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Combining Your art with Diorama Making

The world of diorama making can often be thought of as something for kids to make. While it is true that diorama making is perfectly suited for children it can also be a tremendously rewarding pursuit for adults and in particular for adults with artistic inclinations.


And to make a diorama really well you need a certain amount of artistic ability - it is a recreation, or sometimes a creation, of a miniature world - and to do this well you need to develop the eye and the hand for it.

And this thought about art brings me to the point of this little project on dioramas. What if you are already an artist and you want to combine this skill with the art of making dioramas? Painting and dioramas go very well together and I have some sample work here from an established artist that is expanding his artwork into the realm of dioramas. Along with a nice tutorial he has put together.


Breakwater Triptychch Picture courtest and copyright the artist

Our Artist for this tutorial is Philip E. McCurdy

He has a studio in Maine and he paints seascapes of the Maine and Nova Scotia coastlines, predominantly in acrylics.But he doesn't just paint seascapes, he exercises creativity in taking them to another level.

The painting you see here on the left is a triptych of paintings. When hung correctly, it projects three "views'' -- looking down when entering the water; looking out ahead to the breakwater; and looking up to birds and clouds in the sky -- the divisions between the canvasses seem to disappear.

Are you beginning to see how your art skills can very well be transformed into a three dimensional work of art in the form of a diorama, shaodowbox, or something different?

But this is not as far as it can go. You can really integrate the two disciplines by making the painting itself become three dimensional with a little bit of trompe l'oeil work (trick of the eye).

And the artist shows this in another work where he attached real stones and pieces of styrofoam right to the painting. This makes it three dimensional and when done well you cannot tell where the added bits end and the painting begins - thus the trick of the eye.


Guest Artist Tutorial on Making a Unique Diorama or Shadow box using Trompe L'oeil

Storm Spume Diorama




Another creative variation by the artist

This is called the Prufrock Diorama and it is painted and carved on Balsa wood. It is another good example of combining skills to find unique ways to display your art.


A Bit about the artist Philip E. McCurdy

He has a studio in Maine where he paints seascapes full time and has his works placed in two galleries and local art association shows. His work is available for sale and you can see his work and learn more about it on his website at: Sea Scapes by Pem


Want to see a larger version of a Maine Seascape that uses these techniques of blending a painting with natural items? This image is called Maine Rockscape Diorama

You can also contact him directly by email at: pem@panax.com

© Philip E. McCurdy
PO Box 2059
Ogunquit, ME 03907


A Note about this tutorial and the pictures: These are all copyright © Philip E. McCurdy and he has given permission to this website to use them. Please do not copy any of these materials without his express permission. Send him an email and ask!