Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part III by Sybil Johnson

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part III

by Sybil Johnson

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last posted on my trompe l’oeil project! I meant to update you all much sooner, but life interrupted. I worked on it 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there and it’s finally done! Goes to show you that you don’t need to set aside huge blocks of time to work on a project. Like in writing, as long as you keep plugging away, eventually you’ll finish.

In case you missed my first two posts on this project, or you want to read them again, here they are:

Post 1: https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/adventures-in-trompe-loeil-part-i/.

Post 2: https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/adventures-in-trompe-loeil-part-ii-by-sybil-johnson/

All caught up? Great! Let’s continue.

When I left you last, I’d basecoated the pie, but hadn’t yet started shading the crust or the cherries. The latter were just areas of red with no definition. Here’s what the project looked like at the end of Part II.


And here’s what I ended up with after shading the pie crust.


The cherries were next. I pretty much winged it here, mixing various shades of red and using the finished photo in the instruction book as a guideline. Here’s a photo of some of the finished cherries and some not yet completed so you can see the difference.


The final step before varnishing was strengthening the cast shadows and working on the fold in the cloth. This part was the hardest for me. Eventually, though, I finished it.

Once I’d convinced myself the painting portion was complete, I turned to the last step, varnishing. For most of the projects I do, the choice of varnish is not super critical. But, since this is a table I want to actually use, I wanted a finish that would stand up and protect the painting I’d worked so hard on.

Since I’d used MinWax Polyshades to stain the table, I also had to find a varnish that was compatible with it. My first thought was to use a clear polyurethane, but most of them dry with a slight amber tint that tends to makes any white areas look yellow. I wanted my whites to stay white, so I looked for another solution. I finally settled on Minwax Polycrylic Gloss, a water-based varnish that dries clear. To make absolute sure that it would look okay, I tested it out on a scrap piece of wood I stained with the Polyshades and painted with a design using some of the colors in my pie project. When that test was successful, I pulled up my big girl pants, took a deep breath and applied the Polycrylic to the finished project. After two coats, here’s what it looks like.


I’m quite proud of this project. I think it turned out well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with me on my trompe l’oeil adventure. I’d love to hear about any projects you’re working on. You can contact me through my website, http://www.authorsybiljohnson.com, or on my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/sybiljohnsonauthor.


Sybil Johnson wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California where she writes the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series (FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD and, soon, A PALETTE FOR MURDER) published by Henery Press. Learn more about her at http://www.authorsybiljohnson.com.

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