Creatively stuck? Let the mirror do the work.
I swear, every time I work on a painting, there’s that point where I just don’t know if it’s a hit or miss. I’m on track for a while, and then suddenly I think, “this really sucks.”
Next stop: The bathroom. Not for the reason you think – but for the aid of a 6000 year-old invention first discovered by the Turks. The typical household “looking glass” has become my most sobering art critic – and as a result, best friend. Many a night I seek her frank advice, and she always pulls through. All I have to do is hold up my work (painting, drawing, or sculpture) right in front of her – and look. You barely have to ask her a question – because her reflection tells you the story.
Reversing the image is almost like seeing a brand new painting because your brain sees it differently. This new view gives you some space and perspective. In fact, facing the mirror, you are doubling the viewing distance you’d normally have between you and the work. It is remarkable how that changes everything. You suddenly see problems with composition, a weak focal point, and flaws in technique.
Mirrors are also there to see if we are looking at the work the right way. I can’t tell you how many times I have flipped the painting upside down and discovered it is way better that way. I usually start right side up, and turn it to see all four angles. You may be surprised to see more than one painting emerge – and ideas for additional works or series.
Bottom line: this is a really effective method of kickstarting your mojo in the middle of your creative hell. Watch how motivated you feel after seeing your “new” work. It’s a jolt right back to the drawing table where you can immediately act on the visual cues shared by your intuitive new best friend. It’s a simple, inexpensive way to keep the flow going and benefit from the direction of a pro — you.