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How to Light Artwork

How to Light Artwork

When purchasing a piece of art, you probably have an idea of where it will go in your home, office or business. What you might not have thought of, however, is whether or not the lighting in that place was appropriate for the painting. You wouldn’t want to get home and hang your beautiful new painting, only to see it a little differently than you did in the art gallery because of the lighting in your house. Glare from natural light, shadows and poor quality room lighting can very negatively affect the way your painting looks, and even how the painting ages. These concerns can be easily fixed with the consideration of some key factors and a little planning.

LEDs are the Way To Go

Think of the lighting that already exists in the room, first. Incandescent and halogen light bulbs are not only less energy-efficient, they also give off a heat that can be dangerous and harmful to artwork. . And generally speaking florescent bulbs produce very poor quality light for viewing art.  LED lights – unlike incandescent, florescent and halogen lights – don’t give off infrared or ultraviolet rays which can actually damage your painting over time. Make sure that the light on the paintings is from an LED-type of bulb for the best results, but make sure it’s a good quality light. LED lights that are lower-quality will make you feel like you are looking at artwork in a dressing room or dentist’s office. Try to get LED lights with a minimum color-rendering index of 90+ this is close to the sun’s CRI, which is 100. The color temperature of the light is also important, lower color temperature produce a warmer light and higher color temperature produces a cooler light. Selecting the right color temperature can make all the difference. Ideally the light will have an adjustable color temperature to insure the best possible lighting.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

While most people love looking at something in direct natural light, your painting should not be that something. Hanging your painting in direct sunlight can fade the colors over time. Also, try not to hang your painting next to the window when you are avoiding the direct natural light because you won’t see the painting’s colors as vibrantly during the day.

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Choosing the Painting’s Light

When choosing the light that will shine on your painting, you have two options: picture lights or spotlights. Understanding the differences between the two and what you need in your room is key to making sure your new piece of artwork is shown “in the best light.”

  • Spotlights create a sheet of light over the painting.
  • Picture lights can be placed so that they shine in specific areas, rather than evenly on the painting.
  • Spotlights can also be used in track lighting which makes the painting look more like it is still hanging in the gallery.

A lot of this decision depends on the client’s style and the style of their home—there is really no wrong decision.

Also, make sure whatever type of lighting you choose for your painting doesn’t take away from the painting itself. For example, ceiling mounted spotlights can be brightened and dimmed depending on the time of day and are incredible discrete.

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Deciding the correct lighting for your artwork can be simple and it can be a little more complicated depending on your goal. Always ask the salesperson at the story where you are purchasing your lights about the characteristics of the bulbs to ensure the light will not harm your painting over time. Consult the salesperson where you purchases the painting for their lighting recommendation, as well. They will be able to provide ideas and options that best meet your abilities in the room where the painting will hang.

How to Light Your Art Studio

Studio lighting is one of the key factors when setting up your art studio. There are different kinds of light to choose from—including all artificial lighting to all natural lighting. Most of the time, you will need to find a way to light your studio with a mixture of both depending on your type painting and the art studio space itself.

First, your art studio will not only be a place to work, but also a place to showcase the finished products. What looks good on your easel might not look as nice once it’s on the wall. This is also important if you are painting on commission—try to adjust your light in your studio to the light that is in the space where the painting will end up.

Art studio light

If you choose to light your studio with natural light only, there is the famous North Light approach. This means that your studio will mainly be lit by North light, which requires a window and space with the perfect view. If using all natural light isn’t an option, and a lot of the time it is not, you will need to use artificial lighting.

You will need to have adjustable lighting for different seasons and different times of the day, here are some things to think about when determining the ideal light for your space:

  • A combination of natural and artificial lighting is best to quire the right color temperature.
  • Different bulbs can give you different color temperatures, so you can balance the natural light and the artificial light to get exactly the right light for your painting. However, this can be costly and imprecise. The best solution is a light with an adjustable color temperature.
  • Temperature color is measured in Kelvin, and lights that are considered warm have red-yellow tints and cool lights have tints of light blue.
  • If you want to paint with warm or cool colors adjust that amount up and down. If you are aiming for an artificial light that mimics the North light, that would require a light with 7500K.
  • You will want to find the right amount of brightness, as well. So having a light that can dim is also important.

To simplify, you want to the room to have full-spectrum lighting which will provide a light that mimics natural sunlight. So finding a light with adjustable color temperature and brightness is optimal. When you buy a light, make sure you know the properties of the light bulb and the color-rendering index you need to get the perfect light that won’t obstruct your view of the colors in your painting. For exactly the color-rendering index of the sun is 100, so if you want to mimic the outside light, find a light bulb that can give you an index of 80 to 100. (90 plus CRI is preferred)

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Remember, first decide how you want your paintings to look in the room when they are hanging and finished. It is highly recommended to supplement the natural light in your space with artificial lights to give you a high-quality working light. This will provide your painting with a perfect balance of color when it’s complete.

Also, keep in mind that studio art lights make great gifts so it you are looking for the perfect gift for an artist this is a good place to start.

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