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Artwork Lighting: Expert’s Guide on Creating the Perfect Shine

Artwork Lighting_ Expert’s Guide on Creating the Perfect Shine (1)

Art is meant to be appreciated and admired – which requires proper lighting. When hanging up artwork, your key focus is to make it stand out. Thus the right light can add to the beauty of an art piece and tie it all together. However, improper and inadequate lighting will not only fail to serve their purpose but also take away any focus from the artwork.

It is important to understand that there are several variants of lighting elements available in the market. Each serves a different purpose. There is no ‘rule of thumb’ when it comes to lighting – different types can work well on different occasions. We’ve compiled a list of several different ways in which you can style your artwork along with how those lighting solutions will help enhance your art piece’s aesthetic.

Number Of Lights

Stylish Wall Light

Credits: Sac Localist 

Irrespective of whether you have one decorative element or a room filled with them. Your goal is to allow each one of them to hold their ground. As such, you can’t hold lights to every piece if there are too many of them. That would just look like you’re walking right into the sun.

It is important to balance the number of lights with the artwork. This may or may not be a direct relationship. If you have only one art piece hanging, or a handful of them then picture lights will do the trick. On the other hand, if you have several pieces then using fewer lights, but each with enough intensity would cover.

Choose The Right Type Of LightGeometric Minimalist Light

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Lighting is very versatile. So much so that you now have several different colors to choose from. From LED lights to incandescent, each has its unique features:

LED: LED lights are the most common types of lights used in fixtures and stands. They have the longest life span and provide the most light. They are available in warmer or cooler temperatures.

Incandescent: These lights provide more of a yellowish tint and a warmer glow. Incandescent lights might be what you aim for, but they aren’t usually recommended for many reasons. They produce a lot of heat and have a shorter life span.

Halogen: Halogen lights have cooler tones, but they also provide a lot of heat. They emit UV rays which might damage the artwork.

Picture Lighting


Credits: Pexels

You’ve probably already seen picture lighting in museums and art galleries. They’re designed to bring focus onto whatever it is that they’re illuminating, almost like creating a spotlight. Picture lighting hangs right on, or just a little above the frame of your artwork or wall hanging. However, most designers would recommend that you direct the light source towards the ground to avoid glare.

While they might have once been associated with galleries, homeowners have since taken a great deal of interest in them. Rightfully so, your artwork stands center stage when illuminated by picture lighting.

Indirect Lighting

Elegant Indirect Lighting

Credits: Unsplash, Patrick Perkins

Sometimes, you do not want your artwork to be showcased directly. You want it to stand the ground on its own without bringing attention towards it. If that is the case, then you need more subtle and indirect lights. Let’s say you have a room filled with artwork, along with other furniture – a living room. While it would be nice to have people comment on your artwork, you do not want it to seem like the living room furniture is accessory to the artwork.

Hence, indirect lighting makes use of natural lighting with a few tweaks. For example; if you’ve hung the painting near the window then hang translucent blinds so that light from outside still shines during brighter periods to make your artwork pop out.

Recessed Lighting

Beautiful Recessed Lighting

Credits: Pexels, Karl Sorano

Recessed lighting provides subtle, yet focal lighting onto a particular area. They are softer and dimmer than ambient lighting and categorized alongside accent lighting. Recessed lighting can be adjusted and tilted based on your needs.

When providing illumination onto your artwork, you do not need to take out previous fixtures. Sometimes, the fixtures you already have can be manipulated in such a way that it appears they were installed just for the art. With recessed lighting, you can do just that.

There are also many different ways in which you can install recessed lighting. For artwork, you can install them pointing from the ground upwards. This way, you’ll create a focal point for people to admire your decorative element.

Track Lighting

Awesome Track Lighting

Credits: Unsplash, Deanna J

Track lighting or monorail lighting is most commonly associated with kitchen counters or bedrooms. Think about what they’re used for: to provide focus. Throughout this article, you’ve come across many lighting solutions that are designed to bring attention to your artwork – track lighting does just that.

These versatile lighting elements can be moved along the railing. Once adjusted, you can create a ‘hotspot’ for light wherever the artwork is hanging. You can decide whether you want to track lighting to be used for general lighting purposes or to give attention.

When giving attention, simply adjust the lights towards wherever you want there to be more light. When providing general illumination, adjust the lighting head towards the floor. As mentioned, they’re very versatile and handy.

Ambient Lighting

Stylish Modern Floor Lamp

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A common misconception when it comes to lighting elements for artwork is that ambient lighting just wouldn’t cut it. The fact of the matter is, anything can work as long as you know how to make it work.

If you place artwork near ambient lighting either above or below the light source you would be creating depth to the piece. If you feel like ambient lighting is too much for you, then you can simply place your artwork at a distance to the light source. On the other hand, if you place it directly above the source, it makes it stand out.


The joy you might have felt when purchasing a beautiful art piece can be quickly overshadowed with improper lighting. Lighting plays a crucial part in displaying your decorative element. Light Atelier provides a range of various lighting solutions to meet every display need when hanging artwork. After all, the aim is to make it shine.