Monday, November 2, 2009

Studio Lights

new fixture replacing old florescent

My studio is in a spare bedroom in my house - a common situation for many painters - and the standard ceiling lighting is inadequate. A few years ago I replaced the ceiling fixture with a florescent fixture, which flooded the room with bright light but made it difficult to accurately judge color. I added a fixture above the west-facing window and used a floor lamp in one corner, but these fixes still did not give me the lighting I desired.

A month ago I decided to research studio lighting and discovered that many experts suggest a variety of lighting sources and types. I've included links to some of those sites at the end of this post. I understood the obstacles to lighting that I had: West and North facing windows, a ceiling fixture, a room about 11 x 11, and not wanting a major lighting project that would make it difficult to convert the space back into a bedroom if the need arose.

The research I did led me to conclude that I needed multiple light sources that I could control, a way to avoid glare and, conversely, shadows by diffusing the light. I needed task lighting that I could direct down on my work space, and I needed lighting that could work for me both in daylight and at night.

I ended up with a compromise in what I could do. First, I replaced the ceiling florescent fixture with one from the home improvement store that allows me to direct the light. This fixture uses 50 watt GU10 bulbs and the light does have a yellow cast.

Using this light alone I can create a wash of light on the wall and my easel.

But I needed a way to countermand the cast shadows created by this light source. I decided to use floor lamps that direct the light upward to wash across the ceiling. These lights are slightly more blue/white.
One lamp in one corner, another lamp in the opposite corner. The newer lamp uses a 3-way natural light bulb, I'm not sure what is in the other lamp. Above the window I have an adjustable fixture, plus a clamp on light with a GE 50 watt Reveal daylight bulb

I use another clamp on light with a 50 watt Reveal bulb to light my palette and control cast shadows. I also use an Ott Lite above the easel.

While not the ideal if I were planning my dream studio, I find this assortment of lighting sources to be far more flexible than the single wash of light from the florescent fixture. I can control the light and direct it where I want, or increase or decrease the illumination, and it was quite affordable. I would eventually like to purchase a floor stand and a solux light bulb, too.

The above photos were taken at night, with each source "on it's own" - but with all the lights the working environment is comfortable. During the day, when I do most of my work, the ambient light is brighter, more neutral, and yet with all the flexibility I desired.

Useful Links:

An Artists Network PDF on Studio Lighting

A Blog Post From Pastel Artist Daniel Wise

Utrecht Art Fixtures

Solux Fixtures


Pam Holnback said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing. My studio is (was) the dining room, and I have the same light issues. said...

How critical good lighting is... it is easy to overlook it in the pursuit of space.

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