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An Art Advisors Guide for Lighting Art: How to Light Artwork in Your Home and Office

June 15, 2021

Discover the best methods for lighting art, and clearly showcase everything from paintings to sculpture.

The artwork that made your heart sing online, via your art advisor, or in the gallery might not have the same effect if it’s hard to see because the space is too dim or if the artwork is being blasted with too much light. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to lighting art—and there are several ways you can go wrong.

Lighting a piece correctly is vital to your enjoyment and when you invest in art, you want to enjoy and present it in the best light! Groan… I know, I know….  With proper lighting techniques like the correct light source, the best bulbs, education on 2 and 3D artwork lighting and more, your art collection will continue to make your heart sing and be admired by your guests for years to come.

What NOT to do

The first step is learning what’s forboden. Some lighting choices may cause heat or light damage, often resulting in permanent color distortion and brittleness. 

  • Avoid direct sunlight. Ultraviolet light and infrared radiation coming in from windows can cause fading.
  • Don’t light art directly. Doing so may cause heat damage.

Avoid fluorescents. These lights emit a high level of ultraviolet energy that accelerates color fading and distorts colors.

Cream Geometric Painting

Asparagus and Garbonzo

24″H × 24″W
Photograph printed in fine art paper

Ships from California

Cream Geometric Painting

Celebration of Nature

44″H × 43″W

Ships from Michigan

Let’s talk bulbs

  • LED: They boast a long lifespan and give off little ultraviolet radiation and heat. Plus, for tight spaces they are a good option if there is a small amount of space between the art and the light source. 
  • Halogen: These cast a cooler tone but generate higher levels of heat. Keep them at a safe distance from the artwork and add UV filters.
  • Incandescent: If you want a warm glow, use these bulbs. However, traditional incandescent lighting displays too much warm light, so be careful.
Cream Geometric Painting

Unknown Ritual Objects Rs458 I

9.5″H × 6″W x 9″D
acid-stained cement, bronze leaf, copper, rock, wood

Ships from California

Cream Geometric Painting


30″H × 24″W
ink on yupo paper

Ships from California

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Ceiling-mounted accent lights

When the art, not the light source is the focus.

Ceiling fixtures can be recessed or surface-mounted, and they allow the direction of light to be adjusted. They can also be specified with a range of light-beam spreads so you can make sure the light covers the majority of the artwork, not just a portion of it.

Where to purchase;

Art Lighting - How To Light Artwork 1

Recessed Art Lighting

Embrace Creatives is an official partner of Circa Lighting. Contact us for details.

When using ceiling-mounted accent lights to reduce artwork shadows, they should be placed so the light beam hits the center of the piece when the fixture is adjusted to a 30-degree angle.

Andrea Bogart, Founder Embrace Creatives
Cream Geometric Painting

Island Hideaway

20″H × 24″W
Oil on canvas

Ships from Michigan

Cream Geometric Painting

Unreal Reality: Blue, Orange, and Yellow – Brooklyn NYC

24″H × 24″W
Photo dye-sublimation floating metal print

Ships from Massachusetts

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Track Lighting

Equipped with the right lamps, newer track lighting performs similarly to ceiling-mounted accent lights but with more benefits. They’re easier to install and offer light focus flexibility. Unlike recessed lighting, which has to be removed by a professional, track lighting is easily modified by removing and adding lights, and of course you can angle the light easily, too.

From a room aesthetics standpoint, track lighting stands out more and may not suit your design desires, which is a trade off to ease of use.

Where to purchase;

Screen Shot 2022-10-28 At 11.58.04 Am - How To Light Artwork 2

Track-style lighting

Embrace Creatives is a partner with nationally located Visual Comfort. Contact us for details.

How do you light your artworks?


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