Lighting Art in Your Home: Points You Need to Consider

Lighting Art in Your Home: Points You Need to Consider

Whether you are an artist or simply an art lover, showing off your favourite pieces makes sense. However, what happens after sundown when you need to rely on indoor lighting? Can you be sure that you are lighting your artwork effectively enough? How do you know that your light is drawing out your pieces?

If you’re not an artist by trade, it can be challenging to balance light out when it comes to artworks. The same can apply to photographs. Ultimately, a simple wash of ceiling light might not bring out the focal points you demand.

At Arrow Electrical, we are always pleased to provide you with various illumination options. In this guide, we’ll look at what you need to know about lighting art in your home. We’ll also introduce you to a clutch of choices from our online catalogue that you can invest in!

Why Use Artwork Lighting?

Of course, the simple answer to this is ‘why not’? However, the complete answer goes a little deeper. If you care about your art, you will want to make it take pride of place in your room(s). You may place it on a high point for people to see or give it a feature wall.

However, in some cases, offering your artwork space may not always do enough. That’s why so many people opt for artwork lighting. Or, at least, they choose lighting to set up around their artwork to help draw focus. That said, balancing artwork lighting out correctly can be a tricky process.

For example, too bright or piercing a glow could create glare that takes interest away from a piece. What’s more, if your light is too strong, it could overpower the work and take away from its appeal. After all, every piece of art has a message. What if poorly-positioned light takes away from that message?

There’s also the fact that, with ‘default’ lighting, your artwork(s) could get lost in your space. If this is art that you genuinely care about, you’re likely going to want to show it off. A simple hanging ceiling light will light up your space – but this is more function over form.

Therefore, it makes sense to invest in specific or specialist lights to highlight your art. You could choose accent lights, wall lights, or specialist picture lights. For example, why not consider the stunning Renoir 350 in matt nickel? It’s one of several specialist-built light fittings available in our catalogue right now.

If you’re new to highlighting artwork in your home, the idea of picture lighting may seem a little odd. However, this is a lighting standard that is becoming more and more popular outside of the public gallery.

Keep reading, and we will take you through the different ways you can highlight your artwork. Of course, picture lighting units may be the answer – but we will return to them!

Using Accent Lighting

Putting specialist picture lights aside, let’s consider accent lights. Accent lighting comes in many angles and forms. Ultimately, however, their aims are the same – to create spots and touches across rooms that draw attention. However, to highlight artwork in your room using accent lights, you’ll need to be careful with the angle.

You could, for example, use simple spotlights or angled ceiling LEDs to highlight art. This may be a simple option if you already have fixtures akin to such standards. What’s more, accent lighting is easy to angle and adjust. Therefore, if you are likely to move your artwork around, or if you want to shine on another wall, you can.

Many art lovers and artists prefer the flexibility of accent lighting for this very reason. Rather than setting up a specific space for art gallery-style, you can direct attention ad hoc. You can change it around with furniture positions and as you change the look of your decor, too.

Experts in art lighting generally recommend aiming accent lights around a 30-degree angle to the piece’s centre. The aim here, of course, is to direct light solely upon the art. Spread the light too far around it in any direction, and you will start creating shadows. That’s a different kind of focal point – we want people to look at the artwork in question, after all!

Reflective glare can also be a significant issue with certain canvases and mediums. Therefore, it makes sense to choose a warm yet low-energy bulb and to angle it carefully at your selected highlight.

This can be a delicate procedure, but, at the least, you have infinite flexibility. That said, there are still plus points for investing in dedicated picture lights. For example, for a personal gallery space, our Renoir 680 in bronze ensures only your artwork gets all the light.

Therefore, it’s worth considering whether or not you wish to use existing fittings or change up your space. We recommend either option – it’s down to what you want to create long-term!

What are Picture Lights?

As we’ve already seen, picture lighting offers a specialist way to draw out your paintings and pieces. Consider what you’d typically see in your average art gallery or exhibition. Regardless of the time of day, many exhibits boast picture lights on every wall. They are evenly spaced out and provide each work with a dedicated bulb to draw focus.

This means that each painting and piece gets its time in the sun. While you may not be setting up a full gallery of your own at home, you can still use the same techniques. After all, whether it is your painting or a piece you’re proud of, it makes sense to draw the eye. What you’ll need to keep in mind, too, is to try and declutter the space around your chosen wall.

Picture lights, however, will already do a lot of good for your chosen painting or piece. These lights traditionally hang above a chosen artwork that’s mounted to a wall. It’s a lamp feature that’s covered, angling purely to highlight a painting. This angle isn’t particularly sharp – but it effectively prevents light from spreading elsewhere.

Many art lovers prefer picture lighting because they don’t have to flood the space elsewhere. If you choose a large, clean space to hang your work, a picture light can ‘complete the look’. The aim, of course, is to avoid drawing attention to the fixture and any glare that may be created otherwise.

Simple picture light options such as our famous Renoir 680 in matt nickel work well. Boasting an integral bulb at a temperature of 2700W, it’s built to provide just enough focal light. The fitting itself is stylish yet unassuming enough to draw attention purely to the artwork in question.

It’s essential to choose a fitting that’s not a piece of art on its own! The last thing you will need is people looking more at your lighting than your artwork. When it comes to art lighting, balancing look with functionality is an absolute must-do.

Using Tracks and Strips to Light Artwork

Of course, there are more options beyond spotlights and recessed lighting to bring out your artwork. Track lighting, for example, is a popular choice that’s seen a bit of a resurgence. Some years ago, track lighting may have been considered gauche or odd-looking! Nowadays, however, flexible track lights can look the part as a constituent of any interior design.

Like accent lighting, you can install track lights to angle however you wish. You can quickly move lamps and ergo bulbs to highlight multiple spots. Of course, the beauty of this option is that you can use track lights to highlight various artworks. If you have art on opposite walls of a room, for example, why not angle hanging lamps in multiple directions?

Many art lovers prefer track lighting because of this flexibility. What’s more, used appropriately, they can ensure your paintings get a healthy amount of glow. Your light isn’t as up close and personal, either, as you’d expect with dedicated picture lights. It’s all a matter of those simple aesthetics.

Then, you may also consider strip lighting. Experts can refer to wall strips as wall washers – and these will normally fix above or below features. For example, you may choose to install a wall washer directly above a painting. While effective, there are a handful of drawbacks.

This option is likely only to work well when you have a full art wall. One piece alone will likely be overfished by strips or wall washers. If you have multiple paintings, however, you can go ahead and highlight them.

Moreover, wall washers are less flexible than track lights and accent options. Therefore, you have to be entirely confident this is the direction you wish to move in. Ultimately, there are different lighting options for different needs.

Tips for Lighting Art Effectively

Beyond choosing the best fittings, you need to consider a few other strategic points when highlighting art. For example, art doesn’t all arrive on canvases or glass frames. You need to consider your medium and the warmth of the bulb in play.

Firstly, consider whether or not your artwork needs specific lighting at all! In some cases, a well-positioned piece can do well without illumination. Of course, if you are presenting work in a space with little to no natural light, then picture lighting makes sense. If you have a particularly busy or distracting space, angling light to draw attention makes perfect sense.

Picture lights don’t solve every artwork illumination problem or query. For example, art hung without a frame will not do well with direct lighting. This could create glare or even distract from the piece altogether. Prints, too, are much more likely to create glare than literal paint on canvas.

Watercolour paintings, however, won’t suffer too much with direct light. That said, they still need a little TLC. Acrylics tend to be the most flexible when it comes to light variation. On the other hand, oil works are considered some of the most awkward to light.

Furthermore, if your room benefits from natural light, it makes sense to try and keep your artwork away from windows. This is certainly the case if you have picture lighting in place, too! Try and limit the natural light that accesses your works. It’s also a great idea to consider using LEDs to restrict intensive glare.

Did you know that harsh lighting can spoil artwork? UV light from outside, for example, can fade or even damage your pieces. Therefore, you must ensure that your works get a careful balance from natural and artificial lighting alike.

Beyond this, much of the decision you’ll need to make will be aesthetic. Take a look at your art in your room as-is. Does it need specialist lighting or additional glow? Is there likely to be distractions taking eyes away from your work?


While it may seem simple enough to light artwork as-is, illumination can have a strong effect on appearances. What’s more, the wrong lighting could create an undesired effect or even damage artwork. That’s why delightful fittings such as our Goya 760 LED make for such enduring specialist solutions.

If you have art, photos or other focal points you wish to show off, why not use light to your advantage? There are many different ways to make light work for you.

Take a look through the online catalogue here at Arrow Electrical and find a solution that highlights your art. After all, if you’ve got something to be proud of – by all means, show it off!

22nd Jun 2022

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