View Full Version : Studio Lighting Inquiry

05-18-2015, 01:17 PM
Hi all!!

I am currently having a small studio built and am looking at different lighting options. There will be some west and south facing lighting coming in, but I would like to have overhead lighting be my main source of light. In researching art studio lighting, I find many artists suggest around 5500k lighting using bulbs with a CRI rating of 80-100. It is an importnat decision, but one that feels a bit overwhelming:confused: I am not a fan of CFL lighting as there seems to be a fair amount of health concerns over these lights and probably best avoided. Track lighting seems practical, maybe with LED bulbs as that would be the most cost efficient over the long run, ......halegon seems expensive.....decisions, decisions.......

I would love to know what other artists are using for overhead and/or supplemental lighting, as it is obviously very important to the art that we create. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance for your help!!


05-18-2015, 01:57 PM
Were using LED's in an existing overhead fixture in our studio. Two to look at are the Cree TW and the GE Reveal. CFL's are a RPITA in my opinion. For our gallery, we have LED track lighting and it has worked out nicely. Not exactly sure what bulbs we have there.

05-18-2015, 07:10 PM
Halogen! CRI 100, cheap. Don't use too good light on your easel, or the painting will look too dark in a normal livingroom.

I only have on problem with halogen lights (300 W). They are excellent heaters. I aim my lights at the ceiling, in order to get indirect light on the easel.

I find CRI 80 to be rather bad, I'd recommend 90+

05-18-2015, 10:01 PM
I paint in daylight only unless absolutely necessary, so I don't use any supplementary lighting during daylight hours. I hate to say I am so un-technical, but when I use lights I use regular old-fashioned lightbulbs. Occasionally, I need to re-adjust a color applied at night using the lightbulbs once I see the painting in daylight the next day - but only rarely!


05-19-2015, 12:20 AM
Mike: had to look up RPITA - thought maybe it was some technical term :D , but I really appreciate your input. I will definitely look up the two bulbls you mentioned.

Charlie: Great advice, never realized lighting could be too good - thank you for that insight!

Don: I love your practical approach!

05-19-2015, 07:18 PM
if you are indeed Building a studio , you must have northfacing windows/skylights -
although it is a ' cool ' temp ' b/c of blue sky , it is generally most even thru a day
as a natural light and base point to play with other stuff .

Daniel Greene has an array of north skylights in his studio/barn , ( been there , modeled there )
and the temper of reds/yellows/hots is muted by that light ( Vermeer , etc ? )

i would start with that north light ( it's not just a magazine )
--- it cnnot be reproduced with mechanixs .


05-19-2015, 10:40 PM
Thanks, Ed! The structure I'm enclosing for a studio is an existing structure and unfortunately, does not lend itself to north facing light. I will have a space 3-4 times larger than my existing studio, so that in itself will be a huge deal.

06-09-2015, 10:02 PM
I've tried everything and settled on a good old fashioned shop light with 4 ft "cool white" 4100K bulbs. They are neither warm nor cool, very white and the most natural light. I don't like 5000K bulbs, they are too cool and transparent.

T Porter
06-10-2015, 12:57 PM
My studio is in the basement with no natural light and I use Philips, 4’, T8, 32 watts florescent bulbs.

In my lighting setup I use two different temperature bulbs, 3500K and 5000K, and I alternate them within the light fixture. I do this because I find the 3500K bulbs to be too yellow and the 5000K bulbs to be too blue. By alternating the two different temperature bulbs within the fixture I was able to get the color / temperature light that I like to work with.

Our basement is unfinished and the floor joists are at 94”from the basement floor, which puts the bulbs 91” from the basement floor. Over the easel and directly over my head is a four bulb fixture and within that fixture there are two 3500K bulbs and two 5000K bulbs. They are arranged like this 3500K, 5000K, 3500K, 5000K. Then about 4’ further back from the easel is a two bulb light fixture with one 3500K bulb and one 5000K bulb.

I like a lot of light and this setup provides a very well lit area to work in.

06-11-2015, 11:51 AM
Thanks Tom and Greg! Interesting idea mixing different temp bulbs. Makes sense. I think I will try this. I can certainly see where lighting can be too cool or warm......

06-11-2015, 11:37 PM
I use an Ott-Lite (http://www.ottlite.com/t-why-ottlite.aspx), as these are supposed to be good for showing true color. Definitely worth looking into as you consider lighting for your studio. I love mine, especially when I work at night and can't use daylight. I purchased mine from Joann Fabric (http://www.joann.com/ottlite/).

06-12-2015, 12:36 PM
Loving all of these great lighting ideas. I have an Ott light somewhere.......:)

Moqui Steps
06-13-2015, 01:59 AM
Is there such a thing as a 4000 K -NON- CFL light bulb that isn't outrageously expensive? Currently using Reveal bulbs. They are OK, but would like something brighter and closer to 4000 Kelvin. When I google for 4000 K bulbs, all I find are CFLs.

I loathe the look of CFL lighting of any kind, shape or flavor. It all seems to pulse to me. The light quality seems flat, fake and sterile, plus it gives me major headaches and eyestrain if I have to read or paint under it for more than a few minutes. Not a big fan of LED lights either, at least none that I have seen yet including the Ott lights.

I do like halogen and tungsten but want a 100 or 150 watt bulb that produces 4000 K to put in my antique flood lamps with floor stands.

Do they exist at a price point that won't break the bank? Is there an LED that looks more "natural" like a Halogen? (Remember that the Ott-Lites do not appeal to me.)

Reed Jones
06-13-2015, 05:18 PM
If you can stand one more bit of input on lighting, I suggest that you check out the website for SoLux. They make "True Daylight" 3500k halogen bulbs and corresponding fixtures that are used in museums (if they're good enough for the Musee d'Orsay, they're good enough for me!) and as proofing lighting for photo studios.

I have a 4' long, ceiling-mounted track light w/ 5 repositionable lamps in my attic studio (which has one set of small west-facing windows that are pretty useless, so I totally depend on good, accurate artificial lighting). The lighting cost somewhere between $200-$300 so not too terrible, although if you REALLY want to fire the money cannon, they have some high-end professional lighting and color management options available.

Besides painting in oils, I have worked in the commercial printing industry for 30 years. Accurate color management and consistency is an absolutely essential part of that industry, and fluorescent 5000k lighting is the ONLY lighting used for color evaluation. I have found the 3500k halogen lighting from SoLux to be less cool than 5000k fluorescent bulbs (yes, they are slightly yellow as posted above), and the light they give off is quite bright and even. My paintings go from easel to sunlight with no problem at all. If anything, they look somewhat better in natural light than they do in my studio, which I think of as a good thing. If your work looks a bit off in sunlight, there's something wrong with your studio lighting. If it looks better, lucky you!

If you find SoLux lighting to be too expensive, I suggest you go w/ 5000k fluorescent bulbs. My only beef with 5000k fluorescent bulbs is the cooler, diffused quality of the light, but that's just personal preference. They are pretty darn color-accurate. I'm intrigued by the recommendation of alternating 5000k and 3500k bulbs, although I have not seen what the light from 3500k fluorescent bulbs looks like.

So, congrats on your new studio and good luck w/ the lighting! Maybe you should consider putting in a north-facing skylight? If you're in the process of constructing a good-sized studio, skylights would not be a deal-breaker, cost-wise. I'm trying to install one, but I live in a historic district and the History Police haven't approved my project, yet. I sure hope they cut me some slack, because I want that skylight! it's not the color management, either, it's the "tired of painting in a cave" thing!

Moqui Steps
06-14-2015, 07:27 PM
Reed - That is what I have been looking for! Thanks! I can't believe those never showed up in my google searches. I think google hates me for some reason.:(

Have you tried the 4700K Solux bulbs? I wonder how they compare to the 3500K to use to illuminate an easel. I am guessing the 3500K might be better since most paintings are going to hang in yellow light, indoors.

$6 to $8 / bulb isn't cheap but well worth it to me for the quality of light that Halogen brings with the added bonus of a better color temperature over the significantly more yellow 2800K big box purchased MR16 halogen bulbs and 2900k Reveal standard base bulbs.

Reed Jones
06-18-2015, 10:17 AM
Donald, glad the info helped. Haven't tried any other SoLux products, so can't comment. Went w/ the 3500k because that seemed to be the recommendation on the site for what I wanted and are the bulbs used in photo proofing, which obviously demands color correctness.

Again, they're slightly yellow, but I judge lighting by what a painting looks like in natural sunlight after you've painted it in artificial light. I'm getting really good results w/ the lighting I chose. I'm using a basic Schmid palette, if that helps.