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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Trompe L'Oeil Curtains

Hello all,

I live on 5 acres of land on the outskirts of the Everglades of SW Florida in Naples.  I don't have any neighbors to see into my backyard and I love to wake up and see my garden, my land,and peek out at my chickens so I decided to go without curtains on my back windows.  I still wanted a curtain for decor therefore I painted curtains on my wall.  Below is the finished result. Most people walk thru the house for the first time and don't realize that they are painted and after a while even friends forget they are painted.  I do love to fool people.  The definition of the words Trompe L'Oeil comes from the french and is translated to mean, "Fools the Eye".  Although I hand painted these curtains if you're not quite ready for that there are many curtain stencils available around. 

I have now changed the color of my Kitchen walls so I also changed my "fabric " curtains.  I created my own fabric design.  I actually intend on creating the fabric for real on a site called www.spoonflower.com where you can upload your designs and purchase your own fabrics by the yard .   FUN STUFF!!!!!.  Technology is absolutely amazing!!!!!

Creating Trompe 'Oeil Art starts with knowing the item you want to paint inside and out. Take the curtains for example, I studied the folds of fabric and how it hangs over a rod. I held a bamboo rod to the wall to see how the light moves and reacts to the colors and where the shadows fall. 
HOW TO: Trompe L'Oeil the above Curtain.
When you start a Trompe L'Oeil project, draw it out first on paper to get a feel for it and the perspective you are looking for.  Practise, Practise, and Practise.    Most beginners tend to be afraid of drawing or painting on walls, but remember it's only paint and you can always paint over it and start again.
1. draw your bamboo rod outline on the wall in pencil
2. With liquid acrylic art paints, base coat the bamboo rod shape in a medium brown, let dry.
3. Paint a soft line of a darker brown on upper and lower edges. Sideload your brush so that one side of the brush has more paint than the other. This will create the rounded effect of the rod.
 ("sideloading a brush" is a technique used to apply the paint so that the side with less paint will create a softer edge, and the side with more paint will have a stronger darker edge.)
Remember practise makes perfect
4. With a lighter shade of your brown, run a soft edged line across the middle of the rod.  This gives the highlighted area and creates a more pronounced roundness to the rod. Then streak the rod a little with the medium brown to create the vertical lines found in real bamboo.
5. Add bamboo growth circles 2-3 of them on each rod at uneven spacing.  Sideload the darker brown paint on your brush  and run a line perpendicular to your rod direction. giving the soft and hard side to create a growth ring as in real bamboo.
6. Add your rod holders by drawing them onto the wall then painting them your color.  What ever color you want them to be.  I chose black to go with the rest of my decor around the house.  Place the holders 'behind" the bamboo rod and the hook part "in front of" the rod. Think illusion.
7.Now we do the curtains. :) Draw your design onto your painted bamboo rod. remember that real curtains are not stuck to the rod they have substance.  look at your real curtains for comparison.
8. Base coat the entire curtain design in off white, 2 coats. let dry.
9. Add folds in fabric unevenly. Don't have the folds looking like soldiers. keep thinking soft and undulating.  Sideload brush with dark brown and run a line of paint down and along one side of the fold creating a hard dark side and a soft faded side of the fold.  This is where it gets tricky.  you have to watch where your light source is coming from and try to do the darker shades on the opposite side of the fold from the lightsource. Have a piece of fabric near you so you can check out the folds as you go along.
10. When you have your folds the way you want them. its time to put in the designs of the fabric.  I made stencils of a starfish and 2 different coral fans.  I then stencilled the 3 designs sporadically around the painted fabric.  As I came to a dark edged fold I cut the stencil design off so that it looks like the starfish or coral fan went into the fold. 
11. Next I added a dark brown ribbon on some of the outer edges to emphasize and define the fabric. Don't do all of the edges, let some of them look like they have folded behind as real fabric would.
12. Last step is to add the shadows.  Study your design in its area and put shadows on the opposite side of your painting than your lightsource. I did below my bamboo rod and to the left of my curtains on one wall and then on the other side of the room my lightsource switched sides so I did the right side. I shadowed below the bottom of my curtains as well. Shadows create the illusion that the fabric is seperated from the wall and is a very important element in Trompe L'Oeil Art.  Do the shadows in a bluer tone of your own wall color as it will create the reality you are looking for. (If you have any of your actual wall color you can take a couple of ounces of that paint, add a small amount of a dk blue acrylic paint to it to make the shadow color).
This project may take a few days to complete so dont fret if you didnt finish it in one day.  It took me 4 days to complete the 3 faux curtains I have in my kitchen.  Also if you find you've missed something or dont like an area, you can always go back and correct it.  Acrylic paint is very forgiving.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with me either by phone or email.  I'll be glad to help.
Happy Trompe L'Oeil-ing!!!!

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