by Tim Ryan

Last summer, while visiting Panama City, Florida with my family, we were driving around the arts district, taking in the sights when my oldest daughter spotted a small art studio. “Dad, can we go inside?” she asked excitedly. Walking into the studio, I was met with an expansive space with all four walls completely covered in paintings of various sizes and styles. In the middle of the room were 20 to 30 small micro-studios where local artists from the area would come to put their visions on canvas. The paintings around the room ranged from very simplistic to museum quality art. As I walked around the studio I noticed that all the artists had virtually the same tools in their studios; paintbrushes, tubes of paint, easels and other art paraphernalia. It struck me that real art is not about the bristle count of the paint brush or the saturation of the pigment in the paint that make a beautiful and captivating painting. It is the vision and expertise of the artist that produces a remarkable composition and scene using the same tools as their counterparts.


In 1933, Frank B. Nightingale, the pioneer of landscape lighting, started using concealed luminaires to reveal living works of art at night. He was an artist who believed that light fixtures and light bulbs were nothing more than the tools to showcase fine details on trees and architecture within the outdoor garden. He would spotlight beautiful details with every stroke of light, pulling them back from the black canvas of night. For nearly 75 years the art of proper outdoor lighting design was passed down to generations of those that valued and contributed to its preservation. However, with the invention of the light emitting diode (LED) and the flood of inexpensive, do-it-yourself light fixtures over the Internet, this has changed drastically over the years.


For the past ten years, there has been an influx of landscape and architectural lighting being installed. Sadly, it is being installed with little thought to comprehensive lighting design or the end user’s needs. If a lighting company also “specializes” in landscaping or irrigation or leads an in-home consultation with showing you the light fixtures they are dragging around in their hands, there is a very good chance you are dealing with a lighting installer and not a lighting designer. Truthfully, anyone nowadays can install a light fixture for you, very few possess the vision, training, and skill to design with light. It’s not the paint brushes or the paint that create the work of art, it’s the vision and skill of the artist to create a visual masterpiece.

Lighthouse Outdoor Lighting is an active member of the AOLP (Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals) and winner of the 2018 XL Residential Project, Special Feature Project and Overall, Best of Show. If you’re interested in an outdoor lighting design that will reveal the natural beauty of your home and landscape, schedule your free consultation by calling 317-214-8716.