Atlanta Artist Gretchen Wagner’s Textured Work Delves into Color Theory and Geometry – WABE

In the “City Lights” series “Speaking of Art”, local artists share their insights into their influences, processes and experiences in the city.

Gretchen Wagner is an Atlanta-based artist and designer who produces paintings and prints exploring color theory and geometry. Her background in textiles and printmaking is visible in her work through surprising textures and layers that seem to transcend her media. The materials used by Wagner often extend beyond the surface of the canvas, incorporating finely structured fabrics and beads to deceive the eye.

She explains her method: “For the past year, I have been developing a relief printing method where I laser cut my plates to ensure precision and modularity. In the printing process, I work with pre-determined color schemes that will generate complex color interactions. After printing, my work is sewn with a matrix of glass beads. Wagner adds, “Embellishment, in addition to overlapping layers of color, prevents the eye from inferring the true identity of a single color in each print.”

The fundamental mysteries of color interaction have always fascinated Wagner, ever since his childhood spent exploring with jars of water and a box of McCormick food coloring. “In my makeshift outdoor kitchen, I had my introduction to color theory,” Wagner said. His scientific instincts remain strong today, as Wagner seeks laboratory conditions in his art studio and develops his work through a methodology of hypothesis, experimentation and analysis.

Currently pursuing a master’s degree in painting at SCAD, Wagner expressed his appreciation for the college’s lively and collaborative atmosphere. “I love a good gallery opening. The buzz of artists, collectors and galleries talking about great works, combined with the giddy buzz of a glass of champagne before dinner, is just perfect,” Wagner said.

His work is currently viewable in collaborative formats at SCAD Atlanta and archived on his website She is also on Instagram at @studio_gretchenwagner.

Sharon D. Cole