Technique Tuesday: Found Object Sculpture

What is it?

“Found object” art describes artwork that utilizes objects not conventionally designated as art supplies, and manipulates them, usually while keeping them still recognizable as their original form. In its early days, some found object sculptures did not even involve any manipulation of the object, but simply the artist designating that item, just as it was, as “art.” Throughout the history of found object art, it’s taken on a variety of manifestations, so let’s take a look!

Examples in art history:

Found object art really wasn’t something seen in the art world until the 20th century, and one of its very first incarnations was quite a controversial one. Dada, the avant-garde artistic movement that began about 1915 and flourished into the 1920’s, in many ways sought to challenge the conventional standards and definitions of art. One aspect of their movement was the promotion of the idea that anything could be art, and anyone could be an artist. Artists like Marcel Duchamp presented what he termed “readymade” sculptures, consisting of an object like a urinal or a bicycle wheel, mounted on some kind of pedestal, and labeled as “art.” It might go without saying that many art critics had conflicting responses to such a statement! Even after the age of Dada passed, found object artists continued to produce work throughout the 20th century, and their ranks included iconic names like Louise Nevelson, known for her found object “assemblages,” and Ai Weiwei, China’s most famous contemporary artist. Found objects have and continue to appear in a broad range of sculptures, from the more conceptual to some quite representational pieces.

(top row) Marcel Duchamp, “Bicycle Wheel”, 1916; Man Ray, “Object to Be Destroyed”, 1923; Pablo Picasso, “Bull’s Head”, 1942 — (bottom row) Louise Nevelson, “Royal Tide, Dawn”, 1960-64; Ai Weiwei, “Grapes”, 2011; Kyle Bean, “Which Came First”, 2011

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Sculpture is not something that we typically display much of at our Alexandria location, as our setup here is better suited in general toward displaying paintings. However, we came across a found object sculptor whose absolutely unique and charming work really caught our attention. When we were putting together an invitational figure show for February, David Lipson’s sculptures seemed as though they would be a fun and refreshingly different take on “figures” and we happily included him in the show. Check out the three sculptures that are part of this upcoming exhibition!

As you may be able to guess from their labels (originally old car dealership decals), these three delightful figures are called “Baxter,” “Mallory,” and “Ridley. Carefully and beautifully crafted from a variety of found objects, many of them vintage finds, these figures each reveal a stunning level of creativity and craftsmanship– on top of which, they just make you smile!

The “Bodies of Work” exhibition, which opens THIS COMING Friday, February 16th, contains a fantastic variety of figurative art. From highly photorealistic styles to gestural Impressionism, found object sculptures to Surrealist and Magical Realism paintings, oil on linen to mixed media on paper, there’s something in this show to fascinate every taste! If you’re in the area, please be sure to join us from 6:30 to 9 PM on Friday for the opening reception! And, as the digital preview of the show is available NOW, feel free to contact us at to receive a copy and get a sneak peek at this incredible collection of artworks!



Technique Tuesday: Magical Realism

Happy Tuesday! You may remember that not long ago we spent some time looking at the well-known movement called Surrealism. We’re going to be looking at a lesser-known “relative” of that movement today: Magical Realism.

What is it?

Magical Realism is a term that has been long-debated and is typically more frequently applied to literary rather than visual arts. Although glimpes of Magical Realism were seen in the art world prior to the invention of the term, it was first used by art critic Franz Roh in the late 1920’s to describe the changes that he was observing in art in the wake of Expressionism. The dawn of the 20th century, the upheaval of wars, the advancement of technology, and the changing world converged to produce several art movements that drifted further and further from strict Realism and into the realms of abstraction– for example, Expressionism, Dada, Cubism, Fauvism, Futurism, and more. The changes noted by Franz Roh, however, indicated that some artists were “reverting” to Realism again, though with an eerie, mysterious twist. While Surrealism focused on heavily psychological subjects (dreams, the subconscious, etc.), Magical Realism showed a mostly-recognizable reality, but in a way that added a sense of mystery, unease, or magic to that reality. Unlike Surrealism’s jarring juxtapositions and unsettling, even shocking, imaginary concepts, Magical Realism presented a mostly-believable world, with just a hint of mystery. Often, Magical Realism paintings included a sense of stillness, gravity, and heightened sharpness or detail, while also incorporating fantastical elements. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Examples from art history:

First, let me clarify that as many artists crossed back and forth between genres, Magical Realism has become a bit ambiguous in the eyes of some art historians. Many of the artworks of the early 20th century contained elements that could include them in multiple art movements. Here are several examples of artworks that many art historians classify as Magical Realism. Do you agree?

(top row) George Tooker, “Government Bureau” ; Salvador Dali, “Portrait of Gala”; Pyke Koch, “Resting Somnambulist IV” (bottom row) Diego Rivera, “Sunflowers”; Andrew Wyeth, “Spring”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

We’ve got a fantastic figurative exhibition coming up this February entitled “Bodies of Work,” and we’re thrilled about the variety of work in the show, including the many pieces with elements of Magical Realism! Take a look at some of these sneak peeks from the exhibition, and see if you think you’d qualify them as Magical Realism, Surrealism, or something else altogether! Be sure to shoot us an email at to request a digital preview of the show as soon as it’s available, if you’d like to be among the first to see this beautiful collection of artworks!

Stephen Early, “And Into the Forest I Go”

Nadezda, “Revanche”

Mark R. Pugh, “A Secret and a Locked Door”

Mark R. Pugh, “Autoportraitism”

Mark R. Pugh, “Novaturient”

Anna Wypych, “Too Sweet to Be Serious”

Gavin Glakas & the Unveiling of His Portrait of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe

Glakas Unveil

On Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 our artist Gavin Glakas unveiled his commissioned portrait of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at the Executive Mansion in Richmond. During the event, Gavin discussed his creative process, how we wanted to portray to the Governor, as well as a small hidden reference within the work. The artist began painting the piece in April of 2017 up until Friday, January 5th, 2018. Gavin certainly knows what it takes to create an exquisite work of art.

Glakas McAuliffe Portrait

Final Portrait of Governor Terry McAuliffe

Gavin wanted to successfully portray the Governor in the appropriate environment to convey his character. Therefore, the artist said: “When I first met Governor McAuliffe, he wanted to talk about issues – he wanted to talk about his work. So we decided to depict him in his office working, with open notebooks, paper strewn about and a pen lodged between his fingers.”

Governor McAuliffe is known for his hard work and his strong belief in politicians having some fun. As a result of his fun loving character Gavin chose to include a little hidden reference to one of Governor McAuliffe’s most memorable stunts… the time he wrestled an alligator. A young McAuliffe wrestled an 8 foot-long, 260 pound alligator for 3 minutes to assure a $15,000 contribution for President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 campaign. Thus, Gavin painted a little alligator on the Governor’s desk, which again confirms the artists close attention to detail.


This was the second major unveiling for the artist, in December of 2016, Gavin unveiled his portrait of Senator Harry Reid. The ceremony and portrait celebrated Senator Reid’s 30 years of service in office. Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were in attendance.


Portrait of Senator Harry Reid by Gavin Glakas

In addition, Gavin has been commissioned to paint portraits of other influential leaders and intellectuals. He was sought to do a portrait of Congressman, Ike Skelton, who sadly passed away in 2013. He also created portraits of Paul Berman, the Dean of George Washington University Law School and George J. Tenet, former Director of Central Intelligence.

We would like to congratulate Gavin on his huge accomplishment and honor. Now Governor McAuliffe’s legacy will remain preserved amongst the halls of the state Capitol. Congratulations Gavin!

If you would like to view more works by Gavin Glakas please click this link! If you have any questions or would like to have a piece commissioned by Gavin please don’t hesitate to contact the gallery.


Our Annual Small Works Exhibition

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Happy Holidays everyone! It’s hard to believe that we only have 1 full day left until Christmas! We’re sure everyone is feeling the last minute pressures of wrapping, family gatherings, and last minute shopping. Well first, lets all take a deep breath, go to a happy place, and talk about some art!

EARLY As Instincts Lie Dormant

“As Instinct Lies Dormant,” 19×20, oil on linen by Stephen Early – featured in Small Works 2017

Art can be a very personal and meaningful gift for a loved one. If can reflect their taste, unveil a particular memory, passions, or personality. Maybe you look at a piece of art and can’t help but be reminded of someone close to you. That’s what is so unique about out Annual Small Works exhibition. The exhibition contains works by a variety of artists, which focus on a variety of subjects. If someone you know loves figures, then Stephen Early may be an artists for them or maybe they love landscapes, then Bethanne Cople would be a spectacular choice. There truly is something for everyone featured in Small Works 2017 and we guarantee whoever you’re buying for will be absolutely thrilled!

COPLE Tho Tramping Neath a Winter's Sky

“Tho Tramping ‘Neath a Winter’s Sky,” 6×8, oil on paper by Bethanne Cople – featured in Small Works 2017

It has been such a delightful holiday season around here. We’ve been busy organizing exhibitions, receiving new works, and shipping pieces to their new homes. We had a spectacular time at our opening reception for Small Works, which took place on December 2nd. A variety of over 25 artists brought us over 100 paintings for the exhibition and everyone came out that Saturday afternoon to see what we were featuring this year.


Small Works Exhibition – 2017

Visitors enjoyed hot apple cider and tasty treats as they viewed the artwork. In addition, throughout the afternoon local artist Bethanne Cople presented a Live Painting Demonstration!


Artist Bethanne Cople painting her demo piece: “Meek Leaves Drop Yearly from Forest Trees”

Bethanne worked from two small studies surrounded by her brand new pieces she prepared solely for Small Works. She painted in increments and during her breaks she engaged with visitors, answering questions as well as taking pictures. She entertained everyone with her bubbly, enthusiastic, and positive spirit. She was an absolute delight to watch.


Guests watching Bethanne paint and some pulled out their sketchbooks to follow along

Bethanne Cople gave us the last painting demonstration of 2017! Throughout the year we had four live painting demonstrations and each one was sensational. In August we welcomed local artist Robert Liberace. In September we featured Philly based artist, Valerio D’Ospina. In October Utah based artist, Casey Childs came to see us, and lastly, but certainly not least Bethanne Cople in December! Each of these artists created stunning demo pieces for us and we’d like to say THANK YOU! We are beyond grateful for all of our artists, their hard work and determination to their craft.


From all of us here at the Principle Gallery, we wish you Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year! We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings!

Thank You Card

Technique Tuesday: Tondo

What is it?

Happy Tuesday! We figured today we’d “circle” (ha!) back around to a Technique Tuesday post and talk about the tondo! A tondo (plural “tondi”) is a term for a circular work of art, and comes from the Italian word “rotondo,” or “round.” While in many ways just like any other shape of artwork, the tondo still gives artists a unique challenge when it comes to creating the best composition and use of space within a circle, but the results are wonderful!

Examples from art history:

Round paintings date back as far as Ancient Greece, when a “kylix,” a vase or shallow wine glass, was frequently decorated with artwork. In the Italian Renaissance, the circular painting (and sometimes sculpture!) came back into fashion, and could be seen on dishes, plaques, medallions, etc. in addition to being framed works of fine art for the wall! One of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s most unique pieces was a tondo entitled “Holy Family” which he was commissioned to paint as a wedding gift, and which hangs today in the Uffizi in a magnificent frame of the artist’s own design. Though small, round paintings known as miniatures had been popular in England for a very long time, it was not until the 19th century that the tondo began to appear again in a large, full-size fine art format. Below we can see two examples from Victorian-era Pre-Raphaelite artists Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Let’s check out just a few examples of these circular works of art through the ages:

Top row: Sosias, “Achilles Tending Patroclus Wounded by an Arrow”; White-ground kylix found in a tomb at Delphi — Center row: Raphael, “Maddona della seggiola”; Michelangelo Buonarroti, “Holy Family” — Bottom row: Ford Madox Brown, “Last of England”; Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Belcolore”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Many artists today are experimenting with and celebrating circular works of art, and it so happens that we’ve had a few come into the gallery recently and some which will be included in upcoming shows! Let’s take a look!

Greg Gandy, “Old Car Pileup”

Greg Gandy, “Consumption”

Jeremy Mann, “SF 12”

Laura E. Pritchett, “Elsewhere”

To see the other amazing (though non-circular) artworks from Greg Gandy included in the show from September this year, check out Greg’s page on our website here! Join us Friday, November 17th as we open the fantastic solo exhibition for Jeremy Mann, including the amazing cityscape tondo shown above, and check out this lovely little Laura E. Pritchett work in the Small Works show, opening December 2nd! To be put on the list to receive a digital preview of each of these shows as soon as they are available, send us an email at!

Opening Night and Live Painting Demonstration with Casey Childs

Evening Harvest 72

“Evening Harvest,” 32×42, oil on linen by Casey Childs – on view now

Casey Childs’ solo exhibition, Relics opened this past Friday, October 20th and the artist returned yesterday, October 21st to present a Live Painting Demonstration. Casey Childs is primarily a portrait painter, who captures facial features, gorgeous flowing hair, and the human figure exquisitely. He brought us a variety of pieces, which everyone was excited to see for the first time Friday evening. Casey and his wife, Amanda, were in attendance, they mingled with visitors, and discussed his creative process. Opening night was a great success and we’d like to thank everyone who attended!


On Saturday afternoon Casey returned to the gallery for a Live Painting Demonstration! Our friend Joni Douglass sat as the model for the artist.


Joni Douglass and Casey Childs

Casey directed Joni how to pose and once he had her perfectly positioned, he began painting. The artist painted in oil upon a 16×12 linen fabric to create his portrait of Joni. It was incredible watching his piece transform throughout the afternoon and we applaud Joni for sitting patiently for a little over 3 hours!


As the artist worked he answered questions from the audience, broke down his process, and described the materials he was using. As the demo progressed Casey had captured Joni’s facial features perfectly, then it was time to paint her sparkly jewelry and those polychromatic feathers! DSC_0451

Those feathers were the final touch and then the piece was finito! Casey successfully expressed Joni’s beautiful features and unique accessories in the finished portrait.


We’d like to thank Casey Childs, Joni Douglass, and everyone who attended yesterday’s demo! We couldn’t have done it without all of you!


“Demo Portrait of Joni,” 16×12, oil on linen by Casey Childs

Come experience Casey Childs’ solo exhibition, Relics for yourself! The exhibition will be on view until November 15th! Stop in and see us!

Winter Wings 72

“Winter Wings,” 24×18, oil on linen by Casey Childs – on view now



Technique Tuesday: Rhythm

What is it?

Today’s Technique Tuesday post is taking a look at one of the Elements and Principles of Design, rhythm. This can be a tricky concept to wrap one’s mind around when talking about visual arts, but it is very applicable! In reference to audible sound and physical movement, rhythm involves a pattern of sounds and silences, movements and pauses, alternating and repeating, sometimes frenetic and sometimes very calm and slow.
The Elements and Principles of Design (line, form, color, pattern, rhythm, unity, etc.) are the building blocks of art, and when a piece of artwork is analyzed, these are the tools with which we can describe in words what makes an image successful, impactful, and visually pleasing. With every successful image, the eye is led. We’ll do a post soon explaining just what that means and how important it is in visual arts, but essentially it means that artists set up every element on their surface in such a way as to draw a viewer in and lead their gaze around on a certain path.
Rhythm, in reference to visual artwork, describes the way that the elements (line, color, value, composition) flow into one another. There is a movement to the way we experience the image. Thinking of this concept in musical terms is a fascinating and effective way to grasp the ideas more fully. Imagine that as you look at a painting, the movement of your eye results in audible sounds. Would the sequence of sounds be “legato”, a musical term referring to notes that slowly and easily flow into one another, or more “staccato”, which refers to abrupt changes and vivid contrast? “Hearing” the “music” of a painting helps the viewer appreciate more deeply the thoughtful way in which the artist arranged the elements of line, value, etc.

Examples from art history:

Take a look at these works painting by iconic artists throughout history, and try to imagine the sounds and rhythm created by the movement of your eye:

(top row, from left) Rene Magritte, “Golconda”; Henri Matisse, “The Dance”; Wifredo Lam, “The Jungle”; (bottom row, from left) James Abbott McNeill Whistler, “Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1”; Vincent Van Gogh, “Church at Auvers”; Johannes Vermeer, “Girl with a Pearl Earring”; Edward Hopper, “People in the Sun”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Two years ago, Principle Gallery held an exhibition featuring artists Valerio D’Ospina and Greg Gandy, and titled the show “Tempo and Pause”– this was indeed a reference to the contrast and variety of rhythm found in the works of these two painters. We’ve just opened another exhibition this year featuring these two incredible artists, and the contrast in rhythm is just as striking and fascinating! Both artists make use of this Principle of Design, with incredibly different methods and incredibly different results. If you haven’t yet, we highly recommend coming to see it in person! If you’re unable to, however, definitely make sure to check out the whole show on our website here, and email us at for a full digital PDF preview. Once again, take a look at some of the works in the show and keep rhythm in mind– the variety and intricacy is fascinating! (I’ll also throw in a comparison between Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and Valerio D’Ospina’s blurred homage to it– very different rhyhtms!)

Valerio D’Ospina, “Intersection”

Valerio D’Ospina, “Duomo di Milano”

Valerio D’Ospina, “Cab Ride in Manhattan”

(left) Vermeer, “Girl with a Pearl Earring”; (right) Valerio D’Ospina, “Blurred Icons (Girl with a Pearl Earring)”

Greg Gandy, “Old Car Pileup”

Greg Gandy, “Mission Cool”

Greg Gandy, “Downtown at Sunset”

Greg Gandy, “1967 Plymouth Valiant”