Technique Tuesday: Pointillism (Take Two!)

Welcome back to Technique Tuesday! Today we’re going to be talking about a technique we’ve already touched on in the blog, about two years ago. I actually think this is one of the most fun things about discussing these techniques– every artist’s work is so unique, so we can see the very same technique employed in refreshingly different ways! In 2015, we discussed pointillism and took a look at the work of GC Myers and his charmingly dappled skies. And, since I think my 2015 self introduced the topic pretty nicely, I’m going to go ahead and steal the beginning of this post from that older one!

What 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:


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:


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.

AH Collage

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

And now, for some brand new examples from Principle Gallery this year!

We are always thrilled to introduce you all to a new artist, and this Technique Tuesday post seemed like a great opportunity to introduce you to Gilbert Gorski, who brought us some incredible, brand new paintings this week! Gilbert utilizes pointillism extensively, particularly in his very wide, very realistic landscapes of trees. (Don’t forget- you can click on the images below to get a better look!)

Gilbert Gorski, “Teneramenta”

The dots are by no means easy to see on a photo like that! Our eye visually blends them and the colors and light almost take on a shimmering quality! Here’s a detail, though, to show you what you might not see in that image:

detail, “Teneramenta”

And here’s another painting, with another close-up detail below!

Gilbert Gorski, “Rinforzando”

detail, “Rinforzando”


To see the rest of Gilbert’s work currently at Principle Gallery, visit his page on our website by clicking here! And if you’re in the area, definitely come by to see these beauties in person– trust  me, nothing compares to the real thing!

Filed under: Fine Art Tagged: Art, Camille Pissarro, fine art, Georges Seurat, Gilbert Gorski, landscapes, oil painting, Painting, Paul Signac, pointillism, technique, Technique Tuesday, Vincent van Gogh

Technique Tuesday: A Painting Within a Painting

What is it?

Well, this week’s “technique” isn’t a difficult one to understand by any means, but it’s still plenty of fun to come across, and well worth a post! All kinds of art can be depicted in a painting– sculpture, architecture, jewelry, pottery, fashion, etc.– but today we’re going to take a look at paintings featuring paintings! (To my knowledge, there isn’t a concise term for this, but my personal vote is “paint-ception.”)

Examples from art history:

This is not a technique that’s going to go back as far as ancient times, but it does go back quite a ways and began to show up more regularly (you guessed it!) during the Italian Renaissance and in the centuries following. In fact, with the flourishing of artists and galleries in the Netherlands during the 17th century and the rise of “genre” paintings (scenes of everyday life), artists like Vermeer began to use the artwork he painted into his backgrounds to add to the message or story of the work. Let’s take a look at “The Love Letter” as an example:

Here’s a painting showing a young woman receiving a love letter, and there are two paintings visible on the wall behind her. The subjects of the paintings, it can be argued, relate to the receipt of this letter– the man walking a path in the top painting might speak of a lover who is on a journey of some kind, and the ship on a sea (often a metaphor for romantic relationships) depicting smooth sailing likely means the letter contains good news. It should be noted, however, that the artwork depicted in a painting doesn’t always have a deeper meaning; as art has become more and more a part of our lives over the years, it’s bound to show up in scenes depicting daily life! Here’s a look at a few more examples from art history (click for a better view):

(left to right) Diego Velazquez, “Las Meninas”; James Abbott McNeill Whistler, “Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1”; William Merritt Chase, “The Tenth Street Studio”; Rene Magritte, “The Human Condition”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

We’ve had many artists paint works featuring other paintings here over the years! Here’s a peek at a few:

(left to right) Lisa Noonis, “Red Couch”; Jeremy Mann, “Morning Light”; Hyseung Marriage-Song, “Studio Interior”; Philip Geiger, “Times Table”

If you happened to see Geoffrey Johnson’s fantastic solo exhibition last year, then you might remember “American Wing” and “American Wing II,” two paintings depicting figures observing paintings within a museum:

Geoffrey Johnson, “American Wing” (left) and “American Wing II” (right)

Well, we are THRILLED to be opening yet another spectacular exhibition from the unique and immensely talented Geoffrey Johnson. This exciting exhibition is set to open May 12th, but we already have a digital preview available, so feel free to email us at if you’d like to see one! This year’s exhibition from Geoffrey includes several of his signature scenes of New York City, as well as several interior scenes, a Biblical scene, another museum scene, and to our delight, several scenes of Washington DC! Given the topic of this week’s post, let’s take a look at some of the paintings depicting paintings:

“The Impressionist”

“The Sitting Room”

“Alvin’s Porch”

In case you’re curious, the painting depicted in “The Impressionist” is “Boulevard des Italiens, Morning Sunlight” by Camille Pissarro. As for “The Sitting Room,” the work shown is loosely based on Rembrandt’s “Descent from the Cross.” And for the final one, the large landscape shown in “Alvin’s Porch?” Well, that’s a lovely piece out of Geoff’s own imagination; this painting is a two-fer! Two original works by Geoffrey Johnson in one!

Filed under: Fine Art Tagged: art gallery, Camille Pissarro, Diego Velazquez, event, exhibition, fine art, Geoffrey Johnson, interior, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Johannes Vermeer, oil painting, Painting, Rembrandt, Rene Magritte, technique, Technique Tuesday, William Merritt Chase

Technique Tuesday: Movement

Let’s get back to some Technique Tuesday posts! This week, we’ve decided to tackle movement. Though this isn’t really a “technique,” it’s an aspect of art that many artists incorporate into their works and we thought we should talk a little about it!

What is it?

Movement is the way in which a piece can express a fluid motion or the possibility of it. It can be achieved in many ways, from the portrayal of a subject performing an activity to the distortion of the atmosphere within a scene. I would say that it’s easier to demonstrate action within figurative works in comparison to still lifes and landscapes, though these genres certainly can contain movement.

Depth, perspective, and painted strokes all have influence on whether a piece has movement, too. For example, the amalgamation of stroke marks aimed in a similar direction can express movement. The other two spatial factors, depth and perspective, are the means through which movement is possible. Space allows for dynamism and maneuverability of the subject, hence its affect upon a piece’s movement. What’s interesting is that it could also be stated in the reverse – that movement alludes to spatial depth.

Examples in art history:

Though movement can be traced throughout all of art history, I would just like to point out notable works that have this technique. As stated earlier, painted strokes, like those presented in Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” can create the allusion of motion. Here, the grouping of multiple painted strokes in a similar direction illustrates the movement of the wind, clouds, and night sky.

starry night

Vincent van Gogh, “Starry Night,” 1889

Another aspect that can allude to movement, specifically in figurative works, is the positioning of the human body. In ancient Greek, the concept of readjusting the body from a flat, stagnant position to a more dynamic posture became known as contrapposto. It is particularly defined as a relaxed stance where the body’s weight is shifted to one side, causing the shoulders and hips to drop on alternating sides. Not only did this make the work more realistic, but it added liveliness and dimension – key aspects of movement. Displayed below is the artistic development of contrapposto as demonstrated through sculpture, beginning with the ancient Egyptian “King Menkaure and his Queen,” then the archaic Greek “Kritios Boy,” and ending with a classical Greek athlete.


Each sculpture is significant in art history for they represent a culture’s perspective of ideals through contemporary craftsmanship. The progression seen above also presents a culture’s understanding of anatomical mobility and how to express it through rigid materials, like stone and marble. From the illustration above, it is evident that figurative movement was not only an artistic technique that improved through time, but that figurative movement was specifically achieved through the forward placement of the subject’s foot to a more realistic posture of contrapposto.


Marcel Duchamp, “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2,” 1912

Jumping thousands of years ahead, movement later became a technique that was constantly manipulated from realism into abstraction. Modern artists, especially within the early 20th century, had analyzed ways in which to distort forms and generate them into familiar, abstract compositions – think along the lines of Picasso and cubism! One such example of this technique’s tranformation into abstraction is seen in Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2.” Here, Duchamp used overlapping shapes and swift, downward strokes to notion the idea of a nude descending a staircase. The overlapping shapes also help define the figure’s movement and the pictorial depth – the space is not flat and two-dimensional, though the figure may seem to lay flat. If you look closely, the nude also seems to sashay down due to the different shapes’ placements, alluding to the classic contrapposto position and thus movement. I would also like to note that this piece visually relates to a series in that it uses the concept of time as well as multiple frames or individualized steps to express a subject’s progression. All of these factors, the overlapping shapes to the figure’s posture, demonstrate movement.


Another great modern art example is Umberto Boccioni’s “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.” Compared to the classical sculptures above, the artist integrated abstract concepts of movement similar to that seen in Duchamp’s work. The continuous, smooth planes of the figure’s arms and legs give the allusion that the subject is swiftly running through space. Like Duchamp’s piece, you can visualize the separate, individual motions though they are combined in one gesture. Moreover, the bronze material provides this fluidity of motion where the classical sculptures’ materials could not.


Umberto Boccioni, “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space,” 1913

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Again, many works displayed within the gallery employ this technique, but there are a few that I would like to specifically point out due to their relevance to the topics discussed earlier. Greatly inspired by classicism, it is only fitting to mention Robert Liberace in this post. He consistently creates figurative works that display a subject in motion or who appear to be in motion. Some notable paintings are “Study in Motion,” his “Metamorphosis” series, as well as “Ferryman.” Liberace is successful in portraying movement by using techniques reminiscent of classical works, such as contrapposto as well as pentimenti (traces of the original stroke marks). More specifically, pentimenti is the means through which the artist displays the figure’s previous motions.

Come see Robert Liberace’s mastery of the classics and this technique at his upcoming solo exhibition and painting demonstration on August 18th! Make sure to also check out our website for new arrivals, other events, and all of our available inventory. Feel free to contact us with any questions!

Filed under: Fine Art

Principle Gallery’s 23rd Anniversary

We are happy to celebrate another year here in Old Town Alexandria! So far, Principle Gallery has been a part of the Alexandrian community for 23 years now. April 4th marked another year of business for us, and to celebrate, we wanted to have a walk down memory lane of good times passed!



In 1994, Michele Ward, current Principle Gallery owner, had decided to open up the gallery on Cameron Street a few blocks away from where we are now. Years later, the gallery moved to its current location on King Street, otherwise known as the historic Gilpin House. To read a little about the history behind the building and its transformation over time, follow this link here!

Back room 315 Cameron Street

With over 2,000 square feet of space under a beautiful skylight, the King Street location is an ideal spot to display gorgeous art in a naturally lit, large space. The domestic interior with its mantles and chandeliers also provides a unique, familiar decor, unlike the typical white cube commonly seen in other galleries. We love sharing this space with artists around the world and welcoming our guests into our “home-like” gallery.

We would like to take the time to specifically thank all of you who have continuously supported us throughout all these years! It is such a pleasure and great honor to open our doors everyday to share our love for art with you.

Thank you!

Filed under: Fine Art

Technique Tuesday: Unblended Brushstrokes & Planes of Color

What is it?

Happy Tuesday! This week we’re looking at a style of painting in which depth, roundness, changing values, and changing colors are depicted using separate, unblended brushstrokes. If that still doesn’t sound very clear, no worries, let’s look at a visual example! Here are details from two paintings from our current (FANTASTIC!) exhibition, “Graceful Subtleties,” side by side (as always, you can click on the image to view it better!):

(left) detail from Louise Fenne’s “Sisters”; (right) detail from Jussi Pöyhönen’s “Coconuts”

Take a moment and observe the two different ways in which these artists used the paint to describe rounded forms. Louise’s brushstrokes are blended beautifully and give a soft and even slightly blurred appearance to the roundness of the young woman’s face and shoulder, and to the body of the little bird. The colors, values, and brushstrokes are blended seamlessly, one into another, and present a more true-to-life three dimensional effect. Now look at the contrast between that and the roundness of Jussi’s coconuts. Jussi’s brushstrokes are decidedly more defined, and rather than blending seamlessly, the different colors and values present as separate brushstrokes, and visually as separate planes. It creates a fascinating three dimensional effect, that is less strictly realistic and more painterly, and serves to create a glittering effect of light on these forms. It is this unblended, planar approach to describing form with brushstrokes that we’re going to take a look at today.

Examples from art history:

For a long time, during the leap forward in realistic painting seen during the Renaissance and through many centuries after, the academic standard in painting was a detailed, fully blended, fully rendered depiction of form. This is why, during the emergence of Impressionism in the 19th century, the effect of separated, unblended brushstrokes and the focus on separated planes of color was so jarring, and at first, frowned upon. Perhaps anything less than  the academic standard to which critics were accustomed at first appeared primitive and lacking in artistic merit– but the innovation and brilliance of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist style did not take long to win many over, and today is still a popular favorite among art lovers. There is an energy in this type of painting, a glittering play of light and exaggeration of form that is visually very appealing. Furthermore, the paint itself becomes a theme of the work, rather than solely the subject which the paint depicts. One begins to see the beauty beyond the image portrayed, and finds it also in the simple application and texture of the paint strokes themselves. Some of the most notable innovators of this technique include Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, and Vincent Van Gogh, and some excellent examples can be seen here:

top row: (left) Henri Matisse, “Derain”; (middle) Paul Cezanne, “Mount St. Victoire”; (right) Vincent Van Gogh, “The Large Plane Trees” bottom row: (left) Paul Cezanne, “Still Life with Seven Apples”; Paul Cezanne, “Portrait of Victor Choquet”

As a fun side note, the separation of rounded forms into more geometric planes, particularly in Cezanne’s work, also gives us an exciting glimpse at an art historical movement still to come in the early 20th century, Cubism! Playing with paint in this new way truly opened up the minds of so many artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, and of this century as well!

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Many artists that we show  here at Principle Gallery make use of this technique of unblended brushstrokes and planes of color, some in more subtle ways, and some in more obvious ways. Jussi Pöyhönen and Paula Rubino, however, are two of the most striking examples, and their works featured in the current Graceful Subtleties exhibition are excellent samples of how lovely the effect of this technique can be. Take a look below, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the entire exhibition on our website here!

Jussi Pöyhönen, “Coconuts”

Jussi Pöyhönen, “Jasmine”

Jussi Pöyhönen, “Tomatillos”

Paula Rubino, “Laji”

Paula Rubino, “Summer Clouds”

Paula Rubino, “Universal Pleasures I”

Filed under: Fine Art Tagged: Art, art gallery, exhibition, fine art, Graceful Subtleties, Henri Matisse, Impressionism, Jussi Poyhonen, oil painting, Paul Cezanne, Paula Rubino, Post Impressionism, technique, Technique Tuesday, Vincent van Gogh