Want to call more attention to the beautiful artwork gracing the walls of your home? When it comes to enhancing textures, showing off detail, and making colors more vibrant, it’s all about getting the lighting right.
In general, you should light up artwork three times brighter than the rest of the room. It might be a good idea to put your artwork lighting on a dimmer so that you can install lamps with high lumen output and then tweak the light levels.
To avoid glare, place your picture lights or adjustable recessed trims at a 30 degree angle from the painting or photograph. For very large frames (such as the one in the photo above), increase the angle to about 35 degrees so that you won’t cast a shadow. For paintings with texture, decrease the angle to about 25 degrees to accentuate.
Typically, for smaller pieces of artwork, it’s best to install one light per frame. It creates a cohesive effect and ensures that each piece receives enough illumination. However, for a mural or piece of artwork that extends horizontally on the wall, you will probably want to install multiple lights. The general rule is to use one display light for every 2-3 feet of wall space.
You also have to take into account potential UV and heat damage from your lighting – particularly with oil paintings. To avoid UV damage, stick with LED lighting, which does not emit any ultraviolet or infrared radiation. To avoid heat damage, use the “hand test” with picture lights – simply place your hand in between the artwork and the light fixture. If you can feel any heat, it may be damaging to an oil painting. Fluorescent and LED lights are both great options for minimal heat exposure. Halogen display lights tend to give off a great deal of heat.