Now that we’ve passed the winter solstice, the days are getting longer again. While this delights me in general (I’ve always hated winter), I also must admit that I’ve come to appreciate the changing light throughout the whole year. Since moving to Palos Verdes, California, I’ve started looking at light in a whole new way as I more closely observe the grand vistas of seascape and landscape around me, the abundance of nature and natural terrain. I have realized that the strong, summer sun reflects differently on the ocean cove or steep hillside, for example, than the weaker winter sun. This range of illumination changes the colors of the scenery, so that what I’ve looked at for three months, suddenly looks totally different. It’s a new vista, a fresh outlook, a contrasting perspective.
As an artist, I’m particularly drawn to Impressionism and Impressionism, more than any other art movement, concerned itself with the quality of light. The creators often painted the same subject matter repeatedly under different weather conditions, often studying en plein air, and using complimentary colors to play with shadow and light. When I design jewelry, I’m always using natural daylight to choose my stones. It helps me see the true tones of each gem. And I’ve always said I like to “paint with gems” because in this brightness, I can see all the nuances in each piece. When I mix the gems together, it’s like using each as its own pigment; while they might look individual, when they’re combined, it creates a whole. Much like you would witness in an impressionist painting.
The quality of light doesn’t just affect my surroundings, it can also affect gemstones themselves! In the gemology world, there are phenomenon stones, which interact with light in unusual ways. Think moonstones or star sapphires. One of my favorites in this category are color-change gemstones that display a different hue when a stone is in natural light versus incandescent light. Due to a freak of nature, the properties of the gem’s crystal lattice is what make these rocks unique as it alters light waves as they enter and exit. A great example is this ring (at bottom) I created with a particular type of garnet that appears a deep greeny-blue outdoors and reddish-purple inside. Or these Silhouette Earrings, that have faceted round brilliant color-change garnets that beautifully pick up the greys of the rest of the earrings.
Throughout the year, whether because the axis of the earth rotates and changes the distance to the sun or we head indoors, light waves fluctuate to constantly shift the colors we see. And as Los Angeles enters its rainy season, all the plants start to pop – blazing bougainvillea blossoms, sprouting tender green grass, secret buried agapanthus bulbs shooting up long verdant leaves…. But no matter whether it’s the changing angle of the sun or vibrant vegetation coming to life, it’s all opening a door to a whole new palette of inspiration.
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