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!



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:

AH Self Portrait Collage

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.

felicia forte

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.

PG Self Portrait Collage

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”


The WPW Collector’s Preview is now available at the link below!

Women Painting Women : Collector’s Preview

SNEAK PEEK of all 86 paintings juried into 2014 WPW out of 743 international submissions, and also a few words from Guest Juror Allison Malfronte + Principle Gallery about the Women Painting Women movement – ENJOY!


Terry Strickland’s “Day Star”

If you haven’t yet seen Terry Strickland’s most recent blog post, be sure to go check it out–click here! Featured in a full-page ad in Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, Terry’s allegorical images sparkle with incredible color and light. In her blog, Terry shares some of the background of the painting as well as some gorgeous detail images of one of the works, entitled “Day Star.”

"Day Star" by Terry Strickland

“Day Star” by Terry Strickland

Also, be sure to check out this video (click here!), a fantastic time-lapse Terry made to show her painting “Fast Lane” as it is brought to life. Don’t forget to follow our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube for more great videos and images from our artists!


Face Off: Q&A Session

Friday nights Face Off was a smashing success! We are so thankful to our wonderful artists, Mia, Rachel, Cindy, & Terry, our beautiful model Jen, and all the wonderful people who came out to support them!

Painting Session

The artists worked in 20-minute sessions of painting, followed by 5-minutes of questions. We realize trying to fit all your questions in six 5-minute sessions is difficult, so for those who didn’t have a chance to get all their questions answered, we have compiled a list of the most asked questions from the night.

Question Session


Q: Why do you use a mirror when painting?

A: By looking at my paintings in the mirror, I am able to see the image in reverse. This helps me see the shapes more clearly and give me a fresh eye, since after about 30 minutes, my eyes start to think everything is correct on my painting. It also helps me see the model in a new way, in reverse.

Q: Where did you study?

A: I studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, then the Charles H. Cecil Studio in Florence, Italy. Since my return from Italy in 2005, I have attended multiple workshops, including one given by Joseph Todorovich.

Q: What type of paints are you using?

A: I use all types of brands for oil paints, including Windsor & Newton, Rembrandt, and Gamblin.

Q: What are you painting on?

A: I am painting on a handmade wooden panel available locally in Chattanooga, TN. It is a birch panel, with a poplar cradle, that has been primed with high quality gesso and a layer of oil.

Q: How old are you?

A: A lady never tells her age!



Q: How did you choose your composition?

A: This is a great question. I believe that the most important element of a painting is design, and that the most beautifully painted image falls flat without it. (One could even argue that with strong design technique becomes secondary, but that’s a separate conversation.)  Luckily for all of us, the moment Jen sat down in that blue kimono and turned her head, she became a painting. Every once in a great while a painting seems to paint itself, the composition is obvious and you just have to color it in. Jen emoted such elegance and that she really made it easy for me. In terms of composition, what struck me immediately was the lovely curve created by the slight tilt of her head, leading down to the kimono, then traveling down the swoop of her arm, through the curve of her wrist and down to her fingertips. Abstractly, that hand then draws you back into the picture, back to her profile.  My goal was to create an image that evoked a similar response to the one I felt by looking at her. I wanted to capture her GRACE.



Q: Is it hard painting in front of an audience?

A: A bit. I was totally fine during the first 20-minute session because I was concentrating so hard I was completely unaware of how many people had snuck in. When the first break was called, I stood and turned around, and was like WHOA! Where’d you guys come from?  I noticed my hands shaking a bit during the second session, but once I really started concentrating again, I was able to relax and get back into the zone. It helped immensely that everyone was talking and having a good time. Whispered conversations would have been very unsettling.

Q: Why do you have all your colors pre-mixed on your palette?

A: I mix strings of value and color ahead of time in order to simplify the painting process. I mix my palette the same way every time I paint a portrait, so just like a pianist develops muscle memory to know where the piano keys are, I know exactly where each color is on my palette without having to hunt for it, or having to mix a color on the fly. This allows me to concentrate on what I see in front of me and what’s happening on my canvas.



Q: Why are you looking in a mirror?

A: Because Mia does it! Not really but I did leave that trick from Mia. At home I always use a mirror. I actually haul my paintings into the bathroom so I can see the entire thing in reverse to see them with a fresh eye.

Q: Is that a wood panel?

A: Ampersand Gessobord stained with Rembrandt Burnt Umber.

Q: Is that really Lois Lane in your Fast Lane painting?

A: Yes. See her in the photo in the Superman (Call of Duty) painting?!

Q: What is your palette hooked to?

A: A contraption my husband Dan made that hooks to my easel. I like to see the paint in the same light as the painting. (When one of the ladies saw this she said “I want a Dan!”)

Terry and her palette contraption!

Thank you again to our wonderful artists, who gave their all Friday night, and a big thank you to everyone who came out to support them! Two of the paintings have already found wonderful homes and we hope the other two find homes soon!

All four finished pieces, left to right: Terry, Mia, Cindy, Rachel.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to pose your questions to the artists! Thank you again!

Face Off Prep

We are starting to get excited for tonight’s Women Painting Women: Face Off Demo featuring Mia Bergeron, Rachel Constantine, Cindy Procious, and Terry Strickland from 6:30-9pm! The ladies arrived yesterday and already had ideas running through their head about the set-up!

Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to around the gallery since the ladies arrived!

We started by moving the front desk! A whole new look for the gallery.

This morning the ladies started setting up. First the lighting.

Then their easels.

Next it was an afternoon prep-session with the model, friend and collector Jen.

The big decision: which color kimono to wear!

We hope you’ll join us tonight to check out the great work these artists will be creating! We can’t wait to see the finished products! We will also be giving away a palette signed by all four artists!

Congratulations International 2011-2012 ARC Salon Finalists!

Please join us in congratulating the following Principle Gallery artists that were selected as International 2011-2012 ARC Salon Finalists!!  So many talented individuals!  We are so very proud to represent them!

They were chosen out of 2,100 entries from over 800 artists, which is a tremendous accomplishment!

Here are some of the winning paintings:


Ryan Brown, ‘The Aspen Grove’, 11 x 22, Oil on Canvas, Available

Catherine Prescott, ‘Northern Interior’, 72 x 34, Oil on Canvas,
Featured as part of the Women Painting Women Exhibition, April 2012

Alejandro Rosemberg, ‘Lilen’, 20 x 14, Oil on Canvas, SOLD

Katherine Stone, ‘Lucie and the Wind’, 16 x 20, Oil on Linen, SOLD,
Featured as part of the Women Painting Women Exhibition, April 2012

Katherine Stone, ‘Vanitas’, 14 x 14, Oil on Linen, Available,
Featured as part of the Women Painting Women Exhibition, April 2012

Terry Strickland, ‘The Three Fates’, 30 x 40, Oil on Panel, SOLD,
Featured as part of the Women Painting Women Exhibition, April 2012

Nobuhito Tanaka, ‘The Bride in Red’, 24 x 18, Oil on Canvas, SOLD

Sadie Jernigan Valeri, ‘Self Portrait at 39’, 12 x 16, Oil on Panel, Available,
Featured as part of the Women Painting Women Exhibition, April 2012

Sadie Jernigan Valeri, ‘Undersea’, 16 x 20, Oil on Panel, Available,
Featured as part of the Women Painting Women Exhibition, April 2012

Congratulations to all of the following artists for their incredible pieces that we wish we had in the gallery!

Stephen Cefalo, Teresa Fischer, Richard Hall, Michael Hockenbury, Cindy Procious, Ron Richmond, Mario Robinson, Travis Seymour, Alexandra Tyng, and Anthony Waichulis.

We are so proud to represent many of these artists and be friends with the others!