Ask the Expert, Plus 3

Experts Answer Your Questions

Each week Kim VanDerHoek  and Kelley Sanford will be taking questions you submit and seeking out professional, knowledgeable individuals in the industry to answer them. Questions can range from artists’ techniques, art materials, seeking inspiration to how to market your art and anything in between. While our “experts” probably wouldn’t use this label to describe themselves, we consider them professionals in their field and have knowledge to be shared. So, this is your opportunity to pose that question that you’ve been wanting to ask.

Our Ask the Expert post is slightly different today in that we have more than one expert. It was one of those questions where just one response wasn’t quite enough, so we reached out to a few more artists. Our Experts include Ken DeWaard, Margaret DyerMichele Usibelli and Francesco Fontana share what works for their studio. Each are award-winning artists and paint in a variety of mediums and genres.

Today’s Question:

What is the best kind of overhead light to have in a studio? Pam Holnback


Ken DeWaard Studio Lighting:

ken dewaard profileI have had a number of studios over the years and prefer natural North light because the color clarity is by far the best to work under. When I built my studio, I built it with this in mind. Photo Oct 09, 4 24 15 PMMy two main windows are over 6 feet high by 3 feet wide each and are 12 feet at the highest point on the north side of the building. From that high point on the north side the ceiling is slanted down to 8 feet to channel light towards my easel. With north light in mind, I did not install any other windows on the east, west, or southern sides. Where I live in Wisconsin we loose the light during the winter months at about 3:00 p.m. so, alongside of both windows as well as in the middle there are 4 foot Shoplites with color corrected fluorescent tubes. Photo Oct 09, 4 25 09 PMThat’s 3 Shoplites with 6 fluorescent tubes total. I rarely paint at night but these lights provide enough light for me to do so if I wish.

The sides of my studio ceilings are 8 feet high and in that area I have track lighting for exhibiting purposes only, I do not use them to paint from. Every now and again on one of those dreary Wisconsin winter days I may have to utilize a back up Shoplite that is positioned behind me on the slanted ceiling shaft area to add a little more light to my easel.

Besides lighting, one of the most important elements in my studio is the 14 foot runner I use to step back from my work. I keep my turp. at the end, away from my easel so that I must step back continually to see my painting from a distance.

Margaret Dyer Studio Lighting

Margaret Dyer

Like most artists I know, I have had to work in so many lighting situations, I have learned to make do with almost anything. But I am currently converting a garage into a studio, and I will have large windows facing north for steady light all day long. That will prevent me from having to deal with blinding sunshine pouring directly into the room and creating that dreaded light that crosses the room throughout the day. I will have halogen overheads.

margaret dyer yellow bucket

The nature of my work doesn’t require me to balance the temperature of my lighting. When I paint with pastels, I am constantly glazing warm over cool, then cool over warm, and I’ve discovered that the temperature of light in my studio does not affect my work as much as it might other artists’.

Michele Usibelli Studio Lighting

michele usibelli
I use full spectrum fluorescent lights in my studio.Usibelli Studio 3
Usibelli Studio 2Usibelli Studio 4
I also have each light bar on a separate electrical feed so I have the option of keeping some off and some on and playing with the light. My windows face east so, sometimes I paint with natural light only.
Usibelli Studio 1

Francesco Fontana Studio Lighting

francesco fontanaWhen I got my studio space six years ago I had to set up the lighting system from the scratch. It is a large enough a space to hold classes. I did not want to have cast shadows on the canvas, no matter where my students would set up their easels in the room. The decided to use 13 double fluorescent tubes each of 36w with cool light.

960x640_bestfit_40 2015-05-09 11.27.04

The whole 1000 sq. ft. space is illuminated by about 1000 watts. The light is a cold white (4000 kelvin), a little cooler than the average daylight at midday, to ensure a greater volume of lumens. I needed extra power since the studio is located in the shadow cone of a building and to compensate for the fact that the existing windows do not face north. To warm it up a bit I recently painted the walls a warm dove gray. A good compromise all in all!

Kim and I appreciate the tremendous response from all the experts we have asked to contribute to our blog. Each of our guests are working artists like us, just a bit further down the artistic path. Please show them a little “love” by visiting their websites, blogs, facebook pages and letting them know how much you appreciate their willingness to share their knowledge.

Do you have a burning question you’d like us to find an art expert to answer? CLICK HERE to submit your question today!


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