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Trompe l'oeil - Painted illusions

by Emiliano Campobello

Trompe l'oeil Niche Detail Detail of "Trompe l'oeil" niche with the artist's palette and brush emerging from the painting, Oil on Panel, 2004


"Trompe l'oeil" is a french term for the art of realistic painted illusions, translating literally as "to trick/fool the eye". As a trained sculptor, I have an intuitive sensitivity for light and shadow, form and space, that enables me to create these painted illusions that blend harmoniously with the "real" space. There is a certain point in my work when the surface I am painting of disappears and space opens up, or objects and relief details emerge from it.. it's a magical feeling!

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Trompe l'oeil Niche Detail
Detail of "Trompe l'oeil" niche with the artist's palette and brush emerging from the painting, Oil on Panel, 2004

Paintings that come to life

As an artist, I approach every project as a unique opportunity to bring magic to life. Often this is a realm where I find myself sculpting space with the paintbrush, finding just the right shadow, highlight or texture to create a comvincing illusion. Sometimes these illusions are small eye-catching details, sometimes they are expansive spaces that invite the viewer to enter them. Much of the work I create (and fun that I have!) falls into this catagory in one way or another. The degree of realism depends on the painterly style, desired effect, and project budget. The minute details take more time of course, as I work with very fine brushes and subtle shades and colors, but the results are awesome..

Faux and illusion fool the eye

With all of my projects, I take pride in making works of art that invite the viewer to come closer and engage with the painting and explore the details up close.  Many of my illusions are not even noticed as they blend into their surroundings, which is sometimes the best complement I could have. People at the Montecito Country Club in California walked through this painted "trompe l'oeil " oak panel door for 6 months without noticing it was a painted illusion. I painted 6 doors to match existing doors in the adjacent areas.. they blended in superbly, to the point that the client had to touch the door to convince himself it was painted!

Trompe l'oeil Panel Door Realistic painted paneling and aged oak woodgrain create a beautiful illusion


Trompe l'oeil I transformed 6 doors for the Montecito Country Club, CA from flat formica to oak paneling.


Trompe l'oeil Panel Door Realistic painted paneling and woodgrain.. this door is actually completely flat!

Emiliano Art & Design

Santa Barbara, California
Tel.: (805)284-3419
Email: [email protected]
CSLB# 971880

We had them come over and gave them ideas of what we were after and they quickly took our ideas and created a spectacular window with shutters that look out onto a tropical view of lush palms and mountains. They also created a faux mantel of bamboo, and it gives the illusion of a real mantel, however it is painted on the wall and I keep thinking that I have to dust the top of it! Everyone who sees it first thinks that it is a real mantel and painting because it looks three dimensional; until they take a second look and realize that it is painted on the wall! It has been a wonderful experience working with a professional team who took the time to listen to our ideas and were able to implement this impressive design for us to enjoy for years to come.
S. Mendoza, Carpinteria, CA