How to Light Artwork in Your Home
You just got your recently purchased artwork perfectly hung and leveled in your living room, but it doesn’t have that same wow-factor it did at the gallery or on your computer screen. Most likely, the culprit is insufficient lighting. Fortunately, there are ways to recreate the magic of gallery lighting at home! Properly lighting your artwork at home is worth the effort - you will get more enjoyment out of your artwork and ensure it is safe from damage for many years to come.
First we will go over some important factors to consider such as the best type of light bulbs for illuminating artwork safely and the correct angle for ceiling mounted light fixtures. Then we will cover the main four types of lights to bring your home gallery to life.
Natural vs. Artificial: The Best Lighting for Artwork
Though we all love natural light flooding a room, be aware that the UV rays from both direct and indirect natural light will damage artwork over time. The best placement of art in a room is a wall that does NOT get direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will accelerate the aging and fading of both paintings and photography prints.
So what is the best and safest way to light artwork?
LED! Energy efficient, safe (no harmful UV’s) and with many color options, LED light bulbs are the winner in all categories. The most popular color temperature range for illuminating artwork is 3000K in both galleries and homes. This range emits a warm, soft-white glow that is flattering for most types of art and photography prints.
Halogen and incandescent light bulbs are not recommended for lighting artwork. Not only are they very energy inefficient but they produce a good amount of heat which can be damaging to the art.
Shadows and Light: Best Lighting Angle for Artwork
The angle of lights is key when lighting artwork. Particularly if the artwork has acrylic or glass glazing, light fixtures at the wrong angle could create a terrible glare, reflecting the lights back at the viewer. The optimal angle is right around 30 degrees to avoid too much glare and also to avoid casting dark shadows.
Best Types of Lights for Artwork
1. Ceiling mounted track lights
If you want to simulate gallery lighting, track lights will be your top choice. Track lighting gives the most control in terms of adjusting the lighting angle and the most flexibility to move the light fixtures across the track to get the perfect spread of light. Another bonus is that if you switch out your art, that flexibility will come in handy when needing to readjust to illuminate the new artwork.
2. Ceiling mounted recessed lights
Very similar in effect to track lights, recessed lights are a popular minimalist, low profile choice. Though they are not as flexible as track lighting, as long as you can adjust the angle of the direction of the lights, they are another great option for illuminating artwork.
3. Picture lights
Another way to add focused lighting is with a picture light. Picture lights get installed on the wall directly above the artwork and do a nice job of illuminating a single piece of artwork. Note that picture lights have cords that need to be plugged into an outlet, so concealing the cord may be an added consideration.
4. Wall washer
Another option to consider is installing wall washer lighting. These long light fixtures emit a large distribution of light and are intended to illuminate an entire accent wall. This bright accent wall is the perfect place to hang a large abstract art print and is also a nice no-fuss option to illuminate a gallery wall of multiple art pieces.
We hope this gave you a good foundation for the different ways to light artwork in your home. Now, let there be light!
Looking for some art to illuminate? Shop our most popular photography art print collections: