Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lighting for Your Studio

Years ago I was fortunate to build a dedicated area in my basement to paint. I had installed in the ceiling three recessed lights above my 14' working area. Then I went out to buy some bulbs thinking that I was only looking at how much coverage each bulb would provide me on the work surface.

Little did I know that there were so many differences between lighting types, styles, colour temperatures, Kelvin’s, CRI’s the list seems to go on!

Of course natural light would be ideal, but that's not possible for some of us.  In any event, natural light changes throughout the day.

There are three things to know about light bulbs for your studio.

1. Color Temperature: The colour temperature of bulbs are measured on the Kelvin (K). 5000K will give you a nice white light

The color of the light that illuminates the painting you are working on or your palette where you mix your paint affects the visible hue, value and chroma of the paint. Painting with a standard incandescent light bulb is like looking through a yellow filter. It shifts all the paint colors towards yellow.

Chart from:

2. Brightness:  The amount of light emitted from your bulb is measured in lumens. For example a candle emits 12 lumens and a 32 watt compact fluorescent bulb emits 2000 lumens. Compact fluorescent bulbs are much more efficient in light output than incandescent bulbs. A 42 watt compact fluorescent bulb is equivalent to a 200 watt incandescent bulb.

For a medium sized room, a total of 7000-8000 lumens is plenty. With a compact fluorescent light, that is usually about 110-125 Watts. It might be a good idea to get 2 or 3 bulbs totalling 7000 lumens and spread them around.
3. CRI Rating:  The Color Rendering Index (CRI) measures how much of an effect the light has on the perceived color of an object. The scale ranges from 1 to 100. A higher rating (+80) makes colors look natural and vibrant while a low rating can completely change the hue of objects.  The sun has a CRI of 100.  A high CRI alone does not mean colors will be accurate if the color temperature is extreme. Incandescent bulbs for example have a perfect CRI of 100, but the extreme yellow light will shift the colors.

What to choose
For many people, the compact fluorescent bulbs have many advantages. They come in a large range of color temperatures, they use less energy, they are brighter, and last longer. These bulbs are eco-friendly and you end up saving money in energy costs. Their only disadvantage is they take a few minutes to fully light up, but the benefits are worth it.

In my case, I'm still looking for the better bulb. Although compact fluorescent bulb work well, it certainly gives an odd look to the lighting and ceiling.

Can someone recommend an ideal bulb for recessed lights?

This week's artist find is Joan Zageris

watercolour by Joan Zageris

Happy valentine and have a great painting week,

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