Friday, July 19, 2013


African Big Cat Trio - Cheetah
21" X 16"
Original Oil

Wild cats are one of my favorite creatures to paint. So with a trio, I am in heaven.

For this set, I wanted intense eyes in the three paintings. The best way to accomplish that is to use a trick of visual perception. With the eyes focused directly out of the painting, they will appear to follow you regardless of the angle you view the painting. Just try it, move your head back and forth while looking at the screen. (click on the image for a larger view.) The effect is even more prominent when standing in front of the oil painting.

This "trick" has been around for centuries and used by many Renaissance painters. Most notably by Leonardo DaVinci in his painting, Mona Lisa.

Though you know you are looking at a flat surface, your brain creates a 3-D interpretation (at least if the painter works the lights and darks well.) You expect the eyes to stay focused perpendicular to the painting surface and when you move to the side your brain tells you they should look different because that is what happens in real life. But the painted eyes haven't changed. Your brain continues to create a 3-D object from the 2-D plane regardless of the viewing angle making the eyes appear to be following you.

This visual trick works particularly well on predators and I think best on the big cats.

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