Outdoors Mirror Reflection Art (of a tree)


When I first saw aneverydaystory.com, I was struck by the ingenuity of Kate’s idea on the use of mirrors for first hand observation! It was a fantastic way of looking at things in its real form transferred to a Two-Dimensional platform. I thought it was an empowering way for first hand observational drawing and painting (of 3D forms) observed on a flat surface area, thus enhancing the drawing experience.

Again, I would like to reiterate that my goal is to develop a good eye for observing our surroundings and not the perfection in the painting. With enough practice and guidance in such first hand observation, I believe my children will slowly but surely produce products that would resemble what they observe. There are definitely faster ways of teaching them how to draw like demonstrating to them. However, I grew to realise that when I do that (I did that in the past and even now when we do not have the luxury of time), I rob the pupils of the ability to develop first hand observation of their surroundings by themselves. They become dependent on my drawings or just drawing from photocopies of the like. I must say that there is a place for copying from works of the masters’ for the purpose of learning a certain style or technique as well as learning how to blend colours to the exact hue of a master’s painting, but that should not be confused with the skill for First Hand Observation drawing and painting. That will be another post.

My children and I were on on morning exercise routine when i saw a tree bustling with bees, birds and butterflies. That caught my attention to the pretty yellow round clusters of flowers blooming abundantly on it. No wonder the bustling scene. Right then, i was inspired to do the mirror reflection observation activity since we had plenty of time now that it is the school holidays. I returned home and packed a large ‘mat’ (i got it from Ikea’s, it’s a shower curtain), plenty of rags, brushes, paints, palettes,papers, two tubs of water for washing of brushes and hands, the mirror and crayons.

IMG_0241 They started drawing with crayons.

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As they drew, i brought their attention to the tree trunk, the spread of branches and the flowers. “What colours are the pretty flowers?”, “What are the shapes of those flowers?”, ” Do you notice that the round shape that you mentioned are actually made up of very tiny flowers clustered together like a ball?”. At that, they drew closer to inspect the flowers and agreed with my observations. My eldest A, had added a witty drawing of the mirror(the black rectangle) at the right  hand corner to reflect the very activity that they were doing.That made him chuckle as he drew his own tiny head in the ‘rectangle mirror’ to reflect himself staring into the mirror. I noticed that my middle child would observe a while then add in his own notion of what he thinks he saw instead of what was really in the mirror. For example, he added stones to the surrounding and some other trees around him which were not in the mirror. That was fine with me. I just asked in a matter of fact  if he had added his imagination into the drawing and also added his observations about the surrounding into his drawings, and he nodded in agreement. My little one was really busy making marks and I just left her to her own devices this time round. 


Next we embarked on the painting of the tree. Starting with the trunk and branches.

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Then i brought their attention to the greenish spots and streaks on the tree bark as well, and they started smearing the tree trunks with green accordingly. J noticed spots and dabbed his tree trunk while A made a streak of green.

  IMG_0256  Then they added the green leaves.


As they mixed colours, i asked them what will happen to the colour if it is mixed with purple? Will it turn lighter or darker? Then they see for themselves if they were accurate in their guesses. Asking them such questions will help them in their thinking process and also increase their vocabulary bank.


This is the kind of housing estate we live in Singapore for those who are unfamiliar.The boys also added them into their crayon drawings.

  012  E was happy to use the paintbrush and paint accordingly.

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On the left is A’s tree, and the right is J’s.

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Now is THE FUN part! Painting on the mirror itself is lots of sensory silky smooth fun!  It started off with the spread of trunk and branches….

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Then the yellow flowers which i managed to stop them in time to lay my drawing paper over for a decent print job on the right. At least we captured something from the mirror play. : ) And there was no turning back for any reflective painting. Henceforth was pure FUN.

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IMG_0282   Additional textured fun with leaves and grass

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A new discovery of how the smeared mirror could create lines when cleared of paint.

009  Another print from their last paint play.

Have a reflective time of painting!



  1. Oh this is such a lovely activity to do, I love the different perspective the mirror gives to the trees. Thanks so much for adding this to the OPP this week too. Off to share it on FB & Twitter.

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