A painting by Gretchen Warsen. COURTESY PHOTO

‘Float’ Featured at Parish Center for the Arts

In The Gallery Sundays in June, 12 – 2 p.m. and by appointment

This June, residents are invited to visit the gallery and view Gretchen Warsen’s “Float,” an exhibit of abstract, water-based mixed media and pencil on Yupo (synthetic, waterproof, and recyclable) paper. Her paintings are whimsical worlds of color and line, containing organic and architectural shapes that combine imagination and invention.

“There is something about working on paper that seems full of possibilities, like when I used to make art as a child,” Gretchen explained. “My dad is an engineer, inventor, sculptor and metalsmith. Watching him work out ideas on paper and then move ahead with a project was powerful, like catching a glimpse of how his mind worked. For me, the fact that paper is so inexpensive, abundant and light, makes the combination of drawing, mark making, experimenting and problem-solving come together effortlessly–like floating down a river, or a balloon drifting upward–which is why I called this show ‘Float.’

Each piece is inspired by something small, or seemingly insignificant yet beautiful, that caught the artist’s eye that morning–a new leaf, the lines on a bridge, insect wings, etc.

“I like to ask questions while I’m painting like, ‘What if God designed a mailbox?’ Or, ‘What if a building had moth wings?'” she said.

Warsen grew up in rural Maine, supported by a family full of creative people, where the weather and raw landscape made their impression on her. She graduated from Bates College with an art degree and spent part of her junior year at the Tyler School of Art in Rome. After the birth of her first daughter, she left a graphic design job to become a full-time mom, but made art more of a priority 10 years later. As a painter and graphic designer, Gretchen Warsen lives in Westford with her husband, two girls (both in middle school), and several pets.

Side note: Gretchen is right handed, but draws and paints with both hands, sometimes simultaneously!