Light Dances
When asked what an "optical physicist" does, I sometimes reply that I'm basically a professional choreographer.  What I choreograph, of course, is not lithe dancers in leotards and toe shoes, but rather the countless invisible balls of energy whose source, directly or indirectly, is our sun.   That's a colorful description, but it accurately reflects the fact that I've spent my entire professional career coaxing, urging, manipulating and orchestrating light in a completely conscious manner with tools both simple and complex.      Armed with a liberal arts education and majors in art history and American studies, I founded an industrial-laser company in 1983 and spent the next 18 years learning how to choreograph balls of energy into extremely precise line dances.  There was nobody out there to teach us
By Contrast
Practice makes perfect when it comes to developing the observational skills you need to support your design acumen.   As I discussed last month, honing these abilities enables a designer to see individual and collective shapes within a garden setting in ways that can enhance the overall appearance of plant/hardscape combinations and turn them into cohesive and more compelling visual compositions. Among all of those artistic abilities is one specific skill that has served me best and will be my subject in this column:  That is, the ability to determine the level of contrast my clients want to see in their garden spaces.   As an artist, I've always been inspired by the areas in paintings that display the
Powers of Observation
Most people move easily through the world, enjoying the scenery without really thinking about what makes those surroundings visually appealing (or not).   Science tells us that the human eye can see about seven million colors and that our minds instinctively perceive depth and dimension.  This visual capacity enables most of us to move around without bumping into things, some of us to swing at and somehow hit a golf ball and, in the case of a beautiful garden (we can hope), all of us sense pleasure and maybe a bit of