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How to Paint Hidden Objects in Oil Paintings

    • 1). Work out the composition of your painting with hidden objects. Draw your ideas on paper. Make thumbnail sketches of the overall composition. Practice drawing details of your picture, particularly the hidden objects. Figure out what you're going to hide and where you will place it in the picture. Hide the objects in the background or in secondary elements of your composition so they won't be too readily apparent.

    • 2). Put on your smock. Prepare a canvas for your oil painting. Prime it with several coats of gesso. Thin each successive layer by adding water. Sand the surface smooth between coats. Draw your composition including the hidden objects onto the canvas. Block in the forms and background colors with large flat brushes. Paint in the mid-range values and hues with smaller brushes. Work on the overall composition while paying special attention to the areas where you're hiding things.

    • 3). Hide self-portraits or portraits of your friends in the painting. Conceal images of your kids or pets. Hide the portraits in the clouds or foliage of landscapes. Use the tendency of people to see faces -- consider the man in the moon -- to paint suggestions of portraits in your picture. Arrange individual leaves in the trees and bushes to suggest a face.

    • 4). Experiment with different techniques to hide objects in your painting. Disguise letters and numbers among your brush strokes. Conceal ordinary objects in areas with complex scumbled brushwork. Spell out people's names or hide messages. Paint images that can be read two different ways such as a profile of an old man that is also a figure of a young woman. Use optical illusions to disguise images.

    • 5). Use advanced traditional methods to hide objects in a painting if you have the necessary skill and experience. Experiment with anamorphosis or the technique of painting an object hidden by the use of distorted and oblique perspective. Compress the object and paint it so it can only be seen from certain angles. Play around with hiding objects in reflections. Paint tiny objects in the catchlights, (the window of reflected light in people's eyes), or use mirrors in the background. Have fun hiding things in your painting.

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