one with the highest CRI of 98 that I found.

Where to get bulbs:

I found them on Amazon. Other place have them cheaper but most sell in bulk of a minimum of 25 bulbs.

I have a few GE Sunshine F32's mixed in which are also 5000k but have a color rendering index of only 86. When those go out I'll probably replace them with the F32T8/TL950 bulbs.

More about CRI:

You can make yourself crazy researching this because much has been written about CRI and color temperature of lighting, but my solution seems to be working really well. 

With my old lighting, pole lights with color corrected bulbs placed at different places throughout the studio, I would have surprises when I looked at the painting in different light. I was constantly moving paintings back and forth between the studio and up to the kitchen which had better, natural lighting, to check the color. I was constantly moving the light around to avoid glare on the paintings. Happily these bulbs corrected that.

Most of this information first appeared in my email Newsletter, that you can sign up for here!

Good luck and happy painting in whatever little room you call your own!


  1. Ha,ha. You're welcome. Thank you for reading.

  2. Can you tell me where you bought and what the brand of the light fixture

    1. Tim, it has been awhile since we purchased those. I really don't remember the brand. They came from Home Depot. Thank you for checking out my blog.



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