BY Teresa C. Brown

When Bailey the spaniel has his meal, the pampered pooch always dines with friends. That is, friends depicted on the walls around him, a la trompe l’oeil.

This style of painting ranges from a floor-to-ceiling image on a wall down to a small illustration painted on canvas, wood or other surface. Only the imagination limits this age-old style of painting that continues to hold its own in the art world and, more recently, with homeowners.

“Trompe l’oeil” (pronounced “trump loy”) is a French term meaning “deceive the eye.” The painting style creates an illusion and tricks the eye to see a life-like image on a wall rather than a reproduction.

Having fun is a major component of trompe l’oeil. Pleasanton artist Victoria Miraglio has painted a lot of fanciful paintings in both residential and commercial buildings since she began painting full-time five years ago.

One woman wanted a closet-sized room, where her dog Bailey was fed, painted just for the dog, Miraglio said. So Bailey’s “vino bar” was created. The three-walled room depicts a dandily dressed Bailey sitting at a bistro table with a wine glass raised in a salute. The adjacent walls feature three other dogs, including a bichon frise and a dachshund, enjoying a sunny afternoon at Bailey’s fantasy café. To top off the tall-tail room, a colorful awning shades the doorway.

Although Miraglio has painted floor-to-ceiling gardens, jungles and even an African savannah, she especially enjoys painting rustic vineyard panoramas. Designed to depict a window view, her vineyard vistas often include personal touches. In one 14 foot by 22 foot painting depicting a veranda view of horizon stretching vineyards, hot air balloons hover in the distant sky. The family is painted riding in those balloons, Miraglio revealed.

In another painting, she said the view holds special meaning. Every year for their anniversary one client and her husband travel to Greece. Miraglio depicted their favorite Grecian vacation window view.
What to paint and how to paint it is personal. Miraglio talks to her clients, looks around their home and tries to get a feel for their taste, she said. She tries to incorporate the style of the home in t he painting and if the home has interesting architectural elements, she’ll include those elements as well.
Miraglio often freely creates designs for clients, whether it is a storybook setting of bears on a picnic or a 19th century Parisian street scene. She has also used photographs if the clients have a particular landscape in mind.

She recalled painting a California vineyard scene in a home. When the husband came home, he told her he had grown up on Mount Diablo and would like to include it in the landscape. Using photographs he took, Miraglio added the view of Mount Diablo to the horizon.
Miraglio charges by the complexity of the work requested. The more detailed work, demanding more time, costs more. Her work ranges from $500 up to $6,000.

But satisfaction goes with ways. “I get emotionally involved,” Miraglio said. The piece becomes more than paint on t he wall. For Miraglio, it is a piece of her. “I really love it,” she said.