Friday, November 22nd, 2019

Little Pretty: The Art of Gretchen Ryan

Published on March 13, 2009 by   ·   12 Comments Pin It

Gretchen Ryan is one of those people that you meet and instantly fall in love with, or at least I did.   Her energy seems almost saint-like, above gossip and frowns. She also is supermodel gorgeous, a tremendous artist, sweet as pie, and genuinely seems to care deeply about every living creature.   The fact that she’s in a wheelchair is an afterthought.   Perhaps her angelic spirit was enriched by a car accident she suffered as a teenager, but I think she’s one of those rare conduits to art and beauty in a dark and backstabbin’ universe. The experience of being driven off a mountain cliff   informs her incredible paintings by incorporating themes of human vulnerability, beauty in the absence of normality, and fixation on the perfection of youth. Gretchen’s portraits are both graceful and complex in their subject matter, and move you to question beauty and our obsession with it.

“I feel excited and happy, delighted, wonderful, confident, lovely, poised, beautiful and so much more. Being a Queen has made me feel like I am special. …Your thoughts determine what you want, your actions determine what you get.” —   Anna Randolph, 2006 Tennessee Supreme Beauty

Gretchen’s first New York exhibition at Fred Torres Collaborations (527 West 29th Street), Little Pretty, is an exhibition of paintings and drawings.   It will be on view from April 3rd through May 16th, 2009, and expect to see all the NYC Glitterati (including the GirlieGirl Army Generals) packing it in on opening night (Join us! *April 3rd from 6-8pm*) to get a glimpse of the LA artist’s luminous glow. Gretchen has created new portraits of child beauty pageant contestants for this exhibit. She started her career by painting her friend’s children, and in search of new models began frequenting children’s beauty pageants. Over the years, Ryan has developed close relationships with her models, and their families, often painting the same girl throughout her childhood. Ryan approaches her lushly layered canvases with deep respect for her models, and uses traditional portraiture techniques to capture golden ringlets, sparkling rhinestones, layers of tulle, and their bright, competitive spirits. Ryan’s paintings reflect society’s obsession with youth and beauty, and have quickly become a favorite of Hollywood celebrity elite.

Going beyond straightforward portraiture, her work is informed by personal and cultural influences including her dedication to animal rights, 18th century British portraiture, Coast to Coast radio shows, nature publications, and children’s fairy tale illustrations. These portraits successfully combine personal and societal subtext with the purity and beauty of youth. Born in Boulder, Colorado in 1975, Gretchen Ryan currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and four Chihuahuas; Rosie, Khane, Cal and Tyranny.

Photo Credit: Amanda de Cadenet, printed with permission of Gretchen Ryan

For more information on Gretchen; please see her website:

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Readers Comments (12)

  1. Ari Solomon says:

    Angelic is the only word that comes close to Gretchen Ryan. Her paintings will blow you away. Don’t miss her show in New York, it’s bound to be transformative.

  2. Beautiful work, thank you so much for sharing, how wonderful to find a new artist committed to animal rights too!

  3. Breath taking! Thank you for introducing Gretchen’s art to me! It is in these moments that one is reminded of the magic all around us! Blessings & Love… xxx G

  4. Rory Freedman, Skinny Bitch says:

    I am a HUGE fan of Gretchen’s work and wouldn’t dream of missing this highly anticipated show. I was fortunate enough to preview some of the pieces before they went of to the gallery and they were evocative and stunning in a way I can’t even begin to describe. This event is not to be missed.

  5. Emily says:

    gretchen glows! i was lucky enough to go to college in colorado with her, but i was not lucky enough to meet her… until 10 years later at a vegan party. i remember seeing this stunning woman by the fine arts building for years. my favorite painting in this collection is Olivia. it is truly breathtaking. GGA, you did an amazing introduction and description of her!

  6. peter says:

    Gretchen has never ceased to amaze me. This show will certainly not be an exception.

  7. Ben VanderZwaag says:

    Hi Gretchen. My wife Barbara and I had dinner last evening with your uncle Mike Homan. He introduced us to your work. My wife Barbara and I were moved. Please say hello to your mom for me.

  8. mike homan says:

    Hi gretch,

    I just wanted to wish you a Happy 35th birthday.

    love,uncle mike

  9. […] Courtney Love is obsessed with her.   She’s supermodel gorgeous, sweet as ripe dates, talented beyond rangoon, and a devoted animal rescuer and vegan.  Who are we talking about? The prolific artist, Gretchen Ryan. […]

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