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Lighting artwork and sculptures can be an exciting challenge. One crucial element in displaying artwork, though, is to ensure it’s always seen in the best light.

The way in which art is lit can ultimately determine whether it becomes the true centrepiece of a room.

This could simply mean making certain the art is visible at night, or using bespoke lighting design to highlight specific features.

With different solutions to assist different art mediums, we’ve compiled a list of 3 top tips on lighting artwork. Read on to find out more.

1. Plan ahead

Prior knowledge of which art pieces will go where, is so important for the success of the lighting design scheme.

It’s best to discuss this as early in the design stage as possible, to avoid any potential mistakes.

Different mediums of art will require different techniques and levels of light, as aggressive lighting choices can often cause irreversible heat and light damage, resulting in permanent colour distortion and damage to the artwork.

Working with a lighting design team to plan your scheme ahead of time will ensure your art is lit safely.

2. Select the right level of light

Generally, lighting for artwork should be three times brighter than the room’s ambient light. This can be achieved by using the correct level and intensity of light. Consider the following options when lighting artwork.

  • LED
    LEDs boast a long lifespan and give off little ultraviolet radiation and heat, which is especially important if you want to avoid damaging your artwork! They are available in both warm and cool colour temperatures, giving you a choice when lighting your art.

  • Halogen
    Halogen lights typically cast a cooler colour temperature, but they do generate higher levels of heat. If using halogen lights, make sure you keep them at a sage distance from the artwork to avoid damage. Also, consider using UV filters.

Tip: To test for potential heat damage, put your hand between the light and and the artwork. If you can feel heat from the light, it’s probably too close to the artwork.

Looking to learn more about lighting design?

Download our lighting design brochure

3. Consider the placement of the light

As we mentioned earlier, specific mediums will often need specific levels of light.

When it comes to lighting artwork, the suggested angle for the light source is at 30 degrees, which will reduce any glare or reflection, whilst covering the artwork in enough light.

Heavily-textured pieces, such as oil paintings, should use direct lighting to cause shadows or highlights to appear. If this isn’t the desired effect, use a broad light.

Tip: To avoid shadows with larger pieces, add 5 degrees to the angle. To accent any texture of the painting, subtract 5 degrees from the angle.

Contact a professional lighting design team

For the last 20 years, our team at Hampshire Light has provided lighting design schemes all across the south of England. With our complete end-to-end consultative process, expertise is lighting design, we can provide a bespoke plan that enhances your space.

Looking for an award-winning lighting designer? Contact our expert team today - we’d love to help with your project.


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