Can You believe These Are Hyper-Realistic Acrylic Paintings and Not Actual Photographs?

We’ve seen lots of artists creating portraits that look like photographs, but very few have come as close to the real thing as Sheryl Luxenberg. Her work is fittingly called ‘hyperrealism’ – her paintings are just too real to be true. You probably need to stare at them for hours to spot one feature that doesn’t look utterly lifelike.

Sheryl is an award-winning visual artist living in Ottawa, Ontario. On her websites, she says that she tries to present the objectivity of her subjects, taking advantage of illusionistic depth and emphasizing with paint a flattened three dimensional look. I’m an art-dummy, so I really have no idea what that means. But it’s apparently the hallmark quality of the Photorealism Art Movement that began in the United States in the late 1960s.


“I became fascinated with these techniques 35 years ago when studying under the famous American painter, Tom Blackwell,” Sheryl writes. For many years, she stayed true to water based pigments, until one day when she developed a special technique of mixing acrylic and water-color paint with granulating medium to promote a distinctive grainy effect. She’s quite the perfectionist in her work, striving for tight details and precision, especially on architectural elements. She uses an airbrush when suggesting motion and for fading images into the background.


The paints she mixes may be different, but Sheryl’s drafting and painting methods are quite classical in nature. “ My drafting and painting methods are grounded in classical formulae,” she says. “I work in dry brush style using a pointillist technique of lying different colored dabs of paint side by side and by glazing with thin translucent layers of single color one on top of the other.”


Now that you know a little bit about her, try staring at some of her works and try to identify what sets them apart from actual photographs. I couldn’t find anything.




For more incredibly realistic paintings, check out Sheryl Luxemburg’s official website.

Photos © Sheryl Luxemburg

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Feedback (4 Comments)

  • Allen Posted on May 8, 2014

    So whats the point, as a lifetime artist I have had to create some realistic art for clients, but I don’t see the point, why not just use a camera? These inspire nothing when looking at them, in fact I would walk right past them, as well as many other people I am sure.

  • mortimer zilch Posted on May 9, 2014

    not only do they LOOK like photographs, but they must necessarily be modeled/composed after real photographs. But paintings, like Monet’s garden series, that are modeled/composed on real life necessarily change the real life scene, modifying it thru the lens of the painter’s eye. However, it escapes me how Ms. Luxemburg’s paintings modify a photo…unless there was some piece of plastic debris on the street that she omitted, or a pigeon somewhere…. If there is NO artistic modification of a photo, then it definitely seems to lose value…unless I am missing something here? For example, I may be missing the value of IMAGE as, qua, image. By NOT BEING a photo but a display of craft, the work may have a greater value than I am tending to assign to it. Imagine a gallery presenting an apple, a photo of an apple, and one of Ms. Luxemburg’s paintings of an apple, one above the other in sequence.

  • Benny Posted on May 10, 2014

    The point is, while it may not show any artistic deviation or creation, it shows an incredible amount of skill. They created something that is nearly indistinguishable from a photo, using paint. That’s difficult as hell.

  • Tripchinaguide Posted on May 10, 2014

    So cool and unbelievable! It’s specially the first and the 4th painting.