Lose Yourself In This Painter’s Optical Illusion-Inspired Art


An abstract painting by Michelle Weddle featuring a large ribbon or green paint

The ribbon-like swaths of color laid on canvas by Denver-based painter Michelle Weddle are deceptively simple. At first glance, one might see rapidly laid, intuitive brushstrokes surrounded by a composition of thicker paint; “a balance between soothing calm and playful dynamism—a quality that’s central to my own character,” the artist says. But for Weddle, whose work has been exhibited at various galleries throughout the years, the process of reducing complex compositions to a few striking gestures is a methodical and intentional one.

“Filling in the surrounding surface area with shapes composed of thicker paint creates the illusion that the first-laid brushstrokes have wiped away the second layer of paint,” she explains of her practice inspired by the seductive allure of optical illusions. “At a distance, the dominant, semitransparent strokes appear dimensional, while the surrounding fields of color seem flat.” Upon closer inspection, however, the opposite is true.

“The large brushstrokes are flat, while the color fields are thick with tangible dimension, creating visual irony in the work”—and a reason why collectors around the country are craving another look.