Painting With Light: Colorful Compositions Made From Glass Reflections

Paige Simianer | November 17, 2022

Featured Artist Hildegard Pax paints with light. 

Using color, lines, and shapes in multi-layered compositions, this UK-based artist creates mesmerizing fields of projected color inspired by Pax's observation of light in nature. Viewers will notice that the use of glass is central to the artworks—with its qualities of reflection, refraction, opacity and translucency. 

In the assemblages of glass, she strives to "make the invisible visible," and create unexpected temporal beauty and ethereal color fields.

Artwork Archive got the chance to chat with Hildegard Pax about her creative process, use of glass as a medium, and how she uses Artwork Archive to manage it all. You can see more of her work on Discovery and learn more about her work below. 

Hildegard Pax 'Colour Refract II'


Has your work changed over time—do you find yourself understanding your art career through different periods of expression?

The focus of my art has always been working with light, even when I first started learning about stained glass. Starting in stained glass, I wanted to construct 3D pieces using the copper foil technique to create vessels and shapes lit by candles.

Due to the technical requirements of working with glass, the development of my art has been influenced by a variety of factors: access to specialist glass working facilities, size restrictions due to sandblasting, cabinet sizes, and the need to outsource sandblasting for larger work, which limited my experimentation and style development.

In response to this, I developed a range of work that did not require sandblasting but instead were purely light-activated compositions. I now have a new studio with my own sandblaster opening up a new range of experimentation!


Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your process?

My favorite part is the experimentation stage, where I can play around with glass and light to observe reflections, projections, overlays, and the interaction of color.

The most exciting part of the process for me is the chance observations of sunlight falling onto glass samples or reflections not seen before—and need to be recorded to enable the development of the piece. The challenge then is to translate these observations into finished pieces.


Can you explain a bit more about your inspiration for using glass as a medium?

My early inspiration comes from my love of stained glass windows in churches. I loved observing how the light falls and colors the interior at certain times. My work is also informed by phenomena such as the Northern Lights, as well as light reflections, and modulations through man-made structures.

Glass as a material itself is central to my work—with its qualities of reflection, refraction, opacity and translucency. In each assemblage of glass, I strive to make the invisible visible. By placing an opaque or translucent element within or behind the work, I create a screen to hold the light color ‘projection’ or ‘reflection’.

Reflected and transmitted colors meet and intermingle creating an ethereal color field space within the artwork.

I “paint with light” using lines and shapes in multilayered compositions to create intriguing and mesmerizing fields of projected color.

Hildegard Pax, 'Colour Refract IV'

What has your artistic education consisted of (formal or not)? If you did receive a formal education like an MFA, did you find it necessary for your artistic growth, or did you find that elsewhere?

My first career choice was interior design, which was inspired by an early love of creating. I have early memories of making a copper sheet vase holder under the guidance of my dad at the age of six or seven. This was followed by glass mosaic work and an interest in ceramics when I was eight. I bought my first collector's piece of ceramic at that age and still treasure the small vase today.

Upon leaving school, I started a six-month placement in a joinery workshop that inspired a love of working with wood and design. This led to a degree course in Interior Architecture, which in turn led to a twenty-year career in designing interiors for offices, hospitals, as well as restaurants, and hotels.

This gave me a very good understanding of space and proportion and the importance of light within a space. I went on to study glass and architecture at the postgraduate level and have been teaching and working as a glass artist ever since.

Is there anything, in particular, you're working on right now that has you excited?

The next idea I want to explore is combining paper and glass to create shallow 3D sculptures. The shape and surface of the paper will interact with the shadows cast across the colored glass and create a landscape of projection and reflection. This is very much at an experimental stage, but I am intrigued to find out where it will lead me. I would also like to create a glass installation piece. 

Hildegard Pax, 'Colour Burst II', 30 x 30 x 3.5 cm

Which routines—art-making and administrative—are essential to success in your art career?

It's important to set time aside for research and admin as well as your studio practice.

Good record-keeping is also essential.

I use Artwork Archive to record any new artwork including images, sizes, and notes about the work. I can also add any artist statement and price. Sharing the resulting Portfolio Pages with buyers and collectors and presenting work to galleries helps me move my career forward and track my progress.

It also enables me to review a series of works and reflect upon them, which in turn helps shape the development of new ideas and directions. Setting goals and planning for upcoming events is essential—as well as keeping track of your finances.

I also am sure to carve out time for research and inspiration by visiting galleries and art fairs, as well as meeting up with fellow creatives.

Why did you decide to use Artwork Archive to inventory/manage your artwork?

When researching options for an artist record system, Artwork Archive stood out to me. At that time, I mostly came across artists doing spreadsheets which seemed very unsatisfactory.

Since I started using Artwork Archive in 2016, the team at Artwork Archive has been constantly developing it to add more and more functionality. They are also very proactive in teaching users how to get the best out of Artwork Archive via online chat, blog posts, and regularly scheduled webinars, which are excellent in explaining the features and capabilities of the software and any new developments. 

Hildegard Pax,'Tumbling XII', 42 x 60 x 4 cm

How do you use Artwork Archive on a daily basis?

Artwork Archive is packed full of excellent features. 

It helps streamline my creative process:

Part of my creative process includes uploading artwork to Artwork Archive as soon as a piece or a series of works is finished with as much detail as possible.

Once an artwork has been entered into the system, I can keep track of its artist statement, price, gallery commission, exhibition record, and eventual sale.

It tracks my finances:

I use the Income/Expense feature to record material costs for my work, which helps in working out the net revenue from an artwork sale. I also generate reports to give me a total revenue report for the financial year. This helps me with my tax returns.

It manages my contacts:

When I make a direct sale, I add the buyer’s details to a Contact Record.

I also use the Contacts feature to list other art contacts, such as suppliers, gallerists, venues, etc.

It oversees my exhibitions: 

The Exhibitions feature tracks which works I have submitted for which open call or exhibition, so I can avoid submitting the same or similar piece again in the future.

It helps me share my work virtually:

Private Rooms are excellent for sharing a selected range of work for sale or as a starting point to discuss a potential commission.

It helps me make sales:

It’s great to be able to have collections listed within my Public Profile. On my website, I have a link to the pieces that are available and refer potential buyers to the gallery that represents my work.

I do receive occasional inquiries via Artwork Archive, and it has even resulted in some sales and commissions.

It makes it easy to organize my physical studio:

I like to use Portfolio Pages to print an image of each work with its details giving me (an additional physical) record of each piece, how it was created, what colors were used etc. I then file it in my design drawing folder, alongside my technical drawing for the piece.


What advice would you give an emerging artist during this time?

What I have learned over the years is that your path as an artist can take unexpected twists and turns, but will present you with opportunities when you least expect them. Don't give up on your art even if times seem tough.

Believe in your art, enjoy it when you can, and don't give up on your vision.

It might not happen immediately, but a way forward to develop and incorporate your art will present itself in time.

Creative thinking is what is needed to help us find new ways to live our lives, and art and artists can be instrumental in developing a new vision and solving problems creatively by thinking outside the box.

Hildegard Pax, 'Colour Burst II', 30 x 30 x 3.5 cm

Hildegard Pax uses Artwork Archive to inventory her artwork, stay on top of her exhibition details, and stay connected with her clients. 

You can make an online portfolio, catalog your artwork, and generate reports like inventory reports, tear sheets, and invoices in seconds with Artwork Archive. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free trial and start growing your art business.

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