How to Choose Picture Lighting

How to Choose Picture Lighting

We often get questions about how to select the appropriate lighting for artwork and pictures. From deciding on the type of picture light to figuring out the proportionate size, we’re breaking down the basics to help you choose the best fixture for your artwork.

Wall Mounted Picture Lights

Wall mounted picture lights are typically installed directly above the frame of the picture. This is a good choice if you have high ceilings, as you will need to leave enough wall space for the light to be installed. These picture lights will have an arm that extends from the wall to shine light on the picture. Since wall mounted picture lights are situated very close to the art itself, it draws special attention to the piece, inviting guests to take a closer look.

What size do I need?

As a general guideline, a wall mounted picture light should be at least half of the width of the frame you are illuminating. We also suggest trying to avoid exceeding the width of the frame. For example, if your frame is 20 inches wide, choose a picture light that is at least 10 inches, but no more than 20 inches wide. This guideline applies to pictures up to 30 inches wide only. For a 60” picture, choose a light that is 40”, or about two thirds of the frame.

Frame Width

12 to 18 inches

16 to 24 inches

25 to 37 inches

over 35 inches

Picture Light Width

6 to 12 inches

8 to 16 inches

12 to 24 inches

20+ inches

Ceiling Mounted and Recessed Picture Lights

Ceiling mounted and recessed solutions are a great option when wall space is limited. The key to illuminating artwork in this fashion is adjustability and placement. To avoid shadows and glares, install these ceiling fixtures so that the light beam is aimed at the center of the picture when the fixture is adjusted to a 30-degree angle.

Spot lights, also referred to as monopoints, can be adjusted to shine directly onto the picture.

Track lighting allows fixture quantities and placement to be easily modified, making it a great solution for galleries or collections of artwork.

Recessed lights with adjustable gimbals are another option for illuminating displays, although they don’t offer the same flexibility as track lights.

Shop all picture lights here.

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