Trompe L'Oeil Paintings by Michael James Riddet
Welcome to my site and the fascination of Trompe l'Oeil painting
20,000 years ago Neolithic man was undoubtedly mesmerized by big game mammals painted on the walls and ceilings of deep caves. For a moment, imagine the visual effects of flickering torchlight in otherwise pitch black caves on these exquisite renderings and the human mind being tricked into believing that these images were, perhaps, real. To me, this was the birth of Trompe l'Oeil. Mediums, pigments, supports and philosophies have changed over the millennia, but those practicing this form of art, consciously or not, have all succeeded in one thing, tricking the eye of the beholder.
In order to better appreciate these paintings, I have included closeup images of several pieces. Trompe l'oeil, also known as illusionist painting, dictates that in order to carry off this illusion of reality, all objects must be painted life size. The three images pictured above of "A Brief History of Flight in America" show the overall acrylic painting, a close up of the United States postage stamps from 1918, 1926 and 1928 and a 1911 registration stamp. The third image is a close up of the Lindbergh "Spirit of St. Louis" issue.
Painting postage stamps requires additional magnification as an aide to painting fine details. Small size brushes are, of course mandatory, as is a sewing needle to remove any mistakes or create minute details by "subtracting" the pigment. A steady hand is also helpful. The dilemma in painting a piece like this is "how far do you want to take it?" Many contemporary trompe l'oeil painters do not believe in using magnification as an aid to painting, believing, perhaps rightfully so, that the illusion of reality should be complete within a certain distance from the painting. When this painting was shown at the 2007 international "Birds in Art" exhibit in Wausau, WI, a gentleman approached me with a question from a stamp collector friend of his who had viewed the painting up close the previous evening. The question was, "why had I glued the stamps over the painting?" The illusion was complete and the compliment taken in stride.
Before viewing my paintings, I might recommend a little Oriental wisdom....
First, if you look long enough at a Chinese landscape, you may enter into it: that is a part of their appeal. But you may not pluck the orchids or eat the cherries.
Second, when you go deeply enough into a Chinese landscape, you may find there less than meets the eye.
Third, if you see one you love and can afford it, buy it and remember the words of the T'ang Dynasty philosopher Chang Yen-yuan: "If one likes a picture, then it must be valued like gold and jade, but if one does not like it, then it is worth no more than broken tiles."
Fourth, if you cannot afford it and must have it, then heed the slogan: "You have a friend at Chase Manhattan."
I hope you enjoy viewing my work. Please visit regularly to view new images or keep informed of new projects, gallery openings and museum exhibitions.
Michael James Riddet