Studio lighting also has a huge impact on the work you produce. It’s ideal to have a north-facing window in your studio if you live in the northern hemisphere, as north light fluctuates the least over the course of the day; while in the southern hemisphere, south-facing light works best. Though it’s enormously appealing to have natural light in the studio, it can be difficult to deal with. It tracks through the room during the day, and could give a false intensity to palette colors. Painters in this situation may end up blocking or diffusing the light with blinds.
All is not lost, however, if your studio has no windows at all. Many artists find a way to work successfully under certain artificial lights. There are three main options for studio lighting: incandescent/halogen, fluorescent, and LED.
Incandescent and halogen bulbs cast a yellowish light that can make accurate color mixing difficult. They also emit a lot of heat, which could be problematic in a small space.
Fluorescent lighting is better for working with color, but the bulbs have a short lifespan, and they dim and flicker as they age. They also contain mercury, meaning that spent bulbs require special disposal as hazardous waste.
LEDs may be your best option for studio lighting. They’re energy efficient, cool, and able to cast a bright, even light for up to 50,000 hours. Artists should look for a light with a high Color Rendering Index (CRI) to ensure that colors look accurate under its glow. A rating of 90 or more on this 1-to-100 scale is ideal.
The size of the light is also something to consider. Though they’re a common choice, spot lights such as standing lamps or clamp lamps can be difficult to work with because they don’t illuminate the canvas evenly; they create a vignette of brightness while leaving the canvas edges in shadow. Instead, painters may want to opt for a light panel mounted to the ceiling to fill the studio with consistent, bright light from corner to corner.