New work added to Fine Art!

collage, fine art, inspiration, painting, printmaking


The past few weeks have found me embracing, and loving, my fine art studio practice once again. I love that my program at Mass Art gave me such a wonderful opportunity to practice as a professional artist. It was a daunting, but prolific three weeks. Click the image below to see my new body of work: collage mono prints!

Nicole.Gsell.001l copy



All work subject to copyright. For purchase information, please contact me directly!

Going to the Gardner Museum

freelance, happiness, inspiration, sketches, watercolor

Going to the Gardner Museum

You are not allowed to take pictures at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I oh so loved the beautiful courtyard, which was decorated for Spring, and though how lovely it would be to come back sometime with my sketchbook and paints. I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to paint in there, but I wish I could. Anyways, this is how I felt when I was there. It’s one of the most magical places in Boston.

Darwin Romps

darwin, inspiration, mud pup, sketches, watercolor

I am doing a MAJOR update on my website, where my blog post images are the highlight of the front page of my website. This will keep you up to date on the latest things I am making, whether it is painting, drawing, knitting, collage, or moments from teaching.

I realized though that this wonderful sketch of Darwin, created in November 2013, has yet to grace the internets. Here he is!

Darwin Romps

Co-Pilots Portrait

character sketches, children's illustration, collage, crafty, darwin, digital, inspiration, kidslit, mud pup


This is one my most unique pieces in my portfolio. It’s the first time I have combined serious digital work with my watercolor work. AND it’s the first time I’ve used shadows in a piece of digital collage work. When I collage freehand, the shadows appear naturally. I am so excited with this new direction. This was such a fun experiment!

Vote for Bo! Just go vote!

autumn, character sketches, darwin, happiness, inspiration, kidslit, mud pup, sketches, watercolor

Today is Election Day. Which means please PLEASE PLEASE go vote! Don’t know who to vote for? Well, there’s always Bo. Trust me, when the results start pouring in, and nerves are high, you may wanna switch over to Cute Animals on Animal Planet later tonight. (Or now, via this live cam of cute kittens).

Here are Darwin and Emma to help inspire:


















Darwin and Sandy

autumn, character sketches, darwin, inspiration, kidslit, mud pup, sketches, watercolor

So Hurricane Sandy update – 1 week later …..

I did NOT lose power. No drama, no tragedies here for me in Brookline. In fact, we had such a low percentage of power outages. The same does not go true for my family in Long Island, and for them I feel terrible, and wish that the power comes back as soon as possible.

Since I did not go to work in the office, I had some downtime to reconnect with Darwin a little bit. I had quite a good time putting him in some raincoats and the like. Here are the results:

My Nona’s Story

family, grandmas are both italian, happiness, inspiration, italy, Uncategorized

Last night out at dinner, my Nona opened up to me after me not knowing anything my whole life. She started talking, and I to know it all.

What I learned is something I live by everyday:

“when you know what you want to know, it’s just in you. You have to do it. ” Anita felt that with her art, and also her cooking. I was inspired by her past:

Anita grew up in Trieste for the first 18 years of her life. Through the bombings of her home, losing everything, and then following her father and family to America (because that’s what you did, she says).

Her beau and later husband joined her in America shortly after with his family, and the were married when she was 20. Anita was a secretary in an office in Italy, but couldn’t do that in America because of the language difference. Her father told her she could make a lot of money in America, which she didn’t want necessarily, but got a job working in a factory sewing. Her mother-in-law moved in with her family, and tought Anita how to sew. She was a very good sewer, and knew Anita since she was 8. She loved her a lot.

When she lost her mother in law, and her husband (who was 56) she still had one of five children still to put through college. She had to go back to work. Her daughter and husband had connections in restaurant services and catering, so that’s what Anita did. She said it was the one thing she really loved and enjoyed doing. She was 50 after all. She became a caterer and became very successful at it. And she was very fast. “I was always very quick and good in the kitchen” she says. I had no idea she ran a kitchen like that, and cooked day and night. She was able to get her last child through college, and then could retire at 60.

These days we are lucky if we can afford loans for college. I will never stop thanking my parents for college. I can understand how hard it must’ve been only now in hindsight. The world was my oyster, my parents said. I could pick any college I wanted to go to, and once accepted we’d figure it out from there.

My Nona reminded me of how important a skill such as listening can be so powerful. It is a gift, it keeps you connected, it fills you with hopes and dreams for someone else for a change.

You know, yesterday Pinwheel Books went to the Brookline Rotary Club to speak, and hearing the charitable work all those people do every since day really affected me. Its made me want to give so much more back than ever before in my life. I guess that’s part of growing up? Being more community oriented than self centered? Regardless, I know talking to my Nona made us other feel very special. She has always never quite clicked with my fathers sisters, and neither me or my sister ever got along with them so great. So in being outsiders, we formed an alliance. Hey, what family doesn’t have teams?!

Anita said she wanted to write all of this down, it’s never left her, she could write a book! Well, I hope this post is our start to doing so.

A Sketch of my Nona

character sketches, children's illustration, grandmas are both italian, happiness, inspiration, italy, kidslit, sketches

I recently came across a really old sketch I had done in preparation for working on some images for my story “My Grandmas are Both Italian”.

This is an image of my Nona – Anita – mixing a bowl of food in the kitchen. She is always cooking us something great, while wearing her famous blue apron. Even though she doesn’t move about the kitchen as fast as she used to, she still has a grin on her face when she’s putting together a meal. There is so much love in her food, and so much love and light in her. She is the epitome of happiness, and I hope one day I can find that sort of contentment in my life.

Her tiramisu and gnocchi are her signature dishes.

This sketch is really light, so I had to play with it in Photoshop a little:


wandering thoughts

happiness, inspiration

today might be a sad feeling day.

My thoughts were wondering, as I looked out my window at work, and I thought of this:
i could look outside and see the trees still have no leaves,
the scattered trash on the ground, disgruntled people walking down the street.
or i could see the brilliant sun shining on my face,
feel the breeze beckoning spring,
listen to the soft twitter of the birds
and think, yes, this is something to be grateful for.
have a sunny day and appreciate it, everyone!

Proclamation to all in Picture Books!

I found this picture over at one of my favorite inspiring blogs showcasing Vintage Children’s Books: and just thought I’d share it with you all – this is going to be my manifesto in publishing going forward!

In the meantime, I’ve been animating my Sam and Ben book (pretty much a full time employee for Pinwheel Books), blogging all about publishing for Pinwheel ( and teaching art classes!

Look for new work soon, I promise. All good things!