Congratulations!

It’s springtime! The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming…and the Portrait Society of America is announcing its yearly award winners! We are just weeks away from the PSOA annual conference, and thrilled to share that several Principle Gallery artists have been selected as finalists or received certificates of excellence their annual International Portrait Competition!

So here’s a big congratulations to Mia Bergeron and Gavin Glakas, whose paintings (“Harborer,” and “A Look Into the Setting Sun,” respectively) were awarded Certificates of Excellence in the competition!

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(left) Mia Bergeron, “Harborer”; (right) Gavin Glakas, “A Look Into the Setting Sun”

We’d also like to extend a huge congratulations to Susan O’Neill and Casey Childs, both of whom are finalists in the competition! Below are the artworks that earned them this honor:

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(left) Casey Childs, “Phylis Vandernaald”; (right) Susan O’Neill, “Lissome”

The Portrait Society’s annual conference is in Reston, VA this year, and will take place April 14-17, so to all the attendees, Principle Gallery offers a warm welcome to our neck of the woods!

There have been several other Principle Gallery artists making a splash lately as well! Congratulations to Valerio D’Ospina on his recent feature in Design Milk (click here to check it out!), Geoffrey Johnson on making the cover of the May American Art Collector issue (see it here!), and to Jorge Alberto, who just had a painting accepted to the 2016 International Juried Show of Contemporary Trompe l’Oeil and Still Life to be held at The John F. Peto Studio Museum in Island Heights, NJ!

We are so proud and thrilled to work with such a talented group of artists! Keep up the amazing work, everyone!

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Technique Tuesday: Palette Knife

Technique Tuesday palette knife

What is it?

A long-time standard in the artist’s toolkit, the palette knife is a tool consisting of a handle and a blunt blade, and was originally used for mixing paint on an artist’s palette. Since the 1800’s, it has seen an increase in popularity as a painting tool as well as a mixing one. Artists use the palette knife itself to thickly apply the paint to the canvas or panel (sometimes mixing colors directly on the surface with the knife), often to get a nice impasto effect.  Here’s an example of a set of differently shaped palette knives:

Palette Knives

 

Examples from art history:

Palette knives used for applying paint has a relatively recent history, as until the 19th century, these tools were primarily just for mixing paint on the palette. A few artists here and there, including Rembrandt and Francisco Goya, used palette knives in addition to brushes and other tools to create a nice effect, but it wasn’t really until the 19th century when Gustave Courbet started using them to thickly and smoothly apply paint on his landscapes that the technique began to really grow in popularity.  Other well known artists who used palette knives for painting include Camille Pissarro (a student of Courbet), Paul Cezanne, Marc Chagall, and Henri Matisse. Many of these artists used palette knives in addition to brushes and other painting tools. It was in the 20th century, however, that more artists began to experiment with painting an artwork entirely using palette knives. Many artists today who use palette knives dabble in a bit of both methods!

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(Left to right) Gustave Courbet, “The Wave”; Francisco Goya, “Two Old Men Eating Soup”; Henri Matisse, “Odalisque with a Tambourine”; Paul Cezanne, “Uncle Dominique”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Palette knife painting can give a really gorgeous texture and accentuate colors on a canvas or panel. Many techniques that we’ve discussed in the Technique Tuesday post, such as impasto or the multi-loaded brush, can also be accomplished using a palette knife as well as a brush! Principle Gallery carries several artists who excel in the use of palette knives for paint application, as well as some who have dabbled in it from time to time, with some lovely results. To see more great examples of palette knife painting, check out our website, specifically the pages for Barbara Flowers, Mia Bergeron, and Lisa Noonis! Here are some cool examples, including a brand new work from Mia Bergeron titled “Somewhere Else.” To keep up with all our new incoming works and upcoming events, be sure to join our mailing list! To sign up, just fill out the form here on our website, or shoot us an email at info@principlegallery.com!

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(Left to right) Barbara Flowers, “Sunflowers”; Mia Bergeron, “Somewhere Else”; Lisa Noonis, “Morning Sky”; Cindy Procious, “Deer”

Technique Tuesdays: Positive & Negative Space

Technique Tuesday positive negative spaceWhat is it?

The concept of positive and negative space is a fairly simple one. The subject of a work of art occupies the positive space, while everything else is considered negative space. Nearly every piece of representational art contains positive and negative space. The way that artists make use of positive and negative space to enhance their artworks is less simple, but very visually interesting. Negative space can be used in a number of creative ways, from balancing a composition to focusing the viewer’s eye to  adding to the visual interest of the positive space. To start, let’s look at a fairly simple and well known illustration of the concept, called “Rubin’s vase.”

Rubin2This example illustrates the manipulation of positive and negative space, as depending on how your eye determines what the positive space actually is, two different images can appear. If the central shape is interpreted as positive space, it appears to be a vase, but if that same shape is viewed as negative space, the profiles of two faces become apparent. Some artists focus primarily on the subject when determining their overall composition for a painting, but many enjoy playing with negative space and using it to balance the work.

Examples from art history:

Chinese art has always been an excellent example of the use of negative space to create a simplified, quiet, and somewhat “zen” atmosphere in a work. Especially with traditional calligraphic painting, the delicate use of black ink meant that utilizing the negative space well could be extra eye-catching and effective. As art has progressed, many well known artists have incorporated a deliberate use of negative space to add interest to a composition and to enhance the mood of a work. Check out how the negative space balances and affects the mood of these works:

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(left to right) Wang Hui, “Ancient Temple in the Mountains” 17th century; Johannes Vermeer, “Young Woman with Water Pitcher” 1662 ; Francisco Goya, “Courtyard with Lunatics” 1794; Edgar Degas, “Ballet Rehearsal” 1873

Art in the twentieth century has seen a bit of a different and new trend when it comes to the use of negative space, as artists begin to play with optical illusions and the creation of images with the negative space itself. (This has become an even bigger trend within the realm of graphic design, and is a technique often utilized with logos, like the arrow formed between the “e” and “x” in the FedEx logo.) Here are some cool examples:

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(left) Coles Phillips, “A Young Man’s Fancy” 1912; (middle) M.C. Escher, “Sky and Water I” 1938; (right) Rene Magritte, “Decalomania” 1966

 

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Everywhere you look here at Principle Gallery, you’ll spy examples of skilled and thoughtful use of negative space. For some artists, however, it is an especially important design element. Consider the work of Laura E. Pritchett:

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(left to right) Laura E. Pritchett, “Faith”, “Projection”, “Passing Through”

Laura’s thoughtful and liberal use of negative space as part of her compositions plays a big role in the way these works possess a sense of stillness and peace, as if a moment has been captured. Imagine for a moment if Laura had continued to fill the positive space of these works with more background imagery, more colors and textures and objects. It’d really change the impact of the paintings, don’t you think? You can check out all of Laura’s gorgeous, peaceful work at Principle Gallery on our website here.

Now check out these other awesome pieces at Principle Gallery, and take a moment to consider how and why you think the artist might have played with positive and negative space the way that they did:

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(left to right) Valerio D’Ospina, “Rainy Day in NYC”; Colin Fraser, “Highwayside”; Kevin Fitzgerald, “St. Martin Snow”; Mia Bergeron, “Limitless”

For more incredible artwork from Principle Gallery, be sure to subscribe to our blog and follow our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!

Technique Tuesdays: the Art of the Self-Portrait

Technique Tuesday self portrait

What is it?

This week’s Technique Tuesday subject is not a new concept for anyone (particularly in today’s “selfie” filled world!). But not only is the self-portrait is an important exercise for an artist to undertake, it is also significant to view as well, and provides fascinating insight into an artist’s mind or mood. These artists, who spend so much time looking at, observing, and studying the world before them and then choose to focus on themselves as a subject often end up creating something quite remarkable.

Examples from art history:

It’s nearly impossible to tell how far back the history of self-portraiture goes; it’s probably one of those things that’s been around nearly as long as art itself–as human beings, we’re naturally fascinated by the body that we inhabit and the persona we develop day by day throughout our lifetime. As far as its popularity in fine art, though, we can trace the rise in popularity of self-portraiture back to the early Renaissance. For a long time, art featuring human figures was primarily created to tell a story, whether religious or mythological. As the Renaissance brought about a new group of wealthy patrons, interest rose in the concept of a single individual as a subject of a painting. Indeed, the depiction of one single person became a very popular subject for art. Many, many artists since the Renaissance have made a good portion of their income from painting portraits of others, but whether for practice, amusement, or expression, many artists have also delighted in dabbling in the art of painting or drawing themselves. Here are just a few of the fascinating examples of self-portraiture from art history:

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From left to right, top then bottom row:

Rembrandt van Rijn, “Self-Portrait, Surprised”
Pablo Picasso, “Self-Portrait with Palette”
Zinaida Serebriakova, “Self-Portrait at the Dressing Table”
Albrecht Durer, “Portrait of the Artist Holding a Thistle”
Frida Kahlo, “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird”
Katsushika Hokusai, “Self Portrait at Eighty-Three”
Vincent van Gogh, “Self-Portrait”
Adrian Piper, “Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

The BP Portrait Award, given annually at the National Portrait Gallery in London, is one of the most prestigious award competitions of its kind today. This year, a record-breaking 2,748 entries from artists in 92 countries were considered, and the finalists were honored in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. We are so pleased to congratulate Principle Gallery artist Felicia Forte, whose work “Self-Portrait, Melting Point” was among these incredible finalist selections! Click here to check out all of our currently-available work by Felicia Forte.

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A great many of the artists we work with at Principle Gallery have experimented with self-portraiture, and we have frequently been fortunate enough to exhibit these fascinating pieces! Here are just a few of the incredible self-portraits we’ve shown at the gallery in recent years, including one from Michael DeVore, which will be part of the upcoming International Guild of Realism 10th Annual Juried Exhibition, opening at Principle Gallery on August 28! Stay tuned for more details, and in the meantime check out our website for more amazing artwork by Mia, Teresa, and Terry.

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from left to right: Mia Bergeron, “Harborer”; Michael DeVore, “Self Portrait in Black Cap”; Teresa Oaxaca, “White Collar 2”; Terry Strickland, “Self-Portrait with Beard”

 

Technique Tuesdays: Pointillism

Technique Tuesday PointillismWhat is it?

Pointillism is a painting technique that popped up in the late 1800’s as an off-shoot of Impressionism. Essentially, pointillism uses small, distinct dots or strokes of different colors in a pattern to form an image. This technique relies on the ability of the eye to blend the dots of color–it’s actually quite similar to the way that computer screens and printers use tiny pixels of just a few colors (most printers have just four inks, CMYK) and posititions them all just right so that our eye blends them and sees a smooth image with normal-looking colors. So instead of mixing colors on a palette, the artist presents dots on the canvas that we mix with our eyes. To give you a very basic idea, here’s a visual example:

Seurat detail

detail of a crop from Georges Seurat’s “La Parade de Cirque”

In the close-up detail on the left, you can see a wide variety of colors–yellow, orange, red, different shades of blue, and shades of green–but take a look at the upper left corner of the crop on the right. That’s where this close-up comes from. But, when we’re a bit further away, we see the dots begin to blend into a warm shade of green. And check out how blended everything becomes when we take another proverbial step back to look at the painting as a whole:

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Georges Seurat, “La Parade de Cirque”

Examples from art history:

Fun fact: when I (Pam) was in the eighth grade, my art teacher taught us our first art history mnemonic device with the rhyme “Seurat knew a lot about dots.” Yes, indeed he did! Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” is probably one of the most well-known pointillist images ever:

A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte,_Georges_Seurat,_1884

Georges Seurat, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”

Georges Seurat and Paul Signac were the original pioneers of the use of pointillism, referring to it as Neo-Impressionism. “Pointillism” was actually a derisive word coined by art critics, but the connotation of the word is no longer mocking. Many artists began to experiment with this technique, including Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, and Maximilien Luce, among many others. Later, a group known as the Divisionists would tweak the idea by using larger, more square brushstrokes to create similar blended colors and patterns.

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(left) Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait; (middle) Paul Signac, “Le Clipper, Asnieres”; (right) Camille Pissarro, “Apple Picking at Eragny-sur-Epte”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Several artists that we represent here at Principle Gallery occasionally dabble in pointillism in their works (check out the work of Mia Bergeron and Colin Fraser!), but one artist springs to mind in particular, with his classical and frequent use of the technique. GC Myers, whose annual solo exhibition opens THIS FRIDAY, has a knack for using pointillism to create a lovely and magical effect in the skies of many of his colorful landscapes. The dappled effect can give a sense of starlight, the glow of a sunset, the sparkle of bright sunshine, or sometimes just pure, magical texture.

The whole exhibition will be on display at the gallery by the end of this week, so please join us for the official opening on Friday, June 5th, from 6:30-9 PM! If you’d like to see a complete digital preview for the show earlier in the week, just send us an email! For now, please enjoy this sneak peek!

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GC Myers, “The Singular Heart”

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GC Myers, “Freed to the Wind”

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GC Myers, “Solitude and Reverence”

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GC Myers, “Clair de Lune”

Technique Tuesdays: Blocking In

Welcome back to Technique Tuesday! Today’s post is going to take a look at a painting technique commonly referred to as “blocking in.”

Technique Tuesday Blocking In

 

What is it?

Several of our Technique Tuesday posts will discuss techniques relating to what is called “underpainting.” Underpainting refers to the initial layer of paint an artist applies to a canvas, usually in a manner that will help them roughly plan out the composition and the values (light and dark areas) in the work. Blocking in is a common and relatively simple method of underpainting that allows an artist to quickly sketch out the work by painting in simple “blocks,” or shapes, of color. The later layers of paint added will serve to refine the details, colors, and lights and shadows. Here’s a great example of this method, demonstrated by these two images from our Face Off event last August:

Mia Bergeron's portrait of Franco Landini, in the early stages (left) and as a finished work (right)

Mia Bergeron’s portrait of Franco Landini, in the early stages (left) and as a finished work (right)

The image to the left shows Mia Bergeron‘s canvas just a short while after she began to paint. As you can see, she has made a basic plan by blocking in shapes and indicating where the areas of highlights and dark shadows would be. The rest of the layers of paint added the details and nuance of color, light, and shadow, resulting in the lovely finished work pictured on the right.

Some artists, though, take the concept of blocking in to a different level. Rather than using these simple shapes to plan for future layers of paint, some artists use blocking in to create their finished work. These basic areas of color can be utilized in such a way that gives the finished work an abstracted and impressionistic aspect.

Example from art history:

In the late 19th century, after the French Impressionists had launched a time of experimentation and exploration in painting techniques, French painter Paul Cezanne was branching out with his own style of painting. Cezanne’s experimentations with looser, more abstracted methods of representing a subject led him to a style that eventually launched the Cubism movement. During this time, one of his favorite subjects for painting was a mountain in southern France known as Mt. Saint-Victoire; in fact, he painted the mountain over 60 different times! Some of these versions, like the one pictured below, show Cezanne making use of the blocking in method to give a soft, generalized impression of the scene, rather than continuing to fill in the finer details.

Paul Cezanne, Mt. Saint-Victoire c. 1906

Paul Cezanne, Mt. Saint-Victoire c. 1906

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Though we’ve already shown in this post a great example of a Principle Gallery artist using blocking in as a method for underpainting, we also have an excellent example of the use of blocking in for a finished work in the art of Felicia Forte. Though some of Felicia’s work does feature more detailed, intricate brushwork, Felicia is also fond of exploring this more abstracted and understated method. She especially delights in the experience of using blocking in when painting figures. As you mat have already seen, three examples of this type of figure composition appeared in our Small Works show in December 2014.

“I’ve been enjoying painting these abstracted figures in my studio from life, having fun with color, and trying to see how simple I can get while still being honest and attempting elegance,” Felicia says. “The idea was to find a way to pleasingly abstract the scene in front of me, using the facts at hand in the most economical way possible, I found it so much fun that I began to paint more like it whenever I needed a break from straight academic portrait painting. It’s fun to see how they develop, a little different each time.”

Below is a sample of some of Felicia’s more abstracted work, showing how discerning use of blocking in can give a painting a fresh and stylish effect:

Paintings by Felicia Forte Left to right: "Mary and Mr. Midnight," "View to Alcatraz," and "Pigeon with Brown Coat"

Paintings by Felicia Forte
Left to right: “Mary and Mr. Midnight,” “View to Alcatraz,” and “Pigeon with Brown Coat”

Click here to view more fantastic paintings by Felicia on our website, and check in next week as we continue to explore these tricks of the trade with Technique Tuesdays!

Face Off 2014

We were thrilled that so many were able to join us (both in person and online via the three live streams) for the Face Off live painting event on Friday, August 8. With three talented painters faced with the nerve-wracking task of painting a portrait from a live model in under three hours (and in front of an audience!) it promised to be a memorable evening…and it certainly didn’t disappoint! Mia Bergeron, Cindy Procious, and Elizabeth Floyd set up their paints and easels in the gallery, we covered our big skylight to give the space just the right lighting, and local restauranteur Franco Landini of Landini Brothers acted as our live model.

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With a webcam pointed at each of the three canvases, we were able to share the experience live via the internet as well! And it was an experience well worth sharing, as each of the three canvases gradually came to life, the painters creating a remarkable painted likeness of Franco’s face, each with their own unique style.

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A great number of visitors to the event stayed through the majority of the three hours. It was pretty fascinating to watch the three artists work, and to watch Franco’s portraits come to life. All three artists praised Franco’s abilities as a live model, and he was certainly impressively still over the course of the three hours!

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When time was finally called, it was amazing to see three such incredible portraits, each different but each a great likeness, and all finished in such a short amount of time! The Face Off is always a fun and exciting event, and the 2014 Face Off was one of the best ones yet. Be sure to check out our YouTube channel to see the full footage of all three live streams from that evening, along with a time-lapse version of each artist’s portrait, from beginning to completion! Watch them all here.

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Progressions of portraits by Cindy Procious (top row), Elizabeth Floyd (middle row), and Mia Bergeron (bottom row)