Home Kitchen

passion for light


As a child I used to make Christmas cards for my family, little scenes of houses covered in snow. I glued glitter to the snow, and that was magical too, because the snow I had painted reflected light, just like real snow. Everyone in my family liked the cards.

Later, in art school, I learned to paint and draw light and shadow, a very important skill to create volume in a two-dimensional world. And this is, today, what I continue to teach. The ability to make light and spectacle creates a dimension that synthesizes the three-dimensional volume. We are all programmed to see this third dimension in a two-dimensional illusion. This is the way we see.


I took a job as an assistant in a lighting show room. It was going to be a temporary thing, while I set up my studio, but I found that I was really interested and eventually took a test to become a lighting specialist. I liked to advise clients on lighting options and the whole business aspect.

I began to see that light was important in my work as an artist. If I was sculpting the figure of a horse, it was important to me how the light illuminated the three-dimensional object. When I painted, I discovered that light infused two-dimensional surfaces in two ways: one, when light and shadow were represented using light colors and dark colors, and two, when just using the colors I could go from light to dark and represent light and shadow like that. Then everything related to art history came to mind, grids, light and shadow painting to represent space and I started painting that way. The effects were amazing.


Light and shadow weren’t always what art was all about. In many current cultures and in Western civilization from primitive to medieval times, representing volume and dimension was not important. Icons, religious images that were drawn or painted did not need depth of space. Flat, iconic symbols of deities and religious figures representing social concepts and spiritual inspirations needed no space, light, or shadow.

In the Renaissance, artists began to create spaces based on perspective, light, and shadow. They built large panes of glass, framed and often on wheels. On the glass surface they drew a grid. They rotated the grid to what they wanted to paint, a landscape, a group of figures, or a figure, and worked from the quadrant (a specific space on the grid). They had to sit very still and not move much, or their vision of looking through the glass grid and their subject might change.

Artists such as Michelangelo, DaVinci, and Albrecht Durer, who used this grid, began to see how objects they looked at receded in space, that is, in the distance, things got smaller in very exact increments. That recession of objects in distant space would turn into an actual mathematical calculation. It was a great mix of science and art, so typical of the Renaissance dynamic of knowledge.

This illusion drawing and painting of the third dimension using a grid to locate objects in space and transferring them onto a two-dimensional plane became the way we see things today. We look at magazines, videos, movies, apps and with this new visual data we never question our visual alliance with the illusion of the third dimension. And we react consciously and subconsciously to this illusion. A horror movie could scare us deep enough to influence our behavior, perhaps for the rest of our lives. Or a pleasant scene in a movie, magazine, or online website can stimulate and enhance certain memories that calm and soothe us. We are, in fact, believers in illusion and are very absorbing with what we see.


After thirty years of teaching art, working as a lighting specialist and artist, I began to see that light is something very personal, a driver of my own artistic endeavours. I see through teaching and retail interactions that all of us are very much influenced by the quality of light. I can see, although I have not investigated this scientifically, that light affects us much more than we think. The qualities of light in a workplace influence our work habits. In our homes, our lighting plays an important role in how we interact with our surroundings. I know this from years of consulting and recommending lighting solutions and receiving positive feedback from my clients.

The way we perceive events in our own lives, and specifically aging, is influenced by lighting. I believe that early in our own development as human beings, sunrise and sunset were very important spiritually and logically. Many cultures: Stonehenge, the Peruvian Indians, developed their cultures around sunrise and sunset. Artificial lighting has made transitions for us, it has expanded us into a time zone where we can work more, but also create more. It has also demystified the rule of the sun in our lives because we have created our own lighting. This has been a big cultural change as well.

Now that I am 70 years old, I see that the light in its many manifestations has guided me throughout my course of existence. When I was building my artwork for a graduate exhibition at the Pratt Institute, making carved shapes on old doors, I sprayed the cracks in those constructions with iridescent paint and blacklighted my structures. What I wanted to show is that those iconic figures, so medieval in shape, and carved into the doors were backlit by light that was very contemporary. There was a spiritual quality there that was medieval, a kind of inverted church window where the light came out of the church, instead of coming in from the outside.

Since then, my artistic endeavors have gone into many areas: collage, printmaking, oil painting, watercolor, acrylic painting, mixed media, quilts, art apparel, and more. In every investigation of the materials and the techniques and skills needed to master those areas, the light has always been behind those projects.

My feeling is that light is also a life-generating factor that imbues each of us with a primordial spiritual force and that we feel very comfortable with it. But if we sit, for just twenty minutes, in any corner of a room and observe the light in any object, we will begin to see how this incredible phenomenon can affect our lives. And perhaps what will be revealed is that the concept of light perception has been shown, through many definitions of light in many languages, to define inspiration, spiritual contact, realization and visualization that advances thought and creative action.