How to Frame Art: An Angled Approach

How to Frame Art: An Angled Approach

Apart from displaying contemporary art from around the world, Principle Gallery also offers custom framing services. We house a great number of mat and framing samples for your convenience as well as provide professional advice on how to best frame your artwork. To give you some inspiration before your visit, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when framing artwork:


Though this is a blog all about how to frame, sometimes it’s not necessary to frame at all. There are some instances where it is best not to frame, for the piece is best represented on its own.

  • GALLERY WRAP: When a painting is referred to as being “gallery-wrapped,” it means the canvas is secured to the back of the stretcher bars, concealing staples and other hardware from view. Most contemporary artists implement this mount to fully encompass the canvas with the artwork, often times having the painting continue onto the sides of the piece.
    • SUGGESTION: For gallery-wrapped paintings, we suggest not to frame them and to let the piece hang on its own.
    • EXAMPLE: Works by Lynn Boggess and Geoffrey JohnsonDSC_0855
  • ON BOARD OR PANEL: As in most cases, paintings on thin boards and panels are framed. However, some pieces have finished or painted sides, are box mounted, or are on thicker boards, ultimatley giving them a simple, contemporary look.
    • SUGGESTION: In this case, we recommend not putting a frame on the piece in order to highlight the work’s natural finishings.
    • EXAMPLE: Works by Laura Pritchett and Lisa Noonis



The trickiest part of the framing process is choosing a frame. Although there are no rules for picking a frame, you should still remember that the artwork has the last say. The frame should not outshine the artwork, but enhance it!

Here is an example of how the appearance of an artwork is changed by selecting the right or wrong frame:

Glakas Collage

As you can see, the style of the piece and frame can affect how the art is portrayed. For this example of Gavin Glakas‘ 6th Avenue, 21st Century, the ornate gold frame does not quite fit the art’s subject matter or style; whereas, the other two frames follow the contemporary, modern concept represented in the art. The middle frame is an “okay” choice because it is modern in appearance, but the frame distracts from the actual artwork due to the mismatching color.


In this case, we would suggest picking the black or silver floater frame due to the chic, contemporary quality it brings to the piece. The frame’s simple, professional look allows for the artwork’s versatility in any interior all the while drawing more attention to the art as opposed to the frame.

Generally, contemporary works look best in a floater frame and classical pieces look better in traditional, ornate frames. But again, it depends on your style and the frame in mind! Mix-matching frames with artwork is always a fun, creative way to add a little more flare to the artwork and your interior!



Glass is the last feature to think about when framing your work, more specifically anything on paper. Typically, glass is used to protect paper media and works that are extremely fragile when in the presence of dust or light. Though this is an added feature, we do suggest considering glass with your frame in order to extend the longevity of your art and enhance its display.


There is a variety of glass to choose from that can help with aspects from conservation to reflection control. Museum Glass, for example, will adequately prevent glare as well as protect the work from UV light. The choice of glass depends on the type of frame and your style preferences as well!



Principle Gallery offers professional advice and framing services at the Alexandria location. We house a wide variety of framing samples and mats that are both affordable and current with artistic trends. Come stop by that gallery anytime with whatever you want framed, and we will be glad to help!



Feel free to stop in the gallery or contact us to make an appointment by clicking this link! And make sure to mark your calendar for the opening of Gavin Glakas‘ Solo Exhibition on Friday, October 14th and his live demonstration the next day!



Face Off IV:Recap

Face Off IV:Recap

For those of you who were unable to make our Face Off exhibition and live demonstration on Saturday, we had a great turnout for both the audience and artwork! Elizabeth Floyd, Cindy Procious, and Mia Bergeron were the participating artists who painted portraits of, artist and friend of the gallery, Tom Mewborn.


Left to right: Mia Bergeron and Tom Mewborn

Before Saturday, the artists were given images of Mewborn to practice proportions and skin tones in advance. Then on the day of the event, each artist prepared their panels for the 3-hour demonstration in their own way. Mia Bergeron, for example, used a view finder and mirror to visualize the dimensions of Mewborn’s profile.


Pictured: Artist, Cindy Procious

After painting an initial layer of paint on the panels, the artists prepared their painting palettes with an assortment of colors. The artists placed the primary colors around the palettes’ edge to have the ability to mix the paint in the center; this technique allowed for an array of colors at the artists’ disposal.

When the event started, each artist made quick linear strokes to create the outline of the model’s face. With the guidelines of his facial features in place, the artists gradually applied paint according to the color variations of his skin and hair then filled in the different spatial planes of his profile. In due time and with great precision, the paintings came to life.


Only having five-minute breaks throughout the duration of the demonstration, the artists’ endurance proved successful, each producing beautiful renditions of Mewborn’s portrait. The ability of a camera’s facial recognition to identify the portraits as a living person is also evidence of each artists’ expertise.


Pictured left to right: Elizabeth Floyd (artist) and Tom Mewborn (model)

If you would like to see more live demonstrations, our next similar event is the day after Gavin Glakas’ solo exhibition on Friday, October 14th. His live painting demonstration will be on Saturday, October 15th. To see our other upcoming events and the works from the Face Off exhibition, please click this link for our homepage!

Face Off Collage draft

The Principle Gallery would also like to thank Tom Mewborn for offering his time for this event as well as Cindy, Mia, and Elizabeth who gave us the opportunity to see their talent in action!

From Gilpin to Gallery: The History of 208 King Street

When the Potomac River’s tide engulfed most of modern day Union Street in the 1790’s, George Gilpin built and owned the building where Principle Gallery currently resides. Having sliced into the nearby cliff, Gilpin used the surrounding clay and stone for the foundation of the 208 King Street location. He would then use this building as a place for daily living and business matters.

Gilpin House Plaque

Apart from being an innovative engineer, Gilpin was also a man of many hats. He was the collector of customs, a member of the Fairfax Committee of Safety, a soldier in the Revolutionary troops with George Washington, and the husband of Martha Washington’s cousin. His connections to leading officials, through business and marriage, elevated his importance within the Alexandrian community to the point where he was later promoted to the town surveyor. In such a position, he was responsible for producing a contemporary map of Alexandria’s shoreline as well as cutting down the bluffs and the grading that eventually provided the landfill off of Lee Street.


While at the 208 King Street address, Gilpin would conduct business concerning the future of Alexandria in the back rooms that still remain to this day. It has also been said that Gilpin would help sell products from George Washington’s Mount Vernon distillery in the building as well.

Brick Room 2015

In more modern times, the King Street location was previously the Gilpin Book Store where many Alexandrians spent their time perusing books and newspapers. After 20 years of business, Gilpin Book Store closed its doors, allowing for Principle Gallery to move from its Cameron Street site onto King Street. To learn more about Principle Gallery’s history and previous location, click this link!

Though little is known about the preceding owners, the Gilpin House still retains its architectural qualities and historic character from when George had first built it. Principle Gallery welcomes you to explore the fascinating history behind the building and, of course, see some beautiful artwork as well!





Rental Space at Principle Gallery


Have you been wanting to plan a special event, but been looking for the perfect location? Do you need a space for a reception or personal/corporate celebration?  Well, Principle Gallery is a gorgeous historic building filled with amazing art and we are more than happy to help you host your special occasion at an affordable cost!

Gallery Floor Plan Full

With the original architecture of a Revolutionary War era townhouse and storefront, your guests will be welcomed into a heartwarming yet sophisticated environment. We offer five gallery rooms for you to host your event with a maximum occupancy of 160 guests. Some of the space’s features include original hardwood floors, a modern pyramid skylight, dimming track and brass candelabra lights. Renters are also welcomed to use a fully-equip kitchenette with electric stove, microwave, and refrigerator.

Click this LINK to take a virtual tour of the gallery!

As for scheduling, the gallery will only be available for evening events, granted another scheduled event is not planned. Our affordable rental rates do vary based upon the day and will include cleaning costs. Caterers, photographers, and bartenders are also permitted within the gallery for the event.

Front of gallery rehearsal dinner

Please contact the gallery for more information. We will be able to provide you a floor plan, rates, space details, and more!


How to Light Artwork: Bright Ideas

After following our tips on how to hang your artwork, next is to learn how to light it properly. From conserving the piece to making it look the best, lighting has a huge effect on how artwork is displayed. Here are just a few tips that will help with the longevity of your piece all the while flaunting its beauty.

Rosemberg lighting RIGHT

Alejandro Rosemberg, “Autumn Series – Painting No. 1”


Light fixtures can determine how your piece is conserved as well as how the overall display is achieved. To begin with, let’s look at which type of lighting system is best for your work.

  • TRACK LIGHTING OR RECESSED CANS: These two types of light fixtures are the best due to their flexibility and professional look.
    • Track lighting is the preferred method, typically used within a gallery setting, because of its maneuverability along the track and adjustable heads.
      • NOTE: This method of lighting is used when lighting a whole wall as well as drawing attention to the details of a piece.
    • If looking for a clean look without noticeable fixtures, recessed cans are the best option. Try to find ones with adjustable heads to provide more flexibility.
      • NOTE: This system is suggested for larger pieces for it provides an even light intensity with its equidistant fixture heads.
  • PICTURE LIGHTS: If you’re not willing to completely renovate your house to light your art, we suggest buying picture lights that hang above the piece. Though they are not as flexible and may cause more damage due to its close proximity to the piece, picture lights are the most affordable fixture that still provide professional, appropriate lighting.
  • LIGHT BULBS: Light bulbs are obviously the most essential part of lighting a piece. The type of bulb you use will prevent fading, cracking, and much more.
    • HALOGEN: Halogen lamps are not really suggested, but they can still be used if placed at a safe distance and are equip with UV filters.
    • LED: These bulbs are highly recommended because they do not emit UV and have little heat.




Once you have decided which light fixture fits best with your artwork and space, now is the time to adjust the light’s direction and intensity.

  • LIGHT PLACEMENT:  The following tips are geared towards light fixtures that are adjustable, but if you have another type of lighting system, still keep these in mind when lighting the art.
    • DOWNLIGHT: You will want to downlight the piece instead of uplighting it – uplighting is generally used for furniture and larger media.
    • LIGHT ANGLE: This is when hanging and lighting art have similar installation methods. The light should hit the piece at 30 to 45 degrees, which should be around 60″ from the floor or the center/eye-level point.

Below is Jeremy Mann’s “A Long Abandoned Dream” lit correctly (left) and incorrectly (right). The left displays the proper degree to which the light should be adjusted, hitting key focal points of the piece; whereas, the piece on the right is incorrectly lit due to the light fixtures pointing above and around the art.


  • LIGHT INTENSITY: From light fixtures that can dim or a sunny room, there are a few different ways to illuminate your work.
    • LIGHTING RULE: A “rule” to keep in mind is to have the piece three times brighter than the rest of the room.
    • NATURAL LIGHT: It is suggested that paintings are not hung in direct natural light because the UV and infrared radiation can harm to the art. Instead, place the piece on a north-facing wall or one that has indirect lighting for an optional lighting solution.


We hope these tips have enlightened you about the lighting process! Stay updated with our blog and social media accounts to find more “How To” posts and make sure to #PGHowTo on Instagram/Facebook to tell us about how our blog has helped you with the art in your space!

Remember, our #PrincipleAtHome social media posting contest is still going on until the end of July – view this link to learn more!




Jeremy Mann’s New Book!

mann vol 1-3 release

Jeremy Mann is a world renowned artist and one of our most sought-after painters. 2016 has been a big year for him; in addition to a documentary about his life and work being released this year, we are thrilled to announce that Jeremy has also had another book published! This book focuses on Jeremy’s plein air landscape painting. Here’s a bit of the description from Jeremy himself about the book’s contents:

“The book is a 6 x 9 inch wide, 176pg, hardcover book which comes in two editions, the regular edition and the Collector’s Edition. The majority of the book is comprised of practically an exact duplication of the sketchbook in which I’ve painted my plein air studies from life throughout the last several years at home and abroad in Europe.  Following this is a section of selected plein air paintings which were done on panels during the same time, and now hang in my home, none of which have ever been exhibited.  The book then ends with a few pages of film photography from the journey, as well as a few digital images of myself and others painting, an index of locations, a page of publishing info, and lastly a few environment sketches from life from other sketchbooks.”

This book will be available in TWO VERSIONS, both available in limited quanities! The regular edition, as described above, will be priced at $40 USD.

There will also be a limited available number of the collector’s edition book, which includes an ORIGINAL PLEIN AIR LANDSCAPE by Jeremy permanently bound within the book! The collector’s edition will also have a special cover and come packaged in a fine quality clamshell box. This version will be priced at $600 USD and we will have a very LIMITED QUANTITY available!

Call the gallery at 703.739.9326 to reserve your copy TODAY!

Please note: We are able to ship these books, even internationally, but cannot estimate shipping costs for you until we know the specific delivery address.

Mann Plein Air

UPDATE! “Root to Bloom” Prizes

UPDATE! “Root to Bloom” Prizes

As many of you know, we have an open call for entries until Wednesday, September 28th for our juried exhibition, “Root to Bloom: The Places Artists Call Home.” Gallery staff and guest juror, Teresa Oaxaca, will be selecting submitted works to feature in the gallery and the show will be opening Friday, November 11th. New to the call is the addition of prizes and recognitions! On the show’s opening night, we will be announcing a number of awards for distinguished works and artists!

Twitter Header Gandy1


  • Best In Show: A monetary prize of $1,200
  • Second Place: A monetary prize of $500
  • Third Place: A monetary prize of $300
  • Social Media Award: An award identifying the work most liked on our Facebook
  • Gallery Visitors’ Choice Award: An award recognizing the favorite of gallery visitors

More valuable prizes and recognitions will be announced later, so stay tuned!

If you’re an artist or know an artist, please refer to our call for entries page on our website to submit works. This page also describes how to submit works as well as other guidelines. Please feel free to contact the gallery if you have any questions or if you or your organization would like to partner with us to reward participating artists!