Paint with light

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With summer upon us it brings longer days. One of the many benefits of this, is entertaining in the evening and sharing in the transformation from day to night.

A sunset is something I do not think I will ever tire of. I only wish, I could remind myself more often when it’s happening to stop and witness it. There is something so blissful and humbling, about watching that beautiful ball of light fall seemingly so quickly into the horizon, and all of the brilliant colors that typically follow thereafter. This marks the closing of the day, and brings on the beginning of the night! This transition falls into three parts; sunset, dusk then night. For the sunset and dusk, I like to let nature provide, when entertaining outside or in a room with good light. Sometimes additional lighting will be required, but only to balance out the darker areas with a touch of that daylight glow.

At the first sign of dusk I like to light the candles, the amber glow seems to supplement the warmth of the daylight. And bring an intimacy and intrigue to the environment. Along the way I was told, for every candle you light brings a kindred soul into the space. I love this analogy, it is charming and indicative of the life a flame brings. Shortly after the candles are lit, I recommend engaging the environment lighting. This is one of my favorite areas of design. One of my mentors the late great Robert Isabell used to say,”At night we see what we light”. This is where the painting with color comes in. In contrast to how you would like a home or a lobby to be lit, for event design we want to create magic illusion and depth. My goal, is always to make a surreal environment that does not register in the tangible realm to the audience. By painting with light, we are able to emphasize the details that enhance the theme and void out the rest. The evolution of lighting can change throughout the evening, I recommend beginning with the complementary colors of the sunset; amber, pinks, reds and lavenders. As the night goes on, you can enhance by bringing greens and blues into the spectrum. Segway the key event timing, by playing with the raising and lowering of the levels (dimming). With the introduction of the colors, I also like to feature different aspects of the space, so that the environment is changing with the color composition. It is important to make sure within lighting design, that you have supplied adequate lighting for functional aspects,such as access and egress. For the aesthetic lighting. Look at the perimeter of the space, and key textural items such as moldings or ceiling elements that can be featured. I like to look at lighting in three different ways, there is a visible light source such as a candelabra or chandelier, and then there is an indirect light source. This is often to accent architectural features, and create a glow in the environment. The last is a feature light, where an element is being focused on such as a performer, band or dance floor.

It never ceases to amaze me the magical transformation, that can take place in almost any dark environment, through combining all of these techniques. I strongly recommend, if you are doing an event in an environment where the guests are familiar with the space, focus your efforts on lighting and time it with the evolution of the event. You will be surprised of the dramatic results. Once I realized the fun of painting with light at night, it quickly became a must-have in the creation of magical memories! Let there be light!


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Tom Noel • Event Guru • Happngs.com

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