Getting the color of your art right online is complicated. When I first created a website, I naively believed that I could just take a digital camera image, upload it into my image library, and post it directly to my web page. The results were shocking. My work looked dull and my colors were off.
Many years later, with the generous guidance of my photography and tech savvy husband, I have a strategy that yields online images that are fairly close in color and tone to the originals. Since this is how many people first experience my work, accuracy is crucial. I am certainly not an expert on this subject, but I’m sharing what I do in this blog series in hopes that people will find useful tips for themselves.
My basement studio has no natural light. To get colors just right, I have been relying on a hodgepodge of halogen and fluorescent bulbs. Over time I can tell that the halogen bulbs are aging — and I perceive them getting strangely yellow. Plus the halogens run very hot, which is quite a waste of energy.
Do bulbs really make a difference?
I use my Iphone to take quick images of the preliminary stages of my work. You can see that the camera perceives quite a difference, and I wondered how this was affecting my color choices. It was time for a change to something that more closely resembles natural light.
I spent some time on 1000bulbs.com, and came away with replacements for the various fixtures in my track lighting system. They were expensive. But considering that lighting can make up about 25% of household electrical costs — and that these lights are often on for many hours — I thought the splurge was worth it. The bulbs I will use in my studio state that they will last for 32 years — based on three hours of use per day — and cost $2.23 annually.
Which LED should I choose?
LED bulbs come in several color temperatures. When I wanted to light my art tent this summer, we did a test with three temperatures: 2700K (warm), 4000K (moderate) and 5000K (cool.) For illuminating my artwork the 5000K was clearly the best choice — mimicking natural daylight. So I ordered this temperature bulb for my studio and am using a narrow floodlight.
When I tried the 5000K bulb in one of our household recessed can lights, my husband objected to the harshness and the narrow spot. So I’m trying some 4000K wide spotlight LEDs in our living area. Many people might prefer the warmth of the 2700K bulbs, but I would love light that is closer to natural daylight.
UPDATE September 2016: My husband and I have compromised and have 2700K LED bulbs in our living areas. Warmth won me over!
Use LEDs (carefully) in outside displays
I invested in LED bulbs this summer for two festivals that went late into the evening and provided electricity. Having LED bulbs meant that my tent was brilliantly lit, and my seven bulbs came in under the power limit set by the show. The effect was spectacular. Because the bulbs are expensive, we take them out of the fixture after each show and nestle them carefully back in their original boxes. These bulbs travel in safety.
Tonight I will set up my art tent for the last time this year at my hometown art festival, The Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts. The show only goes until 6pm on Saturday and 5pm on Sunday, but my tent is situated under an imposing ash tree. On many hot Labor Day weekends I am grateful for this shade, but it does make the tent darker than I would like. Luckily my mensch of a husband has set me up with a rechargeable marine battery to power these very efficient lights.
A wise artist once told me that if people can’t see the artwork, they certainly won’t purchase it. We will be fully lit this weekend.