Lighting Artwork - Picture Lighting Solutions

Brilliant believes that great artwork calls for great lighting.  Traditional picture lights have been around for many years and are still popular despite their limitations.  Lighting artwork is a specialist discipline and we use a variety of different technologies and lighting design techniques to help you get the best from your art.

The traditional picture light has been around for decades with incandescent, fluorescent, halogen and more recently LED light sources being used for lighting artwork.   Each source has its own characteristics and own challenges.

LED Picture light on a small picture
LED Picture Light

Old incandescent fittings offer a warm glow but inconsistent colour rendering accentuating reds and golds at the expense of flattening blues and greens.  They are inefficient and unless filtered they emit ultra-violet (UV) light.  The picture lights tend to give a hot spot of light at the top of a picture rather than throwing it across the surface.  Fluorescent is a highly efficient light source but its colour temperature makes it an awkward choice for lighting artwork; it typically ‘kills’ reds, golds and browns.   Low voltage halogen is a wonderful light source, offering crisp white light and excellent colour rendering, but it emits UV light unless this is filtered out.  It’s also inefficient and gives out too much heat to be a sensible source for lighting artwork.

LED Picture Lights

LED is a more recent introduction and addresses many of the issues associated with older light sources while presenting new challenges.   By fixing these new challenges, LED can be made to be an ideal energy-efficient picture light source.  We use high quality LEDs in our fittings with excellent colour rendering in order to avoid the dingy yellows and overly cold blues associated with poor quality LED lamps.  LED naturally emits almost no UV, but we use filters on the fittings to reduce this further and to fine tune the colour temperature of a light to suit the type of picture.  You can read more about our innovative ArtView picture light here.

Innovative use of optics and filters allows us to tune each fitting to a canvas’ size, material and tones giving consistent light and colour rendering

Lighting artwork with angled downlight
Angled downlight

Picture Lighting with Downlights and Track Systems

Picture lights aren’t the only option for lighting artwork.  Angled downlights can be a discreet alternative and can give a wonderful result when lighting groups of pictures where traditional picture lights simply wouldn’t fit.   A downlight gives a different effect with more of a cone of light, but it can be very effective where the picture is the focal point and a little wider ambient light is desirable.   If using LED downlights they should be good quality ones with excellent colour rendering.  If using halogen then low voltage is better, and if the pictures are precious then fittings should be capable of taking UV filters.

Track mounted lighting comes in to its own if it’s a large and varying art collection,as it offers complete flexibility.  It can vary widely in terms of size and aesthetics, but in general it’s less discrete than other alternatives.  The same considerations around light source apply, and, depending on the type of track/fittings transformers may also need to be hidden somewhere close by but accessible.

Lighting Artwork with Framing Projectors

Lighting artwork with a framing projector
Framing Projector

Framing projectors are a different approach to lighting pictures or sculpture.  Less commonly seen in residential situations, framing projectors provide a way to perfectly frame pictures with no light spill outside the picture frame.  Set up professionally they provide real magic in lighting special pieces.  Traditionally they also have had downsides for residential use.  They’ve been expensive; they’ve been bulky, rather ugly and have required rooms of a certain scale to make sense.

Recently that has changed.  We are now using framing projectors that can be used much more easily in houses.  Good quality models are available in much smaller sizes; with the reduction in size has come a reduction in cost and the finished product offers the functions and features of the large commercial models in a more “residential friendly” package.   These are however still specialist bits of kit.

So we have an array of ways of helping you bring your artwork to life.  We really believe great artwork deserves great lighting and you should be able to enjoy your pictures and sculptures to the maximum.

Useful Links

Picture Lights – innovation in lighting artwork
The importance of light colour
Specifying an ArtView LED Picture Light