If you've ever worked with watercolors before you know what a difficult medium it is to master. In the hands of a novice watercolors are nothing more than a mess of muddy colors. In the hands of a skilled artist they are nothing short of beautiful…
Watercolor artist Gretchen Finch grew up in southern New Jersey; however, teenage visits to Wyoming established in her a love of the West. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Arizona where she was active in the university rodeos, competing in the women's events.
Gretchen married Pete Finch, and they became dude ranchers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, first at Turpin Meadow Ranch and later at Fir Creek Ranch. Opportunities to paint were slim in the busy environment of hosting and cooking for dude guests, raising five children, working at their wilderness hunting camp, and conducting Bible studies for women. She did find time, however, to design an annual Christmas card depicting snowy winter scenes on the ranch, to which Pete would add his inspiring poetry. Her watercolor sketches of local wildflowers adorned the guest rooms.
Widowed in 1990, Gretchen moved to Whitefish, Montana, where she at last became serious about painting. Since then she has produced not only her illustrated cookbook, Cooking In the Spirit: Gleanings From a Dude Ranch Kitchen, but also watercolors of a wide range of subjects, her favorites being ranch scenes and portraits. Ever since high school days she has wanted to be a portrait painter. Her eleven grandchildren have provided excellent subjects. Now she creates lively commissioned portraits of children, adults, family groupings and sometimes pets and other animals.
Gretchen has entered local art shows with her work and is a signature member of the Montana Watercolor Society. Several people have commented to her, "Painting must be a nice, relaxing hobby," to which she replies, "It's neither relaxing nor is it a hobby. It's hard work, and it's my passion."