Landscape lighting design takes shrewd eye, technical skill
From The National Post
The intensity of color, the refinement of shadow, the synergy of shapes — such phrases are usually reserved for fine art classes or a Group of Seven tour through the Art Gallery of Ontario. But today they are the catch-phrases of a new breed of artist: the landscape lighting designer. What once was perceived as the last thought for residents after buying or building a property has now become a design priority. That is, if one wants to fit into the aesthetic zeitgeist of Toronto’s neighborhoods, which are being slowly lit up one by one.
“No one tells Michelangelo to only use 250 colours when he really needs 300 to create a masterpiece,” says Bill Cradock, owner of Starlite Lighting Concepts. “It’s the same with landscape lighting. The most challenging thing about it is that the client may not share your vision. But it’s got to be done right.” Mr. Cradock describes his craft as “painting with light,” a talent best appreciated when the lighting serves more than a basic function and actually reinvents the outdoor space: “We cast the shadows of trees on to driveways, recreate the light of the moon or the sun, and allow a homeowner to feel as though the outside is an extension of the inside of their house.”
Scott MacKinnon of Light Emitting Design (LED) says North American cities are lagging Europe in this field. “European architecture is lit up so that pedestrians can walk through the city at night. Toronto is definitely a work in progress, but it’s a trend that’s really increased in popularity.”
Mr. MacKinnon, who used to light films, including Focus with William H. Macy, says LED bulbs open up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to illuminating outdoor spaces. “No one wants blinding floodlights at the back of the house,” Mr. MacKinnon explains. “With LED lights you can really control exactly where the light is going and there’s no ultra-violet rays or swarms of bugs because the bulbs aren’t hot.”
What determines how something is lit, however, really depends on the property, the landscape itself and the personalities of the people who live there..………
…………. And herein lies the art of lighting. “It’s just something,” Mr. Cradock says, that “you have to have a feel for.” Or maybe these artists are heeding the call to light up the darkness one household, one cottage, one poolside patio at a time.
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