Gretchen Jeens: Let’s Face It

An exhibit of 100 graphite and watercolour paintings of the faces of women: Ruth Upjohn Gallery

Artist Statement


During this unprecedented period of a pandemic and mask wearing, we are learning to understand thought processes through the pupil of the eye. But reading people’s emotions is done quite easily through facial expression. We can tell how a person is feeling because our own facial muscles respond in the same physical way to feelings such as anger or fear, rendering these responses universal. We know a person is angry as the lips purse and vertical lines appear as a frown between the eyes. We know a person is fearful when the eyes open widely exposing much more of the white of the eye and perhaps the mouth opens into a circle. But we are unable to determine what is causing an emotional facial expression just through an image of that reaction. It is in that discourse, and without giving a title to any of these paintings, that I invite you to decide what each face is expressing and perhaps what could be giving rise to each of the facial expressions in this exhibit.
With the use of line and a splash of colour, I hope to capture the emotion in the faces of these women in a whimsical and playful way.

Exhibition: All paintings are 6″ x 9″ and are $50 each. Below are 21 of the 100 images currently installed in the Ruth Upjohn Gallery


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Artist Bio


Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Gretchen Jeens majored in drawing and painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design, graduating with a BFA in 2009. She draws inspiration from the beauty of nature with a focus on exploring the complexities and experience of women through figurative painting. Working comfortably in oil, acrylic, watercolour, pencil, and pen, she achieves a whimsicality in the application of the chosen medium while delighting in the physical and emotional act of painting itself.

Earning many prestigious awards, her work has appeared in juried shows and group exhibitions including those of:

The Ontario College of Art and Design
The Women’s Art Association of Canada
Silverbridge Gallery, Bracebridge, Ontario
Deerhurst Lodge, Huntsville, Ontario
The Markham Group of Artists
The Society of Canadian Artists
The Annual Schoolhouse Group of Artists Show and Sale
The Annual Fall Exhibition and Sale at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario
The Distillery District’s Outdoor Art Exhibition
Barber Art Gallery, Guelph,Ontario
AWOL Gallery in Toronto
The Annual Spring Show and Sale of Muskoka Arts and Crafts
Auburn Gallery of Fine Art
Artworld Fine Art Gallery
Buckingham Gallery of Fine Art
Framemaster, Toronto, Ontario
The Canadian National Exhibition/TWAC earning Critic’s Choice 1st Prize Winner

Solo exhibitions include:

‘Let’s Face It’  Women’s Art Association of Canada
‘French Pastry’   Buckingham Fine Art Gallery
‘After the Party’   Artworld Fine Art Gallery
‘Solace in Newfoundland’   Auburn Gallery of Fine Art
‘Change of a Dress’   Chapel Gallery, Muskoka, Ontario
‘The Language of Clothing’   OCAD, Toronto, Ontario
‘Femme’   Auburn Gallery of Fine Art, Muskoka, Ontario.

  “My artwork is an observation of people and is as much about thought and sentiment as it is about shape and form.  With a focus on the emotional identity of women, I strive to present provocative images of hidden meaning.  Using photographs, magazines, and my own life drawings as inspiration, I create a narrative through colour and gesture. 

Aesthetically, I mix traditional with contemporary, abstraction with realism in my hand drawn and painted figures.  The most ordinary posturing becomes compelling and remarkably valid in the representation of the life experience of women.”  

Gretchen is currently represented by:

Artworld Fine Art Gallery, Etobicoke, Ontario
Auburn Gallery of Fine Art, Gravenhurst, Ontario
Buckingham Gallery, Uxbridge, Ontario
FrameMaster Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
Latitude 44 Gallery, Toronto, Ontario

Artist Contact


Contact: gret.ourhouse@sympatico.ca


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