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How to Light Your Artwork at Home

You can really make a piece of art shine with the right lighting, but do you want it directly illuminated or just in a nicely lit room? Read on to learn about the best art lighting methods and other elements, such as frames, that will make your artwork look its best.

 Types of Lighting














1) Ceiling Mounted Accent Lights

These are best for making the art (not the light source) the focus. Pin spotlights direct light onto individual artworks to illuminate them. These ceiling fixtures can be recessed or surface-mounted and allow the direction of light to be adjusted. You can also adjust the light-beam spread to cover the entire piece of art. A good rule of thumb is to adjust these at a 30 degree angle with the light beam hitting the center of the art.


2) Track Lights

These are best for a constantly changing display. These perform largely the same as ceiling-mounted accent lights, however they are easier to install and offer future flexibility.


3) Wall Washers

These are best for a flexible set up. Rather than having lighting that hits every painting, you can wash the wall instead. These lights can be recessed, surface-mounted and track -mounted fixtures that can be placed on walls, ceilings, and floors, and deliver a wide distribution of light. This creates one bright wall where art is displayed, and indirectly lights the room. It also provides built-in flexibility since the wall is evenly lit.


4) Picture Lights

These are best for an intimate display or renters. These lights are mounted on the wall or frames of individual artwork and puts the light source really close to the work of art with low-wattage lamps. Because these are decorative fixtures, they can add to the look of the room.


Framing Considerations

5) Keep the Surface in Mind

If your artwork is framed behind glass, you’ll want to adjust the angle of the lighting to reduce glare. Works of art with texture can be lit so the shadows created are minimized or emphasized.


6) Choose the Right Frame for your Lighting

If you’re using picture lights, you’ll want to choose a substantial frame that can support the fixture. If you have ceiling or wall-mounted light sources, you can use thinner frames or go frameless.


7) Choose the Right Type of Light

It’s important to remember that light can damage art over the long term. Some halogen lights directed into one area can gradually burn away the materials. To minimize damage, keep halogen lamps a safe distance from artwork and equip with UV filters, or use LED bulbs.


8) Avoid Natural Light

Placing artwork in direct sunlight exposes it to UV and infrared light, which will cause it to fade. Make sure pieces are positioned away from strong natural light sources to avoid damage.



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