Stunning Patterned Paintings Actually Have Hidden Faces Within Them

A Collection Of Nine Multicolored Abstract Portrait Paintings By Lee Wagstaff

At first glance, it would be easy to mistake Lee Wagstaff’s work for abstract, geometric paintings. But upon closer inspection—or in this case, farther inspection—it becomes clear that each of his oil paintings features a portrait of a human face staring back at the viewer. Remarkably, the portrait remains hidden until the viewer either squints or takes a step back.

This optical illusion is simple but wildly effective. Wagstaff relies on slight tricks to hide the faces in his paintings, often thickening and darkening the lines around the outline of the visage to give the impression of depth and shadow. By doing this, the viewer's eyes are instantly drawn to the change, and this causes them to notice as the eyes, a nose, and a mouth begin to take shape. In some of his multicolored pieces, Wagstaff relies on light colors to outline the shape of the face and darker colors to fill in the remaining negative space.

The human brain is naturally good at recognizing patterns and symmetry, which is why your eye is subconsciously drawn to these details in Wagstaff's work. This is definitely a case where you need to get the full picture, which is why putting some distance between yourself and the paintings can help you identify the presence of the faces more clearly. As for the subjects of his art, Wagstaff actually turns to AI to come up with human figures. Each AI-generated face is then painstakingly painted by the artist into these illusionary portraits.

You can purchase prints and original paintings through Wagstaff's online store. To keep up with his work, you can follow the artist on Instagram.

Artist Lee Wagstaff's oil paintings use optical illusion to conceal faces that aren't visible until you take a step back.

Red Geometric Abstract Painting With Hidden Face

Black And White Wavy Geometric Abstract Painting With Hidden Face
Brown Geometric Abstract Painting With Hidden Face

He achieves this level of illusion by thickening and darkening the lines of his patterns around the face.

Blue And White Geometric Abstract Painting With Hidden Face
Black And White Geometric Abstract Painting With Hidden Face
Black And Purple Geometric Abstract Painting With Hidden Face

In his multi-colored pieces, Wagstaff uses lighter colors to outline the face and darker colors to surround it.
Red, Blue, And Purple Abstract Geometric Painting With Hidden Face
Multicolored Geometric Abstract Painting With Hidden Face

In addition to repeating geometric patterns, Wagstaff also uses more complex designs to hide the faces.

Painting Of Blue And White Angels With Hidden Face
Purple And Dark Blue Painting With Floral Wallpaper Design And Hidden Face

Lee Wagstaff: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Lee Wagstaff.

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Sarah Currier

Sarah Currier is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Based in central Iowa, she is currently enrolled at Iowa State University and is working toward a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in English. She loves all things creative, and when she’s not writing, you can find her immersed in the worlds of television, film, and literature.
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