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Hey Friends!

It’s so great to have you back again! I hope you’re ready to learn something inspiring today, kiddos!

Today we are going to learn about something super fun to look at because it makes our eyes trick us. They are called illusions!

Illusions are pictures that have the power to trick our minds into thinking we’re seeing something that is different than what is really there! Sometimes illusions get really popular because of how good they are at confusing us!

Artists always have a good time using illusions in their work! If you think about it, most paintings are illusions, too. Artists can trick our eyes and make a flat piece of paper look three-dimensional, or 3D, and real.

In this video, Dr. Matt McMahon explains how optical illusions work.

Illusion artists are all over the world and making different kinds of art. The one who made this one is from a country far from where we are.

Let’s take a trip all the way to Ukraine! There we would find one the coolest illusion artists. He is 52 years old and makes pictures that show different pictures at the same times.

If you focus you can see a white Ram with horns. But you can also see a man with black hair and a long twisty mustache.

How awesome is that? It’s like two pictures in one!

What colors do you see in this picture?

Do the colors influence what you see?

Paintings are illusions, too, because they can make something flat look round. Sometimes, a drawing or painting looks so real you feel like you can almost touch it and feel the texture of the face or landscape! Have you seen one of those before?

These artists are called Realists. This means they spend a lot of extra time getting their artwork to look the same way it does it real life.

Optical illusion superimposes goat head and plate onto man's face

There was a time about 500 years ago when all artists made art like this. This time in art is called the Renaissance. They wanted their art to trick everyone’s eyes and look real. Even when artists made hard sculptures out of heavy rock, they tried to make them look real and soft to represent a person.

This is a painting made by artist Johannes Vermeer from the Dutch Golden Age. It’s titled Girl with a Pearl Earring.

This is an optical illusion, too! Can you tell how? This is really just a flat painting that is about the size of a piece of paper.

It has been painted to look 3D. This girl’s face looks round and soft, just like you could touch it. That’s the illusion! Painters do this all the time.

Portrait of a girl, at bust-length, facing left, looking at the viewer. She is wearing a yellow and blue turban, a light brown coat and an earring with a single pearl.
Johannes Vermeer, "Girl with a Pearl Earring"

Benjamin Britton

How many different illusions can you point out in the picture to the right? It has so many that I don’t think I could count them all! I am sure we can find at least two or three. The lines that he has made zigzag down the painting, making it look as if there is some colorful folding paper in the background.

How cool is it to see an illusion like that on a flat canvas? His work was featured recently here at the Albany Museum of Art. It’s unique! Find someone at home and talk to them about all the different things you can see in this painting. What illusions do you see?

Want to Make an Illusion at Home?

Do you want to make your own illusion at home?

All you need is:

  1. Markers;
  2. A pencil;
  3. A piece of paper;
  4. The help of a parent or guardian.

Follow the easy steps in the video below and you will have your own optical illusion!

Otherworldly landscape
Benjamin Britton, "Keep It in Mind if Not on the Tongue"