Studio Bling: Chandeliers Are Like Potato Chips

Birds of a Feather Daisies

Birds of a Feather Red Gerbera Daisies, 12X12, oil, information


The studio renovation continues, and your votes are in for the studio lighting. We had a tie between two of the three chandelier contestants. I decided to make an executive decision and purchase both of the favs, since that seemed the sensible thing to do when Carlos was in the other room. This weekend three big chandelier boxes arrived, oops did I say three? It also seemed reasonable to order two of the smaller chandeliers, plus one of the big lights, since a girl can never have too much bling in her art studio, don’t you agree? Chandeliers are like potato chips. You can’t have just one.

Did I also mention all three of these chandeliers arrived unassembled? Helpful instructions on the large box said “Refer to photo on box for assembly. 1,000 pieces enclosed.” Fortunately, the hubby enjoys tackling these types of projects, and so he hung each chandelier on my big work easel and attached the bling while watching football. The workers moved my big easel out of the studio Friday, because they didn’t want to get paint on it, so it made the perfect chandelier staging prop!

Photos of the winning chandeliers are below, and, in the meantime, you’ve shared questions about what type of lighting is best for the studio. Are chandeliers ideal? Chandeliers are sparkly, true, but is that enough light to work by? In short: no. In the new studio space, I have seven recessed lights in the ceiling, each with a 100-watt, 5000 Kelvin daylight bulb. Attached to dimmer switches, I’ll be able to control this strong, cool overhead lighting for painting at night, and adjust when needed during filming of online classes. The chandeliers are just for show and to make the space feel warm, inviting, and exciting. With the new fireplace, I’m hoping to have some sparkle that inspires!

What’s the best lighting for studio work? Since I paint mostly at night, I like to have cool light overhead, and a mixture of warm and cool lights on my still life setup. Daylight bulbs, and blue spectrum lighting in the 4000 to 5000 Kelvin range is great for indoor painting. Fortunately, hardware stores are getting better at carrying these cooler lights than they did even a year ago. If you cannot find the Kelvin designation on the box, look for the “daylight” label. There are two kinds of work light sources in my studio – overhead lighting and directional lighting for still life setups. I’m very particular about the light source I use on my still life setups. Spot lights (as opposed to flood lights) give exceptional light and shadow differentiation – in other words, they are a road map to value. Where to place the highlights? A strong spot answers the question. Where to place the shadows? A strong spot on your still life setup answers the question. I do like having one additional spot bouncing cool light on an opposing section, to change the temperature of cast shadows. Here’s a photo of my fav bulb, and a cameo of Howard Pee Pugpants, senior director of Flower Mound Studio.

Bulbs for my recessed lighting – with seven of these in place,
I have strong, cool indoor lights.





The big studio easel gets a new kind of workout and somepuggies were caught taking a break!


Lighting winners were: A and (a variation of) C!


PS: The Year 2017 has been a whirlwind year, and my final workshop in Southern France at Le Vieux Couvent is filling fast. In 2018, big changes are coming for monthly online class members of The Joyful Brush, with cool new features and new paintings. Learn more here!

PPS: Want to win a $100 gift box of art supplies? Leave a comment here on my blog and share your dream studio ideas! I’ll announce the winner on January 30 here on the bloggy!


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Nancy Medina

Nancy is a master signature artist and instructor with over 1800 online students from around the world. She has worked with Disney, served on the art faculty of the Dallas Arboretum, and teaches workshops in France, Italy and across the US. More about Nancy

Reader Interactions


  1. Dream studio ideas—you have three of them covered: chandeliers, French doors and a fireplace. Lots of vertical storage such as built-in cabinets and a pretty armoire (with doors that can be closed for neatness) make a studio look finished and furnished. The goal is maximum storage and easy access. Using the adage “A place for everything and everything in its place” means projects are so much easier when I can find all the pieces and parts I need at a glance. Love how your studio is progressing, Nancy!

  2. Quite wise of you to make decisions while the cameraman was otherwise occupied… Your choices are beautiful! Much needed advice about the lighting and its effect on painting. Thanks a bunch!

  3. The lighting tips are much appreciated, Nancy, especially about how spots can help with values. I knew nothing at all about this, so thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

  4. Thank you for the lighting info. Lighting is most important in the studio, and it seems you have it covered. Can not wait to see your pictures of completed studio.

  5. I just realized that my whole house could be considered my studio.
    Bookshelves stuffed with art books, cabinets overflowing with paint and brushes, painting surfaces everywhere, canvases and ampersand boards and two easels parked in dining and formal living room and hallways. To think I had most of this in one room before I moved here. Lighting is pretty good with lots of windows. Need some spotlights like you suggested. Good to go. Your studio will be great. Need second studio in the islands. Maui has lots of artists like Wyland. Could paint fishies. Hugs.

  6. Your choice of lighting is superb! Having a dimmer switch is something I’ve never thought of doing in my studio, but now I’m thinking it’s something I might need to consider. Thank you for taking the time to write about lighting. It’s something I’m struggling with at the moment.

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