Skip to content

Refraction and Reflection

March 22, 2013

ginger jar and candles


My favourite colours have always fallen to the cool side of the spectrum:  the blues, the greens, the purples and turquoises.  They are peaceful, calming hues to me, and when done right, they have an ethereal quality.

So, too, do mirror and glass have an ethereal quality, and make interesting subjects for drawing, without even the requirement of colour:




When I was drawing the irises, I noticed the water line and the shape of the glass caused the stems to appear cut into different segments altogether.  Even the refracted shadows of the vase bent in curious ways on the table top.

This old stand-by mirror from Ikea has the same fragmenting effect on my iris-coloured racing stripes:


ikea mirror and racing stripe


I coincidentally did choose the purple for its resemblance to irises.  Also the colour of my first ten-speed racer (a Puegeot, handed down by a big brother with a new driver’s license). The mirror came later.

These racing stripes were the first paint to ever adorn the Treehouse walls by my own brush.  The pale green wall paint came years afterwards.  (Which is why the edges look a little rough.  Also the walls don’t look this sickly in real life – there is just no natural light or flash in these shots.)


racing stripe


This watercolour is of a plant I actually grew from three baby cuttings.  Ficus are very slow growing.  I spent two years cultivating this trio to grow together in a braid.  They died about a year after posing for me, tragically killed by a Treehouse water pipe that burst one January.  But they live on in paint, as do their ghostly reflections in the mirror:


watercolour still life


I messed up my ellipses on this pastel drawing, but you get the idea of that cool, ethereal, refractive quality reflective surfaces have.


pastel glass containers


Mirror and glass, as well as water, appear mysterious because of what they reflect back at us.  For every image we see with our eyes, that image can be replicated back at our retinas, only things are different, backwards, sometimes upside-down and backwards.

When we see ourselves in the reflection, we see the reverse of what everybody else in the world sees when they see us.  We are flip-flopped.  We see the mystery selves.  Our opposite selves.


Creatives are great analyzers and scrutinizers.  We examine the subject far past the point of the knowledge we actually needed.  Then, beautiful or ugly, we expose that which needs to be exposed:  on the page, in the photograph, on the canvas, in the song.

Who we see in the mirror when we examine and scrutinize our own selves is what makes us the most creative.  It’s the flip-flopped us we see in the reflection – and some things we do alone in front of mirrors, we would NEVER do with anyone else standing there!  No matter how tight we are.


If we want to create masterpieces, our understanding of our own mysterious mirror selves is what must shine through our work.  Reflection is the thing that makes our creations soar out from under our fingertips.

Even if the reflected image cuts us into fragments.


Dodie Goldney

Back to Top | Home | Audio | Video | About

related posts by Dodie Goldney:

Convergence and Community

Kali the Destroyer

Colouring Outside the Lines

Worth a Thousand Words



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: