Using Mirrors In Painting

Using mirrors can be a very useful tool to apply your looking skills. How is it done?

The first thing you need to do is to set up a large mirror behind you in your working space.

The second thing is to turn around frequently as you work and look at the work in the mirror.  I would have to say this is the single most useful tool that I continue to use on a daily basis.

I use this technique  frequently as I paint.  Using mirrors serves two main purposes.

Firstly it helps me to see what is wrong with what I’m drawing or painting.  Why is this? Well, looking in a mirror means you are seeing the work from a reversed perspective and also at a greater distance away from the work than you would normally view it. This is particularly important when you only have a relatively small studio like mine is at the moment. Below you can see my studio.  I have taken the picture standing at my easel and looking into the mirror.  The chair is situated where I can  sit and look at the work as it progresses.

Using Mirrors - My studio and Mirror

My studio and Mirror

Secondly, because of what is happening in our brains as we do this, our left brain tends to overload and shut down, allowing the more creative right brain to shine forth and offer us  a more insightful perspective into what we are looking at.

My motto is ‘When in doubt – Get your Mirror Out!’

Look At Things From A Different Perspective

This is another handy trick you can also use when you are stuck.

Turn your painting round – upside down first and then if you are still having difficulties, look at it sideways from both sides. In my experience this can make a huge difference to a painting.  In one instance it was the difference between a painting being finished or not!

Look at the difference in this painting.

using mirrors - a different perspective

Original way painting was painted

What I discovered on turning it around…..

using mirrors - a different perspective

Turing the painting – a different perspective


To read the story of how this work evolved take a look at my previous post.

You could also say that looking at something in a mirror is looking from a different perspective, which of course it is.

Also falling into this category would be viewing things through a magnifying glass.  This expands the view of something while narrowing it at the same time.

Sometimes if you are experiencing difficulty in drawing something up, and you are working from a photo, turn the photo and your work upside down as well.  This can really change your mindset.

The final tip here is to STAND BACK!

Get back from your work. This is especially important when you don’t have a mirror.

This Week’s Question: Do you have a mirror set up in your studio yet and if not when will you get one by?

Look For Thursday’s Post: Two more paintings – ‘Satin Sands’ & ‘Into The Light’

Next Monday’s Post: How relevant is creativity?

Posted by : Kadira Jennings

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