I have an ugly little confession to make. For the last 18 months, I've been displaying paintings in my studio under flourescent lights. Mind you, I'm always very careful to paint under natural light, halogen, or incandescent, in that order of preference. However, when I got my Boston studio, it came with 3 rows of flourescent tubes overhead. Since they were coated and "color corrected", they didn't quite give the place the appearance of an all-night laundrymat, so I basically just got lulled into a false sense of security, and stopped fretting about it. Over time, you can get used to just about anything... interia is a powerful force of nature. It was always in the back of my mind to fix it, but it certainly didn't seem like an emergency.
Friday evening, I was playing around with some 250-watt halogen work lights I have there, and started pointing them at paintings on the wall. I was shocked. While these coated flourescents don't distort the color, they do have the effect of draining off it's intensity. A lot. I've heard a number of people talk about my muted color schemes, which has always puzzled me a little. While there are some paintings where that is intentionally the case, there are at least as many where the color is fairly rich. I should have taken the hint.
But, as I said, you can get used to anything, and I'd quickly stopped noticing the nature of the light in there (which is admittedly a pretty sad thing for an artist to say). I can only imagine, though, what kind of first impression the room's been making all along... dark, dull, dreary, a little depressing. In hindsight, I'm surprised people have been coming in the door at all.
Well... dark and dreary no more. I spent a good chunk of my weekend outfitting the studio with good strong halogen spots suspended from 8 to 12 feet above the floor. The fixtures themselves may not be the prettiest, but now my paintings are basking in nearly 2500 watts of crisp, clean, near-sunlight. It's glorious. The transformation is almost unbelievable... rather than just lounging on the wall, the paintings nearly leap off and into your face. This friday is my next event there; I can't wait for people to see it.