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A painting to fool your eye

Would you say this painting makes the keys and marbles so real you want to pick them up? That's why it's called fool-the-eye or trompe l'oeil painting. Trompe l'oeil is the French name. See how clearly Robert Eshoo makes the brass keys shine and the glass marbles glisten. See how their bright shapes contrast with the worn old boards. Also, there is something interesting in the way the up-and-down, or vertical lines of the wood oppose the side-to-side, or horizontal lines where the miggies are.

Ever since the days of Pompeii, fool-the-eye paintings have shown us how artists can paint details. It is wonderful what we see when we really look at a picture. For instance, can you see that there is a big clay marble next to a clear glass one, and there are four more glass ones farther down in an arrangement with other clay ones almost like the notes on a piece of music? Then look at the keys. One has a ribbon of cloth through it -- maybe to keep it on the wrist, and the heart-shaped padlock hasn't any key at all.

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Keys make us think of hidden treasure chests or doors to far-away palaces. Because each lock must have its own special key, each key must have its own special design.

Now look at the shadows where the keys hang. Each nail has a shadow. Some of the marbles do, too. Shadows, always being on the side opposite the light source, tell us where the light is coming from.

Trompe l'oeil paintings are usually made with oil paint. When made with watercolor, they are really special.

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