Leftover Fruitcake



...Then I went grocery shopping and then my dogs were completely ungrateful for their lives of luxury and then I stopped at the uber chic wine bar a block from my shoddy studio and then I had to explain to the sexy beard man that I was cooking Mexican food tonight and maybe that doesn't go with wine but I'm a bohemian so those rules really don't apply and what could he recommend that I wouldn't have to sell a tit for.

If you think you are a bad ass, calm, rational, put together, especialistically moral, tough, broad, real son of a gun, I'd like to see you paint a red onion.

I came back from an 'eh' vacation with job security on my mind and deadlines in my heart

Listening to a podcast about Van Gogh the other day I was struck by his letters.  He wrote to every sibling. Theo the most, sharing the intimacy of his hospitalizations, the change of palette as he left the Dutch and met the French. 

But, to his sister, he talked of the finite; single paintings to every last detail; hair color, complexion, the chair in the room.

Scholars ascribe his sensitivity to her lack of intelligence in the art of painting.

I know a lot of dumb people, this doesn't mean I only speak to them in color.

As a women and sister myself, I know all too well the sensitivity that comes with a man telephoning me and starting the conversation with, 'I've been blue..."

The next night i confessed sausage was on my cooking itinerary and walked out of my new dealers locally etched door with a French Bordeaux; crammed so far in my deep purse it felt nearly naughty.

At this point I'm days deep into a dark secret painting momentum, the antithesis of job security on my mind and deadlines in my heart. 

That first Tempranillo led me down a path of peppers and lemons, darkly patterned gingham table spreads?

Then I drank the Bordeaux and was all, "Pomegranates and woven baskets are my point, from now until forever."

sharp as hell

sharp as hell

If I were to send my siblings a letter accounting the moves I make in my studio, each blueonthe brush, hypervescent yellows, they'd think I lost my mind. Between the two a text poem would ensue, rhyming my name with the only three words my name can be rhymed with, derision or not;

Gretchen is Wretched

Probably in the Kitchen

Fetchin' a reason to keep K'vetchin


I'm on a date with my husband and the featured wine is a French blend, I take this as a sign,order it immediately and rant about the asymmetry of red peppers. 

His original text read that he felt he hadn't seen me in a week.

He thinks I'm depressed.

I can't tell because all I can see is the tableaux of silverware, salt shaker, fork and steak laid all in a row across his buttoned shirt horizon.

I return to the studio.

Lemons proliferate across the table settings I am now knee deep in.

I find this interesting as they are the only produce I tuck deep in a produce drawer.

Onions, potatoes, peppers, apples to oranges, garlic meats, they pile into bowls around my kitchen, spill all over the wood island.


I am so sensitive to temperate citrus needs.

From what I have read, Van Gogh painted in lucidity. He was plagued by depression and illness. His body and mind went to seed during these times and he did not produce artwork. When he revived, his paintings were forceful, his choices purposeful, his letters detailed to the last drop. 

sweet and sour

sweet and sour

Tonight I drink French again. The wine shop lady mentioned that I cook great food and buy great wine and she wished she could come to my home.

I just thought, 

Oh lord, 

French Lady, 

You have no idea,

I wanna go to that house too.

It is sausage, beans and greens and, Gretchen just brought home high end wine so let's make popcorn, kind of home.

You are all welcome here.

Today I worked on the empty walls behind each pile of peppers and carrots I've been fussing with.

Van Gogh was a portraitist by nature, as am I.

At one point he shared his tiny home with Gaugin for a month. Two artistic sardines under one roof. What happened?

Is this when he noticed a chair? Because when Vincent notices a chair, he really notices a chair.

We were leaving  our California vacation, clearing out the sexy house four of us rented.

A Pink Lady Apple came up for debate, no one had eaten it, no one wanted to eat it, apparently the fruit basket was relegated simply to lemons.

I was walking down the FUCKED-UP-STEEP stairs when consensus rang down that PINK was trash.

Papayas, pickles, roses, baskets, vases, utensils, cabbage, peppers, citrus, salt shakers, peaches, apples

These make up Still Lifes

I am painting in this genre as the moment passes. 

But I realize, there is nothing Still about a Life.

salad days

salad days

Mother Hubbard

Two avocados, three cans of crushed canned tomatoes, and a down comforter biding it's time at a dry cleaners down the street that I can't afford to pick up:

I introduce you to to my kitchen and the general state of affairs over here.

Perhaps I should not send my goods to a dry cleaner?

Many times my dog has pissed on a comforter and many times I have tried to handle these incidents in an economical way.

The last time I tried this, my washing machine broke and I thought soaking the comforter in my bathtub would make sense, until I discovered that pulling a liquid-soaked comforter from the tub and depositing it into a dryer was the equivalent of pulling a small dead body from my tub and depositing it into the dryer, and these things just don't work and it's embarrassing to call anyone for help unless it's the guy living five floors down that has a crush on you and ends up marrying you.

"You Love Me Like a Pet I Once Abandoned at my Parents' Home While I Went and did Something for Myself for a Long Time."  48x60

"You Love Me Like a Pet I Once Abandoned at my Parents' Home While I Went and did Something for Myself for a Long Time."


So, to recap, I only send my shit to the dry cleaner to save the condo complex from flooding and have not yet picked up said comforter because I can't quite pay for it yet, not because I am a diva. 

When I become a diva, trust me, I will not be wasting those power-plays on an IKEA comforter.

I nearly ran away from home in my late teens. I had dropped out of college, after entering college early. Either way, it was all too soon for me.

I did NOT end up running away, thanks to a girlfriend, her sewing scissors, a small quilt, and a story for another time. Instead, I cut all the hair from my head and made a vow to paint more, paint better, paint harder. 

Many years of my mothers tear's began the next morning when she woke to my chopped head and sent me off to a salon where I sat defiantly under shears and judgement.

So, fifteen years later, to find myself bent over the sink while my husband shaves the left side of my head as we discuss our taxes and sensitive toothpaste takes a little edge off the present banal.

I never thought I'd be in such a safe place.

All of it is boring, this adult bullshit.

We vacillate between comfort and breathing heavily in small spaces. Often that small space is our own space we pay too much rent for.

I paint full time but it hangs by a small string and I will probably head back to a part time job in a moments notice.

I'm pretty sure that moments notice is sleeping in the unopened cereal box behind the opened cereal box I am plowing through every morning.

......which brings us back to a couple avocados and a stockpile of potential spaghetti sauce.

For those of us tired, waking to empty Keurig filters, cursing the peanut butter jar, late for work, reaching for more:

I thought I'd be able to buy that really really good food for my dogs by now and I can't, so I hear you.

Perhaps the greatest discipline is to keep the discipline.

I'll do it, if you do it.

Glimpse of Glimmer

Caught in the Most Delicate of Rockfalls - 30x30  From Muscle Memory  Showing at Hall | Spassov Gallery   319 3rd Ave S  Seattle, Wa 98104  August 7-31, 2014.

Caught in the Most Delicate of Rockfalls - 30x30

From Muscle Memory

Showing at Hall | Spassov Gallery 

319 3rd Ave S

Seattle, Wa 98104

August 7-31, 2014.

The night before an opening can consist of many things and I would do well not to speak for other artists,


my case history boils down to five simple ingredients:

Train travel (one of our last remaining icons of simple visitation). 

Nerves (every last one of them is gasping for attention). 

Wine (it's so pretty, it tastes so good, and, well, all those nerves....).

Pedicures (what's the point of new shoes if your feet look like tarantulas).

Gratitude (I would buy train tickets and heavy bottles of Barbera and pedicures for all my loving supporters if I could).

Painting is a solitary sport.  The majority of my life is spent in this solitude. It gets loud when one of my dogs barks. It gets really loud when I curse my frustrations. The silence of concentration can be deafening at times.

Deadlines overlap and intermingle, and as a working artist I often lose track of the day of the week. This can be extremely disorienting in the same vein that it is liberating.

Opening night is tomorrow.

I was standing on a street corner with a bag full of sesame snaps debating iced coffee ratios with an old friend I ran into while my clock ticked off that I would NOT make my train on time if I didn't walk away and get my shit together in the next six minutes.

His direct quote was: 

"You are going to miss your train if you don't leave in the next six minutes."

I think I may have been stalling. By accident? Subconscious?

I have been painting professionally for 14 years. The nerves do not subside. I think they grow, like fingernails, like fucking mold. 

It's embarrassing to be a human.

It's awkward to be open and for sale.

It's awesome to recognize that and DO IT ANYWAY.

It's important to wear great shoes and say Thank You.

It's an honor to know that y'all will be there, in body or in spirit, and I curtsy to that.


Hey Babes, That's Travel

I entered Costa Rica under the impression that my travel paints might gather a lovely synopsis of foliage and water bugs.

I exited Costa Rica with a broken colon, four dollars, and a black eye.

It  takes over two weeks to work parasitic bugs out of your system and your ravaged intestines leave you with disorders that require trips to urgent care, Walgreens, and the pro-biotic section of the farmers market. 

All your friends might start calling you "HEMMY", but hey, it's better than "DECEASED."

A Ferocious Skin Trade

A Ferocious Skin Trade

Re-entry is fun:

Water is free, good microbrews are just right near that water (oh, I'm sorry, this applies when re-entering the Pacific Northwest. It's really such a true thing...)

Your friends often believe you nearly starved and/or drank sewage, so they feed you fresh sushi and gift cards! But, the truth is, you poisoned your intestines with local ice at the local beachside 2 for 1 mojito show.....


Friends, it WAS a monkey, and monkeys are dangerous. That's why, when vomiting and shitting in your hacienda for hours straight after midnight, it is SMART to keep that window closed.

Yoga? No. Dysentery? Yes.

Yoga? No. Dysentery? Yes.

Monkeys are there

They don't like you. 

Scorpions don't like you. 

Iguanas don't  like you.

Suffocate yourself.

It was scary/infuriating to be lost in the crocodile estuary while perched on paddle boards until the rescue boat arrived.

I'm a really good surfer.

I'm a really good surfer.


My eye socket has permanently taken the shape of that surfboard that knocked me semi-conscious. 

Tabi doesn't actually have malaria, so there's truly a silver lining to every cloud.

Macheted head

Macheted head





We'll never know the cause of death to that poor boa constrictor that washed up on our feet with the undigested rodent in its belly, but hey, life is FULL of mystery.


Portland meets Costa Rica

Portland meets Costa Rica

Tabi and I arrived home on our layover flight in LA to the tune of milkshakes and reliable plumbing. (cheeseburgers)

I arrived to my mom's illness.

Tabi arrived to the reality of grad school.

Arrival is grounding. 

Remembering is funny.


I find my current schedule so confusing:

When I wake up,

do I exercise? 

Do I visit my mother at the hospital?

What's Tabi doing?

Do I walk the dogs first?

Do I make my husband pancakes at least once this week?

Do I really wake up?

How do I paint? Anything. All of this.

I took a long vacation to take a long break from all of this.

This was a fluke.

This was a fluke.

Pelicans fly pretty close to the surface of the ocean. While you are jumping waves or trying to catch the next surf, something might look good to a pelican, so it flies quite high above the  situation, tucks its thick self deep against its body and dive bombs the moment like a mission.


(If you wanna take the risk of going to Costa Rica to get that pelican adrenaline flow, that's fine, but really it was quite a dangerous adventure and I've been quite sick since, so if you just wanna trust me, it was MAJESTIC.)

I am home now, waking  up, Cheerios, delivering stool samples, running out of toothpaste and picking up twelve packs of La Croix soda water. 

My dogs have not had a bath in weeks, I literally can not keep my internal intestines inside my bowels, deadlines are looming, I need a vacation from the vacation,

but hell, I am painting.

Me gusta.


What if I Told You a Story About the Time I Lost My Sh*t

In every young artist's life (I use the term 'young' rather loosely because I'm 33, which, to my parents translates as young, but for the rest of us, LET'S BE REAL.  It's non-young.  33 is the age we never thought about as it melted into a bland, no-name oldness.  A decade that encompassed baby making/raising, lame references to music heard in high school, caffeine restriction, and, OH YEAH, the death of JESUS.  So I guess it's a pretty significant decade)...

Let's start again.

In every maturing artist's life an opportunity comes along that sounds big, smells big, and therefore is big enough to swallow you whole and spit you out the other side, quite disoriented and better/worse for wear.

Well, that happened to me.  And I feel old now.

In Progress

In Progress

Once upon a time a commission came down the line to paint my interpretation of an all-time classic, The Last Supper.  I don't remember the first time I fell in love with the original.  Da Vinci's piece has been with me as long as I can remember.

Sunday school:  LAST SUPPER.

Catholic School:  LAST SUPPER. 

Getting bit by that dog:  LAST SUPPER.

First Kiss:  LAST SUPPER.

Deep, many-years-long depression:  LAST SUPPER.

First dog:  LAST SUPPER.

First divorce:  LAST SUPPER.

Freedom from repression:  LAST SUPPER.

           (Woah, heavy.)

Peanut Butter:  LAST SUPPER.

I think you get the point (I spared a lot of details and you are so welcome).

Anyway, I took the job.

It went down like this:


Me:  "OKAY!"*

         *Privately in studio - "I'm scared!"

                               (One hundred exclamation points.)

                               (One hundred thousand.)

Losing My Shit

Losing My Shit

The most common question I receive as an artist is, 'what do you paint?'

I can not speak for all artists, because, quite possibly, some artists have a great answer for this and receive it with relish:




I have no such clear-cut answer, so when faced with this question I make a weird sound and oh- so-casually change the subject. 

I paint everything that holds my attention for at least five minutes and nothing that doesn't. 

I paint things that come to me by accident and things I have to search out with diligence.

(I will also paint your pets.)

I believe a question that elicits a more thorough and truthful response from any artist is, 'How do you paint?'

The time between the beginning of an art project and the end is what encompasses the day-to- day of my life.  It has a clean word, PROCESS, but really, it's everything I'm doing when not taking a shower or trying to figure out the ratio of rice to water in a pot on my stove, again.

So, when asked to paint The Last Supper, I paint The Last Supper.

Well, it took over my process/life. 



I work on multiple projects at the same time, but a commission of this scale and complexity dominated my studio.  The painting soon evolved from a third party sharing the space with me and my dogs into a sci-fi soul that followed me around town, questioning, pleading, nagging, cheering.  This is around the time when I began wearing nothing but sweatpants. 

I have a clear vision when I begin a painting, but I never get attached to it. The image of the piece remains nebulous while the context retains definitive statements in the back of my head.

These statements can be as clear as: 

'The tension remains in the background and the third man's elbow.'

Or as vague as:

'Triple cat.  Triple nude.  Veil.'

I call these the 'bones', and the process orients around this skeleton.

I paint and then I edit.  After initial editing I paint more.  Then I edit more.  As soon as I've painted too much, I edit too much.  And then I paint more.

This piece took my process off guard, spun it around, got it drunk, stroked its ego, spit in its face, shook its hand, kicked my ass. 

This is the beauty of extending ourselves into uncomfortable places.

This is where we confront ourselves.  This is where we make things.

I have learned to appreciate scaring the shit out of myself by making things.

The whole experience reminds me of that time I casually agreed to watch the musician Katy Perry's documentary, thinking it would be a simple deviation from my normal routine,  only to find myself moved to embarrassing tears. 

I had to smoke three cigarettes and kick some tree stumps to pull myself together.


Peace, Gretchen.

The Last Supper - 48x180

The Last Supper - 48x180

Champagne Wishes

I recently got an iPhone.  DONT FREAK OUT.

I freaked out.

Most of all, this gadget improves my communication skills from, "I can't understand your text message because it is too big for my phone.” 


“Oh, hey, I love this picture of your graham cracker". 

So, I am reborn.

I found myself laying in bed fiddling with the organizational skills of “Champagne,” as I'm apt to call her, and began entering super important THINGYS into my reminder app. 






5 - something with somebody... Important.


8  - PAINT



Onward! (Sideshow 48X60)

Onward! (Sideshow 48X60)

As a young girl I always had a dream of becoming a secretary:  heavy black telephone ringing, my pencil skirts swishing, every file folder coordinated by color and alphabet letter (but also corresponding to obscure literary/lyrical references only the most poetic of secretaries might get a light laugh from), memos, secretary day, concrete notes, stamps at my disposal.

Turns out, I became a painter for a living, antithesis to the well filed life I'd dreamed of.

UNTIL THIS APP:  Color coordinated, hourly alerts, day frames, file names, a space and slot for every appointment necessary.

I like to think of myself as an organized person, I hope I am on point, timely, purposeful, mindful, clean.

So I started throwin shit into those slots.

After a week I found my reminders not "pinging" in collaboration with my studio.

Painting continues to be fluid whether I want it to or not, and it just became incredibly SATISFYING, yet confusing once put into tiny electronic print.

Tiger mouth research?  NOT IN THE SCHEDULE.

The color of small unripe eggs?  NOT IN THE SCHEDULE.


Run out of matte medium?  WE DONT HAVE AN INTERN FOR THAT.


Wash the unclean stretch pants you keep wearing?  WHEN!?!? For the love of God, WHEN?!

And that, my friends, is the beauty of doing what you love for a living.

The Randomness of Life (Ill-Gotten Fruits 48x24)

The Randomness of Life (Ill-Gotten Fruits 48x24)

I spent a decade serving customers pancakes and refills.  Those years lie close to my heart and within an inch of deep scars, hilarity, and rage. 

I had a graphed schedule, set pay, clear expectations, and a plan. 

The joy I feel in working full time as a painter does not translate into a coherent schedule.  Money ebbs and flows. 

Expectations shift and the only plan is to keep paying attention.

New App: 'Week Spots'

Monday:  Yoga, walk dogs, take painting to local shipping shop, contemplate complicated packaging of painting, read every greeting card in the bloody place, yoga, walk dogs, find big pizza.  Take two showers in a row, BECAUSE.

Tuesday:  Dentist, walk dogs, paint, yoga, feel sad for fifteen minutes, read literature, paint, walk dogs, hideous run, Mexican food?

Wednesday:  Early rise, paint paint paint, yoga yoga yoga, random margarita, eight hundred emails, collage, lots of beers, check actual snail mail box.  Swear.

Thursday:  Can't even remember this day.  Many things happened.

Friday:  Yoga. Paint. Pay parking ticket(s).  Steal magazines from communal coffee table for collage.  YELL AT DOGS, feel terrible, wonder about everyone, write blog post, return phone call from mother.

Weekend:  None of your business.


What feels better than a clean slate?  

Now that I am able to welcome everyone back to my freshly updated website I look forward to sharing more consistently the happenings in Gammell Atelier (as a dear friend likes to refer to this studio of mine).

Please feel free to check in at any hour to hear of upcoming events, shows, projects that are keeping me busy and challenged all hours of the day and night. 

Along with announcements I plan to include notes and happenings here in the studio: my endless quest to invent a new color, the trouble with painting tree bark, the people I turn to when I have no answers, more coffee (tea? yes, that too.)

For those of you who don't know me and for those of you who have not seen me in a long time, I leave you with this self portrait. It is a perfect likeness. 


A Woman In a Situation