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

Changing it up and the alumni art show

6 06 2010

Before releasing students for the holiday break from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where I received intense training in photography, the head administrator sat us down for a little chat.

He advised putting the camera away and treating ourselves to viewing and experiencing other forms of art for inspiration and stimulation.

The program was such that one’s creative juices were pretty much dried up by the end of the term. Five studio courses, 10 concurrent assignments due in two weeks at any given time, photo lab work until 10 pm six nights a week, and frank critiques. If one attended fresh out of high school with no college academics, then those classes were mandatory at night in addition.

Why, you might wonder, did I pick this school, in my 30s even. Because I admired several of its alumni who mentored me when I worked alongside them at the magazine. They were professional photographers at the top of their game, and I came to realize their training influenced the way they were, not just as photographers but as people.

To write blog posts, I like to examine any ongoing themes in my life. I wonder, is now a time for reorganizing? Remembering the art school advice to change it up, today I’m taking stock and reporting the other art forms I’ve experience in the past month or so.

A trip to the lighting showroom. I’m conscious of light: the amount of light, its direction, its quality. Lighting was not my strong suit in art school in that lighting a scene or set with artificial light was challenging. I did learn enough to recognize lighting differences, though I couldn’t always execute them, and I learned the lingo. I know what I like and don’t like about light, and I can tell you why. When I learned to paint, I learned more about the logic of light.

This month, after living a long time dissatisfied with a certain light bulb and dated fixture where I live, I am ecstatic that DH agreed to let the professionals fix the lighting deficiencies and non-design in our home. A trip to the lighting store and a very pleasant consultation with the designer Adir resulted in a solution that is a compromise between husband, wife, and pocketbook, but everyone is happy so far. It’s fun to look at an array of light fixtures, design catalogs, and photo books of interior design.

Moonlight Mele on the Lawn concert. Saturday night’s program of performing arts at the Bishop Museum featured the Tau Dance Theater, Kaukahi, John Cruz, Halau Mohala Ilima, Samadhi Hawaii aerial silk trapeze, and Ledward Kaapana. Each performed first-class numbers. Three of the groups were new to me, impressive and enjoyable. With summer here there are lots of concerts to choose from. Besides taking in the music, I noticed things like the visual form of the dance, costuming, lighting (again), sound, logistical set-up, and audience reaction.

Alumni art show. This isn’t the first year of an alumni art show at my high school, but it is the first time I’m exhibiting there. It’s open just a few hours during the alumni kick-off event this coming week and a couple of hours during the luau itself. I am planning to work the show, taking a look at other alumni artists’ artwork. Today I delivered the new still lifes, all at special Punahou alumni reduced prices. If  seeing the show June 10 or 12 interests you (the event represents about 30 artists), please contact me, and I will get back to you with information.

Going to Kauai. Plans to entertain visiting relatives include a trip to Kauai. It’s a brief two-day, one-night whirlwind tour of the island, and we’ll all be tourists. It has been so long since us local folks were last there. Hey, it’s summertime! You have to go somewhere!

Garden maintenance. Might sound boring and too much like work, but this is a type of meditation for me. Since pruning the hedge, I’m thrilled to see the ocean and the sky from the studio. The shorter hedge is in better scale for our lot and the street, there’s more air and light for both us and the neighbors, and more sunshine for the vegetable garden. In the renewed view plane ma uka (toward the mountains) I now see the fruit trees in the landscape beyond as well as two lava rock faces in the mountains.

Loving a parade or two. Kamehameha Day is observed this Saturday, June 12, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. with the annual floral parade, but I heard the route is changed from previous years. It will start on Ala Moana near Fort DeRussy and go in the ewa direction, turn right at Punchbowl street, then left on King street to Iolani Palace. This parade is the best opportunity to see the pau (pronounced pahh-oo) riders, women on horseback representing the various islands of Hawaii with their colorful skirts and elaborate floral lei. DH and I will put in some community service with Koolauloa Hawaiian Civic Club in the hot dogs-and-hamburgers booth on the palace grounds. The following day, June 13, I’d love to take in the Pan-Pacific evening parade, from 5 to 7 p.m. as it processes through Waikiki down Kalakaua avenue.

It’s a good time to change it up. I’ll see you!

Copyright 2010 Rebekah Luke

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