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DickHutchings
12-15-2018, 09:35 AM
I moved my oil painting stuff down to the basement workshop area. Guests are coming so I have to air out the guest room. Immediately upon placing my dog portrait in the new lighting, I could see lots of color and shading errors. I think I'll continue using this area as my studio of sorts. I'll just need to cover my art if I do any woodworking.

Raffless
12-15-2018, 10:12 AM
The key thing with lighting is consistency. One room will represent the painting differently from another. The mistakes sometimes aren't mistakes but the lighting being uneven. Try to be consistent.

AnnieA
12-15-2018, 11:59 AM
The problem with lighting a painting is that you never know what other sorts of lighting under which it may later be exhibited. And different kinds of lighting, as you've noted, Dick, can create a very different look.

I recently purchased some high-CRI bulbs and am happy with the vibrant color they produce. But I've started to worry that may make my paintings look washed out when viewed under normal lighting (whatever that is these days).

Pinguino
12-15-2018, 01:05 PM
Search this site for recent threads on the topic of "high CRI LED".

contumacious
12-15-2018, 03:49 PM
There is a good chance that the lights in your basement are way off - color temperature and purity wise which would contribute to your painting looking "wrong".

That is a good thread Pinguino mentioned. I am moving to high CRI LED's for all my studio lighting. The bulbs are so cheap now - under $2 for a 90+ CRI, there is no reason not to.

As I see it there are basically two paths to take for consistent studio lighting. (Note the word consistent - As lovely as North Light is, it is not consistent in color temperature or intensity. Plus it really needs to come in from above at a an angle, not straight in a North facing window, which is pretty difficult for most people to achieve.)

1 - Duplicate the light that is shining on your easel / still life to match the light that will be falling on the painting once it is in its final destination, be that someones home, a gallery or "The Le Loover". ;=)

2 - Light your studio with clean white (CRI 90+) LEDs at the color temperature you prefer and stick to it for every piece, letting the "light" chips fall where they may, once it leaves your hands.

Since you can't control where most pieces are going to hang, I am going with Viribright brand, 4000K color temp and 90+ CRI lights. 6500K+ is too blue for me, 2700 is too warm.

Ted Bunker
12-15-2018, 07:30 PM
Good reliable North light isn't what it used to be either. Modern highly energy-efficient energy conservation coatings and double-panel exotic gases are altering the color-rendering qualities of outdoor light significantly. On a sunny day and again on an overcast day partially-open a North window in your studio space and compare what you see through the panel ...and through the open-portion... you might be shocked.

Many modern glass coating not only reflect or block both Infrared and UV-a and UV-b, but also modify the light profile of visible light they allow through.

DickHutchings
12-17-2018, 11:23 AM
1 - Duplicate the light that is shining on your easel / still life to match the light that will be falling on the painting once it is in its final destination, be that someones home, a gallery or "The Le Loover". ;=)

That would be almost none in most cases. I can't paint like that.

2 - Light your studio with clean white (CRI 90+) LEDs at the color temperature you prefer and stick to it for every piece, letting the "light" chips fall where they may, once it leaves your hands.

Mine are from Job Lot and I have no idea what they are but I like them a lot.

Since you can't control where most pieces are going to hang, I am going with Viribright brand, 4000K color temp and 90+ CRI lights. 6500K+ is too blue for me, 2700 is too warm.

Pinguino
12-17-2018, 11:48 AM
On a related (?) note: I believe that "north light" illumination is misunderstood and/or overrated.

If a studio is illuminated only by blue sky, then its equivalent color temperature will be very high, perhaps 9000K or more. This is nowhere near any reasonable indoor color temperature, regardless of method of illumination (unless it is also north light).

Rather, the purpose of north light is "sun not directly shining here". If the sun shone directly into the studio while painting, then the illumination would dramatically change as time progressed in a session. If the painting is of a live model (and a lot of classics where ddone that way) then the model will be illuminated differently, be subject to varying amounts of heat and cold, and may squint. With indirect and diffuse lighting, there would be no problem. Modeling for shadows could be done by using a large candle placed in a fixed position.

Also, the classical north light studio probably did not have white walls. If the walls were strongly colored, then they could partially neutralize the over-blue skylight.

I suggest that those using high CRI LEDs, should look for color temperature in the 3000K-5000K range. Even 6500K, meant to emulate direct sunlight, is too blue, because paintings won't be exhibited that way. At the low end, 3000K is similar to what a halogen lamp provides, but I suspect that within a few years halogen lamps will be replaced by LEDs, in which case any color temperature can be used. Seems to me that 4000K is a good compromise, and there are high CRI LEDs at this value.

Raffless
12-17-2018, 12:49 PM
On a related (?) note: I believe that "north light" illumination is misunderstood and/or overrated.

If a studio is illuminated only by blue sky, then its equivalent color temperature will be very high, perhaps 9000K or more. This is nowhere near any reasonable indoor color temperature, regardless of method of illumination (unless it is also north light).

Rather, the purpose of north light is "sun not directly shining here". If the sun shone directly into the studio while painting, then the illumination would dramatically change as time progressed in a session. If the painting is of a live model (and a lot of classics where ddone that way) then the model will be illuminated differently, be subject to varying amounts of heat and cold, and may squint. With indirect and diffuse lighting, there would be no problem. Modeling for shadows could be done by using a large candle placed in a fixed position.

Also, the classical north light studio probably did not have white walls. If the walls were strongly colored, then they could partially neutralize the over-blue skylight.

I suggest that those using high CRI LEDs, should look for color temperature in the 3000K-5000K range. Even 6500K, meant to emulate direct sunlight, is too blue, because paintings won't be exhibited that way. At the low end, 3000K is similar to what a halogen lamp provides, but I suspect that within a few years halogen lamps will be replaced by LEDs, in which case any color temperature can be used. Seems to me that 4000K is a good compromise, and there are high CRI LEDs at this value.

I would agree so far that North light studios on blue sky days are wrong temp wise. However i am lucky as most days we have overcast cloudy days here. And im biased here but i believe the light i get is the best to work in. But i have less time because of the conditions. Indoor lighting causes eyestrain for me.

contumacious
12-17-2018, 03:18 PM
Indoor lighting causes eyestrain for me.

I am curious as to whether you have tried several different types of electric lighting. Any type of fluorescent bulbs give me eye strain, nausea and bad headaches no matter the color temperature. If you are using fluorescent bulbs anywhere in the studio, I would suspect that would be the root of your problem. They are without a doubt the very worst light you can ever use in a studio for some people, yet others are not bothered by them. It would be interesting to see if lighting only with a 90+ CRI 2700K or 4000K Cree or a Viribright bulb would still give you eye strain if you have never tried them.


Tungsten and Halogen do not give me problems, but the desired color temperature is difficult to obtain with those bulbs plus the good ones are pretty expensive and use a lot of power. The position of the easel lights is critical for me as far as comfortable lighting. I have two reflector stands that are at 35 degrees from vertical and 35 to 45 degrees off to the left and the right. They have barn doors on them so I do not get any direct light from the bulb in my eyes. I can work with that for many hours with no problems and there is minimal reflection on the wet paint if I keep the easel straight up or tipped slightly forward.

contumacious
12-17-2018, 03:24 PM
Mine are from Job Lot and I have no idea what they are but I like them a lot.


My guess is that the bulbs you are using probably have a strong color cast in one direction, be it more yellow or more blue etc, and also have an incomplete spectrum which can do very strange things with the way paintings look even though they are appealing to your eye in general. You might want to compare how the painting looks outside on an overcast day, or in the shade of a building with open sky above you, to the way they look under the lights in your basement. If the colors on the painting look off in the basement but OK outside then the lights are the problem. If there is no difference then your bulbs are likely well balanced.

DickHutchings
12-17-2018, 04:02 PM
Thanks contumacious. I'll take it outside and give it a look. I think the problem will lie in the paint change I did. I temporarily switched to Holbein Duo Aqua and the colors are different and I probably didn't do a good job of mixing to my original paints.

AnnieA
12-17-2018, 09:24 PM
I am going with Viribright brand, 4000K color temp and 90+ CRI lights. 6500K+ is too blue for me, 2700 is too warm.
Yes, those are the same ones I'm using now. I'm going with your option 2, but I still worry a little that the paintings I do under the beautiful lighting these bulbs provide are going to look washed out under normal lighting. Have you had any experience with hanging a painting someplace that you've done under these bulbs? If so, I'm curious and would appreciate hearing about your experience. BTW, one of the things I'm trying is to move my lighting fixtures up higher and further away, as having too much light on the painting surface can also have negative effects on the final outcome.

Dick, I'm surprised about your experience with the Duos. Sometimes new materials take a while to get used to, so do you think that maybe you gave up on them too soon? But if you're determined to sell them, I think Derek (Dcam) uses Duos and maybe he'd be interested. I'd love to purchase them but my art supply budget is completely exhausted for the near future (and maybe the far, too :lol:).

DickHutchings
12-18-2018, 05:57 AM
Yes I probably have up too easily. I'm going to give them another try after I purchase some water misceble mediums.

Raffless
12-18-2018, 06:34 AM
I am curious as to whether you have tried several different types of electric lighting. Any type of fluorescent bulbs give me eye strain, nausea and bad headaches no matter the color temperature. If you are using fluorescent bulbs anywhere in the studio, I would suspect that would be the root of your problem. They are without a doubt the very worst light you can ever use in a studio for some people, yet others are not bothered by them. It would be interesting to see if lighting only with a 90+ CRI 2700K or 4000K Cree or a Viribright bulb would still give you eye strain if you have never tried them.


Tungsten and Halogen do not give me problems, but the desired color temperature is difficult to obtain with those bulbs plus the good ones are pretty expensive and use a lot of power. The position of the easel lights is critical for me as far as comfortable lighting. I have two reflector stands that are at 35 degrees from vertical and 35 to 45 degrees off to the left and the right. They have barn doors on them so I do not get any direct light from the bulb in my eyes. I can work with that for many hours with no problems and there is minimal reflection on the wet paint if I keep the easel straight up or tipped slightly forward.

I'm very photosensitive these days after years of working in a studio as a photographer. Any bright light has a bad effect on me. Im one of the few people who loves overcast days. I can take photographs outside with more detail. I can paint in the studio with the lovely North Light windows. Its hard to go back now. I feel a bit spoilt but restricted to the weather and time of day. Heyho you cant have it all :)

Pinguino
12-19-2018, 12:12 PM
I suppose that in the Northern European countries, where the weather is often gloomy (not to mention the people), it is possible to have a north light studio illuminated by overcast skies on most days. That would be good lighting, with 6500K-7500K color temperature. Still bluish compared to indoor illumination, but certainly balanced across the spectrum, so I expect that the eye will naturally compensate.

But where I live, the skies are likely to be completely clear of clouds for 5 or more consecutive months per year. North light illumination would be more like 9500K, which is considerably farther from indoor illumination.

When I first got my paints, I thought I would spend some summer days painting at a local park. It has a set of picnic tables underneath a roof to keep off rain. The illumination is uniformly horizontal from all sides, plus whatever reflects from the white-painted underside of the roof. I could paint in the morning, play soccer at noontime in the adjacent field, then resume painting after lunch. But I rapidly realized that it was a bad location for painting: The surrounding illumination was reflected from grass and trees, and thus had a pronounced green cast.