How to Choose the Right Lighting for Your Art Studio
You found the perfect spot to make art but the lighting, well, isn’t all that enlightening. Maybe, you enjoy painting at night or on gloomy days but you need brightness to truly see your process unfold.
Don’t be left in the dark when it comes to illuminating your creative space. Artist Koo Schadler shines some light on how to choose the right art studio lighting.
Let There Be Light … In Your Art Studio
Natural light, often referred to as full-spectrum light, is generally considered the best illumination to work under. Unfortunately, the term “full-spectrum lighting” has no fixed definition.
The phrase is used by the lighting industry to denote bulbs that mimic the properties of sunlight, but some bulbs designated this way perform better than others.
State arts councils are great sources not only of grant monies but also of information. They provide seminars on artist professionalism, and they keep artist registries which are accessed by organizations across the country.
What to Look For
The color-rendering index (CRI) indicates a light’s ability to illuminate color accurately. The sun has a CRI of 100. Bulbs with a CRI of 80 to 100 are best at revealing vibrant, natural hues.
The correlated color temperature (CCT), measured in Kelvin, refers to how warm or cool a light appears. Too warm a bulb may tint work reddish yellow, whereas too cool of a light can turn things blue.
For a good balance of warmth and coolness, look for bulbs with a CCT of 5500 K, the equivalent of the midday sun. If you prefer cooler light, akin to north light, look for bulbs rated 7500 K.
Luminosity or brightness is also important to consider. The formulas for measuring brightness are complicated. Suffice to say that you want as many fixtures as needed to give yourself ample illumination.
This may sound obvious, yet I’ve been in many under-illuminated studios that just needed another fixture or two to remedy the problem.
Where to Buy
Many hardware stores sell fluorescent bulbs with good CRI and CCT numbers (read the packaging carefully). I’ve seen 80 CRI/5500 CCT compact fluorescents for as little as $3 a bulb. Online stores sell bulbs as well, but shop around, as prices vary tremendously.
Make sure the bulb you buy is compatible with your existing fixtures. Rows of fluorescent tube ceiling lights provide good luminosity but are costly.
A more affordable option is to install strips of track lighting that can be plugged into existing outlets and outfitted with screw-in, compact fluorescents. I recommend you employ an experienced electrician for any electrical work.