This powder room makes me think of a boathouse or beach cabana. It’s an extension of the room that is painted all around with a beach scene. The trompe l’oeil paintings make it colorful and interesting, but there is nothing to knock over or trip over, or most important, to clean! The wainscoting was already painted a crisp white, but it had a glossy finish, so first I had to use a deglosser, like liquid sandpaper, so that the acrylic paints would adhere to the surface. I photographed a real bikini hanging on a hook, and printed it out, so that I would have an image to work from. Sometimes it’s hard to replicate a natural placement- I tend to make things too perfect and balanced if I just use my imagination. To paint the hook, you have to choose one perspective and paint from only that angle- otherwise trying to place the highlights and shadows will make you crazy. This principle is true for all trompe l’oeil painting- it’s really only very realistic from one angle, but when you get that angle right, it can be amazing!
For the bikini, it was especially important to get the shadow right, to give it a 3-dimensional appearance. Once you figure out where the most light is coming from, then you know where the shadow would naturally fall. It’s critical to be consistent with the direction of the shadows. If they are wrong in places, it may not be obvious what the problem is, but you will just feel that something is wrong with the image. Shadowing is also critical for the realism of the starfish on the shelf, as well as the net with crabs. Mixing up real items with trompe l’oeil paintings gives you more impact-it creates a little confusion and inspires more interest in everything in the room. I painted some kind of realistic accent on each wall- an oar and boat-hook, flippers and goggles, and a "mermaid crossing" sign, in addition to the bikini and starfish. The paintings were sealed with a flat acrylic sealer (polyurethane would be fine as well), painting carefully around the design so the sealer didn’t make darker stains on the wall. On the wainscoting, I had to also use a gloss sealer around the bikini, because I had taken the gloss off when I began painting.