Many people don’t know what trompe l’oeil is – but may have already seen this art form when visiting a stately home. A trompe l’oeil may be, for example, a shelf on a wall at one end of a grand room with vases and ornaments on it. But only when you get close to it do you see that it is an artist’s trick of the eye, and it is, in fact, a painting. The translation is literally: “Deceives the eye”.
This art form can be applied in absolutely anyone’s home – I have provided several homes in Leicestershire with trompe l’oeiled kitchens, sitting rooms, conservatories and bedrooms. Designs can be quite small, up to a whole wall, or even a whole room. They can also be very effective in a garden if you want to beautify a boring fence, hide an awkward area or just add interest. And no-one else in the entire world will have one like it.
This 'Floral Fantasy' trompe l'œil is 8ft x 4ft and fixed to a wall at ground level to give the impression of an archway through which the viewer can pass, walk up the steps and admire the flowers before arriving at an area furnished with a white wrought-iron table and chairs wherein to while away a sunny day reading the 'paper or chatting among friends. York stone and the choice of plants was dictated by the customers, adding to their enjoyment of the view.
I created these two trompe l'oeil for my own garden
A good example of trompe l'œil in that it draws the eye into the distance. I did this work to amuse myself, but it would look excellent at floor level so that you could imagine walking onto the boathouse and taking a punt onto the lake.
This was a job I did just for myself. It is my own bathroom and people entering it are advised that a house had been built in a jungle and then an earthquake had reduced most of it to rubble, but the bathroom remained with just enough of the walls to support the sink, loo and bath. Then the house owner put up bamboo poles to support a roof of leaves. It is still in progress – I add animals and insects from time to time!
This is a good example of trompe l'oeil using a window to provide a point from which to look out at a scene. My customers wanted the view to include an owl, their local landscape, a hunt and a particular style of barn. The open window provided an opportunity to bring some of the countryside indoors and add to the trompe l'oeil effect with a pied wagtail chasing a bee and some ivy climbing over the cill. There were three points of light to take into account for the shadows to be correct: the 'outside' sunlight, the indoor ceiling lamp and daylight from another (real) window in the room.
The Toy Shelf
These two toy shelves show how the technique of trompe l'œil can add ornament to a blank wall simply by illusion. The shelves seem to be fixed to the wall and the toys rest from their day's play with the light and shadows on the shelves shown as it would be from the room’s actual window on the right