Trained in the techniques of the old masters, Asheville-based artist, Gretchen Chadwick, now explores the abstract for the truths it tells her about herself and the nature of life. Putting down layer on layer of paint and cold wax, Gretchen builds her paintings as she digs deeply into the mystery that inspires them, allowing meaning to emerge spontaneously.
Gretchen always drew and painted. Once her three children started school in the mid-90’s, she began to study more seriously. Wanting to learn the best possible technique, she studied classical realism with renowned portrait painter Neilson Carlin at the Brandywine Atelier in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. She painted figures and portraits for many years, before growing dissatisfied with reproducing what she saw.
Seeking a more tactile, expressive, visceral approach, Gretchen began to experiment with abstract painting. Concurrently, at Sofia University in Palo Alto, California, she earned a master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology with a specialization in Creativity and Innovation. This course of study provided her with tools to look within and intuit the underlying processes of creativity, nature, and the psyche.
Six years ago, Gretchen moved to Asheville, finding a creative, free-spirited, progressive community surrounded by inspiringly beautiful mountains. She began to dance again, opening the door to a more embodied way of painting. As her life built upon her inner work and its outer expressions, Gretchen discovered cold wax. The medium was perfectly suited to Gretchen’s love of layers and textures.
Travel is an important part of Gretchen’s life and provides much of the inspiration for her new work. In recent years, she has driven across the US several times, explored the mountains and jungles of Peru, the beaches of Thailand, and the interior of Iceland. In 2017 she traveled to Nepal and Bhutan, fulfilling a lifelong dream. The colors, textures, and moods of these adventures have found expression in many of her recent paintings.