The right light makes all the difference

28 12 2010

The outer shade casts attractive warm indoor light

It’s a beautiful light. And it makes all the difference. This antique leaded and metal slag stained glass chandelier makes me happy! DH found it on eBay and offered the winning bid for it. He rebuilt the fixture and we hung it yesterday afternoon. Literally years of marital discussion has resulted in a solution that we both love. But the journey wasn’t easy.

The clear glass bauble in the center captures our hearts

The original fixture was a hanging white ball placed in such a way that made it difficult to center a dining table beneath it. It illuminated the space but I didn’t care for the quality of light. Every time DH turned it on, I turned it off. I hated it. One day it didn’t light at all, and the reason wasn’t a burned-out bulb.

I tried to ignore the eyesore while DH offered alternatives. He is into eco- and energy-efficient lighting, while I am partial to the old-fashioned and energy-hoggy incandescent types. At nighttime, the whole of our living space is lighted with a seriously eclectic collection of table lamps, from heirlooms to silent auction prizes to Ross store bargains.

DH sometimes forgets that as a trained artist and photographer, I’m sensitive to the quality of light. Quality of light has to do with color, intensity, direction, and diffusion—for example. It’s part of noticing everything that makes up the scene visually. I’m not a perfectionist anymore, but I still try for good design. I’ll try darn hard to omit anything that hurts my eyes, gives me a headache or makes me feel unbalanced!

For a replacement, I envisioned a new Tiffany-style hanging fixture that could be used for both dining and reading. DH wasn’t sure. He wanted Japanese/Mission/Craft, something like that.

I have to confess: studio lighting was not my strong suit in art school. I learned about lighting, but it was a challenge for me to execute it. And obviously, after 25 years, the part of our little dwelling that suffers in design most is how to light the space.

DH, who was now unhappy with the non-working ball fixture, agreed that we could consult with a lighting/interior-design professional to help. We did, they came, and DH was wooed into a modern, high-tech solution. I have to credit him for not purchasing on impulse. It did not matter either how much I liked the solution or not. After looking at the estimates for materials and labor, we understood, sadly, that it simply was not affordable, a fact we both accepted.

I let the idea go. DH went back to “recycled” mode and started searching on eBay. How about this? No. Well then, what about this one? Nuh-uh. Oh, he was patient! Finally he showed me the pictures of a lamp that seemed to “go” with the house. It was old, but in good shape and pretty. It would be a design repeat of a few other pieces of art glass we had. And the caramel, chocolate, and orange in the shade picked up on existing colors in the room. Okay! I said.

And the rest is history.

Copyright 2010 Rebekah Luke

On being there

15 09 2009

Ayla learned how to kick off her blanket this morning as a result of my playing peekaboo with the receiving blanket and her legs. Still in the car seat from the ride to our house, she kicked off the cloth on cue repeatedly, smiling widely, then cooing each time I covered her tiny little feet with it, liking the great game with Popo (Chinese grandmother, me). So much fun, she started giggling!

Was that her first giggle? I thought how blessed darling husband is to be the caregiver for this child. He’s there during the daytime when the baby’s cheerfully awake. While Ayla’s parents are away at work, he’s treated to many of baby’s firsts. I began reflecting on how the sweetest and most rewarding moments of life have to do with being there.

In my professional work, being there has made all the difference.

As a general assignment reporter who wrote the daily news, I had to be at events as they were happening, or there would be no story.

As a photographer, I could not notice a gorgeous scene and decide to come back later to make the picture because later the light will have changed and be different. I would have missed the shot.

As a children’s book designer who worked with models, locations, and photography, I had to go there to the photo; it wasn’t going to come to me.

As a plein air landscape painter, I have to be on location the same time each day until the painting is finished to capture the light I saw the first time.

Nowadays back at the studio, I’m experimenting with painting still life and changing my technique. My intention is to paint looser, to use a different color palette than my landscape greens, to apply definite strokes of thick oil paint with a palette knife, and to paint fast. This requires being in the mood, being in the present, and being able to concentrate in order to get it right the first time.

Mango papaya pineapple

Mango papaya pineapple

I’m painting subject matter that’s appeared previously in this blog. Wanting to capture magnificence before it fades away, I had to be there to witness the mangos turn from green to shades of red and red-orange to bright yummy yellow. I had to be there to see the night blooming cereus open for one night only until next year.

Something funny happened, too, because I wasn’t there. As the green, almost-ripe avocado pear sat on the table of my set, waiting for me to preserve its three pounds of glory in a painting, its color turned to the alizarin-brown of ripeness. Before I got around to putting pigment on canvas, I had to eat it!

As a Reiki practitioner, I know that our Reiki Master in Spirit is there for us all the time. We just have to relax, be open to receive, smile, and maybe giggle to witness the healing.

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

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