Light and Shade

Light and Shade

WE all recognize the importance of chiaroscuro in painting, of stage lighting in the drama, and even of lights and shadows in exterior architecture. Strangely enough, however, very few of us realize adequately the importance of light and shade as esthetic factors in the decoration of interiors.

Light is life. It stimulates and excites, while darkness is lethargic and depressing. Our vital energies flow and ebb with alterations in the intensity and the brilliancy of the light. Hence we must expect to find that our esthetic reactions are similarly affected by the same factors. In point of fact, light not only makes the beauty of harmonious coloring possible in our rooms, but by itself, apart from color, it gives them vitality, atmosphere, and emotional significance. Its life-giving, warming qualities make it a factor of tremendous importance in the art of decoration, where it enters into every problem of composition and concurs in the proper expression of every emotional idea.

One who wishes to prove experimentally, and in his own person, the power of light and darkness to affect his emotional states, has only to step out of doors before the dawn of a summer's day, and to remain out until after the fall of night. He will find that in the cold and feeble light which precedes the dawn his spirits fall, his mood becomes depressed. As the sky grows grayer and lighter the mood tends to pass, and with the first direct rays of the rising sun it is instantly succeeded by a feeling of gladness and elation. The flood of physical and psychical energies thus released by the power of the light seems, as the sun rises toward the zenith, to increase with the increasing quantity and brilliancy of the light.

In time, however, a point will be reached where increasing intensity of illumination has no further power to stimulate. Once this point has been passed the light becomes dazzling, fatiguing, finally even painful. When, with the approach of sunset, the brilliant light is softened and reduced, he will feel a sense of quiet well-being, of serenity and poise. After sunset, tired by the activities and excitement of the day, he will welcome the peace and calm of the shadows. But as the early shadows pass into the obscurity of night the peculiar power of the dark will against assert itself. Again his mood will become sober, then somber, and in time depressed.

Brilliant light, like pure color, rapidly exhausts nervous energy. It is fatiguing physically and un- endurable esthetically. The decorator must see to it that his rooms receive plenty of light, but he must also see to it that adequate means are provided to soften and dim this light when necessary, and to alter the amount admitted at each opening easily and at will.

Only in this way can the room be made pleasant under all conditions of natural light, and adjusted perfectly to the changing moods of its occupants, which will demand, both for physical comfort and for esthetic enjoyment, wide and relatively frequent changes in the quantity as well as in the intensity of the light.

In practice this means that the windows of most rooms should be provided with thin undercurtains, which will serve to temper the glare of over-brilliant sunlight by day, and to give to the room so curtained a suggestion of reticence and an esthetic quality of softness and subtlety otherwise absent, while at night they hide the bleak or black rectangles revealed by uncurtained windows, or the no less unpleasant drawn shades. Undercurtains may be made of net, muslin, silk tissue, casement cloth, or any other thin material, and they may be, and very often are, mounted on small brazed or bone rings and a rod, so that they can be easily drawn or pushed back when it is desired to make the most of the morning sun, or to reveal a fine view.

In addition to the undercurtains, which temper the light but are incapable of excluding it altogether, most windows require either shades or hangings made to draw easily across the entire window, in order that the light may be properly within the control of the decorator. In point of beauty and distinction the movable hangings are of course to be preferred. Their cost is, however, very much greater than that of shades, while they do not in fact control the light so perfectly as do properly made shades. In any case, apart from any considerations of color, line or texture, some method of controlling the light is absolutely essential for esthetic no less than for practical reasons, and the decorator must not permit himself to be carried away by the crochetty but rather widespread notion that the light should never be altered, and that there is a peculiar preciousness and virtue in making the inside of one's home as much as possible like the outdoors at all times and seasons.

Quantity and Intensity of Illumination>>>>



Interior Decorating Course Interior Decorating Course
1. The Nature and Method of the Art | The Nature of Interior Decoration | The Method of Interior Decoration | 2. Fitness to Purpose | Interior Decoration Factors | Interior Decorator | Decorative Materials | 3. The Grammar of Decoration | Grammar of Decoration | Form and Color | 4. Line and Form | Line and Form | Curved Lines | Broken Vertical Lines | Diagonal Lines | Three Dimensions | 5. Color | The Nature of Color | The Study of Color | Complementary Colors | Color Constants | Color and Emotion | Color Binaries | 6. The Significance of Texture | The Significance of Texture | Harmonious Textures | 7. The Elements of Beauty | Elements of Beauty | The Human Mind | The Human Mind II | The Dominant Element | The Dominant Element 2nd Method | Reccuring Lines, Shapes and Echoed Colors | Repetition of Color | Perception of Beauty | Variety in Decoration | 8. The Law of Contrast | The Law of Contrast | Contrast and Comparison | Tone Contrast | Tranquility | Individual Feeling | 9. Proportion | Proportion | The Laws of Proportion | Proportions-Creation of a room | Proportions-Creation of a room II | Increasing & Diminishing The Apparent Size of a Room | The Arrangement of Furniture | Proportion-Individual Decorative Units | Instinctive Insistance of a Dominant Element | Basic Importance of Structure | Walls of a Room - Decoration and Proportion | 10. Balance | Balance | Decorative Weight or Power of Attraction | Fixed Decorations, Furniture & Small Unimportant Pieces | Bisymmetric and Formal Balance | Balanced Distribution of Pictures and Rugs | Structural Emphasis and Repose of Background Surfaces 11. Light and Shade | Light and Shade | Quantity and Intensity of Illumination | The Nature and Distribution of Light | Secondary Contracts between Background and Ornamental Objects | 12. The Dominant Hue | The Dominant Hue | Temperament in Decoration | Color to Supplement or Correct Nature | Choice of the Dominant Hue | Background Color | 13. Color Harmony | Color Harmony I | Color Harmony II | Diversity and Animation of Harmonies | Complementary of a Room | Triads in Decoration | Distribution and Intensity of Colors | Contrast - A Principle of Composition | Connecting Rooms Using Harmonious Color | 14. Ornament | Ornament | Naturalistic Ornament | Knowledge of Historic Ornament | 15. Excellence in Design | Excellence in Design - 1st Test of Excellence | Proper Use of Decorative Materials - 2nd & 3rd Tests of Excellence | Beauty in Design - 4th Test of Excellence | Designs with Walls and Wall Paper | Designs with Floor Coverings | Designs with Hangings | 16. Period Decoration Period Decoration | Different Styles in Different Periods | Decorating Traditions Handed Down from the Kings | Peculiar Styles and Decorations of Different Periods | 17. Conclusion | Conclusion


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