Root to Bloom Opening Reception

After months of promotion, nearly a thousand submitted artworks, and tons of preparation, we finally held the opening reception for the juried exhibition “Root to Bloom: The Places Artists Call Home” last Friday evening. With over 70 artists included in the show, we were hoping that a few would be able to join us for the evening–and we received a huge and pleasant surprise! Over 40 of the included artists joined us to celebrate the show opening on Friday, and between the artists, their friends and family, and the gallery’s circle of collectors and friends, it was quite the bash!

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Earlier that day, Meg Aiken was awarded the Social Media Choice Award for all of the votes on her painting, “Home Away from Home.” Friday evening, Victoria Kilcullen of Christie’s International Real Estate presented a Christie’s-sponsored award to Carl Ahlman for his landscape, titled “View.”

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(left) Meg Aiken, “Home Away from Home”; (right) Carl Ahlman, “View”

Gallery director Clint Mansell then handed out the awards and cash prizes for the top three paintings in the show, which included Kerry Dunn’s “3w4e44455555eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” in first place, Corey Pitkin’s “Groundhog’s Day” in second place, and Christine Lashley’s “Yellow and Gold” winning third place.

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(left) Kerry Dunn, “3w4e44455555eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”; (middle) Corey Pitkin, “Groundhog’s Day”; Christine Lashley, “Yellow and Gold”

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Principle Gallery offers its sincere thanks to everyone who participated in this amazing exhibition, and to all those who attended the incredible reception on Friday. If you haven’t yet had a chance to see Root to Bloom in person yet, be sure to stop by! The exhibition will be hanging through the end of November. If you can’t come by in person, please enjoy the digital preview on our website here!

Principle Gallery staff with guest juror Teresa Oaxaca

Principle Gallery staff with guest juror Teresa Oaxaca

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CALL FOR ENTRIES OPEN NOW!

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EXCITING NEWS!

In November 2016, Principle Gallery will be hosting a juried exhibition, and the CALL FOR ENTRIES IS OPEN NOW!
We are thrilled to have Teresa Oaxaca as our guest juror for this exhibition, called “Root to Bloom: Places Artists Call Home.” Check out our website HERE to read more and to enter! And please do spread the word!

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 Tuesday: Pentimenti

Technique Tuesday pentimenti

What is it?

A pentimento (the plural is “pentimenti”) is an alteration in an artwork that becomes apparent by the marks and traces left behind from the artist’s original strokes. Although it is derived from the (you guessed it!) Italian word meaning “to repent,” it’s not quite accurate to call these marks mistakes. For a long time, artists took care to cover the changes they made to a painting and the pentimenti were only visible via infrared scans and X-rays. Take for example this image showing an X-ray of Netherlandish Renaissance painter Jan van Eyck’s famous “Arnolfini Wedding Portrait.”

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Jan van Eyck, “Arnolfini Wedding Portrait” with detail of X-ray

It becomes apparent that the artist originally depicted the hand in one position, later to change his mind and adjust the angle of the hand. From the surface of the finished painting, this isn’t a change we can observe. You might be surprised to learn how many times an X-ray or scan of a well known work has revealed a pentimento showing the artist changed his or her mind about the composition!

Examples from art history:

Until the more free and expressive artistic movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, artists kept this type of pentimento well concealed except for in preliminary sketches. You can see pentimenti evident in each of these drawings by famous artists:

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(left) Leonardo da Vinci sketch of a horse; (middle) Edgar Degas sketches of dancers; (right) Vincent van Gogh sketched self portrait

Paul Cezanne was among the first to actually embrace pentimenti as something more than just evidence of a work in progress; he began to deliberately include a lot of pentimenti in his drawings to enhance the expressive nature of a work, as well as the three dimensional appearance.

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Paul Cezanne, “The Artist’s Son Writing”

 

Examples from Principle Gallery:

As art has progressed and the realm of what is considered “proper” and “good” art has immeasurably broadened, pentimenti have evolved into an element that is often deliberately left in a finished work to add richness to it. One Principle Gallery artist who has mastered the use of pentimenti to add a sense of motion, expression, and visual interest to his work is the great Robert Liberace.

A locally based painter and painting teacher, Robert Liberace has been dubbed a “Living Master” for his incredible artworks, particularly his figurative paintings and portraits. Robert excels in portraying a figure in action, and his clever use of pentimenti heightens this effect. In the more active scenes, the lines of the pentimenti are particularly bold.

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Robert Liberace, “Throwing Figure” (left); “Study in Motion” (right)

Robert also varies his use of this technique, as sometimes it becomes very subtle so as to unobtrusively add to the sense of motion, as in the image on the left. Other times, he leaves the pentimenti highly visible but “unfinished” in the background to give a sense of time elapsing during a motion, as in the example on the right.

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Robert Liberace, “5th Circle” (left); “Telemon” (right)

We are thrilled to exhibit a large group of new works by Robert Liberace alongside his former student Teresa Oaxaca this month. In addition, following Teresa’s live painting demonstration on May 15th, we are so looking forward to another live demo as Robert Liberace paints a model live in the gallery on May 29th! Join us for the demonstration between 6 and 9 PM this coming Friday, and be sure to check out all of the new works in this exhibition on our website here!

 

 

 

Technique Tuesdays: Imprimatura

Technique Tuesday Imprimatura

Welcome back to Technique Tuesday! Today’s post is going to look at a technique that we all saw in action at Friday night’s fantastic live painting demo with Teresa Oaxaca. If you missed it, be sure to keep an eye out for when we upload the photos and videos from that night, as well as check out our intern Barbara’s fantastic blog post on what it was like to model for the demo!

What is it?

Imprimatura is a technique that falls into the larger category of underpainting. There will be several Technique Tuesdays where we take a look at different underpainting techniques, but today’s post will focus on the basic concept, something called “imprimatura.” It’s another word that comes to us from (you guessed it!) Italian, and literally means “what goes before the first.” Imprimatura is a transparent or semi-transparent layer of color (usually an earthy tone) that the artist uses first, and it sets the tone for the color story of the finished painting. It’s an incredibly daunting task to handle a stark, white canvas, and many artists find that a layer of imprimatura helps them to achieve the look and the values they desire more easily than just a truly blank canvas would.

Examples from art history:

Imprimatura is a technique that goes way back in the history of art, but like many other techniques, artists really began to use it to its full potential during the Italian Renaissance. Works like da Vinci’s “La Scapigliata” show us clearly that lovely tea-colored layer of imprimatura that he often started his works with.

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Leonadro da Vinci, “La Scapigliata”

Another Old Master who made excellent use of imprimatura was the Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. Rubens created a whole series of unfinished oil sketches that allow us to glimpse the layer he used to set the tone for the work underneath all of the added paint. An especially interesting example is this piece, a study in which Rubens used two different colors of imprimatura on the same canvas, experimenting with differing tones:

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Peter Paul Rubens, “Two Studies of a Young Man”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

If you’ve ever made it to one of our live painting demonstrations, or the Face Off events each summer, you have no doubt seen for yourself the application of the imprimatura layer. On Friday, when we gathered to watch Teresa Oaxaca’s live demonstration, she began with a truly blank canvas.

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As we watched, Teresa painted her first layer, and it was not the sketchy outline of her model–nope! It was the all important imprimatura.

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This initial layer helped Teresa to set a mid-tone foundation on which to create her painting, building on that foundation first by sketching in areas that were darkest in value, then working up to the lighter-value highlights. The process was an amazing one to watch, and the finished painting truly lovely.

Teresa's work develops over 25 minute intervals.

Teresa’s work documented over 25 minute intervals.

We so enjoyed having Teresa in the gallery painting live for us. It is always such a fascinating and exciting event to witness an artist in action. That makes May an especially exciting month for us here, as we’re thrilled to host another live painting demonstration coming up on May 29th, featuring the incredible Robert Liberace! Join us at the gallery between 6 and 9 PM to watch this immensely talented painter bring a piece of artwork to life!

 

Perspective of a Model

Perspective of a Model

Following Friday night’s demo with Teresa Oaxaca we asked our lovely intern Barbara to share her experience as a model for Teresa. Here is what she had to say.

My favorite part about interning at Principle is the rare glance into an artist’s creative world. You can read up on their background or ask them about their techniques, but I think that an artist’s process is too personal and particular to try to comprehend. This past Friday though, I got a pretty cool glimpse into that world—by modeling for Teresa Oaxaca at Principle’s live demo. This was the first time I’ve ever modeled for anyone and it was definitely a daunting job. I wasn’t sure if I could sit in a chair for two and a half hours, and maintain the same expression and stare throughout. Though I was a little stiff the next day, I’m so glad I decided to model for Teresa.

Visitors watch Teresa work.

I remember entering her name into the gallery’s inventory and uploading her work onto the website. Then, she was just a name associated with some amazing paintings, but such close exposure to Teresa in her element made me realize that artists are normal people. They have their individual practices and preferences—some like to eat sushi before they work and some line up their paintbrushes in a specific order. I used to think of an artist’s vision as intangible, something I couldn’t recognize without a textbook’s explanation. But in watching Teresa work, I saw that vision unfold: it was in her quick dabbing on the palette, in her rocking back and forth behind the easel, and maybe even in my own posture and expression. That’s why I think demos are such a valuable, interesting experience. You get this unique exposure to artwork as a cumulative product of the artist and their surrounding atmosphere. And then that seemingly mysterious and foreign process of an artist becomes a little more relatable.

Teresa's work develops over 25 minute intervals.

I hope you enjoyed my perspective of modeling for Teresa. I would highly recommend coming to Principle’s next demo so you too can get a glimpse into an artist’s creative process. The next one features Robert Liberace and is on May 29th at 6:00-9pm. Below are links to the Facebook event and to the gallery’s website.

Michele, Pam,  Jessica, Barbara, Teresa, and Clint.

Robert’s Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1451121928514100/

Principle’s website:http://www.principlegallery.com/Alexandria

Technique Tuesdays: Sight-Size

Technique Tuesday sight size

What is it?

If you’ve ever amused yourself by holding up your thumb and noticing how someone across the room appears to be tiny and thumb-sized next to it, you’re well on your way to understanding the sight-size method of painting and sculpting. Sight-size is a technique long used in schools and ateliers to teach art students the fundamentals of correct proportions. Essentially, it involves the artist setting up to create their painting (or sculpture) at a vantage point where the subject appears to be exactly the size they plan to depict it. The closer to life size the finished image, the closer to the subject the painter and his or her canvas will be arranged. Here are a couple of visual examples:

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Example from art history:

Sight-size is a method with roots far, far back in art history. For centuries, it was a popular and effective way to teach students to draw and paint with accurate proportions. It went out of fashion for a time, but its popularity was revived by ateliers such as that of R. H. Ives Gammell, Carolus-Duran and Léon Bonnat. The latter two names were teachers of the great American portrait painter John Singer Sargent. Sargent’s use of the sight-size method was a large contributing factor to its renewed popularity in both America and Great Britain.

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A photograph (center) of Sargent painting with the sight-size method, alongside two of his incredible portraits, Theodore Roosevelt (left) and Madame X (right)

Example from Principle Gallery:

Not many artists these days continuously use the sight-size method throughout their career, and event those who do do not always use it exclusively, for all their work. But Teresa Oaxaca, a Principle Gallery artist with extensive classical training from the Florence Academy and her private teaching with Robert Liberace and Odd Nerdrum, gave us a glimpse of sight-size in action last year during her live painting demonstration.

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Teresa Oaxaca painting live at Principle Gallery, April 2014

We are more than thrilled to have Teresa back with us this year for yet another live painting event (followed by a demonstration by the amazing Robert Liberace two weeks later!) on Friday, May 15th. Join us on the 15th in the gallery from 6-9 PM for an incredible opportunity to watch Teresa paint a live model from start to finish! It is truly fascinating to watch her step back and forth, studying the model as she brings the resemblance to life on canvas with the sight-size method.

Even if you are unable to join us in person, keep an eye on our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, because we’ll be broadcasting a live video feed of the event that evening! We’ll be sure to post links where you can go to watch the live stream as soon as we can!