A couple decades of painting behind me and these days I find I know less about the work I make than my younger self claimed. She was so young, it was just too soon to tell.
I have been illustrating my life for as long as I can remember. Consistently I trust the term narrative to describe the context of my paintings. And while I often play lead role as I catalogue my own history, like every main character I can not predict where this is all headed, nor can I see the broader storyline as I navigate it in real time.
What interests me is not what the work is about, but how it got there to begin with. While I do so love that ease of tension in the back of my throat when I bring a piece to completion, that’s simply because I like to tidy things up along the way. The real power of painting for me is in the physical labor of narrowing down my ever-changing perspective into what ultimately becomes a flat, smooth, simplistic two-dimensional story.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, my paintings are the novel I’m still writing. And let me tell you, it is at least 1500 pages, heavy in footnotes, part two of a trilogy, prequel on record, sequel yet to come, and most definitely starts with this dedication: Hey mom, thank you for telling my kindergarten teacher to stop tearing up my drawings just because I wasn’t following directions.
Gretchen Gammell’s contribution as an artist is not limited to her ability to move paint. Her capacity to portray an emotion as both storyteller and painter are omnipresent. As you move through her work one cannot help but to note the use of color as an indication of mood, and size and scale as indications of emotional weight. Her characters often seem stoic but always have intense purpose and her tremendous ability as a painter serves that purpose.
Gammell graduated with a degree in painting from Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2003. She has exhibited her watercolor and figurative paintings for the past ten years in Oregon, California, Washington and Vancouver B.C. Her work remains rooted in exploring the female form and mind, while balancing personal issues with the pleasure and intrigue she finds through the unusual color and mark-making of her abstract paintings. Her work can be found in several private collections and notable public collections including the Max Hotel in Seattle and Bellevue Towers in Bellevue, Washington.