ARTIST STATEMENT- Gretchen Treitz

For a long time, I have been making and painting on paper. I love its texture and absorbency. There is a certain sparkle that happens when watercolor collects over the fibrous surface. Recently, I have been working on a series of trees and flowers using silver leaf and watercolor on cold press paper.

The majority of my early work has been predominately abstract watercolor, only occasionally painting landscapes. Since moving back to Kentucky from New England, my main focus has evolved into more realistic images.

Trees and flowers are for me symbols of strength. I use them to explore the spiritual realms of the wilderness, the cosmos, and the mysteries of the soul. Trees represent perseverance, determination, steadfastness. I have an affinity with the artists Ryder, Blakelock, Augustus Vincent Tack, and early Chinese painters, all who used nature to search for the divine. Likewise, the celestial luminosity found in early manuscripts has affected my work.

Silver leaf, white gold leaf and aluminum leaf emulate a kind of ethereal light. I use these materials to represent the delicate vulnerability of sky, wind, atmosphere, and other environmental forces. Other times I use these metal leaves to embody the wonder of the life force of a tree’s progression against these forces. I am amazed how trees seem to personify a perfect being in adversity. They are a metaphor for hope.

My recent experiences have sent me on a deep spiritual quest. Painting trees and flowers with silver leaf is a catharsis, turning anguish into a purpose. When I am weak, a life forces inside makes me stronger. My versions of trees and nature are really about the faith within me. The trees and flowers I paint call forth the universal tension of opposites between matter and spirit.

The Kentucky National and State Champion Trees are some the subjects of my current work. My versions of these trees hopefully embody the wonder, spirit, and mystery of these majestic trees. It is my wish my tree pieces bring awareness to Kentucky's air quality, biodiversity, local climate, energy, and natural heritage. My flower paintings are also symbolic of the fragile nature of life.