Properly Lighting Artwork in Your Home: The Best Lights to Use for Paintings and How to Install Them

One of the most overlooked aspect to owning an original piece of art might be how you light it. I see improperly lit paintings all the time, especially in homes, and I think we've probably been guilty of it. So if you're wondering how to light your original art at home, you've come to the right place. In this article we'll look over some tips and what to use to give your artwork life and brilliance.
Tips for properly lighting paintings and artwork

Proper lighting can greatly enhance the beauty and impact of a painting in your home.

Here are a few tips for properly lighting a painting:

  1. Ambient lighting: Provide ambient lighting in the room where the painting is displayed. This will ensure that the room is well-lit and that the painting can be seen from a distance.

  2. Task lighting: Use task lighting to focus on the painting. This can be achieved through the use of picture lights, track lights, or spot lights. Position the lights so that they shine directly on the painting and not on the surrounding walls.

  3. Color temperature: Use lights that have a color temperature of around 2700K - 3000K. This will help to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, and will make the colors of the painting appear more vibrant.

  4. Dimmer switch: Consider installing a dimmer switch to control the intensity of the lights. This will allow you to adjust the lighting to suit different times of the day or different moods.

  5. Glare: Make sure the lights are not shining directly into the viewer's eyes, this can cause glare and detract from the viewing experience. You can use hoods or shades to reduce glare.

  6. Layer your lighting: Use a combination of ambient and task lighting to create a layered effect. This will help to highlight the details of the painting, while also providing a sense of overall warmth and atmosphere in the room.

  7. Experiment: Experiment with different lighting setups to find the one that works best for your painting and the room. It may take a bit of trial and error to get it just right so be sure take the time to find the right lighting setup.

proper angle for lighting artwork at home

Now that you know the basics of lighting a painting, here are some other things to consider

When lighting a painting, consider the angle at which the light is shining on the artwork. The ideal angle for lighting a painting is to have the light shining directly on the painting at a slight angle, rather than shining directly at the painting at a 90-degree angle. This will help to create depth and dimension in the painting, and will also help to reduce glare and reflections.

Here are a few additional tips for properly lighting a painting:

  1. Lighting angle: Position the lights so that they shine directly on the painting at a slight angle, between 30 and 45 degrees. This will help to create depth and dimension in the painting, while also reducing glare and reflections.

  2. Distance from the painting: Position the lights approximately 12 to 24 inches away and above from the painting if you are working with average ceilings. With higher ceilings, don't be afraid to go as high as you wish, but the higher you go, the more focused the beam should be. This will provide the ideal amount of light without causing glare or reflections. 

  3. Pay attention to the painting's environment: Keep in mind the location of the painting, the room's natural light and the surrounding colors. This will help you to create the perfect balance and harmony between the painting and the room.

  4. Use multiple lights: Using multiple lights such as wall-mounted lights or track lighting will help to evenly distribute the light across the painting, reducing glare and creating a more balanced display. A great combination is one ambient source of light along with a directional source to make certain areas of the painting stand out.

The best lighting angle can depend on the type of painting, the size of the painting and the room where the painting is located. Experiment with different lighting setups to find the one that works best for your painting and the room.

Types of lights to buy for artwork

So, What Should I Buy?

When it comes to choosing the right lights for illuminating an artwork, there are a few specific brands and types that are commonly used by artists and museums to showcase artworks. Here are a few examples:

  1. LED lights: LED lights are energy-efficient and long-lasting, making them a popular choice for illuminating artworks. They also produce minimal heat, reducing the risk of damage to the artwork. Brands such as Philips, Osram, and Cree offer a wide range of LED lights that are suitable for illuminating artworks.

  2. Halogen lights: Halogen lights are another popular choice for illuminating artworks. They are also energy-efficient and long-lasting, and produce minimal heat. They also emit a warm light that can help to enhance the colors of the painting. Brands such as Philips and Osram offer a wide range of halogen lights that are suitable for illuminating artworks.

  3. Track lighting: Track lighting is a popular choice for illuminating artworks, as it allows for the lights to be positioned at the ideal angle and distance from the artwork. Brands such as WAC Lighting, Juno, and Tech Lighting offer a wide range of track lighting systems that are suitable for illuminating artworks.

  4. Picture lights: Picture lights are designed specifically for illuminating artworks. They are typically small, wall-mounted lights that are positioned above the painting. Brands such as House of Troy, Konstsmide, and Kenroy Home offer a wide range of picture lights that are suitable for illuminating artworks.

The type of light and the brand you choose will depend on the specific needs of your artwork and the environment it's in. If you can, test different types and brands of lights to find the one that works best for your specific artwork and the environment it's in. This includes taking into account factors such as the size and type of the painting, the room's natural light, and the surrounding colors, as well as the desired mood and ambiance of the room. By testing different lights, you'll be able to determine which type and brand of light produces the most pleasing and accurate representation of the painting, and also protects it from damage and fading.

Original landscape painting in oil

This whole part of the process of hanging a piece of artwork in your home should be the most fun and creative part. I hope this guide has helped ease your mind over any the specifics and help make it a more enjoyable process. 

Check out my Original Paintings and Prints



 

 I'm Chuck Black, landscape and wildlife artist based in Southwest Montana.



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