How to Display and Protect Your Artwork with Proper Lighting

Good lighting makes a difference in how people view a piece of art.

Successful artists know that choosing the suitable material is significant, but considering other external factors such as proper lighting matters a lot. Good lighting makes a difference in how people view a piece of artwork. In addition, the initiative helps in the documentation and sales. What may surprise you is that the painting that thrilled you at the gallery might not have impressed you if it had poor lighting. That is the power of light, and that’s why you need appropriately light artwork to bring that image you to portray to the public. You should use correct light sources to safely make your artwork the centre of attraction and maintain longevity.

gallery lighting artwork
Artworks on view at Agora Gallery using artificial light and natural light in the skylight room

How Light Affects Your Painting

Lighting has a significant impact on your artwork. And what art collectors don’t know is that natural light is harmful to the painting. The direct sunlight affects the texture, hue, and reduces the life expectancy of the artwork. So, as an art collector, you should know that your art collection can age if exposed to the wrong lighting. Remember, how the painting is illuminated by light from various angles makes a massive difference to artwork appearance.

The suitable arrangement of artificial lights is vital to the artwork’s appearance. The lights make the colours appear harmoniously without overlapping each other. The entire painting can change contrast when the front light strikes. Also, you can create a theme for your artwork like that golden light that appears during the evening to bring that dramatic appearance. So the lights have a significant impact on the visual effect of a painting.

The Appropriate Amount of Light for Your Artwork

Artificial lights should be three times brighter as compared to that of the room. Generally, experts recommend that 5000k brings that good yet soft light source compatible with the artwork. That means the painting maintains that vibrant colour, and you can even think someone painted the piece of art a few days ago. Colour sources change the artwork and make it have a different image. Light makes the artwork to be reflectable or dull.

Related article: All About The Primary and Secondary Art Markets

The right configurations change the entire appearance, which impacts the value of the artwork. Even the angle of the light strongly affects how you see the artwork. Changing the light composition on the artwork may make the painting more or less attractive. Typical lights should be CRI90 for colours to be visible clearly. This is collectors advice; after incorporating proper lighting, consider the colour of the artwork to avoid overexposure on your painting.

New artwork by Melissa Pacheco

Tips For Properly Displaying And Protecting Your Artwork With Proper Lighting

Light can make a huge impact even in the exhibition. Customers may compete to buy a particular painting due to its lighting. Here are the tips that will help your artwork to be outstanding:

  1. Avoid Exposure Of Your Artwork To Direct Sunlight: Direct sunlight exposes your artwork to infrared and UV lights. This results in prints and entire pigment fading. To avoid this menace, ensure that your artwork is not exposed to natural light. Experts emphasize this daily but hang your artwork where you know daylight can’t reach to ensure that you’re safe.
  2. Consider The Composition Of Your Artwork: The artwork is the main priority when choosing the best light, and it shouldn’t be the other way round. You’ll realize that artwork with a darker tone needs more light than lighter ones. Thus, the amount of light varies depending on the painting. Again, the angle on where you place the light matters where uneven surfaces affect the appearance of your artwork. You’ll find that impasto oil or acrylic paintings are affected by the shadows they cast. So here, you must ensure that you tweak the light appropriately to minimize the shadows. Light artwork should vary depending on the painting composition.
  3. Use Specific Lighting For A Particular Medium: Different artworks have unique characteristics which require different lighting approaches. Here are some of the standard artworks;
    Oil paintings––these are great investments due to their durability and longevity. They can be passed from one generation to the other. However, due to their glossy aspect, when you light these paintings with narrow beams of light such as bulbs, glare issues may arise. You can solve this by using less intense lighting from multiple sources.
    Watercolour paintings––these types of paintings don’t produce glare since they work on paper, but you must protect them with a glass. So make sure that there is a significant distance between the artwork and the light to avoid UV damaging the painting.
    Acrylic paintings––these paintings are not affected by glare issues. But ensure that you’ve optimal lighting on the painting. In addition, you should ensure that CRI percentages are close to 100%.
    Sculptures––these artwork are the most subjective as lighting is of concern. So it would be best if you light them from all angles to make all dimensions look more visible and appealing.
    Photographic prints––you can use the same strategy for Watercolour painting to light these ones. The only difference is the proneness to glare. So the glossier ones will need more care, and it’s upon to notice the difference.
  4. Consider Even Lighting Across The Artwork: Evenly lighting the artwork make the painting look more appealing. This should be a priority in all artwork regardless of the medium. So to ensure accuracy, install multiple lights from all angles. However, the catch is to ensure that no harsh shadow rakes the artwork. Also, it is good to use correct light sources and avoid distracting reflections when setting your lights.
  5. Understand The Balance Of The Room: Proper lighting of the artwork is vital, but that doesn’t mean that the painting should be the only bright thing in the room. Instead, consider balancing the light in the room to match the one used in the artwork. The process will help create a natural beauty that comes with your visual qualities. Make your artwork look natural while balancing the light ambience in the room.
  6. Choose A Quality Light That Will Promote Longevity: Quality light is the one that will preserve the artwork properly. So you should avoid aggressive light since it will damage the colour of your painting. Colour distortion reduces the value and life expectancy of the painting. Here are rules that you should observe to promote the longevity of your artwork;
    – Avoid infrared radiation and Ultraviolet light since it causes fading.
    – Avoid exposing your artwork to direct sunlight.
    – Avoid fluorescent lights since it emits ultraviolet energy, which causes distortion.
  7. Get Personal And Up Close With The Lighting: Test whether your lighting illuminates the artwork appropriately after choosing the right one. The artwork must be visible from a distance, but some lights don’t support that aspect. Nonetheless, the size, texture and frame may influence the visibility aspect. So it is better to consider all these factors for artwork to bring that dramatic appearance.

Need some specific advice regarding your art collection or help in starting afresh? Benefit from our curatorial services! To know more, contact us at [email protected]

Without a doubt, proper lighting makes your artwork the centre of attention. Never hang your artwork where direct sunlight can reach; it’s “collectors advice”. Why? Sunlight causes colour distortion, and the entire artwork fades away. On top of that, it is essential to consider quality lighting, use specific lights for specific medium and ensure the lights balance the one in the room. When you do so, your artwork will look attractive, and the life expectancy will increase.



0 thoughts on “How to Display and Protect Your Artwork with Proper Lighting


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.