What's This Window Doing Here?

Fast Friday Challenge #53: Trompe d'oeil
January 2011

Size: 21.5" wide x 24" high, longest side is 11"

The quilt is close to life size.

I am a member of the Fast Friday Challenge Group. On the last Friday of each month they post a challenge and we have one week to complete it. I was thrilled when I read the January challenge, because I am particularly interested in realism and dimensionality. Trompe l'oeil has always fascinated me. I knew I wanted to participate. Had I been left to my own devices, I would probably still be wondering what to do for the challenge. But I told my husband about it and right away, he came up with the perfect idea, recreate one of the windows in our log cabin. So I took a bunch of photos and went to work to create a pattern.

I have been asked whether the photo of the quilt was taken at a bad angle so it does not look "square". But no, the quilt is constructed to appear skewed.

I have studied trompe l'oeil and find it is characterized by its perspective effects. The idea behind trompe l'oeil is to "fool the eye" into thinking there is depth and dimension where there is none. Often done as a mural, the effect creates three dimensional spaces on a two dimensional plane.

To me, trompe l'oeil is a little like magic, creating portals to places not easily reached. When I can create a space on the canvas of a quilt, a scene that makes the viewer feel as if she can walk or reach right in, then I have accomplished my goals.

What I noticed in looking at many, many examples of trompe d'oeil, is that exaggerated perspective effects are best achieved when more surfaces are in view to show light, shadows and contrast. Therefore, I took my photos of the window at an angle, when light was shining through to illuminate some surfaces and leave others in shadow.

This quilt is made using commercial fabrics and applique. There is no painting or photo transfer involved, only fabric and thread. I used a method I use for most of the applique I do, and almost all of my pictorial work (landscapes, flowers and architectural quilts), Upside Down Applique. I studied the photo carefully and emphasized light and shadows and contrast, which to me are key elements in creating the illusion of three dimensional space.

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Created on : 02/19/11
Last Updated : 01/22/12