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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

Not only was the quality of your work exceptional, but also your love for what you do and your sincere concern for the children who would be the beneficiaries of your work was truly admirable. The character and compassion you demonstrated made working with you a pleasure- from the planning phase all the way to completion.The masterpiece you worked so hard on has now graced our walls for three months, and we don’t have to guess what the patients think of it- they tell us daily how much they love it. You have transformed a potentially daunting waiting room into a peaceful and inspiring retreat-like space, and we are so grateful (for) what we experience every time we open the front door and see your mural- a deep, contented pleasure, not just for ourselves, but for our patients as well. You have been professional, consistent, passionate and exceptional artists and people- and we want to thank you for all you’ve done and who you are.
Iris Castaņeda~Van Wyk, M.D. and Chris Van Wyk
Pediatrician, Santa Barbara, CA