Famous artwork, architecture, and paintings are a part of our history and culture. Artists and painters from all over the globe, at varying stages of time, have used a large number of techniques to make their artwork unique and beautiful.
One such technique used to incorporate depth and dimension within paintings is known as trompe l'oeil. So what is this technique of artwork all about? Keep reading to find out.
The Meaning of Trompe L'oeil
The word “trompe l'oeil” Is taken from the French language, and means, “deceiving or fooling the eye”. As an art form, the technique is used when artists are creating realistic images and want to enhance the optical illusion within the painting by providing it with additional depth.
This is usually accomplished by adding shadows and realistic touches to the images that make them jump of the canvas, creating a three dimensional effect that seems realistic. Many images that use trompe l'oeil are so realistic that people actually have to touch them to believe that they are painted on a flat canvas rather than being three-dimensional objects pasted onto a canvas.
Thus, trompe l'oeil depicts images on flat canvas as three-dimensional images, creating an optical illusion.
History of Trompe L'oeil
The technique of deceiving people with art is not new. This technique began in the 1600s. However, illusions and optical illusions in paintings have been present in history since centuries before that.
This is why we attribute this technique as being used for the first time by the Greeks, which then passed it on to the Roman muralists. Although trompe l'oeil was disused during the Dark Ages, Italian artist gave it a rebirth during the Renaissance; and since then European painters used this technique commonly during the early period of the Renaissance.
The art form was especially used to create false doorframes from which realistic interiors could be seen. False windows were also in vogue during that time, and ceilings and windows were painting in life like scenes that seemed to be openings in the wall, showing the world outside.
Today’s art form of “Photo Realism” can also be identified as a modern form of trompe l'oeil.
Trompe L'oeil in Art
Art forms that use trompe l'oeil are not only limited to paintings. This technique of creating optical illusions is used for wallpapers, paintings, murals and a lot more.
However, creating a life like illusion in art is a challenge. Trompe l'oeil is an art technique that requires extreme precision, attention, and focus to the details in order to have its required effect. The artist using this art form needs to; not only pay attention to the size of the painting, but also has to be meticulous about all of its details. The painter must also consider the effects and play of light, as well as the color hues to make a simple two-dimensional work appear as a three dimensional masterpiece.
Artwork has always had the power to play with the human mind, and trompe l'oeil has been a favorite technique of artists over history, as they continue to trick the eyes and deceive the mind into believing in the reality of a realistically created image.
© opticalspy 2015
Everyone has potential to do something great, discover a hidden talent, and stumble upon something new. One such person is Thomas Maurer, better known as “The Accidental Artist.” Initially, Maurer didn’t aspire to be an artist — he couldn’t draw to save his life — but, one accidental pattern along with the manipulation of the light would convince him to change careers.
The Happy Accident
Thomas Maurer, a German born artist, worked as an events producer in Australia in 1991. The career as an events producer was fulfilling, and he felt content in his job. However, what he didn’t know was that in 2005, he was about to make a drastic career change as an artist and later sculptor. That year Maurer was unaware of the magic he would create using an angle grinder to polish aluminum.
The illusionary artist’s friend called him over to help him fix a truck, giving him the job of polishing aluminum with an angle grinder. Maurer was fascinated as he saw the patterns dance off the aluminum under the sun, creating an effect so different that it convinced him that it was time to begin his career as an illusionary artist.
The Effort to Build the Artist
Maurer didn’t waste a minute and quickly left his job to assume his new role as an artist. The first thing on his agenda was to move to Australia permanently, rent out a studio, and experiment creating different patterns.
Maurer kept at it for three years, creating patterns, overlapping them with different ones, and reversing it to see what it will look like. His efforts paid off and he realized that he was able to create optical illusions, but he refused to call himself an artist for the simple reason — drawing wasn’t his forte.
The Birth of a New Art Form — Illusionary Art
Maurer didn’t identify himself as an artist, but needed to give his art a name. He laid out his artwork in front of him and analyzed it to see what he should call this new art form. According to him, he created a two-dimensional illusion, which under the light looked three-dimensional.
While other illusions trick the eye, his illusion needed the assistance of a light source to appear three-dimensional. Without the light, his illusion would just be a drawing created on a two-dimensional surface. Therefore, he began calling his creation “Illusionary Art.”
Where Is Maurer Today?
Now, for the past ten years, Maurer has established his name as an Illusionary artist, creating landscapes and abstracts. He creates his pieces by using a 2mm grinder on a flat area of aluminum. His technique of creating never before scenes on aluminum has created quite a stir amongst the folks living “Down Under.”
You haven’t seen the wonders of Australia if you don’t visit his gallery because to whoever has seen his artwork has been left enthralled. With his new reputation as an illusionary artist, he sells his artwork to customers and to hotels around the globe.
You can look up his artwork on the internet, but it won’t do it any justice. In order to experience the beauty of his artwork, you have to see it in person.
© opticalspy 2015
Autostereograms date back to 1959 when Bela Julesz with MacArthur Fellow came up with the stereogram. This discovery occurred while they were working on differentiating between camouflaged objects hidden in pictures taken from the air by spy planes. He decided to research a little bit more into his findings. He used a computer to design random dot images, which when seen through a microscope, revealed itself as a 3D image.
His findings proved that depth perception doesn’t just occur in the eye, but it’s part of the neurological process. In 1970, Masayuki Ito, caught the wind of Julesz’s findings, and designed an image using stereogram. However, it was much later on, when Christopher Tyler discovered autostereograms.
The Discovery of Autostereograms
It was the year 1979; when Christopher Tyler sat down to combine the different theories that were the grassroots of the random dot stereogram and single-image stereogram. The combination of the two theories created something truly spectacular, an autostereograms.
The autostereograms interested people because it allowed them to see the 3D image from a 2D image without needing any kind of optical equipment to do so. Two computer programmers, Tom Baccei and Cheri Smith, picked up his discovery in 1991 and designed a color random dot autostereograms, popularizing it as Magic Eye.
What is the Magic Eye?
The Magic Eye is described as a three dimensional picture hidden amongst a two dimensional picture. They are known as the advanced technique of producing stereogram. Here are the steps used to create The Magic Eye:
· Create a 3D Image
The 3D image should be rotatable and editable. People with an artistic ability will be able to produce a usable 3D image. However, you would still need to know how to use 3D software.
· Rendering the 3D Image
You will need to create a 2D pattern to hide the 3D image. For this, you must be able to render the image well so the picture remains hidden.
People with the knowledge of using the software along with having an innate artistic talent will be able to create a spectacular Magic Eye to enchant viewers. Let’s track back to understanding the method of creating autostereograms, as this was where it all started.
How Are Autostereograms Created?
Autostereograms are created using spacing to create a three dimensional picture. For instance, if the pattern is repeated at lesser distances, the area will appear closer to you. The opposite will be true if the patterns were to be repeated over longer distances. If you want to see this illusion, do check out What’s Hiding Here? Not to give you any spoilers, but the illusion has something hidden inside it. Can you see it? If you can, you will be able to say that the picture pops at you. You can show this illusion to your friends and family as well.
To conclude, autostereograms are a fun way to pass time. So search the web for some when you are bored and you will be amazed at the different pictures hidden in each. In the two opticals shown here we have taken a couple of normal magic eye pictures and mixed them with real pictures to make our type of autostereoram. Original picture sources unknown.
© opticalspy 2015
The Thatcher Effect isn’t named after some scientist, psychologist, or doctor, but in fact, it is named after Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister. Margaret Thatcher was a well-known name in politics and was often dubbed the “Iron Lady.” In the illusion, she had her face flipped, and her eyes and lips contorted. Sounds completely painful – thank goodness it wasn’t done in real life. So, you might say the pictures are manipulated and do not count as an illusion? To explain that, we need to journey back to 1980.
1980—That’s Where All of It Started
When Professor Peter Thompson decided to take not just any picture, but the picture (above) of Margaret Thatcher in 1980, the world discovered something completely puzzling. The professor manipulated the eyes and mouth, turning them upside down. What was the effect, you wonder? The effect was truly a frightening and horrendous image of the former prime minster when turned right side up.
The shocking part of it all was when the image was inverted; people weren’t even able to tell if any kind of manipulation to the face had been done. Humans weren’t the only ones falling for the tricks of this illusion, but monkeys too couldn’t tell if the image was manipulated when inverted.
Scientists and people alike found the effect astonishing, and at times, unbelievable. Was the brain this gullible that it couldn’t tell an illusion, even with the obvious alterations to the face? That question left people questioning the brain’s ability to process such evident information. However, scientists were quick to come to the brain’s defense.
The Scientific Theory behind the Illusion
Scientists deduced that the brain’s inability to recognize an obvious manipulation was due to the way it’s programmed. The brain’s primary function is to recognize faces off the bat so when it sees the distorted image, it processes it has an unaltered image when the opposite is true. Therefore, your brain pieces all the parts together to form a whole, in this case the face.
When the face is turned upside down, the brain recognizes each part separately, not fitting together. For this reason, it is easier for a person to recognize the face of a celebrity, whose face has been manipulated.
This illusion is quite fascinating and even with the scientists’ theory on why this happens, there still isn’t any concrete proof of why the human brain isn’t able to perceive the distorted face. In short, one thing is for sure, the Thatcher Illusion would give anyone a good laugh.
Do You Feel Like Laughing…At Yourself?
You can also have your face manipulated by going on the personal illusion page and placing your order to see a distorted image of your face. Imagine the reactions your friends and family will have when you turn your image right side up. You can upload your image there and within twenty four hours, you will get your image “Thatcherized.”
The Thatcher Illusion is an illusion that many people have to see in order to believe that they are actually looking at an illusion.
© opticalspy 2015
Bridget Riley got a start as an illustrator working in an advertising agency, J.Walter Thompson. She found her true calling when she visited the Whitechapel Gallery exhibition held by Jackson Pollock in 1958. Before discussing the impact she’s had in the world of painting, let’s get to know her a little bit better.
Life of Bridget Riley
John Fisher Riley, a printer by occupation and a soldier during World War II, saw the birth of his baby girl, Bridget Riley in London in 1931. She received are education from Goldsmiths College and Royal College of Art. With a burning passion for the arts, she got her first real exposure to the field when she attended an exhibition featuring the collection of Jackson Pollock.
After seeing the collection, she was mesmerized and created art representing the semi-impressionist style using the pointillist technique; dots applied in a pattern. It was really during 1960 when she discovered her own unique style of painting, the Op Art style.
What is the Op Art Style?
The Op Art style incorporates the colors black and white. She incorporated these into her painting to give audiences a sense of movement, vibration and flashing, warping and swelling effects, and concealed images and patterns within it. Using the style she created the painting named Diagonal Curve in 1966, a black and whit painting exhibiting dizzying patterns. Riley’s unique style gave people a new art form to enjoy.
What did People Say About her Paintings?
Viewers told tales of getting strange sensations by looking at her paintings for a long time particularly nausea. Even then, people continued to take interest in her paintings and her solo shows that were held at Musgrave Gallery in 1962 followed by many other shows. Her popularity was steadily growing.
However, in 1967, Riley switched gears and started to use color and a trip to Egypt in the 1980s inspired her to create tessellating patterns, which she created on an oil canvas called Shadow Play in 1990.
Tessellations designs are motifs that have been around since ancient times. The Romans used geometric shapes and in the modern era these were used to decorate tiles, wall ceilings, amongst others. Riley used her discovery to create the Ka and Ra series that depicted her time in Egypt. Tessellated patterns during the year appeared on textiles, stitched or printed.
Additionally, the designs appear on motifs called block designs. However, in the 1980s, she began investing her time in creating parallelograms; an example of this form lies in her painting called Delos in 1983. Furthermore, her contribution to art didn’t go unnoticed.
Recognition by her Peers
She was honored by Oxford, Cambridge, and became a member of Companions of Honor in Britain in 1988 and a member of the National Gallery in 1980s. In 1968, the Venice Biennale awarded her with an international prize for painting in 1968. Moreover, in 2012, she was awarded with the Sikkens Prize celebrating her use of color. Even today, her paintings astound people when they view it.
© opticalspy 2014
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