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Trompe L'Oeil Illusions

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Trompe L'Oeil Art:

Trompe l'Oeil is a French term literally meaning "to deceive the eye." It dates back as far as 400 B.C. and was part of the rich culture of the Greek and Roman Empires.  It is artwork that attempts to be so realistic that the viewer is fooled into thinking that actual three-dimensional objects are being displayed rather than a two-dimensional representation of those objects. In the mid to late 1800s, An artist named William Harnett revived trompe l'oeil still life easel painting in the the United States. Traditionally, the preferred medium for this type of fine art has been oil painting, but using my techniques of blending charcoal and graphite pencils I have rendered some trompe l'oeil elements in these drawings. 

As adults, we obtain a sense of security in our ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not.  When confronted with something that if only for an instant makes us question our perception of reality, we are intrigued and experience a thrill like a child at a magic show.


I conduct realistic drawing workshop where you will learn exactly how I create the illusions like the ones you see on this page. If you are interested in learning how to draw images so realistic they fool people into thinking real objects are presented, check out my workshop schedule here:
Realistic Drawing Workshop Schedule

(Click on image to see a larger version of the artwork)

*New Original Drawing*

Go Fly a Kite

*New Original Drawing*

Steal a Kiss


*New Original Drawing*

Paper Metamorphosis

Trompe L'Oeil Subject Matter:
Successful trompe l'oeil artwork must - at least temporarily - fool the viewer. Subjects with limited depth are usually the most convincing because the illusion can be maintained while viewed from different angles. In fact, some trompe l'oeil murals are only effective if the viewer is standing in exactly the right spot. It is difficult to be fooled if you can't see the side of the subject even when it is viewed from the side. Like many of the trompe l'oeil still life easel painters of the 1800s, I have chosen subjects with very limited depth to help achieve the most convincing illusions. These include paper, envelopes, postage stamps, playing cards, currency, tape, puzzle pieces, nails and pins. The popularity of trompe l'oeil artwork with this same type of subject matter has endured for centuries. The themes that feature luck and gambling have been extremely popular for decorating game rooms and who hasn't dreamed of having "Money to Burn"!

Trompe L'Oeil Folklore:
Art historians report of a contest that was held between two renowned painters to see who was the finest. The first painter produced a still life so convincing that birds flew down from the sky to peck at the painted grapes. The master then turned to his opponent in triumph and said, "Draw back the curtains and reveal your painting." The other artist said, "Ha! You fooled the birds with your painted grapes, but I fooled a great master artist! The second painter knew then that he had won, because the "curtains" weren't real. They were part of the painting.. 

It is also reported that Rembrandt's students painted coins on the floor of his studio for the pleasure of watching him bend down to pick them up.

Click the link below to see a step by step demonstration of my drawing "Inner Beauty"

 Trompe L'Oeil Tutorial

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