Harry Triggs and Andrew Molyneux
Top Tips for Lighting Art, TM Lighting
TM Lighting are artwork lighting specialists. Their London offices design and manufacture the best quality LED lighting to ensure you get the most from your artwork. Founding Directors, Harry Triggs and Andrew Molyneux, have provided their top tips to consider when lighting artwork.
The most important thing about your art is how it looks. Light is the tool that allows us to see art and having the correct type of light is crucial to allowing us to perceive depth, texture, detail , vibrancy and colour. We have created a simple guide to help select the best lighting for your art. We call this the THREE C’s:
COLOUR RENDITION (Choose a high CRI 95+ product)
Not all light is equal. Colour rendition is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with a natural light source. Daylight (natural light) is used as the benchmark 100 CRI (100%). Typically manufacturers use an average colour rendition value (Ra). When choosing an artificial light source, try to make sure this is a minimum of 95+ CRI when lighting art.
COLOUR TEMPERATURE (Choose a warmth of light suitable for your environment)
LED lighting is available in various warmths of light. These can affect the look and feel of an artwork and it’s environment.
2700K (incandescent white) - suitable for homes and lifestyle projects
3000K (neutral warm white) - suitable for contemporary art galleries and commercial spaces
4000K (cool white) - suitable for silver and diamonds
COLOUR CONSISTENCY (Choose a reputable manufacturer)
Make sure to choose the same colour and quality of light across your collection to ensure a consistent appearance of your collection.
We all have an idea how bright our art should be lit. This is a matter of taste. It is important though when thinking about this, that we don’t over light and damage the pigments and colour in our artworks. Watercolours, fabric, leather and other natural materials are the most delicate. The pigments in oils and acrylics can generally take more light, and metals, glass and other hard materials can generally take the full brightness of artificial lights. We can measure the brightness to set the correct levels.
LED is an ideal light source for conservation. They are generally made up of only the visible light spectrum - this does not contain ultraviolet (UV) or infrared (IR) light which can both cause significant fading. LED also generally does not produce forward heat. Heat is also a damaging factor in conservation.
Even with the best anti-reflective glass, there can still be reflection and glare on artworks. This can be minimised by considering the position of the lighting, and the location of your artwork within the room. Consider where you will view your artwork from and always try to make sure that any reflections would not be directly viewed. By placing your lighting correctly, you can help reduce visible reflections in artworks. Additionally, try not to places artworks with glass directly opposite large windows.
5. LIGHTING STYLES
Lighting can help create the atmosphere, presentation and feel of your collection. Here are a few styles to consider:
Collector: Light every piece specifically using individual lights per artwork
Casual: Pick out a key picture within a group and light this with a pool of light and let light spill onto your other works
Lighting is dependent on the artwork and its environment.
In a contemporary environment there may be more flexibility to use a discreet track and spotlight solution. This will give greater flexibility in the lighting scheme particularly if the client has a rolling/curated art collection.
In a classical setting consider using picture lights instead of spotlights. Both have their own benefits but the use of picture lights provides a more precise lighting tool in comparison with spotlights, which can create scallops of light above the artwork.
The finish of the lights should be considered. If using picture lights, consider using a finish to match other features in the room such as door handles, or other light fixtures. Alternatively, match the finish of the picture light to the frame, or wall colour in order to create a subtle, seamless look. All solutions will work equally well in both settings if the finishes are correctly selected for the environment
When lighting three dimensional artwork and sculptures use spotlights in specific positions to work with light and shadow. This can accentuate the form of the sculpture. Poorly positioned lighting on a sculpture can completely change the intent of a piece - a face could look sad, or happy just from an incorrectly positioned light.
Image: (main) Andrew Molyneux, left, Harry Triggs, right. (top right detail) Private residence lit by TM Lighting