How to Light Oil Paintings

Lighting artwork must be done properly so as to accentuate the painting without damaging the work. Glare is an important factor to take into consideration when the piece of art is behind glass. Lighting a painting will create heat, therefore, it is important to keep the light far enough away so as to not damage the painting.


Paintings can be lit using adjustable lights, track lighting, picture lights or recessed lighting.

Step 1

Choose non-reflective glass to cover your artwork, or plan to place the lighting at a 30-degree angle to the painting.

Step 2

Pick a broad-based light source; these are best for oil paintings.

Step 3

Use a halogen light, which produces the purest white light, necessary for showcasing a painting properly.

Step 4

Heat can crack oil paintings.

Place the light far enough away from the painting so as to not damage the painting with the light's heat. Halogen lights produce large amounts of heat.

Step 5

Put your hand over the painting to test whether the light is too close. If your hand can feel heat from the light, it is too close.

Step 6

Light the painting three times brighter than the room it is in. This is a general rule of thumb for lighting any piece of art.

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