John E. Skelley, of Southern Light, creates outdoor masterpieces by highlighting elements of the landscape. Southern Light incorporates energy efficient systems, as well as cutting edge fiber optic and LED technologies.
Skelley is a family man with an eclectic spring of creative talents. In addition to engineering quality lighting, John has a great appreciation for art in its various forms.
“It has some times been suggested to me that my work in lighting is art. There is certainly a knowledge of materials, technique, and the choice of how to apply them. This, I think, is the essence of the craft.”
The foundational elements of lighting design are alterations in intensity, color, shape, and direction. “Artistically, I would call myself a colorist,” Skelley explains.
The landscape design, structures, or sculptural elements are revealed by various projections of light. Even subtle lighting techniques can reveal a beautiful, new aspect that was once hidden. It may reveal a pathway, a doorway, or a sculpture projecting itself from the tree line. In many ways, arranging light within the landscape is like setting the stage for a production.
Demonstrations are held with clients to assure that all the key players in the landscape are lit to the desired specifications. “Art, like light, is in the eye of the beholder. It is my desire to incorporate the sensitivities of the customer into the design,” Skelley explains. After seventeen years of night demonstrations, his mind’s eye has been trained to visualize the shapes that will be project even in daylight. In other words, he has a vision for light.
Skelley’s father was an industrial pattern maker. So, function was in the form. One aspect of Skelley’s childhood that made a lasting impression on him was his father’s construction of various toys, such as tractors, go-karts, and scooters. “They were built to last,” Skelley said endearingly. This environment permeated his perception and understanding of engendering and design. “I draw satisfaction from the technical quality of a well engineered lighting system,” Skelley said.
Skelley has designed lighting for sculptures by artists Glenna Goodacre, Alan LeQuire, Buddy Jackson, Mark di Suvero, and John Henry in private gardens.
“It is easier to draw it than it is to simply explain what I do,” said Skelley when asked about the lighting design process.