To Deceive the Eye

kidMy imagination was always active. Even as a child I could entertain myself. I’d draw, sculpt, carve, color, and cut paper for hours. Because that innate desire to create appeared early on in my life, my mother always wished I’d be an artist of some sort. To that end, she supplied me with all sorts of tools and materials and loaded me up with books on famous paintings. On top of that, Chicago’s renown Art Institute was nearby so I spent a lot of time there as a teen. I came very close to a career in the tangible arts, I took another creative direction entirely. I ended up a writer. When I tell a story and describe a scene, an object, or even an emotion, I’m actually painting with words.

Quadratura (And a little Trompe l’oeil, & Forced Perspective)

Since mankind first conceptualized his world on cave walls so many millennia ago, artists continue to convey emotion through artistic expression. It doesn’t matter the size, scope, medium, or subject. Man is driven to create art. I’ve wondered why that is since I was a girl strolling Chicago’s Art Institute. I do have my opinions. I believe it’s our self-awareness that drives us. We tap into something so much bigger than ourselves and art becomes meditation or prayer. I’m sure I’m not alone in making this observation. I’ve seen the divine concord in the brushstrokes of those masterpieces I grew up with. (I share those thoughts in depth in my magnum opus –my enormous non-romance as-yet-unnamed work in progress.)

There have been some stunning chapters in the sketchbook of mankind. I have a few favorites: The Classical era with its alabaster and marble sculpture so finely detailed you can see veils and curls. The Middle Ages with feats of artistic architecture. The Renaissance gave us light, and with it, keen perspective. The late Victorian era had the Belle Époque and light returned after a long hiatus. Add to this list the bold images of the Art Deco movement. Though there are many defining eras and ages before, after, and in-between, these art movements strike a chord in me.

Outside of specific eras where one or two styles were in vogue and everyone was trying their hand at them, there are some works of art that stood alone even in their time. A few I could get lost in. The nightmarish works of Hieronymus Bosch compel me to look for every demon and grim reaper hidden in the brushstrokes. Salvador Dali pulls at a point just between my eyes. I suppose the individual vignettes both artists fill their canvases with appeal to my ADD brain. lol And I’m sure were I to stare overlong at the works of M. C. Escher I might fall down that rabbit hole. Like I said, I could get lost in them. Some of my favorite artistic expressions have to do with tricking the eye. And that’s what today’s post is all about.

There’s a mode of painting called Quadratura. (When you pronounce it it’s pretty straight forward until you get to the t. The t is pronounced ch.) Say it with me.

Quadratura means to square. This has to do with painting walls and the angles involved. When I say that, I don’t mean painting a wall, I mean murals on the walls and ceilings. Illusions like these tricked the eye by visually extending the room’s actual architecture into an imaginary space beyond. The point was sotto in su which means from below upwards.

Trompe l’oeil, meaning deceive the eye, is less about extending walls than it is about depth. It tricks the eye into seeing flat paintings in 3-D. The Quadratura techniques required an artist to have exceptional spatial skills and mastery of linear perspective. The amazing thing about this grand art style is the full impact of the scene is generally only visible from one vantage point.

One of the more interesting techniques of this visual trickery is Forced Perspective. Example: Were you to lay the Sistine Chapel’s paintings flat rather than going with the curved ceiling vaults it was painted on, you’d see disproportionate and contorted bodies. By painting within the constraints of arcs and keeping the sotto in su in mind, Michelangelo created a stunning masterpiece meant to be seen from below. My small blog doesn’t do the grand images justice. I recommend looking these beauties up online or at the library.

A few examples:

The Palace of Versailles ceiling
Guercino’s Aurora
Correggio’s The Assumption of the Virgin
Andrea Pozzo’s The Apotheosis of St Ignatius

Trompe l’oeil~
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel

Charles Willson Peale’s The Artist in His Museum
The ceiling in the Royal Palace of Madrid
Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

The restoration of the Sistine Chapel
Seven things you may not know about the Sistine Chapel

Modern takes on Quadratura and Trompe L’oeil

An example of Forced Perspective in film

snowflakebordrxmascard2There was a time when cards and letters exclusively told friends and family you cared. Vintage holiday postcards and greeting cards were often beautifully done things. That and the sentiment behind them were the reason so many were kept as keepsakes. From now until January, I’ll share vintage holiday postcards for you to enjoy.

Scroll down to see previous vintage postcards and learn how postcards became popular greetings to send, what is cost to send them, and about the big changes made after WWI.

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ExquisiteChristmasAd3Buy on Amazon
It’s a Top 100 pick in Holiday!

♥♥♥ My Other Book News ♥♥♥
Four 5-star reviews of The Changeling!
My other recent release has shining stars too!

Entice Me
– a multi-author collection. It’s a steal for 99¢. My story is Heart of Stone

Words Worth Msnowman-mdentioning for December

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” ~Michelangelo

RB4U purpleToday’s guest is Author Stacy Juba
Authors and Industry representatives all month long.

Romance Books ‘4’ Us
The December contest is on! Prizes often include $100 in gift cards for Amazon/B&N, ebooks, print books, audiobooks, additional gift cards, and non-book items.


About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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