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British Art - Use Of Lighting

Finding the best light source for your British Art and correct lighting for British Paintings ensures you get the most from each British Artists art work and helps maintain interest in your British Art Investment

One thing which brings each British contemporary painting to life is the way each artist creates light and shade. It adds depth and interest to the painting. British artist Louis McNally is just one example of an artist whose contemporary art paintings are characterised by careful use of light and shade.

Amanda Hoskin
Amanda Hoskin - Flowers at Daymer Bay, Cornwall

In order to fully appreciate the light and shade in each piece of British art, paintings may need external light to enhance and illuminate the art. Good lighting greatly improves contemporary paintings. Even slight differences in direction or type (fluorescent, incandescent, halogen, natural, etc.) can make all the difference. Proper lighting of British Art can bring out nuances and effects in paintings which are not so evident in natural light. It can also enhance the artwork, in terms of importance in the design of a room or environment. Often British contemporary paintings are hung where there is a convenient space without enough thought about the lighting of each art work.

In addition to the light and shade depicted in any British painting there is the actual light, shade and texture that is often created by the British artist's use of paint or other media. This is often apparent when comparing a contemporary painting in reproduction with the 'real-life' painting. The difference can be astounding in terms of seeing the brushstrokes and marks made by the artist in creating the painting. It is this 'real-life' texture and connection to each British contemporary artist that makes owning original paintings so special. British contemporary artist Alma Wolfson, for example, undertakes her paintings out of doors. This immediacy and experiencing the atmosphere of the time and place is reflected in the way the artist applies paint and uses strong brushstrokes.

Charles Hardaker
Charles Hardaker - Open Doors - Patch of Light

Sometimes there is enough natural light in a room to show off a contemporary British painting but natural light is very inconsistent and can be damaging to art, particularly British paintings, Limited Edition Prints and art works on paper. The infrared and ultraviolet (UV) rays of natural sunlight can damage works of art. UV rays are so harmful that it can, over time, fade works on paper especially pastels, prints, photographs, and watercolours. Modern paints are more resistant to fading but care should still be taken to protect your art investment from overexposure to unlimited sunlight.

British Art and British paintings need to be protected from light damage. First of all, don't light your paintings and prints all and every day. If you wish to be extra cautious only light the contemporary art when you are viewing it and keep the light off at other times.

The most common British household light bulbs (incandescent lights) bring out the warm colours within the spectrum. This means the red, brown, orange, and yellow tones in contemporary British paintings will be enhanced. The blues, greens, and violets within your works of British art may be flattened out by incandescent lights. So, these lights are better than natural or fluorescence for contemporary art works and paintings but are not the entire solution to the lighting problem. Fluorescent lights do not emit light across the entire spectrum of colours and produce a harsh glare and are therefore usually unsuitable for illuminating British art works.

The strong white light of halogen makes it among the best lighting solutions for illuminating British art and contemporary paintings if installed properly. A low watt halogen light may work well. Halogen light allows the subtleties of colour to come through in paintings. A low watt halogen-based bulb has been recently introduced which redirects damaging UV and infrared rays of light. Once again, the use of a halogen light at low wattage may prove best for most works of British art.

John Lines
John Lines - Skateboard Superstar

Whichever lights you choose to use to light your British contemporary art do remember not keep contemporary paintings on display for long periods of time since all light (natural and artificial) is damaging to works of art and will devalue your art investment over time. Direct lighting systems are also not to be recommended for lighting an artist's work.

A compromise is necessary when lighting contemporary British art. This doesn't mean go out and purchase all different types of art lighting, just light your paintings wisely. Try to avoid the UV and infrared rays from directly hanging works of British art in sunlight. Don't shine a bright light of any kind directly onto artwork, especially works on paper. Remember, photographs and works on paper are most fragile.

In the same way that a frame and mount are chosen to enhance a contemporary painting, so the same applies to art lighting. Ensure picture lights are always smaller than the artwork.

In summary finding the ideal light source for your British Art and optimum lighting for British Paintings can be challenging but if you want to see all your British Artists work at their best following Red Rag Gallery art care advice should maximise your British Art Investment

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