A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Picture Lights


Estimated Time to Read: 3 minutes

Most of us have been to museums and art shows at least once and gawked over the art works with appreciation and pure amazement. But we hardly notice the lights that are above these artworks, highlighting them day and night. And if you have noticed and remember them by any chance, may be something is wrong with those picture lights. This is because picture lights are always supposed to highlight the canvas or the frame and de-emphasize themselves, not stand out and highlight themselves.

This is just one of the hundreds of things that could go wrong while choosing a picture light to highlight an art work. Art works are very sensitive in nature and one mistake while choosing a picture light would jeopardize the entire look and feel of the art work, thus devaluing it. If you run a museum or art gallery or just want to buy a picture light to showcase your new art venture, you might want to memorize these tips before buying one from lighting stores.

1. Know the Different Types of Lights

This is one of the first and foremost things you need to know before learning more about picture lights, the type of light bulbs used in these fixtures. As mentioned before, art works are very sensitive to natural elements and light is certainly the most important one. Here’s how the artworks look under the following types of lights.

a. Incandescent- These lights create a warm tone and highlight few colors like red and yellow, while complementing colors like blue and green. Unless the artworks are composed of these colors, it is wise to avoid incandescent lights which might alter the very appearance of the artwork.

b. Halogen- Halogen light bulbs are known for their pure white light and do well on artworks. However, care must be taken to position these lights far away from artworks as they generate a lot of heat and this might result in the melting/fading of the colors.

c. Fluorescent- Though widely used in houses and offices for lighting purposes, fluorescent bulbs are less preferred when it comes to artwork lighting. This is because they often alter the colors of the artworks and emit strong UV rays that will possibly damage the artwork.

d. LED- Lastly, come picture lights made from LED bulbs, which are the most preferred of all the available light types. They emit natural sun light, have high focus, equal light distribution, thus accentuating the artwork. In addition, they are highly energy efficient and long lasting.

2. Know the Different Styles of Picture Lights

Picture lights are mainly categorized into four different types, all of which are briefly explained below

a. Wall Mounted- As the name suggests, these fixtures are fixed on the wall between the frame of the artwork and the ceiling. The most preferred style in buildings with high ceilings, these fixtures are very flexible as they allow to shift the artworks without much hassle.

b. Ceiling Mounted- These fixtures are mounted on the ceiling and recessed lights and spotlights are the most popular ceiling mounted picture lights. Though popular, these fixtures are difficult to mount and reposition.

c. Clamp On Picture Lights- These fixtures are attached to the frame of the canvas and must be avoided incase the frames are too expensive or the canvas is unframed.

d. Freestanding Picture Lights– Similar to floor lamps, these lights are preferred only when none of the above mentioned are feasible.

3. Judging the Size of The Picture Lights

One of the very important aspects while choosing picture lights, most people are often confused about the optimum sizes they should go with. To ease the selection process, a generic rule is followed, according to which the size of the fixture must be ½ or 1/3rd of width the frame if it is landscape and ½ of the width of the frame if it is portrait.

4. Color, Style and Shapes of the Picture Lights

It is wise to choose picture lights of the color that go along with the color of the frame, most common ones being bronze, brass, silver, gold and black. Coming to the style of the picture frames, Classic, Contemporary and Slimline are the most popular styles of picture lights used in museums and art galleries. Lengthy Bar lights and round Spot lights are the most preferred shapes of picture lights.

5. Use of Dimmers and Wireless Technology

Lastly, the picture lights can be upgraded with the latest technologies i.e. dimmers and battery powered LED lights (www.ehow.com/facts_5037728_led-lights.html) for flexibility of illumination and a hassle free, wireless experience.

Pin It on Pinterest