Small works- Trompe L’oeil paintings


Shell and Flower

This is a trompe l’oeil painting which imitates the wood grain of teak. A small snail shell with a purple wildflower that blooms in the spring in California is the only decoration beyond the beauty of the wood itself. Small paintings such as this of a modest scale and subject matter can look so simple yet they are comprised of multiple layers and glazes that are complex in nature. To begin, the background faux wood grain was painted in 4 separate layers, each of which must dry in between. Only afterward could the underpainting of the shell begin. The lighter colors of the shell were made with a mixture of egg white in order to successfully build lasting brilliance on the upper layers of the painting. This painting is a gesture of endearment from the artist to the lasting techniques of the Golden Age of Dutch painting in which trompe l’oeil was to become a tradition.


This painting highlights a faux oak wood grain, in which the main decorative elements take an imaginative twist. The cupcake is a fanciful craving of the artist’s appetite and the window opening to a sunny landscape is an invitation to more pleasant dreams. Once again, the traditional Flemish technique of complex layering is employed to achieve a beautifully textured finish that can withstand the up close inspection of the trompe l’oeil connoisseur. Multiple opaque and transparent layers of patterns and stains create the final appearance of real oak, which is actually the main subject of the painting.


Three small clam shells in a ceramic dish play foil to a dandelion fluff. A granite stone background adds a decorative charm to the delicate grey color harmonies in the painting. This painting is a play of textures which are a delight to the artist. There is the cold rough stone to contrast with the smooth glazed ceramic. This man-made surface contrasts again with the natural but repeating design of the shells. The hardness of the shells then gives way to the most fragile softness of the dandelion. As with all of Sammon’s trompe l’oeil paintings, there is an exquisite finish that is comprised of multiple layers of glazes, patterns and scumbles which invite you to look up close and delight in the textural elements of simple things.


This trompe l’oeil painting is a faux wood grain of poplar that plays off the wood’s characteristic warm and cool colors. To begin the painting, the initial background of painted wood grain must first be finished. It is executed with multiple layers of glazes and patterns. The starfish decoration is painted with an egg-white mixture to remain brilliant against the background. It also shares the same colors as the wood but contrasts against the smooth and slow moving curves of the wood grain with its bumpy staccato texture. A summery beach theme emerges from the warm color harmony with bright red accents of a cocktail umbrella and maraschino cherry. This textural interplay of different elements to create new combinations is often the subject of Sammons trompe l’oeil paintings.