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  • Writer's pictureMichael Ashley Gallery

Lighting Your Artwork

Tips for Lighting Art: How to Light Artwork in Your Home

Lighting your image properly involves using a mixture of spotlights and spreads. The proper degree of spread will depend on the distance of the light fixture from the photograph. While several light bulbs can sufficiently light your image, we recommend MR16 halogen bulbs.

It is best to seek the advice of an electrician or lighting professional to ensure the proper balance of light and presentation of your art. You will want to make sure a dimmer switch is attached to the lighting. This allows you to control the lighting effect as various qualities of changing light fall across the walls, the luminescence of the art changes as well, bringing the art to life before your very eyes.

Below is an example of how your artwork will look when properly lit.

1.) Ceiling-mounted accent lights

Best for: making the art the focus - not the light source

Pin spotlights that direct light is a great way of illuminating your artwork. These ceiling fixtures can be recessed or surface-mounted, and they allow the direction of light to be adjusted. They can also be specified with a range of light-beam spreads, so you can ensure that the light covers most of the artwork. Ceiling-mounted lights should be placed so that the light beam hits the center of the artwork when the fixture is adjusted to a 30-degree angle. If the lights are not placed at an appropriate distance, the artwork will not luminesce as expected. If you go back too far, the lights will pointing directly onto your art and will cause reflective glare on the acrylic. If you light the artwork really close to the wall and point almost straight down, you’re going to end up casting really long shadows below the frame.

2.) Track lights

Best for: a constantly changing display

Track-lighting systems have come a long way, and many now have a much cleaner, more minimalist look than the tracks of decades past. Equipped with the right lamps, they perform largely the same as ceiling-mounted accent lights but provide a few more advantages. They’re easier to install and offer future flexibility.

3.) Picture lights

Best for: an intimate display—and renters

Picture lights are mounted on the wall or the frames of individual artworks. It puts the light source really close to the work of art, typically with very low-wattage lamps. It provides a sense of intimacy with a piece of art, and invites you to stand close for a look. For larger piece 60'' and up, companies such as Modulightor and Academy Light can make extremely large picture lights capable of illuminating great expanses.


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