Behind the Glass

This Belleville-based artist describes her reverse glass paintings as “windows to her soul.”

By Karen Cernich Dickhut

Photography by Kim Dillon


Reverse glass painter Sharon Aach has one goal with her artwork — to make you smile. For Aach, art equals happiness, and “I delight in making art that radiates positivity,” the Belleville-based artist says.

Aach has been creating art since she was a child —sketching, sculpting, painting, learning each form through self-study. For the last seven years, she has focused on reverse glass painting, a technique made popular during the Renaissance Period that involves painting an image on the backside of glass. This requires the artist to paint backward or, as Aach describes it, a mirror image.

Unlike painting on canvas, where an artist begins with the background and builds layers forward, this style requires an artist to paint the details of an image first and build layers backward. It’s a learned technique, but after years of practice, Aach has mastered it. “The first pieces I did, I messed up a lot, but it comes very natural to me now. I find it easier to paint in reverse than to paint forward.”

Aach was drawn to reverse glass painting for its symbolism of transparency. “I encourage people to search and look through superficial surfaces to find the hidden beauty that lies below, in life situations as well as in my art,” she says. “To me, glass represents the surface that we see through, and we explore what’s beyond. I call my reverse glass paintings ‘the windows to my soul,’ because I’m revealing my inner self to you . . . I want people to feel the joy, light and peace that I experience when I paint. I want my paintings to draw you in.”

Aach finds inspiration in nature and the emotions that nature elicits in her. She never sketches her ideas before she begins painting. She knows how she wants the finished piece to look, makes her first marks and then the painting “develops its own life and takes off.”

Painting on ¼–to–½-inch thick tempered glass, Aach’s pieces have ranged in size from 10 inches square to 9 by 6 feet, which creates a challenge because she likes the glass to lay flat while she works on it. She has two work tables in her studio, and for larger pieces, she lays the glass across them. In some cases, she actually climbs a ladder and reaches over the glass to get to the center.

Aach has created reverse glass paintings for residential and commercial clients, including the healthcare industry, which holds a special place in her heart. Before she embarked on her art career, Aach spent 25 years working as an anesthesia nurse. “I can still help people, nurture people; I can influence how they feel with my art versus physical care,” Aach says. “Art has a profound effect on people . . . if you see one of my art pieces as you walk into the hospital, and you get a smile on your face, that’s my goal.” 


Contact Sharon to schedule a free consultation!

[email protected]