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CREATING A LIGHTING CANVAS
By John Martin

True lighting designers should personify an artist using a blank canvas that creates a scene causing a positive emotional impact. A lighting canvas should speak to the soul of the client each and every night.  To achieve an effective lighting canvas, the focal point must be enjoyed without seeing the luminaries that light it. 

Creating a lighting canvas is the main attraction and the focal point not the light itself.  I like what a prominent professional outdoor lighting designer said:

“The landscape is the star of the show. The lighting fixture is merely a prop.”

It’s all in the way you approach an outdoor lighting project. Most “installers” or “fixture peddlers” have no passion for outdoor lighting at all. Installers are selling or in many cases, upselling a job.

“The landscape is the star of the show. The lighting fixture is merely a prop.”

Real Lighting Designers have a true passion and become the artist that paints a beautiful outdoor lighting scene. Lighting is an emotion and language that must be communicated. we achieve this, by using a lighting canvas that focus’ on the very object that speaks to the soul.

Think of walking at night. What do you see or more importantly, what don’t you see? You can create an artistic view of what we don’t see by using the fixture as a prop but not the focal point. A lighting canvas brings out the life lasting beauty of the perfect focal point that was hidden by darkness.

Too many times Outdoor lighters or landscapers will “throw in” some lights because their client wants them. If your passionate about lighting, become an artist that sees beyond the fixture and bring the blank canvas to light.

Outdoor Lighting has lost its way to installers and not true Outdoor lighting designers. I often come across a residence where landscapers installed lights. Unfortunately, more times than not, you notice the light and fixture but not the object it is supposed to highlight. 

The proper approach to lighting a blank canvas is identify main focal points and iconic opportunities. Don’t overlook prominent trees and or iconic features. Spend time walking the property and think it through the eyes of night.

Once you identify those items, see them at night. Look at them as if it is completely dark and that is all you can see. When designing, I always ask myself, “what type of light needs to be used and where do they need to be placed to highlight this focal point”. Outdoor lighting designers must see the objects at night and design to illuminate them.

My outdoor lighting passion comes from  clients getting emotional over what they are seeing at night. When your client is exhausted from the daily grind they need a place to relax and unwind outside. The lighting design can make it or break the opportunity to speak to the soul. The only way to achieve the best scene for your client is by being the artist that creates a lighting canvas putting them into relaxation.