New Year Reflections

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“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.

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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.

Falling Into Art: new work and updates

art education, children's illustration, fine art

DotDayHenderson2015Fall is off to a great start here in Brookline! For one, I’ve begun year two at the Henderson Inclusion Elementary School in Dorchester, MA as an Art Teacher. I’m so excited to continue working with students old and new, and try out new projects and techniques! We just finished celebrating International Dot Day, culminating with a Dot Tree by first and second graders (shown above)

Some highlights of projects I’ll be doing with students include Tree Weavings with Third graders, Andy Goldsworthy inspired nature art with pre-schoolers, shape monsters with Kindergarteners, and Leaf People with First graders.

We are making murals on the bulletin boards around the school as a part of the after-school program, and students chose to decorate the lunch room boards with the phrase “Falling Into Art”. We still have some work to do, but it’s coming along:


In addition, I’m diving into my fine art and illustrative work. My illustrative work has been on a pause in lieu of Spit and Sticks launching in 9 days, and school starting. My fine art work has been developing since early summer, and I have two pieces in a faculty show at Brookline Arts Center. They are on display until October 16:

Both pieces are sold/on loan, but I have more pieces on the way that are for sale, and will have postcards and greeting cards of my Found Houses series available for holiday craft sales soon.

The Brookline Arts Center also launches their Artistic Migration Installation project today at Brookline Day! I was excited to be a part of the project marketing by creating a postcard and map depicting where the bird sculpture we are creating will travel to and from. Check out the postcard below, and click for more details on how you can be a part of the project:


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

Darwins for Sale

character sketches, children's illustration, darwin, mud pup, sketches, watercolor

I’m so excited to announce some sales of my work coming up! Look for a second post about my fine art sales happening this weekend, and next weekend (May 3rd) my Darwin plushes and cards will be selling at the Mass Art Spring Sale! I am so excited my work was picked for the sale.

I’m creating a Darwin “Look Book”, a short introduction for those who don’t know this pup, to sell with the plush toys. These are some of the images I created for the book:


Let me know in the comments if you have favorites!!

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!

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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:

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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: