When it comes to your artist studio one of the most important things to consider is lighting. Good artist lighting for painting is essential for seeing the colors in your work correctly and ensuring that you’re able to produce your best work.
The most ideal lighting situation for a painting studio is to have natural lighting with a north facing window as it keeps the most consistent light throughout the day. Natural daylight allows you to see colors the most accurately while regular indoor lights will change how colors look significantly.
So, what do you do if your studio is in a windowless basement? Or if you want to paint in the evenings after the sun has already set? Let’s start out by taking a look at the different lighting options for your art studio.
Artist Lighting for Studios
For artists who need to use artificial lighting in their art studios, there are a lot of different options available. Some of the best options include:
- LED lights
- Halogen Lights
- Fluorescent Lights
Each type of light has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose the type of light that will work best for your specific needs.
Lighting and Accurate Color
Before we start getting into specific lights for painting you can use in your artist studio, there are a few things to take into account. The Color Rendering Index (CRI) and color temperature are two important factors to consider, as they can affect how you perceive colors when you are painting.
The CRI is a measure of how accurately a light source can render color. Light sources with a low CRI may look fine to us, but can result in poor color rendering for an artist studio. Lighting with a high CRI, on the other hand, appears more accurate and natural and will help artists’ eyes adjust faster. Lights that have a CRI of 80 or more is recommended for artists’ studios, while 95+ is considered ideal. Notice this illustrated in the graph above
Color Temperature in Lighting
While the CRI will tell you how accurate the lighting source is, it does not indicate whether colors will be warm or cool. For this, you will need to look at the color temperature of the light. To make it easier to understand, here is a list of some common color temperatures and what they look like:
Color temperature refers to the warmth or coolness of light, usually in degrees Kelvin (K). Lighting with a higher color temperature will look more bluish and lighting with a lower color temperature more yellowish. 4600K – 6500K is considered the ‘daylight’ range of light. 5000K is considered to be the best choice for artist lighting as it provides the most ideal color temperature that is similar to daylight in the lighting spectrum.
Light Fixtures for Painting
We live in a day and age where artificial lighting can mimic daylight. This means that we have a variety of different options to choose from when it comes to getting the right type of lighting for our studios. We will explore some of those different options available to us!
LED Lights for Painting
LED lights are a great choice for artist lighting because they provide consistent, bright light without generating a lot of heat. They also last a long time and use very little energy, making them a cost-effective option. However, LED lights are an investment and can be quite expensive to purchase initially. They are well worth it though for the time you will spend in your studio!
If you already have appropriate light fixtures and all you need are LED light bulbs here is a great option:
If you would like to be able to light up a large portion of your studio but also be able to create a spotlight these photography lights work great for painting.
Here is a classic clip on stand light that will give you great illumination while also functioning as a spot light for a still life or portrait.
Fluorescent Lights for Artist Studio Lighting
Fluorescent lights are a popular choice for artists because they are affordable and provide a lot of light. They are a popular choice for general lighting in many spaces. They provide broad, bright light that is perfect for illuminating large areas. Fluorescent lighting can be found in schools, offices, and other commercial spaces. However, they are very useful in art studios as they help give artists the proper light exposure they need.
These particular lights for painting are great if you need to illuminate a larger area in your studio.
To replace bulbs for a fluorescent lighting fixture you can get the fluorescent lamps shown below. You will simply need to put them into your existing T12 fluorescent lighting fixture like the one shown above.
Using artificial artist lighting for master copy paintings
I personally mostly use natural daylight from a window when I paint. However, I do from time to time use artificial light if I paint in the evenings to do master copy study paintings. Seeing accurate color while doing a master copy study is not as important as when painting from life because the photo of the painting I copy from is not the same color as the original painting that hangs in the museum. If you look up any painting online you will notice many different color versions of the same painting because each camera captures the colors differently.
Look at the above image as an example. You can see an unfinished study/ copy of ‘Juan de Pareja’ by Velazquez. Then to the right you will see two different photos of the same painting. Notice how the colors are very different in just these two images alone!
Observing and studying the value structure of a painting is much more important than capturing accurate color when doing a master copy study. You will be able to see accurate values no matter if you are using real daylight or artificial light.
Choosing the Best Lighting for Your Art
We are lucky to live in an age where we have the technology available to us to mimic daylight in our own studio! So, it is fully possible to be able to paint from life using the proper artificial light and also mix up accurate and beautiful colors. The lighting you choose really depends on your specific needs as outlined earlier in this article. In general, LED lights and fluorescent lights are the best choice due to their low cost and high CRI.
Proper lights for painting is absolutely essential to have in a studio, no matter what type of art you are interested in. Lighting can make or break a piece, so take the time to choose the right kind for your particular needs! Whatever light you do choose, be sure to take into account the CRI and color temperature to get the most accurate results. And always remember, natural light is still the best light! 🙂