Art lighting specialists’ TM Lighting share lighting tips to try at home

TM Lighting, the experts at the forefront of a new generation of specialist LEDs initiated a ground-breaking reinvention of the outdated picture light with the launch of their lighting range which dramatically improves light quality and distribution for artworks.

With true commitment to how we view art, founders, Harry Triggs and Andrew Molyneux provide tips for presenting your artwork to its full potential at home with the new technology that is now available to us.

“Choosing artwork is a very personal process that often elicits an emotional response, it is important to spend time thinking about the best way to present and showcase the work once you take it home so that the experience continues beyond the gallery.

Until the launch of our new range, high-grade lighting was often inaccessible for private homeowners – the sheer scale of old technologies was not suitable for homes. Our products give anyone with a love of art access to museum-grade lighting which is an exciting development with many possibilities”

TM Picture Lights used to light in a contemporary setting at a private residence.

Presentation techniques

Lighting has a direct impact on the atmosphere of a room. You can create drama with the way you illuminate specific pieces. It helps to visualise the space like a theatre stage and to handpick pieces in the space that will become focal points to create life and movement. Three easy techniques achieve very different atmospheres in the room:

Casual solution: Pick out a key picture within the group and light only this and let the light spill onto other works.

Intermediate solution: Use accent lights to project a pool of light onto the group of artworks.

Serious collection solution: Light every piece specifically using individual lights per artwork.

“With these solutions, we recommend creating a secondary layer of vertical illumination, this provides the warmth of the reflected colour of the artwork into the room and adds depth to your lighting scheme.”

How to light art in different environments

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 and other light fixtures, such as our Slim Lights or Slim Light Pro in antique bronze. Alternatively, match the finish of the picture light to the frame or wall colour to create a subtle, seamless look. All solutions will work equally well in both settings if the finishes are correctly selected for the environment.

Slim Light Pro lighting painting at John Mitchell Fine Paintings, Masterpiece London

Lighting 3D artwork

When lighting sculptures and 3D works of art, it is most important to understand the artist’s intent, as the position and the quality of light can have a dramatic effect upon how it is perceived, and its focus within a room.

TM suggests using spotlights in specific positions working with light and shadow to accent the form of the sculpture. Poorly positioned lighting on sculpture can completely change the intent of a piece – a face could look sad, or happy just from an incorrectly positioned light.

What to avoid

Avoid positioning artwork in natural light that is high in UV radiation during the morning and high in Infrared radiation during the evening.  These wavelengths are outside of the visible light spectrum but are damaging to delicate pigments in artworks. Therefore, hanging in a position where light spills directly from the window onto the canvas can fade artwork.

Avoid placing artwork directly between large windows, your eye will struggle to see the artwork during daytime without significant artificial light levels to counter the contrast levels. Artworks with reflective glass, or a high gloss level should not be mounted directly opposite large windows to prevent undesirable reflections.

Why LED?

In the past, art was lit with Halogen and other incandescent light sources, emitting Infrared, Ultraviolet and a great deal of heat. A harmful combination that is incredibly damaging to paintings, oils and particularly delicate colour pigments.

TM Lighting has built its business around the benefits of using carefully selected LEDs. TM Lighting products create colour rendition that is unrivalled in the marketplace for a product of its type; a colour temperature that considers the immediate environment and the nature of artwork being lit; and colour consistency that matches the visual across an entire work.

The principal benefit of using LEDs is that the harmful rays are minimised – no UV, Infrared or forward heat is emitted onto the work.  This is crucial when lighting delicate items such as watercolour paintings or textiles and fabrics over a sustained period.

In addition, LED products have the added benefit of dramatically reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs. The benefits of LEDs supersede those of any other light source, an extremely exciting technology that TM is at the forefront of, with great potential for further development.