Principles For Lighting Prints and Paintings

In The Frame

Room with Lighting Prints and Paintings

Getting the decor of your house just right to suit your taste and lifestyle is one of the most satisfying things in life, and there’s nothing that expresses your individual style more than the art you choose to hang on your freshly papered or painted walls. From prints of modern classics to the Old Masters, antique oil paintings to stunning new original works, the pictures you select bring a real heart to your home.

Picture Perfect

My clients often ask me about the best way to light their pictures. The answer? There is no one perfect picture light; you need to take a lot into account, most of all the materials used in your art work. But the first rule in picture lighting is that it’s all about the glare. Using non-reflective glass in the frames and positioning your lights correctly will solve this problem for you.

Oil paintings are probably the trickiest of all to light. If you direct intense light at the painting, you’ll get what’s known as spectral highlights, and the beauty of the work will be lost on the beholder. So what you need is a broad-based light source, and something like the Eglo Hakana Wall Light would work pretty well. Because acrylic paintings are not glossy, you don’t get the same glare problem as you can with oils or artwork framed under glass, so just about any light source will do the trick.

The second thing to think about is framing. Substantial frames can support an attached light, but for pictures hung without frames, track lighting is absolutely spot on. The Mast Dimmable Track Spotlight can take up to six lights and is just the thing to light a carefully chosen row of canvases.

The Light Bulb Moment

Once you’ve chosen the fixture, the next most important thing is getting the globe right. I’ve touched on the best globes to buy before, but there is more to think about when choosing globes for picture lights. Halogen globes give you the purest white light, making them a great choice for illuminating your favourite work of art. But, remember that they do generate a lot of heat, so make sure you place them far away enough so that the picture is not damaged.

Fluorescent light is great for lots of purposes, but it can distort the colour of art work and over time might cause fading, so it’s not the right choice for your picture lighting. LED globes cast a very white light and being cool to the touch, they’re a safe choice for your pictures, as well as being economical and environmentally friendly.

In The Right Direction

Before having the lights installed, it’s best to do everything possible to make sure that their locations and angles will work well with the positioning of your art. Try using torches or portable task lights to simulate the finished arrangement to make sure that it will deliver the effect you’re looking for.