4 Tips on Lighting up Your Artwork

4 Tips on Lighting up Your Artwork

Gone are the days of dull landscapes and stale still life images. Now more than ever, designers face the exciting task of infusing their hospitality locations with impactful artwork that amps up their overall design scheme. Whether you’re featuring the work of a local photographer or highlighting an up-and-coming artist, correct lighting will put the right focus on your incredible collection.

Illumination has the amazing ability to accentuate the colors, depths and concepts of art. The most amazing works of art look mediocre if they’re improperly lit. Shadows, uneven lighting and glare mar the beauty of even the best pieces. Proper lighting, on the other hand, can enable your artwork to stand out for its best elements while helping your prized collection last for years without fading or deteriorating.

Beautiful art will enliven your overall hotel design — and good lighting will enhance its impact even further. But just like picking the right paintings and pieces to make sure they fit your unique aesthetic, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to lighting your artwork. In this post, we’ll discuss four artwork lighting tips that will help your art look its best and stay that way.

1. Steer Clear of Direct Natural Light

From paintings to sculptural elements, exposing any piece of art to direct sunlight means exposing carefully chosen artwork to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunlight can result in fading or distorted pigmentation, so keep your collection out of natural light. Instead, find a shady wall that could use an accent piece.

2. Consider Different Types of Lighting for Artwork

Once you decide to light your artwork, consider which option will work best for both the art and your space. Here are some of the most popular solutions.

Ceiling-Mounted Accent Lights

a flush mount ceiling fixture

Ceiling-mounted lights are spotlights that can highlight a picture. They offer a great way to bring illumination and focus to a particular piece. If you choose ceiling-mounted accent lights, remember these pro tips:

  • Place your lights so that the beam hits the center of the artwork.
  • The artwork fixture should be adjusted to the optimal 30-degree angle. Any less than 30 degrees, and you’ll end up casting long shadows below the picture’s frame. More than 30 degrees, and you’ll notice an annoying reflective glare even on pieces that aren’t displayed behind glass. Thirty degrees is the magic number when it comes to lighting artwork from above.

Track Lights

With the right lamps attached, track lights function in much the same way as single ceiling-mounted accent lights. If you decide to move your artwork, these highly flexible lights can easily move with it.

Wall Washers

Rather than shining a single focused beam, wall washers are light fixtures that illuminate an entire portion of a wall. From recessed lighting to track lighting to surface-mounted options, wall washers deliver a wide distribution of light, perfect for walls that feature several pieces of artwork.

Picture Lights

a picture lighting

picture light is lighting that’s either on the frame itself or mounted on the wall directly above a piece. This lighting is ideal if you want guests to have an intimate glimpse of a particular painting. It invites people to take a closer look. Picture lights can also serve as decorative elements that add to the overall look and feel of a space, from lobbies to hotel rooms.

3. Select Your Bulb Type

Different bulbs will illuminate your artwork in different ways. Finding the right bulb will help make sure a picture’s color palette has the most visual impact. You should remember, however, that certain light sources can damage your artwork over the long term.

The four main types of bulbs used to illuminate art are:

  • Halogen: This bulb has a bright white light that’s great for accentuating a wide range of colors. However, the UV light emitted by halogen bulbs can gradually burn away at a picture’s materials, leading to irreparable damage. If you choose halogen lights, be sure to keep them a safe distance away from your artwork or equip them with UV filters.
  • LED: These bulbs are both bright and energy-efficient, and they can often last for years. Plus, they have a low heat output and do not emit UV light, ensuring your prints and photos won’t be harmed. Choose LED lights with a high Color Rendering Index of 80+ so that the bulb won’t alter the color of your artwork.
  • Incandescent: These standard or conventional bulbs give off a warm, yellowish light, perfect for artwork with red, brown and yellow tones.
  • Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL): This type of bulb puts out the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs while using 75% less energy.

4. Choose the Right Height and Width for Your Picture Light

The position of your picture light should give the artwork below the most visual impact. While it doesn’t necessarily matter how high a picture light is placed above your artwork, it should be installed and centered to ensure an even wash of illumination. A good rule of thumb is to focus the beam on the center of your artwork at about eye level. Then, make sure the beam extends evenly to the top and bottom of the piece. Angle your picture light to the optimal 30 degrees to avoid shadows and glares.

Finding a picture light with the right width is also an important step, as doing so will ensure that the entire surface is adequately lit. Do not choose a picture light that extends beyond the borders of the artwork. In general, picture lights should be about one-third to half the size of the piece, not including the frame.

Contact Remington Lighting to Find Your Perfect Artwork Lighting Solutions

Artwork is an incredible way to bring your overall aesthetic vision to life. The right lighting will highlight these fantastic pieces, while inadequate lighting will equal a lackluster appeal. Whether you want a wash of light along a lobby wall or a stylish picture light that accentuates your artwork and unique aesthetic, Remington is here to lend an expert hand.

We manufacture fully customizable lighting solutions to help you achieve your design vision. Our professional design consultants will work with you every step of the way, whether you have a unique idea in mind already or find something you like on our site. Our goal is to get you exactly what you need without exceeding your budget. As you work with us, you can count on creative input, collaboration and personalized service.

To learn more about our picture lighting selections and other creative solutions for illuminating your artwork, fill out our online contact form or give us a call at 717-737-7120.

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