Trompe l'Oeil Paneling

The Artistic Stenciler by Patrick Ganino - 03/01/2003

artisticstenciler_2003spring_1.jpgWhen I first began my decorative painting business, I was adamant about taking established techniques and simplifying them. When I give a customer a quote on a job, that quote is a flat rate. The price does not change if the job takes longer than anticipated, so it is key for me to be efficient and fast while keeping a level of excellence.

Some of my best pieces are trompe l'oeil. Everyone loves the look and many people do not believe their eyes when a fine trompe l'oeil painting is completed. Customers who consult with me about having trompe l'oeil done in their homes or businesses usually think it will be the most expensive of the services I offer. However, it is relatively inexpensive.

Inexpensive because I have devised techniques that simplify my trompe l'oeil into a basic process while maintaining the level of detail that it needs. Trompe l'oeil is a study of shadows and highlights. Once that is understood, all that is needed is the correct placement and some simple techniques.

One of my most sought-after trompe l'oeil pieces is faux paneling. The effect is so realistic that when my photographer went to the home to take pictures of the above work, he walked into the room and did not know what he was supposed to photograph. The unexpected thing about faux paneling is that it is rather easy to do when following the basic steps [on page 8].

Trompe l'Oeil Tips
A very reputable artist once told me that the difference between a good artist and a great artist comes from his or her understanding of color theory. You can have all the talent in the world, but without the correct colors, your piece will always look flat. Color is the key to creating a false reality.

Sketching your drawing is an important element of your final product. If the sketch is off your painting will be off, no matter how good your painting technique is. It is necessary to take your time with this step so the entire piece will fall into place as you work.

When planning a trompe l'oeil piece, it is important to consider where the light source is in the room. If the shadows in your mural do not coincide with the angle of light in the room, the painting will never quite have the realistic, fool-the eye look that characterizes trompe l'oeil. Knowing where your light source is also determines where your highlights at shadows belong.

[Turn the page for step-by-step directions and drawings for creating quick trompe l'oeil paneling.]

About the artist
Patrick started Creative Evolution, his decorative painting business, in 1999 after discovering that the demand for specialty painting was strong in Connecticut. His business is thriving and he is currently booked one year in advance. You may reach him at by e-mail at [].

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