Atlanta artist Gretchen Wagner's textured work delves into color theory and geometry

Gretchen Wagner is an Atlanta artist and designer whose paintings and prints explore color theory and geometry. (Gretchen Wagner)

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

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

She explains her method: “For the last year, I have been developing a method of relief printing where I laser cut my plates to ensure precision and modularity. In the printing process, I work with predetermined color schemes that will generate complex color interactions. After printing, my work is sewn with a matrix of glass beads.” Wagner adds, “The embellishment, in addition to the overlapping layers of color, impede the eye’s ability to deduce the true identity of a single color in each print.”

The fundamental mysteries of color interplay have always fascinated Wagner, since her days as a child spent exploring with jars of water and a box of McCormick’s food coloring. “In my makeshift outdoor kitchen, I had my intro to color theory,” said Wagner. Her scientific instincts remain strong today, as Wagner seeks out lab-like conditions in her art studio and develops her work according to a methodology of hypothesis, experimentation and analysis.

Currently pursuing an MFA in painting at SCAD, Wagner expressed her appreciation for the college’s busy and collaborative atmosphere. “I love a good gallery opening. The hum of artists, collectors, and galleries talking about great work, in combination with the lightheaded buzz from a before-dinner glass of champagne, is just perfection,” said Wagner.

Her work is currently on view in collaborative formats at SCAD Atlanta, and archived at her website She’s also on Instagram at @studio_gretchenwagner