Studio Makeover! Let There Be Light!

The studio at our old house began in the sun-room, then flowed over into the garage, and finally into the big barn.  So when we purchased our new home a little over a year ago, one of our goals was to make the bonus room over the garage my art studio.

Studio, art, makeover
North end of studio after moving in.
studio, makeover, art
East end of studio

I finally got everything set up and organized, but after working for a few days I quickly realized the lighting was absolutely horrible.  Yes, the large window allowed for an abundance of north light, which is most desirable if you are in the northern hemisphere such as we are.  It was actually perfect light for working on my pastel pet portraits as the drafting table/easel was in the corner by the window.  However, if I was working on the benches, the window cast huge shadows on one side and the light from the ceiling fan was almost useless.  Small candelabra incandescent bulbs that did not have enough lumens for reading let alone doing artwork.

Working in the studio prior to new lighting.
Working in the studio prior to new lighting.

The photo above shows me working in my studio with the original lighting.  You can see how dark it is on the side opposite the window, and what light is there makes things more yellow, which can throw your colors off completely.  I have worked in improper light quite a bit, so I am used to adjusting for it.  I decided over the winter to research the issue.  I was fortunate to find a blog post by Will Kemp, a wonderful artist and instructor in the UK.  In his post about studio lighting, Will describes in detail the ins and outs of what kind of lighting you need, what to look for in the ratings and measurements found on the packages, etc.  I decided to see if I could find something that would work and came up with track lighting using spot light bases.  I also found the perfect daylight range in LED and CFL bulbs.

studio, art, makeover
Track with daylight range bulbs in place.
Studio with proper lighting.  Notice the cooler and brighter affect.
Studio with proper lighting. Notice the cooler and brighter affect.

I was completely amazed and elated at the transformation!  I can actually see what I am doing!  The room is so much more friendly to work in, and it should mean better production times too.  Although the bulbs are a bit pricey compared to incandescent, it was much less expensive than I thought it would be, and the bulbs use less energy and should last for a very long time.  Below is a photo of a project I worked on after installing the new lighting.

After installing the new lighting- notice how much brighter and clearer the colors are.
After installing the new lighting- notice how much brighter and clearer the colors are.

Hats off to you Mr. Kemp!  I am glad I stumbled across your article.  If you would like to read Will’s post about proper studio lighting,  you may do so by clicking here.  I wish you every success in finding just the right light for your work, and happy painting!


A Trio of Christmas Paintings

Happy New Year to everyone!  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.  Yes, I am way behind in my posts.  So, here is a set of three pastel paintings I did for a client for Christmas.

House painting, pastel painting, architectural painting
“Deck The Halls”, 9″ x 12″ pastel, private collection

This is the first house I have ever done in pastel, the only other one was a graphite drawing.  I was happy that I was able to capture the winter fog that frequently settles in the trees on the hill at the back of the property.

Christmas tree, landscape painting, decorative, Christmas card painting
“O’ Christmas Tree”, 12″ x 9″, pastel, private collection

This was a wonderful challenge.  I actually went and photographed the ornaments the family hangs on this large cedar tree each year.  On the night I photographed the tree, the moon was out, but only a sliver.  The client requested a full moon so I said I would see what I could do!



Cat, barn, farm art, Christmas, wreath, cross,
“Silent Night, Holy Night”, 9″ x 12″, pastel, private collection

The final piece is a painting of the little barn that is decorated every year.  The client asked if I could add in the family’s black cat (which had passed away earlier in the year) looking up at the wreath.

As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed working on all three of these paintings.  I pray that each and every one of you has a blessed New Year!



Cutouts, the latest project

This has been a very interesting summer thus far.  I normally paint in pastels, watercolors, and acrylics in the studio in the house.  I also do a few murals and other things.  However, when one of my clients commissioned me to paint the horse troughs, I began a studio in the barn as well.  When we built the barn about 8 years ago, that was one of my “someday” goals, to have a real studio there.  I dreamed it would be in the west end of the expansive hay loft, complete with heat and air and a small water closet on the lower level.

art, studio
Art studio in the aisle of the barn with the finished horse troughs

Upon finishing the troughs, my client asked if I could possibly paint some wooden cutouts she had of hunt figures.  I said I would see what I could do.

painting on wood
Wooden cutouts awaiting paint (fox has primer coat)

She brought them out and I spent the next month painting life sized cutouts of Masters of the Hounds,  fox hounds, and foxes.  It is interesting to work on these as you have to use the shape that has been formed for you.  Once I got going though, I was quite pleased with how they turned out.

Master of the hounds, foxhunting
Masters of the Hounds partially complete
fox hunting, master of the hounds
A completed Master of the Hounds ready for shipping


I painted them with latex house paint, using only about 8-10 base colors from which I mix the myriad of other colors needed.  Once complete, I coat them with polyurethane.  Each figure had two bases which also needed paint and coating upon which they will stand upright.

fox hound, art
Fox hound with the bases attached. I painted the bottom of the figures and the bases to look like grass.

This week I delivered 2 foxes, 6 Masters of the Hounds, and 9 Fox Hounds to my client.   She was delighted.  Now I have 8 more foxes to do, plus I am looking into some more horse troughs!   Looks like the animals might have to move out!

artist, fox hounds, studio
The artist with 3 of the fox hound cutouts ready to ship. They are on one of the two easels my husband built on either side of the aisle with the paint tables in the center of the aisle.