Have you ever been to an art gallery and noticed how the light in one room is different from that in another? Yet, each piece seems to have just the right amount of light to make its best features stand out?
This is no mistake. Museums and art galleries hire lighting professionals who know how to make a work of art shine by varying the intensity, temperature and angle of the light source of each masterpiece but, you don’t have to be a lighting pro to get great results at home. Here are a few tips to help you show off your wall art in its best light.
Before you take on the task of lighting your own artwork at home, take a visit to your local art gallery or art museum. This is a great place to see in person how the professionals use lighting to bring out the best features in a work of art.
If you can, take the time to ask someone who works at the gallery about the lighting techniques that they use on their artwork. You may find it easier to get an answer at a small neighborhood gallery than a large city museum. Make sure to visit a few places and notice the difference in lighting.
Not All Artwork is Created Equal
The type of lighting that you will use on each piece may vary depending on the size of the work, the medium, subject matter and where it is placed in the room. Canvas oil paintings require a different type of light than photographs. Wall art that has a heavy or dramatic subject matter might require different lighting than something more carefree or fun.
Now that you know you’ll need to use different types of lighting depending on the piece it’s time to do the prep work. The best way to get started is by laying out your wall art.
Before you go putting holes in your walls, begin by taking your piece of wall art that you want as your focal point and placing it against a few different walls in your room. The reason you are doing this is to see where the best light is and how it draws the eye around the room.
Lighting don’t: Although it may be tempting, resist the urge to put your wall art in spot that gets direct sunlight. While natural light is great for viewing artwork in, it can also cause considerable damage and your artwork will eventually fade.
Next, if you have other pieces of artwork that will be included in your display, I recommend doing a quick to-scale sketch. You can do this by drawing the dimensions of your wall on a piece of paper. Then, measure each work of art and draw them to scale on the paper in different layouts. Once you find one that works, measure it out on your wall and start hanging those pictures!
When lighting your wall art, you want to go for light that is about three times brighter than the ambient light in your room. I find that low watt halogen track lights are the best solution for lighting your artwork.
If you visited a few galleries you also probably noticed that a good portion of the lighting came from the top and at an angle. A thirty to forty-five degree angle is usually perfect for lighting your work and minimizing glare. So go ahead and position those lights and voila! professional lighting for your artwork that will impress your guests.