picture lights - how to illuminate your paintings and artworks

Picture lights

Here's everything you need to know about using picture lights to illuminate your artworks...

Picture lights aren't just for museums and galleries – you can bring a touch of drama to a room by illuminating a favorite painting or photograph with its own special spotlight. If you've invested in valuable artwork, you'll naturally want to showcase it, but any striking print or photo will look even more impressive under a picture light.

However, there are some dos and don'ts. You need to ensure that original paintings are protected from light damage, and there are some guidelines for proper positioning to give your masterpieces maximum impact and wow factor.

Here's our handy 7-point guide to everything you need to know about picture lights...

Picture lights

Choose the Right Size Picture Light

Obviously, the larger the picture, the more light you'll need to illuminate it, but it also depends on whether the artwork is in portrait or landscape format. Here are a couple of rules of thumb for getting the size right: For portrait pictures, select a picture light that's about half the width of the picture. For landscape pictures, opt for a picture light that's between one-third and one-half of the picture's width.

Use a Picture Light with an LED Bulb

The days when energy-efficient bulbs were inferior to incandescent bulbs are behind us. Museums and galleries now routinely use modern LED bulbs - and with good reason. They don't emit heat, are highly energy-efficient, and have a long lifespan. Quality LED bulbs also provide clear, white or warm white light that's perfect for pictures. As for the amount of light you need from the bulb, there's another rule of thumb: you want to illuminate the artwork with about three times more brightness than the rest of the room.

Use a Picture Light with a High Color Rendering Index (CRI)

The Color Rendering Index (CRI) indicates how accurately a light source renders colors. It's a percentage scale from 0 to 100, with 100 being perfect. For most bulbs around the house, CRI isn't crucial, with brightness and warmth mattering more. However, for illuminating artworks, it can make a significant difference. Look for a CRI of 80 and above. (Pooky's picture lights all come with light sources with a CRI of 80+.)

Position the Picture Light Correctly over the Artwork

The goal when positioning a picture light over an artwork is to achieve an even spread of light across the entire picture while minimizing glare, particularly on the top half. You can achieve this by placing the picture light centrally above the artwork, at a 30 to 35-degree angle.

Hang Artworks at the Right Height

According to art and interiors experts at AttikoArt, the most common mistake people make when hanging artworks is positioning them too high. The center of a picture should be at eye level, or even lower in a sitting room where most of your time is spent on sofas.

'Tie' Artworks to Furniture

Another valuable tip from AttikoArt is to 'tie' artworks to accompanying furniture below them, such as chairs, tables, sideboards, and cabinets. This spatial connection between furniture and art enhances the overall harmony in the room.

Protect Your Pictures from Direct Sunlight

A crucial tip: keep artworks, especially paintings, away from direct sunlight to prevent damage. Picture lights are excellent for rooms or corners with limited natural light - just what you need to showcase your masterpiece.

    Take a look at some of Pooky's Picture Lights:

    mondrian picture light in antiqued brass

    Mondrian picture light in antiqued brass

    smaller blake picture light in antiqued brass

    Smaller Blake picture light in antiqued brass

    large clyfford picture light in waxed antiqued brass

    Larger Clyfford picture light in waxed antiqued brass