Technique Tuesday: Atmospheric Perspective

Technique Tuesday Atmospheric Perspective

What is it?

Atmospheric perspective is a visual phenomenon that occurs when we view a landscape. A very simple way of understanding the phenomenon is through the phrase, “fading into the distance.” When we view a landscape, the objects in the distance lose contrast and detail and gain a blue hue. Essentially, this happens because the actual particles of the atmosphere–dust, humidity, pollen, air pollution–obscure the clarity of these objects, and the light becomes scattered. These particles also reflect the color of the sky (typically, blue, although some exceptions include sunrise and sunset) and give these objects in the distance a blue tint. Most of us have seen atmospheric perspective in action when looking at far-off mountains or hills. In art, atmospheric perspective (sometimes called aerial perspective) is especially useful for helping to emphasize distance and vastness in a two-dimensional depiction.

Examples from art history:

Like so many other aspects of art, this feature really started to appear in paintings during the Renaissance. Atmospheric perspective was especially notable in the portraits and figurative works painted by Leonardo da Vinci–just check out the distant blue landscape in the background of the Mona Lisa! It is an effect that became pervasive in nearly all types of landscape painting across cultures and for centuries after, and is still frequently seen in painting today.

atmospheric perspective AH collage

(left to right) Leonardo da Vinci, “Bacchus”; J. M. W. Turner, “Lake Lucerne”; Yuan Jiang, “At Mount Li Escaping the Heat”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

A great many gorgeous paintings here at Principle Gallery contain atmospheric perspective, and today we’ll take a look at just a few, including some from the now open Colin Fraser solo exhibition, “Inner Light”–click here to view the whole show online!

Whitespace HR

Colin Fraser, “Whitespace”

Celestial Sun HR

Colin Fraser, “Celestial Sun”

Fog Lifting from the Wetlands 72

Douglas Fryer, “Fog Lifting from the Wetlands”

My Leaves and My Cascades 72

Bethanne Kinsella Cople, “My Leaves and My Cascades”

ccNocturneOnTheReservoir 001

Casey Childs, “Nocturne on the Reservoir”



Technique Tuesdays: En Plein Air

Technique Tuesday en plein air

What is it?

Today’s Technique Tuesday topic takes us on a trip to the great outdoors as we explore the world of Plein Air painting. The term “en plein air” is a French expression that translates to “in the open air.” It is used to describe the technique of painting outdoors, with the subject in full view of the artist. Although these days many artists work in their studios, often with photographs as reference, many artists still love to paint en plein air–especially landscape artists! When a landscape is created outdoors, the artist is often able to capture the space, the air, and the light more accurately than they could from a photograph alone. The task of plein air painting can be a bit tricky, as artists have to deal with obstacles like unpredictable weather and shifting light throughout the day. Many artists truly enjoy the challenge, though.

Examples from art history:

Painting outdoors has been done for a very, very long time, but it was not until the mid-1800’s that it had a true boom in popularity. After the introduction of paint in tubes and the “box easel”, an easel with telescopic legs and some storage capacity, painting outdoors became a lot more convenient, and the Impressionists were among the first to take advantage of the fact. As the growing movement of Impressionism was largely focused on looser representations focusing on light and color, plein air painting was the perfect method. Impressionists like Pierre-August Renoir, Claude Monet, and Camille Pissarro took advantage of the plein air painting technique, and the popularity soon spread across Europe and the Americas. Check out this neat plein air painting done by American artist Winslow Homer in 1868– not only is this a plein air landscape itself, but it depicts several other artists working en plein air as well!

"Artists Sketching in the White Mountains" by Winslow Homer

“Artists Sketching in the White Mountains” by Winslow Homer

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Many, many of our artists at Principle Gallery have painted outdoors, but some of them make special effort to do as much of their work en plein air as possible, to give their landscapes a real sense of freshness and life. Sometimes, as it’s understandably easier, artists will paint en plein air and create small studies, then go back to their studios to create a larger version of the work. Either way, it’s often easy to sense when observing a landscape whether the artist used the plein air painting technique in their work; the paintings seem so realistic and fresh, you can almost smell the great outdoors! Here’s a collage of several Principle Gallery artists who delight in working en plein air. Click on the artists’ names in the list below to view more of their amazing work on our website!

Plein Air Collage


(Upper left) Bethanne Kinsella Cople: Bethanne is a great lover of the plein air painting technique. She travels all over the country to paint different outdoor vistas with her signature lush and loose brushstrokes, and has experienced all the ways plein air painting can be both exhilarating and tricky–and sometimes bizarre! Once, when on a plein air painting retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Bethanne stepped away from her canvas for a few moments, only to turn around and find that an enormous bear had wandered up to inspect her work! (Not to worry, though, he soon moved along and Bethanne was safe.) Pictured: Bethanne Kinsella Cople’s “Tow’rd Some Far-Distant Wood”

(Upper middle) Lynn Boggess: As you may have noticed, we’ve just had an exhibition of Lynn’s work open this past week! It’s a great show, so be sure to click here if you haven’t yet checked it out. Lynn paints outdoors about three times a week in the woods of his native West Virginia, armed with canvas, paints, and cement trowels in lieu of palette knives, because they give him the flexibility he needs to create his vivid, thickly textured landscapes. Somewhat abstracted, though remarkably realistic at the same time, Lynn’s work has the true ability to make the viewer feel as though they’re truly out in the woods themselves. Pictured: crop of Lynn Boggess’s “2 January 2015”

(Upper right) Kevin Fitzgerald: Based on the eastern shore of Maryland, Kevin has some beautiful views right around him, so it’s no wonder that he enjoys taking advantage of them to create plein air works. Kevin often works in the method mentioned earlier, by creating smaller works en plein air and sometimes painting larger works in the studio based on those studies. Kevin’s work has an incredible sense of peace to it, as the colors and light are captured so beautifully at all different times of day and painted with a profound softness and grace. Keep an eye out, because we’re expecting a whole bunch of new paintings from Kevin within the next few weeks, as we prepare for his solo exhibition, opening March 20th! Pictured: Kevin Fitzgerald’s “Wheatfield Dawn”

(Lower left) Douglas Fryer: Currently based in central Utah, Douglas Fryer is well known for his incredible paintings, and his landscapes in particular. They have an ethereal, thoughtful quality to them that seems to at once capture a sense of stillness as well as the movement of the outdoors. Though he sometimes paints in the studio from photographs, Douglas excels at capturing landscapes en plein air, even occasionally participating in plein air competitions! His landscapes capture what he refers to as the “hidden poetry” in the places all around us, even those that may seem mundane at first glance. Pictured: Douglas Fryer’s “Autumn Memory, South Randolph”

(Lower middle) Gene Costanza: An artist who delights in the “painterly” application of oils, Gene focuses on a semi-Impressionistic portrayal of landscapes and man’s interaction with nature. Primarily self-taught, Gene shifted his career to painting after spending over 20 years in law enforcement. Using the discipline and patience developed during his time on the force, he now creates landscapes with a soft yet vivid atmosphere to them, inviting the viewer to “step into” the scene themselves. Gene will be part of a two-person exhibition called “Coastal Light,” coming up at Principle Gallery Charleston in March, so check out this link to see his new works! Pictured: crop of Gene Costanza’s “Winter Creek”

(Lower right) Sergio Roffo: Sergio Roffo was born in Italy, later immigrating with his family to Boston, MA. He currently resides on the Massachusetts coast, where he paints his incredible coastal landscapes and nautical scenes. With an elegance and freshness, Sergio captures the light and texture of his coastal environment in his beautiful paintings. Sergio will also be exhibiting with Gene Costanza in the upcoming “Coastal Light” exhibit at Principle Gallery Charleston next month–view it here! Pictured: crop of Sergio Roffo’s “Daily Catch”


Studio Selfie Saturdays: Bethanne Kinsella Cople

It’s time for #StudioSelfieSaturday! Today’s selfie come to us from the amazing local landscape painter Bethanne Kinsella Cople. (She is pictured here with her lovely studio assistant, Winnie.) Bethanne is well loved for her gorgeous lanscapes and lush painting technique. To check out all of her currently available work on our website, just click here! BethanneCopleSelfie Square sharpened It’s especially appropriate to be celebrating an artist from right here in Alexandria, as today happens to be Alexandria’s 265th birthday! Happy birthday from all of us at Principle Gallery! This is a truly wonderful town.

birthday fireworks on Alexandria's waterfront

Be sure to enjoy the birthday fireworks on Alexandria’s waterfront tonight!

Spotlight: Local Artists

At the gallery, we’re always being asked by curious folks whether or not all of work comes from artists who live locally. No, indeed, Principle Gallery searches far and wide to bring you phenomenal Contemporary Realism from all corners of the States, and even abroad! Luckily, though, we have found that some of these brilliant talents are living and working right in our own area. (And, as many DC Metropolitan area residents tend to do, we’re qualifying “local” as artists residing in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia.) We decided to take a moment today to highlight some of these wonderful local artists.

Teresa Oaxaca

Teresa, in addition to being a DC area resident, is the youngest of the artists that we represent. Just in her mid-twenties, Teresa is already developing a very devoted following, and rightly so. Her work is always striking and unique, a reflection of her immense talent, fine international training, and charmingly quirky personality. Currently in the gallery is one of our favorite pieces we’ve gotten from Teresa and certainly one that grabs the attention of passerby, entitled “Late Hour.”


“Late Hour,” 38×54, oil on canvas

Bethanne Cople 

A plein air landscape painter, Bethanne travels frequently to find beautiful and insipiring scenery to paint. While she lives right here in Old Town Alexandria, Bethanne’s work features lanscapes from across the country, all created with an excellent eye for color and lush, loose brushstrokes. Beautiful and tranquil, these landscapes are proof of the artist’s passion for painting right out in the fresh outdoors. Below is a work, just arrived in the gallery last month, which was featured in an American Women Artists show at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for Master and Signature members, and comes with a signed catalogue from that show.


“Desert Colors,” 9×14, oil on canvas panel

Kevin Fitzgerald

Born in Washington DC, Kevin Fitzgerald studied in Maryland and currently resides there on the Eastern Shore. His deep love for the beauty of nature and its power to touch the human soul and make us contemplate and appreciate life is reflected in his landscape pieces. Soft, ethereal brushwork and beautiful use of color characterize Kevin’s unique and lovely works. Keep an eye out for many new Kevin Fitzgerald works to arrive soon, as we prepare for a solo exhibition for him in March!


“Horizon Dawn,” 24×48, oil on canvas

Jorge Alberto

Originally from Cuba, hyperrealistic still life artist Jorge Alberto now resides and works in Baltimore, Maryland. Having worked several different jobs in the field of art and then relocated to Florence, Italy to perfect his skills in painting, Jorge is back in Maryland and living his dream of being a fine art painter. His pieces never fail to impress the viewer with the sense that one could truly reach out and touch the items that he portrays. Each piece is meticulously created and filled with precise details and beautiful, vivid color. Below is one of the great little paintings Jorge sent in for our December Small Works show last year. By the way…nope, that’s not even a real frame: Jorge’s just that talented!


“C is for Cat,” 12.5×12.5, oil on panel

Elizabeth Floyd 

We had the pleasure of first working with Elizabeth Floyd just last December during the Small Works show. Having originally studied in Washington State and Texas, Elizabeth now lives right here in Alexandria. Her still life paintings are just lovely, full of vivid color and simple but beautiful compositions. Having so quickly sold her works from the December show, we were so pleased to get some more work from Elizabeth last month, including this larger piece below.


“Hope, Love, and Expectations: Dreams of Spring,” 30×24, oil on canvas

Hyeseung Marriage-Song

You may remember this name from our recent post about Hyeseung! She is truly a fascinating and incredibly talented young woman, now living and working in Baltimore, Maryland after having started her painting career in New York City. Thoughtfully created and beautifully executed, Hyeseung’s work catches the attention of visitors to the gallery every time we’re lucky enough to get some new pieces by her. Below is a beautiful portrait which is currently being shown down in our Charleston, South Carolina location.


“Redhead in a Feathered Hat,” 28×18, oil on canvas

Robert Liberace

When it comes to art in the DC and Alexandria area, “Robert Liberace” is certainly a well-known name. This incredibly talented artist has been dubbed a “Living Master” and “The Artist’s Artist” and is renowned for his skill, particularly in depicting the human form. He has frequently taught at the The Art League of Virginia here in Alexandria, as well as other locations both in the States and abroad. We were thrilled to begin showing Robert’s work beginning last year, including this piece, which is one of two by this artist to be lent by Principle Gallery to the Arnot Art Museum’s exhibition “Re-Presenting Realism” in Elmira, New York.


“Zephyr,” 20×20, oil on panel

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