Exhibition Opening & Live Painting Demo with Valerio D’Ospina and Greg Gandy

A huge thank you to everyone who came out last night to the incredible opening reception for our current exhibition, a dynamic two-man show featuring Valerio D’Ospina and Greg Gandy!We were also incredibly honored to host a live painting demo with Valerio this afternoon! It was so exciting to see such a unique, energetic style of painting forming a finished artwork right in front of our eyes! With such a vigorous painter, though, we had to set up carefully– and warn the guests about the “splash zone”!

Thank you to everyone who attended today, and to those who watched our live stream of the event via our YouTube channel! From the first confident, gestural strokes, it was clear this was going to be a painting full of the classic Valerio D’Ospina energy and movement!

And the finished product is now drying here at the gallery, but it is available for purchase, along with the many other excellent works from the two-person exhibition! If you haven’t yet, be sure to check it out on our website or better yet, stop by in person to take in all the dazzling detail!

We’ll be having another opening reception and live painting demonstration next month with figurative artist Casey Childs. Don’t miss another one of our exciting events! Make sure you’re on our mailing list, email us at info@principlegallery.com to sign up for text alerts, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest news and announcements!


TOMORROW! Selling Orphans — Redtree Times

Yeah, you read that right, I’m willing to sell off some orphans. Don’t worry, I’m not really a heartless bastard. I’m talking about a handful of my paintings that have shuffled around the country over the years and somehow found their way back to the studio. I consider these paintings my orphans. There is a […]

via Selling Orphans — Redtree Times

Technique Tuesday: Allusion

What is it?

Today’s “Technique Tuesday” post is another good example of the way we’d like to use this series to delve into aspects of fine art that go beyond very literal, physical techniques of applying paint to canvas. While fascinating and important, those only describe a few of the many facets that go into the way that artists visually communicate with the viewer. Just as the use of paint in certain ways (impasto, glazing, multi-loaded brush) adds to the way a painting communicates, so do less physical and more conceptual techniques, like bokeh, atmospheric perspectiveand positive and negative spaceStill further, and perhaps most obviously, the subject matter of the painting often does a great deal of communicating as well. Today’s “technique” is an incredibly prevalent one throughout the history of art: allusion!

Allusion is a term that is typically applied to a literary device which involves a passing reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance, without describing it in detail. Literary allusion draws on a stock of knowledge that the author expects the reader will already have, in order to give a context through which the reader will instantly understand the work more fully. (Some more succinct examples: if an author references someone’s “Achilles heel,” and the reader is familiar with the mythology of Achilles, the reader instantly understands that this is a reference to someone’s one weakness. If someone references a nose growing like Pinocchio’s, the reader instantly understands that this references the telling of lies, as in The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio’s nose grew whenever he told a lie.)

Let’s take a look at the way that allusion has been used as a technique in visual art, as well!

Examples in art history:

Paintings with Biblical Allusions: (left) Rembrandt van Rijn, “Storm on the Sea of Galilee”; (right) Caravaggio, “The Conversion of St. Paul”

Narrative storytelling is one of the oldest purposes of the visual arts. During the Renaissance, this became an especially important function of art, as the Christian Church began to use paintings to educate a largely illiterate public about the stories of the Bible, and commissioned countless religious paintings and frescoes portraying a vast variety of moments from the Bible. As European art continued to develop, allusion began to be used more and more frequently. Whether Biblical allusion, allusion to Greek and Roman mythology, or literary allusions, these references help to deepen the viewer’s understanding of what the painting seeks to communicate.

Paintings with Mythological Allusions: (left) Sandro Botticelli, “Primavera”; (right) Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Persephone”

Paintings with Literary Allusions: John William Waterhouse, (left) “Miranda” referencing Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” and (right) “Morgan Le Fay” referencing the legends of King Arthur.


Examples from Principle Gallery:

(left to right) Geoffrey Johnson, “Tower of Babel”; Cindy Procious, “Plastic Paradigm III”; Terry Strickland, “The Seamstress”

Now and then, paintings containing allusion will come through the gallery. Sometimes the allusions are Biblical scenes, such as in Geoffrey Johnson’s “Tower of Babel,” and sometimes they’re a reference to something from pop culture, like the Barbie doll in Cindy Procious’s “Plastic Paradigm” series or the Superman logo in Terry Strickland’s “The Seamstress.”

Never before this month, however, has an exhibition here at the gallery been so full of artworks containing allusion! Robert Liberace’s solo exhibition, currently on display, is an amazing collection of paintings and drawings showcasing the artist’s astounding skill at depicting the human form. And, in learning the inspirations and the names of these pieces of artwork, the viewer learns that many of them are mythological and literary allusions! Take, for example, these pieces from Robert’s “Don Quixote” inspired series:

“Visions of Adventure”

“Knight of La Mancha”


How do you think the references to the classic novel change the way the artwork communicates, and the viewer’s understanding of it? Consider the same with these images of mythological figures Atlas and Orpheus:



To view the entirety of Robert Liberace‘s current exhibition and explore all of the allusions contained, stop by the gallery soon or check out our website here!


Robert Liberace: The “Living Master”

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The Studio of Robert Liberace

As an artist, Robert Liberace expresses the human body in way that would make the Old Masters proud. His interest in art history, anatomy, and technique are so obviously presented in his work. However, his artistic talent isn’t the only skill that has encouraged the title “living master.” Liberace is also a fantastic and world renowned art instructor. He captivates his students with his insightful lessons and valuable pieces of advice. He refers to individual muscles by name as he captures them on the canvas. He is absolutely adored by art students and art lovers from around the world.


Robert Liberace’s Live Painting Demo, August 2017

We were able to witness, first hand, the immense following Liberace has established for himself when he presented a Live Painting Demonstration, last Friday in the gallery. We welcomed a young woman named Shelly, who had never modeled before, to be the artists subject. Liberace set up his easel, prepared his paints, then began his creative process. He had Shelly move into a few different poses until he found the perfect one. As the night progressed Shelly’s features became more and more prominent on the canvas.


Start of Demo



After the first fifteen minutes






Shelly’s defined jawline and beautiful hair became recognizable in less than fifteen minutes. Another noteworthy feature of Shelly was her well applied makeup. She wore a combination of shimmered eye shadows and completed her look with a dark purple lipstick. Such a look was definitely something new for the artist, but it was something he didn’t shy away from. Liberace grabbed a thinner brush to express her eye makeup and the deep purple color of her lipstick. He matched the color perfectly. DSC_0146


The crowd watched as the artist developed a spectacular piece and led them through his process. Liberace engaged with his audience by describing the materials he used, how to create certain details, and how to paint the human body.

Meanwhile, other guests mingled, enjoyed the refreshments, and took in the incredible new exhibition featured in the front room of the gallery. Live painting demonstrations are such fun and exciting events, and we encourage anyone in the area to come and join us when we’re able to host them! Mark your calendars, because next month, after the opening of the two person exhibition for Valerio D’Ospina and Greg Gandy, Valerio will be treating us to a live painting demonstration on Saturday afternoon, September 23rd, from 1-4 PM!

To check out a time-lapse video of the Robert Liberace demonstration, check out our latest upload on YouTube here!

If you can, do stop by the gallery in the next couple of weeks to see the Robert Liberace exhibition– his works are just breathtaking in person! To make sure you’re up to date on all the latest news about exhibitions and events at the gallery, like live painting demonstrations, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter by filling in the “contact” form on our website here!

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


Principle Gallery and Alexandria’s Rich History

When you make a visit to Old Town Alexandria, and to Principle Gallery in particular, you are walking in the footsteps of some of early America’s most historically significant figures. We are amazed and humbled to be immersed in the area’s vibrant history in this way, and we’re incredible excited to share with you a brief piece written by Edward Moser, historian, author, and operator of Tours of Old Town. Please enjoy! See the end of the post for links to both Edward’s tours and his two books!

The Principle Gallery and Alexandria’s Rich History
by Edward Moser

The Principle Gallery is in the middle of everything an art, architecture, and history lover could want.

Just down King Street from it is the Torpedo Factory, a World War One, and Two, munitions factory now transformed into artist studios where visitors can watch sculptors and painters conjure up their creations in their own places of work. Across King St. from it is the imposing tobacco and ship sail warehouse, now a Starbuck’s, of George Washington’s military aide, Colonel John Fitzgerald. He and George co-endowed the nearby St. Mary’s Church, the first Catholic cathedral in the American South, and resting place of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution.

A half block up King St. is the tourist information center, once the house of Alexandria magnate William Ramsey. He moved this former mansion by barge along what was then the Potomac River, now King St. landfill, and deposited his abode by crane at that spot! Across the street is the Market Square and City Hall, designed by Benjamin Latrobe, the architect of the original U.S. Capitol Building. Except for its far side, which burned down in 1871, and was rebuilt by Adolph Cluss, the architect of D.C.’s Smithsonian Castle and the National Portrait Gallery. At the meeting hall of City Hall, George Mason dreamed up something called the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Across from it is the Carlyle House mansion, the real-life setting of the recent Civil War-era TV series, Mercy Street.

Then there’s the Principle Gallery itself, built and inhabited by another colonel of Washington’s revolutionary Army, George Gilpin. He was something of a Renaissance Man. Just before the Revolution he served on the local Committee of Public Safety, the Virginia equivalent of the Minutemen militia. He fought with valor at the major battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania, around the time of Valley Forge.

After the war he helped run the port of Alexandria, then one of the nation’s busiest, and backed Washington’s plans to build a canal from Georgetown to Alexandria, the Potomack Canal, later the C&O. He was a member of Washington’s masonic lodge, now marked by the soaring George Washington Masonic National Memorial at the other end of King St. President Thomas Jefferson appointed him as a court officer involved in aiding the town’s widows and orphans.

Gilpin was part of the effort to lay the boundary stones of the new capital city of Washington, which until 1846 included the town of Alexandria. One of these stones, laid by African-American surveyor Benjamin Bannecker, remains near the Wilson Bridge one mile to the south. Also a farmer, Gilpin sold G.W. the tons of corn he used for his whiskey distillery, recently reconstructed, at Mount Vernon, and also was the largest single purchaser of the spirits.

Most importantly, Gilpin was a cousin of a wealthy, charming, and keenly intelligent widow, Martha Dandridge Custis—and introduced her to George Washington, her future husband. George Gilpin and George Washington were friends for decades: G.W. would often dine and stay over at the Gilpin house. Gilpin was one of six pallbearers at Washington’s funeral, held at the imposing Christ Church a few blocks from here. That lovely English country church was designed by James Wren, a relative of Christopher Wren, the architect of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Gilpins and the Washingtons, as Virginia gentry, had fine tastes in the fine arts, and that tradition is proudly carried on by the Principle Gallery. If you like art and history, take the time to explore the historic and finely crafted Colonial and Federal era town homes and public buildings of Old Town. Then come inside our gallery to partake even more in the finer things in life.

Moonlit Night over Old Town Alexandria, VA by Craig Hudson Photography

Ed Moser is the operator of Tours of Old Town, found at meetup.com– click here for more information!

Ed is also the author of “A Patriot’s A to Z of America: Things Every Good American Should Know,” and “The Two-Term Jinx!: Why Most Presidents Stumble in Their Second Terms, and How Some Succeed- Volume 1, George Washington- Theodore Roosevelt.” Click on either title to purchase from Amazon!

Technique Tuesday: Surrealism

What is it?

Today we’re covering a fun topic that we’ve touched on somewhat before: Surrealism! Surrealism is an artistic and cultural movement that originated in Paris in the 1920’s, and established a genre that artists are still exploring today. The art historical movements of the early twentieth century are truly fascinating, but as this is just a blog post, I’ll do my best to give a brief explanation of Surrealism’s nascence. Following the first World War, an especially brutal experience for many countries around the world, a generation of both civilians and former soldiers were left disillusioned and emotionally scarred. Reality, which art had for so long sought after so desperately, was suddenly quite painful, and the opportunity to step back from that and explore a different, more internal world appealed to many creatives during this time. The field of psychology was also rapidly growing, and the theories of famous psychologists like Sigmund Freud, such as notions of the subconscious mind and dream analysis, were becoming widely known. Several French artists and writers were inspired by the idea that the subconscious contained answers to fix the broken world around them, and that representation of these ideas, so different from reality, could jar society out of some of the long-held beliefs and structures that had led to such damage. Therefore, these writers and artists began to create bizarre, illogical scenes that evoked aspects of dreams and un-reality and elements such as odd juxtaposition, strange changes of scale, and elements of pure fantasy.

Examples from art history:

One of the names that comes to everyone’s mind when Surrealism is mentioned is Salvador Dalí. Dalí was an eccentric Spanish painter whose combination of excellent, classically-based draftsmanship and bizarre, unsettling imagery has had a lasting impact on artists even today. Below are a few of Dalí’s best-known Surrealist works:

(left to right) Salvador Dalí, “Swans Reflecting Elephants,” “Caravan,” “The Persistence of Memory”

Many other artists, including writers, photographers, filmmakers, and musicians took part in the Surrealist movement, but the work of the Surrealist painters is what has arguably made the most lasting cultural impact. Here are a few more examples from artists Max Ernst and Rene Magritte:

(left to right) Max Ernst, “Napoleon in the Wilderness,” “The Elephant Celebes”; Rene Magritte, “The Lovers,” “Golconda”

While some Surrealist painters, like Ernst and Dalí, created images that were more fantastical, some, like Rene Magritte, painted oddly familiar, ordinary looking scenes that had a major twist to them, and often an unsettling one. This is one of the aims of Surrealism–to get you to think differently! For instance, we know that a mirror reflects what is in front of it, but what if that reality was twisted a bit? Well, this is a concept that has inspired some Principle Gallery artists, too!

(left) Rene Magritte, “Not to Be Reproduced”, (right) Louise Fenne, “Mirror Portrait No. 2”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

(left to right) Michele Kortbawi Wilk, “Who’s Afraid,” Laura E. Pritchett, “Projection,” Francis Livingston, “Mating Season”

Elements of Surrealism pop up in the work that we carry here at Principle Gallery, and it’s always a thrill to see the creativity these artists are expressing, as well as the reaction from the viewers. There are two artists who show primarily at our Charleston, South Carolina location who use elements of Surrealism quite often in their work– Karen Hollingsworth and Anna Wypych! Click any collage to see it larger!

(left to right) Karen Hollingsworth, “Depth,” “Voyagers,” “No Boundaries”


(left to right) Anna Wypych, “Sea Color,” “Steely Eyes,” “Giant Girl”

Check out these artists, and many more, on the website for Principle Gallery Charleston!


by Pamela Sommer