The lighting environment in your home can make all the difference to the way your favourite works of art will look. In some cases, too much lighting can wash out a painting with a subtle colour palette or create a glare against glossy finishes, whereas too little light might hide the vibrancy of colours and create an illusion of a flattened image
See what a difference the light can make?
On the left, this original acrylic painting by Christian Bergeron is exposed to minimal natural daylight and is lit with an LED spot light. This method is ideal in intensifying the colours and emphasizes the depth in the landscape.
On the right the same painting is displayed facing large windows which over illuminated the piece with bright natural light. The contrast has been subdued and the colours loose their dimension by being over lit in this way.
For this and many other reason, we always encourage people to take home artwork they are considering on approval for a while. Our open, bright showroom in our gallery may not represent the environment in your own home and can have a drastic effect on the appearance of the artwork.
What’s the safest way to light your original art?
Once you’ve chosen an artwork to display in your home, lighting it properly and safely is an often overlooked, but crucial, part of protecting the condition of your original artwork.
Here’s some simple guidelines to refer to when considering relative sensitivity to UV:
No sensitivity – Most inorganic materials such as stone, metal, glass or ceramic*
*be aware of the resins or finishes that are often applied to artworks made of inorganic mediums. They often contain materials that have a higher sensitivity.
Low sensitivity – Most modern oil and acrylic paints are fortified with UV stabilizers and therefore have much more resilience to light exposure that older works. Normal daylight exposure indoors through windows will have a minimal effect over approximately 30 years.
High sensitivity – Artworks on untreated wood, cotton, silk, and paper with watercolour paints, inks and dyes are all susceptible to UV damage if exposed to natural daylight or UV emitting light bulbs anywhere between 2 months and 3 years.*
*The time varies so widely for these mediums due to the individualized nature of each material and situation. For best practices to display your artwork well and keep it safe, consult a conservator.
When it comes to spotlighting your artwork, we recommend LED lighting over incandescent lamps.
Incandescent bulbs give off a yellow glow which can distort the true colour palette and emit heat that will slowly degrade fabrics and paper, and fade watercolours.
LED lights emit less heat and UV while allowing you to view a larger spectrum of colours and see more details in your art. This option can sometimes be more expensive, but LED bulbs rarely burn out and therefore don’t need to be replaced as often.
Let’s shed some more light on the situation…
Be careful of what you read on the internet if you are concerned about conserving artwork, there can be a lot of contradicting information out there. Accredited organizations that make the care and conservation of artwork their business are usually the best sources for indisputable information.
For more detailed information on protecting your sensitive artwork (ie. watercolours or antique paintings) against agents of deterioration, visit The Canadian Conservation Institute run down here.