New Year Reflections

2015-09-02 16.30.51.jpg

“Art Closet” door at my school




This year has been a blur of wonderful, stressful, topsy turvy events. I continue to find my footing as an adult by finally securing a full time job teaching art at the amazing Henderson Inclusion School (lower campus). The book Spit and Sticks, which I illustrated what seems like ages ago, was published and released to the public. I’ve been able to watch my students’ faces light up when they see that I illustrated a book that is on bookstore shelves, and share in their enjoyment of the pictures I created.

In addition to inspiring young ones, I immersed myself in a longtime love of mine and found my way back to a fine art series. The “Found Houses” developed into large, horizontal landscapes with dramatic lighting and scenery. I discovered similarities between watercolor and oil paint layering, using thin layers of paint and color to create highly emotive lighting in my compositions.


Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 5.23.35 PMMy creative reflections coincide with personal goals reached this year, collected in my “remember-lutions” jar I created with my sister. We recently revealed and relived the moments we jotted down on scrap paper that brought us pride or joy, and realized we had a lot to be grateful for over the year.

Two stress relievers of mine – running and sewing/knitting – hit an all time high this year. I challenged my body and trained for the B.A.A Half Marathon, and completed it in under 2 hours without stopping. And while I wasn’t training, I was sewing up toys and plush versions of my character Darwin. He is becoming more real every single day!

I’m hoping that Darwin’s stories find their way to me this coming year. I won’t stop drawing, sewing, and writing down all the bad ideas that pop into my head. All I can do is keep on going, and hope to share as much of the journey with you all in the years to come.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 5.28.31 PM

Wishing you all good things this 2016,


Spit and Sticks – the reviews are coming in!


I’m so excited to share some recent links to reviews of Spit and Sticks! I am getting great feedback from readers, parents, friends and followers. I’ll keep updating this post with more reviews as they come in:

  • Kirkus Reviews: November Treats: 
  • Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: extended review from Kirkus Reviews:
  • Special Feature on Bird Watching Daily:

    Perhaps the book’s greatest asset is its illustrations, by Nicole Gsell. I would imagine that a tale for children about a drab-colored bird, no matter how engaging, would be a tough sell to publishers. Gsell, however, presents a world bursting with color: Yes, her watercolors show the birds in shades of gray, but what stands out are the many hues of green, yellow, orange, blue, purple, and red in the yard, the sky, the chimney, and other settings.

  • Grohoske Evans’s words and Gsell’s illustrations, I would venture to bet, will help many a young reader discover and appreciate the fascinating little swifts that nest in our chimneys and swoop through our summer skies.

  • Pubilisher’s Weekly: 

    Teachers, parents and librarians who ask for more diversity in picture books might also applaud Gsell’s depiction of a mixed-race family in Spit & Sticks. Though the father in the book seemingly transcends ethnicity—conceivably American Indian, Mexican American or African American—the publisher receives credit for inclusivity when imagining a rural family in Texas.

Summer updates


I’ve been very busy since Mother’s Day. First, I graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and received my Masters of Arts in Art Education. The month of May was spent getting my teaching portfolio finished (images to come) and applying for teaching positions for the fall. Second, in going on interviews for jobs for the fall, I accepted a position at my student teaching placement, Henderson Inclusion Elementary School, as the new Art Teacher for grades K0-3. I am so excited to continue working with the amazing teachers and students I got to work with last year. I’ll be updating my teaching page on my website in the coming weeks as well.

Third, summer always means I’m teaching the ARTVentures Program at Brookline Arts Center! This summer I’ve moved up to working with the older kids and loving their creativity, independence, and high expectations for their work. Below are some of my favorite pieces from our themed week “Microscopic and Miniatures.” Next week I can’t wait for the engineering themed “Built It!” curriculum. Stay tuned!

And because I’m still painting and drawing like crazy, here’s a toy dinosaur doodle I made in watercolor. I’m digging the stegosaurus.

Steggie Doodle

Upcoming Exhibitions


I can’t believe how much my fine art has taken off in the past 6-9 months. About 6 weeks ago, I began a series of Abandoned Houses paintings that I am calling “What Do You Go Home To?” I’m hoping to start selling framed originals, matted prints and cards of these works in the upcoming weeks. For now, the originals will be on display in a number of locations:

March 26: Brookline Public Library “Open Studios” preview show will have the following work on display. Reception from 6-8 PM on the 26th!

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 8.10.21 PM

May 14th: Art off the Wall at Brookline Arts Center: for this event, I have donated 2 works (one 22×30 inch oil painting, and a small 7×9 inch watercolor) to be included in a silent auction. These works are valued at 250-350, and I couldn’t be more excited at the chance to not only see my work sell, but support the Arts in Brookline that I love so much! The following pieces will be sold:

NicoleGsell.Piece2  Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 1.47.41 PM

And FINALLY, I have just received word that my abstract painting from the Rhythms Evolving II series “Time to Stop” is going to be on display in the Mass Art All School Show!

More information on the show can be found on the Mass Art Website hereNicoleGsell.Piece3

Winter is here


It’s the first week of January, and winter is finally here. There’s a chill in the air, a pale white hue over much of the outside world; and on clear days, brilliant sunlight and sunsets. The snow seems to be falling in short bursts, rather than blowout storms (knock on wood!), and this morning we had a bit of flurries. Seeing that winter dulls my palette, I’m playing with tone, contrast, and white-on-white compositions. I have yet to explore it in my fine art, but whipped out this little Westie in the Snow illustration. For those who don’t know, this is Willard, Darwin’s brother:


Merry Merry


2015 is right around the corner. I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by. I’ve never been busier and more energized about life; my brain is like fireworks! Creatively, I have a lot to be proud of. I took on many new studio challenges, including broadening my fine art portfolio. I worked larger than I ever have before, creating paintings bigger than me, and combated fears and doubts I had about myself as an artist. On top of all this, I recovered from a broken wrist, and completed my first illustrated book to be published by one of the top children’s publishers in the country! I look back at the journey with humility, and am grateful for all the abilities I have.

Student teaching continues to amaze and inspire me every day. In my days off, I reflect back on what I see happening in classrooms, how students approach the assignments, and ways to challenge and encourage deep understandings. I’m proud to call myself an art educator, an artist, an illustrator, a crafter, a young adult making her way in the world. My thanks and appreciation go to all who I’ve met along my journey this year, and I look forward to the journeys to come in the following year.

I’ll end with a small sketch that I made during one of my commutes to work a few months back, reminding me to do what I always do without fear or judgement. I encourage you all to do the same.




Co-Pilot Adventures continue…


Now that Spit and Sticks is complete (to be out in June 2015!!) I have more time to spend on my original stories and portfolio. Darwin and Emma, as always, are dancing around in my head, and so is their story about airplanes and being co-pilots. So I combined the idea with the Fall theme, and came up with this little ditty:

Watercolor and digital collage CoPilots in the Leaves web

Also, Darwin in his homemade airplane:

Darwin Plane webYou’re welcome!

Work from Fall coming soon!


Beginning my new year long teaching position at Henderson Inclusion School has me super busy. Between schoolwork, teaching, and having a life, I have less time to update my blog. However, this does not mean I’m not creating work!! The 2 hours of back and forth commute each day have me drawing and inking in sketchbooks constantly, and I’m trying to get as many new ideas down on paper as I can.

Back in September, I had this idea to illustrate some sassy ballerinas. Here are the results (white-ish background, and collaged background. Watercolor original)

Ballerinas White Back webBallerinas web

Halloween Costume inspiration…Rosie’s Girls


Spoiler alert..I am going to be Rosie the Riveter for Halloween this year! It’s a perfect costume because I own all the components already, plus, I have the hairstyle for it. I did a little picture research for how some others have done the costume, and came across some great looking youngsters. I was inspired to create an empowering picture of young girls embodying the Rosie pose, hence why I’m calling this one Rosie’s Girls. Watercolor and digital collage: