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Trompe o’leil – ” an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Forced perspective is a comparable illusion in architecture. “

Years ago, my friend Xavier Cevallos walked into my studio and stated, “I can never tell what’s real and what’s painted! I’m always afraid I’m going to step on something.” We were looking at a painting in progress, which was on the hand-painted floor – a painted illusion on top of another illusion.


Just recently my friend Dady Quadrado expressed a statement that made me laugh – yet it also made me more sensitive to the subject matter that’s painted. She did not want to sit on a sofa in Cafe Palo Santo because I had painted a little gecko near the top of a big logo painted on the space behind the sofa.

She explained, “I know it’s paint, but it looks so real that I am scared that it might drop off and fall on me!”

“Counting prayers while fingering beads is a universal use. The idea behind this lies in the nature of repetition that soothes like a lullaby. It is calming and introspective.” – Manuela Dunn Mascetti

Presently I’m visiting friends in Costa Rica and volunteered to re-work a design that was painted on the guest-house kitchen counter.  They have decided to put part of their property on the market, and this guest house is part of that parcel.   The counter deserved some attention!

My plans were to ‘patch’ the stained and damaged areas, but while scrubbing, sanding, then filling in the lost areas with splotches of white paint, I was inspired with new ideas. One problem with the previous design was that it was unforgiving and showed all stains and wear.    There are now more options for protecting the surface, so the new work should last a very long time.

When Marie finished her other work and walked down to see how I was doing, I presented the “new idea. ”   She wondered if it would consume too much time, but we decided to do a sample. She watched as I mixed dumped red, blue and yellow to the white already in the container and eventually hit a color that matched the hues of the ceramic floor…

Silent Critics/ Acrylic – painted door panel converted to wall art. Other items await attention, but for now, the counter demanded the immediate attention…

Marie watched as I painted, and with little persuasion, she also began painting.  We quickly worked into a zen sort of state – just focused on how pieces of ceramic  end to crack in straight and at times curved lines.  Like creating a jig-saw puzzle, we began filling the counter with faux fragments of broken ceramic tile. The first coat is always ugly and somewhat sloppy, and the second coat refines it and looks stronger. The next coat introduces lights and shadows and variations of color, and the final coat fine tunes and makes it really believable.

Working the ‘fragments’ behind the painted designs required a bit more attention, but one by one, the mosaic grew. Marie sent an SOS to nearby friends who might be interested in helping paint. A neighbor, Patricia, did not check her messages but happened to drop by – and gladly accepted the paintbrush and began painting as well. Later Marie’s husband Hank joined the painting party.

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” – Deepak Chopra

We chatted a little but basically kept our eyes on each new piece we painted.  Marie switched to another task, that of the hair dresser, and cut Patty’s hair and then mine!  The sun was soon setting as we added more pieces to the mosaic puzzle and fine-tuned some not-so-precise areas.

Marie would not let me paint while she cut my hair, but she allowed me to take photos!

Hank and I were the last ones to finish, as Patty left to go home, and Marie stopped to prepare dinner – an amazing dinner.   I think that it rained more than one time during those painting sessions.; this type of painting is like a meditation or like being in a dream state, so it’s all a bit foggy later when trying to recall details.

I walked down this morning to inspect last night’s additions in good light.  It was difficult not to pick up the brush and resume painting!

Approaching the guest cabina….

My task for today will be bringing the botanical studies back to life!

As soon as this is published, we will resume painting and look forward to seeing how it evolves.

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