What should I consider when lighting the art in my home?
In lighting any art, the artistic medium itself is my primary consideration. Each piece has its own range of color, texture, depth, and reflectivity. Through the skillful use of light, these qualities can be maintained, accentuated, or muted. Additionally, you should consider the distance from the art to place your fixtures, as it will determine the beam spread and the amount of light “wash” surrounding the art. If wash is unwanted, it can be remedied by using framing devices to cut the light into defined shapes. Glare or shadows are also a common concern, and can be solved by considering the angle of light and the number of light sources.
What technology should I use to light art in my home?
The traditional wall-mounted art light, unless specifically chosen for its aesthetic, should be avoided as the angle of light rarely compliments the art. Recessed cans are preferred, allowing more flexibility of angle and distance. However, in homes with cement ceilings, recessed cans are often out of the question. In those situations, or for pure aesthetic choice, ceiling or wall monorails (as seen in the photo), allow the angle, distance, and number of lighting sources to be easily adjusted. This is particularly useful should your collection grow or change.
What types of bulbs are best for lighting art?
Each specific type and brand of bulb has its own quality and color temperature. When skillful design is matched with quality products, your art can be displayed in a range of lighting tones, from candle-like warmth to stunning brilliance. For decades, I have been lighting art using low-voltage, MR16 halogen lightbulbs and they remain my favorite choice for this task. When on high, they are able to produce crisp, white light, but when dimmed, the color shifts through a spectrum of warm incandescence.
While I am a great advocate of LED technology, the bulk of the LED available today has a single color temperature that does not shift as you dim it making it a difficult choice for art. Instead of the golden glow of dimming incandescence, dimmed LED commonly results in giving art and other objects a washed-out appearance. Although there have been recent advances in developing “warm-dim” or “color-shifting” LED technology, at this time lighting your art properly with LED remains difficult and quite expensive.
(TOP PHOTO) In lighting any art, the artistic medium is the primary consideration. Each piece has its own range of color, texture, depth, and reflectivity. Through the skillful use of light, these qualities can be maintained, accentuated, or muted.
(2ND PHOTO) Ceiling or wall monorails allow the angle, distance, and number of lighting sources to be easily adjusted. This is particularly useful should your collection grow or change.
Lighting design by Lynne Stambouly
Photography by Giovanni Photography