Cover image for Simple trompe l'oeil : 20 stylish projects using stencils and faux finishes
Simple trompe l'oeil : 20 stylish projects using stencils and faux finishes
MacCarthy, Mary.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Willowdale, Ont. : Firefly Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
128 pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TT270 .M27 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
TT270 .M27 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
TT270 .M27 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Trompe l'oeil paint effects are among the most stunning and effective decorative treatments for walls, furniture and objects. The daunting idea of creating such breathtaking effects however, can be easy with the wealth of simple techniques and ideas provided here.

Decorative artist Mary MacCarthy explains the necessary stenciling techniques:

tracing and cutting stencils using templates mixing paints and making glazes and varnishes painting with stencils using different brushstrokes to create shading and perspective creating the basic shapes of vases, plates and panels.

Through a series of 20 projects, she shows how easy it is to create extraordinary visual effects by using templates and repeating patterns and motifs, rather than trying to paint freehand. Faux finishes are equally simple to create and the combinations of stonework or woodgrain with stenciled motifs are stunning. Using ragging, dragging, stippling, and more, Mary MacCarthy progresses from simple mural painting to wood marquetry.

There are step-by-step instructions and photographs for a Delft tile backsplash, an Etruscan firescreen, a bamboo-effect sidetable; a marbled fireplace, chinoiserie plates, an alphabet block headboard, a scagliola work inlaid tabletop, Dado panels, and a picket-fence frieze that would be perfect for a hall or sunroom.

Template designs are provided and all the projects are accompanied by illustrative photography, comprehensive step-by-step instructions, hints and style idea sidebars and material lists. Simple Trompe L'Oeil is as easy to use as it is beautiful and inspiring.

Author Notes

Mary MacCarthy has been a practicing artist for over 20 years. She has undertaken a wide range of commissions and her work is often featured in design magazines. She teaches decorative painting workshops and her most recent publications include Decorative Stencils for Your Home and The Crafter's Pattern Sourcebook .

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Is simple 3-D painting an oxymoron? Not according to decorative artist MacCarthy, who believes that anyone, anywhere, is capable of at least copying her 20 designs--if not improving on them. Filled with hints, style ideas, and best of all, marvelous close-ups for each major step, this achieves its purpose of easy-to-do, "fool the eye" patterns. But none of the motifs are labeled in terms of difficulty. And there's no clue about how many hours each project might consume. Nonetheless, even though the introduction and generic directions are a bit scanty, readers will be charmed by the results, whether Delft look-alikes on already installed white tiles or a fabulous stenciled curtain "borrowed" from a twelfth-century Catalonian chapel. The next thing to a beginner's manual. --Barbara Jacobs

Library Journal Review

Trompe l'oeil, the technique of painting walls or smaller objects with lifelike representations of architectural details and still lifes, is well suited to stencil applications. MacCarthy (The Crafter's Pattern Sourcebook) uses stencils combined with freehand shading and detailing in painted decorations for furniture, walls, and floors. Colors are bold, and designs are so lifelike that playing cards painted on a table look just like the real thing. The step-by-step projects are illustrated with color photographs, and there is a section of design templates that can be copied. This is a nice addition to public library craft collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From the Techniques Section, the introduction to Beginning trompe l'oeil stenciling Trompe l'oeil utilizes three-dimensional effects and other paint techniques to create the illusion (literally, to "trick the eye") that the painted subject is real. When it involves only freehand painting, it can be daunting, but with stenciling as a basis for the trompe l'oeil, it becomes much simpler. The templates in this book give you a huge head start, because the basic design elements are already in place and ready to be transferred to whatever surface you wish to use. With these templates, and your own hand-painting to add some of the details or faux ("false") finishes like wood-grain, you will be able to produce surprisingly realistic-looking work. Even people who claim to have no artistic talent will gain the confidence to tackle elaborate projects. Combining stenciling with hand-painting gives you the best of both worlds. When, for example, a number of repeat patterns are involved, a stencil will avoid a lot of tedious repetition, whether you are painting lots of little boxes or one large wall. Stencils are also handy when you are working on a symmetrical subject, as you stencil only half of the design and then turn the stencil over and paint the other side, thus ensuring that both halves are identical. Yet another attraction of stenciling is the fact that it gives crisp, sharp edges combined with a wonderful, subtle texture that is absolutely unique. Excerpted from Simple Trompe l'Oeil: 20 Stylish Projects Using Stencils and Faux Finishes by Mary MacCarthy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Beginning Trompe l'Oeil Stenciling
Using Paints and Varnishes
Painting with Stencil
Delft Tiles
Card Table
Fire Screen
Marquetry Tray
Scagliola Table
Bamboo Chair
Ribbon Mirror
3-D Floor
Simple Mural
French Plate
Kilim Rug
Bathroom Cabinet
Texan Chest
Desk Box
Indian Print Blind
Stenciled Curtain
Key Cupboard
Gothic Frieze
Garden Basket
Window Box