Local Attractions: Beyond Our Doors


Welcome to our new blog series in which we will take you around our area.

What can we say about our quaint little community known as Old Town? Old Town is the historic center of the city of Alexandria, Virginia or as we like to call it, Extraordinary Alexandria. It’s a community filled with good food, high energy, historic significance, unique shopping, and vast amounts of art and culture. It’s only a few minutes outside of our nation’s capital and exhibits a life of its own. The people of Old Town are often on the lookout for exciting, interesting, and extraordinary activities. Locals are always willing to attend events centered around entertainment, delicious food, strong spirits, the arts, and good company. The local businesses, restaurants, galleries, institutions, and event venues host functions that bring tourists and locals into their spaces. There is always something worth attending here in Old Town, the surrounding neighborhoods, and Washington D.C.

A few examples:


Port City Brewing Company

  • Our nearby brewery, Port City, presents a variety of attractions, which highlight music, art, food, and their featured craft beers.
  • The local art center, the Torpedo Factory offers public attractions with various themes on the 2nd Thursday of every month, holds a number of art exhibitions in their Target Gallery, and many other featured events.


    Torpedo Factory Art Center


Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Our gallery resides on the central and most engaging street in Old Town, King Street. Therefore, it’s important for us to support surrounding businesses and remain in touch with our community. As a neighborhood business we want to draw attention to the local attractions in our area, attractions our visitors and audience will find to be relaxing, compelling, captivating, and enjoyable for everyone. We want to reach out, bring visitors into our space and beyond, which is why in addition to our gallery posts we will also be creating Local Attraction posts. This way visiting the Principle Gallery becomes more than simply a visit to an art gallery, but an overall dynamic experience in Old Town.


Principle Gallery, Main Exhibition Space

If you have any suggestions for posts or know of any events in our area, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Our exhibition page contains a listing of all of our upcoming events, so please feel free to share them with your friends! Our gallery space is available as a venue for your private or business events! If you’re interested in renting our space, please visit our rental page.


King Street: Photo courtesy of Visit Alexandria



G.C. Myers at Principle Gallery Tomorrow (9/8/12)

Over the Blues, a new piece by G.C. Myers

Excitement is in the air at Principle Gallery as we prepare for the G.C. Myers talk we are hosting tomorrow.  Our doors will be open during Old Town Alexandria’s Festival of the Arts Saturday September 8th through Sunday the 9th. At 1pm on Saturday, G.C. Myers will be here in person to discuss his artwork and inspiration, and he will be free answer any questions you may have.

Myers’ Artist Talk is following on the heels of his exhibit at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY.  His solo show titled Internal Landscapes will remain up until December 31st, so if you have a chance to visit, there is still time!

You can read G.C. Myers’ thoughts on the exhibit at Fenimore here.  And, please, come visit G.C. Myers tomorrow at 1pm and see beautiful Old Town Alexandria at the street fair while you’re here.

Face Off: Q&A Session

Friday nights Face Off was a smashing success! We are so thankful to our wonderful artists, Mia, Rachel, Cindy, & Terry, our beautiful model Jen, and all the wonderful people who came out to support them!

Painting Session

The artists worked in 20-minute sessions of painting, followed by 5-minutes of questions. We realize trying to fit all your questions in six 5-minute sessions is difficult, so for those who didn’t have a chance to get all their questions answered, we have compiled a list of the most asked questions from the night.

Question Session


Q: Why do you use a mirror when painting?

A: By looking at my paintings in the mirror, I am able to see the image in reverse. This helps me see the shapes more clearly and give me a fresh eye, since after about 30 minutes, my eyes start to think everything is correct on my painting. It also helps me see the model in a new way, in reverse.

Q: Where did you study?

A: I studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, then the Charles H. Cecil Studio in Florence, Italy. Since my return from Italy in 2005, I have attended multiple workshops, including one given by Joseph Todorovich.

Q: What type of paints are you using?

A: I use all types of brands for oil paints, including Windsor & Newton, Rembrandt, and Gamblin.

Q: What are you painting on?

A: I am painting on a handmade wooden panel available locally in Chattanooga, TN. It is a birch panel, with a poplar cradle, that has been primed with high quality gesso and a layer of oil.

Q: How old are you?

A: A lady never tells her age!



Q: How did you choose your composition?

A: This is a great question. I believe that the most important element of a painting is design, and that the most beautifully painted image falls flat without it. (One could even argue that with strong design technique becomes secondary, but that’s a separate conversation.)  Luckily for all of us, the moment Jen sat down in that blue kimono and turned her head, she became a painting. Every once in a great while a painting seems to paint itself, the composition is obvious and you just have to color it in. Jen emoted such elegance and that she really made it easy for me. In terms of composition, what struck me immediately was the lovely curve created by the slight tilt of her head, leading down to the kimono, then traveling down the swoop of her arm, through the curve of her wrist and down to her fingertips. Abstractly, that hand then draws you back into the picture, back to her profile.  My goal was to create an image that evoked a similar response to the one I felt by looking at her. I wanted to capture her GRACE.



Q: Is it hard painting in front of an audience?

A: A bit. I was totally fine during the first 20-minute session because I was concentrating so hard I was completely unaware of how many people had snuck in. When the first break was called, I stood and turned around, and was like WHOA! Where’d you guys come from?  I noticed my hands shaking a bit during the second session, but once I really started concentrating again, I was able to relax and get back into the zone. It helped immensely that everyone was talking and having a good time. Whispered conversations would have been very unsettling.

Q: Why do you have all your colors pre-mixed on your palette?

A: I mix strings of value and color ahead of time in order to simplify the painting process. I mix my palette the same way every time I paint a portrait, so just like a pianist develops muscle memory to know where the piano keys are, I know exactly where each color is on my palette without having to hunt for it, or having to mix a color on the fly. This allows me to concentrate on what I see in front of me and what’s happening on my canvas.



Q: Why are you looking in a mirror?

A: Because Mia does it! Not really but I did leave that trick from Mia. At home I always use a mirror. I actually haul my paintings into the bathroom so I can see the entire thing in reverse to see them with a fresh eye.

Q: Is that a wood panel?

A: Ampersand Gessobord stained with Rembrandt Burnt Umber.

Q: Is that really Lois Lane in your Fast Lane painting?

A: Yes. See her in the photo in the Superman (Call of Duty) painting?!

Q: What is your palette hooked to?

A: A contraption my husband Dan made that hooks to my easel. I like to see the paint in the same light as the painting. (When one of the ladies saw this she said “I want a Dan!”)

Terry and her palette contraption!

Thank you again to our wonderful artists, who gave their all Friday night, and a big thank you to everyone who came out to support them! Two of the paintings have already found wonderful homes and we hope the other two find homes soon!

All four finished pieces, left to right: Terry, Mia, Cindy, Rachel.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to pose your questions to the artists! Thank you again!

Two Toraks

Elizabeth Torak’s ‘The Feast of Venus I’ was the featured piece in a exhibition at the Elizabeth de C. Wilson Museum of the Southern Vermont Art Center. Elizabeth Torak – The Feast of Venus I: An Exploration of the Artist’s Process, was on display form July 23 – October 16, 2011. The exhibit was the culmination of years of work by Elizabeth in creating the beautiful 5′ x 9′ pieces that is currently being featured in our gallery. The exhibition included thirty-seven drawings and eight oil studies that went into the development of the finished product and “tell the story of the birth of a work of art.” During her process, Elizabeth blogged about her progress, including pictures, just to give everyone a bit of insight into the life of an artist!

Elizabeth Torak, ‘The Feast of Venus I’, 60 x 108, Oil on Canvas

In the traditional Feast of Venus, a voluptuous goddess is surrounded by dozens of frolicking men, women, and infants. However, Elizabeth’s version is

a celebration of women, a consideration of the relationship between women and food, and a meditation on the mystery of creativity.

The process also provided a great opportunity for her husband, Thomas Torak. He was able to paint a number of pieces of Elizabeth working. As ou can see, both Torak’s are extremely talented and we are lucky to have pieces from both of them in the gallery!

Thomas Torak, ‘Women in Art III: Painting the Feast’, 40 x 48, Oil on Canvas

Please stop by to see both Elizabeth and Thomas’ work in person!

New Talent: Teresa Oaxaca

We’re proud to announce our newest talent, Teresa Oaxaca! Her resume is quite impressive, especially at 24 years of age. She was classically trained at the Florence Academy of Art & Angel Academy of Art, studied at the studio of Odd Nerdrum, and keeps her skills sharp by attending classes with Robert Liberace.

This is only one of the four pieces we are currently showing. To see the rest, email us with interest or stop by!


‘Patrick’, 70 x 40, Oil on Canvas, 2012.

New Arrivals: Rett Ashby

Just last week, master frame maker and oil painter extraordinaire, Rett Ashby, sent us some beautiful examples of his work. Within a couple of days three of the pieces sold out of the window.

They’re even better in person, if you are able to stop by, please do!

“Indian Summer” – 12 x 16, Oil on Panel.

“Hog Hollow” – 12 x 29, Oil on Panel.

“White Wash” – 14 x 20, Oil on Panel.

“Standing Tall” 10 x 18, Oil on Panel, SOLD.

“Down in Valley” – 10 x 18, Oil on Panel, SOLD.

“Across the Way” – 10 x 20, Oil on Panel, SOLD.

Columbia, America By Another Name

Before there was America, there was Columbia. For much of our nation’s history, America’s alternative name, Columbia, was a byword for the shared values that united a diverse and fractious American society.

ImagePhotograph by Francis Smith

Gallery friend and talented photographer & filmmaker Francis Smith will grace Principle Gallery with his presence on Thursday, April 26th from 6-8pm for the inaugural fundraising party for his new project, American By Another Name.

ImageColumbian Press photograph by Francis Smith

In 2011, Francis began studying the use of the name Columbia throughout American history. Gaining inspiration from his roots, traced back to before the American Revolution, he found the name Columbia to be the connection between all of his ancestors. Whether it was Columbia, Tennessee, Columbia County, New York, or Columbia University, it seemed as though everyone could be linked with the word Columbia.

Francis’ interest in Columbia is not limited to just places that share the name, but rather the people who inhabit or are influenced by those places. He is exploring the name’s history and looking at contemporary American life in Columbia places. If you have a connection to the name Columbia and would like to participate in Francis’ research feel free to contact him here.

For more images that Francis has collected, in addition to updates about his search across America, visit his blog here or the Facebook page here.

ImageColumbia Township photography by Francis Smith

If his monthly work in American Art Collector and American Fine Art is any indication of his multimedia project to come we cannot wait to see what he has to show us. Check out some of his work here and here.

To get more information about the fundraising event or if you wish to attend, please RSVP on the America By Another Name event page.

If you are unable to attend the event but would still like to make a tax-deductible donation, please click here.

America By Another Name is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.