Peony and Parakeet

Mirrors and Windows – Which is you?

Watercolor painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Read her article about mirrors and windows!

In 1978, The Museum of Modern Art opened a photography exhibition called Mirrors and Windows. It divided artists into two groups: Mirrors and Windows.

An excerpt of the press release:

“… the photograph is seen either as a mirror – a romantic expression of the photographer’s sensibility as it projects itself on the things and sights of this world; or as a window – through which the exterior world is explored in all its presence and reality”

When painting or drawing, this division becomes even clearer. Do you feel that, for example, a rose must reflect the mood of your thoughts (mirror)? Or do you want the rose to look recognizable and real (window)?

A detail of a watercolor painting. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Mirrors and Windows – The Way You Create

I think this comparison is the most interesting when thinking about the process of creating. That’s what matters most to us who create anyway!

Here’s how I redefine mirrors and windows:

  • Mirrors like to work intuitively and focus on a small area at the time.
  • Windows like to work from a photo or make a sketch and be able to see the big picture first.

I like both approaches even if I am more of a mirror myself. Actually, if I hadn’t practiced being a window, I couldn’t be the mirror that I am now. Usually, problems arise when you want to be a mirror but try to control the big picture through the process. Or if you want to be a window but don’t use any plans or references.

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet with her favorite watercolor brushes.

Altering Between the Approaches

The upcoming class Floral Fantasies in Three Styles has many projects. In some, you are a mirror. In others, you are a window. Flowers are so much fun to paint because they can be created with many styles and techniques. This is the class where I have heard these comments the most: “I would have never guessed that I enjoy this way of working, but I am!” It truly can surprise you how you create your best work.

The watercolor painting below is one of the class projects where I guide you to start loose. First, you will create simple abstract shapes and then magically transform them into flowers. A pleasurable to create and perfect for you who likes to be a mirror!

From the Garden - a watercolor painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Also a class project for her class Floral Fantasies in Three Styles.

Floral Fantasies in Three Styles – Sign Up Now!

Spend four weeks drawing and painting flowers with me! The class will run between April 29 – May 24.
>> Sign up here!

2 thoughts on “Mirrors and Windows – Which is you?

  1. Hurray for your website recovery!!
    At the moment I am a window with mirror reflections . In my last self portrait reference photo there was a window reflection that led me to a fun background.
    I appreciate having a safe and fortunate holiday weekend with bit of chocolate and sunshine. Rain today, Wednesday.

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