Light and Art Restoration

Singapore, 10th April 2012

A special subject today…It is always exciting when your children somehow get involved with parts of your life, in my case my life as a lighting designer. None of my children are active in my business, though my son Ingmar has worked as a drafts man at some stages. He has recently embarked on urban architectural planning studies, so who knows… 🙂

Today it is my daughter Valentine, who lives in Paris and studies to become a professional restorer of paintings, who showed me how she uses light to assess paintings that need restoring and how lighting reveals the textures and paint techniques…I found that very interesting and very much a close to my heart subject. As part of a recent exam she had to prepare a report outlining her methodology for assessing the painting’s condition, in this case a painting from French painter Ferriere depicting a countryside river scene.

Restoration of old paintings is no mean feat as you really need to understand everything that is to know about the painting, canvas material used, the way it is framed, executing humidity and heat tests to understand the type of paint and the way paint has been utilised and has integrated itself onto the canvas. Studying the cracks in the paint and the extend of varnishing the painting is all part of this research before you can even start thinking about restoring the artwork in its original condition. It is as part of this research that light is being used in several different ways.

First the paintings are examined with strongly angled light, from the left, from the right, from below and from the top, each angle revealing different aspects of the painting. We use this technique (grazing of light over a surface) often in our lighting designs to enhance and reveal nice material structures and finishes….

Then the light is used to shine through the painting to reveal canvas and paint thicknesses and how dark and lighter colours are used throughout the spectrum. Finally UV-light is applied to reveal any other irregularities not necessarily visible to the eye, in this case showing the homogeneity of the varnishing.

Very revealing…as light always is… 🙂 Thanks for sharing Val, very interesting!

Light Watch 3-49: In sequence below; the painting as is, lights shown from different angles (right, left, top, below), light from behind and the painting under UV light


10. April 2012 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: light and art, light watch, lighting applications | Leave a comment

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