Now that you have purchased a fine art prints and hung it on the wall, how should you add light to make the prints stand out? You could stand there and shine a flashlight on the art but your arm will get tired and the batteries may die. You could have one of your kids hold the flashlight. It will keep them busy for a while. Maybe the best way to light your fine art print is put up track or recessed lighting. Not as fun as holding a flashlight but much better.
Back in another life, I was an autobody technician. Painter, body and frame repair, etc. The thing about that industry (especially on the paint side) is that you want the paint booth as bright as possible. The whole thing was painted white on the inside with really bright fluorescent lights on the walls and ceiling that had a bit of a blue tint. This was because the midday sun was around 5000 kelvin which is slightly blue and it made color matching much easier. However, if you put up really bright, slightly blue tint fluorescent lights on your fine art prints like the ones in my fine art galleries, they would look horrible. Colors would look weird, terrible reflections, and a good chance the image would fade fairly quickly.
Track lighting is the best way to go. The lights can be angled and moved on the track to illuminate the prints in the proper direction. The system is mounted to the wall or ceiling and you put individual lights fixtures in the track. The track has the power for the lights.
Wash lights cast a broad "wash" of light on the wall or ceiling but the light does not travel very far. Wash lights create an even distribution of light on the wall. If you want to highlight something on your wall such as a premium fine art print from one of my galleries, move the lights closer to the wall. If you want a smooth soft wash of light, move farther from the wall.
So what are the light bulbs you should use? LED bulbs offer the best solution as they do not emit UV or infrared light that can damage your prints. You also need to think about the temperature of the bulb. Temperature ranges from 1000-10,000 kelvin. The Kelvin scale goes from yellow (1000) to blue (10,000). The optimal temperature is around 3500 kelvin. The light at 3500 Kelvin is not too yellow or blue. Aside from the Kelvin, the CRI (Color Rendering Index) is also important. The higher the CRI number, the better the bulb will render natural colors in the premium fine art print. If you can find a bulb with a CRI index of 100, that would be awesome for your print. If you use a bulb that is closer to CRI 70, well, the print won't look good. When you spend good money on a fine art print from one of these galleries, it should look good hanging on your wall to show off to all your friends.
WHAT ABOUT LIGHT ANGLE?
Yes, you need to angle your lights. This goes back to the first part of the blog with lights in a paint booth. Direct light will cause a lot of glare and the image will simple look terrible. I don't think that is what you want after purchasing one of my awesome prints. So what is the correct angle? You want to try to stay around the 30 degree range for the best light on the print. The higher the ceiling, the farther the lights need to be from the wall to reach the proper 30 degree angle. The center of the cone of light should be at the center of the fine art print.
The moral of the story is, make. Sure you properly light your premium fine art prints after hanging them on the wall. Show the off, impress your friends with print. You spent good money on it, now have it shine and be the center of attention. Unless you want to be the center of attention, then you should walk around with a light on your head shining on your face at a 30 degree angle. Make sure the bulb is LED unless you're trying to get a tan, then make sure it is a UV bulb. I should get back on track here with a track lighting system, an LED bulb with a high CRI index. Quality lighting is essential for your art work to both look amazing and last for a very long time.