Norman Adams' Trompe l’oeil

(Trompe l’oeil is a painting or design intended to create the illusion of a three-dimensional object.)

Courtesy of Geza Palotas

Norman Adams' two-piece “Golden-Grand” won Best of Show at the 1988 Minneapolis International Wildlife Art Show.

Compared to paintings
that sell for millions
the story behind this Golden-Grand painting is priceless.

When it came to making his painted images appear to jump-out of a painting Norman Adams was a genius. During his professional career he had mastered every skill, trick and technique he could use to fool the viewer's eye into thinking that images were jumping-out of his paintings.

“Trompe l’oeil” artists like William M. Harnett and John F. Peto mastered the limitless multitude of skills, tricks and techniques it took to make their painted images appear to jump-out to fool-the-eye of the viewer. The most obvious trick they used was to selectively vary the detail they put into different parts of the painting so that the more detailed part of the painting could appear to “jump-out” of the painting.

For example in a still-life painting they could make a painted dollar bill appear utterly real by skillfully and subtly painting less detail into the surrounding objects in the painting. By using this technique they could fool the viewer's eye into thinking that a real dollar bill must be stuck onto the painting.

This Golden-Grand painting is the culmination of all the tricks, skills and techniques Norman had perfected during his successful professional career to make the life-sized eagle appear real. The most obvious trick was to skillfully and subtly put more detail into the life-sized Golden Eagle than the background, the Grand Canyon. But to fool the viewer's eye even better he added another simple trick to all the others: he divided the painting. Norman was fully aware in designing this painting that by simply dividing the painting he would make the eagle appear even more real than he could have without the division. The overall effect of his Trompe l’oeil or fool-the-eye technique: on first sight many viewers, especially children, cannot understand why the eagle will not move.


Bill Erlacker's DREAM TEAM
of the best of the very best Professional Artists:


Norman Adams on... FacebookFlickr and Charles E Cooper's Babe Ruth Story