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Collected Detroit Featured Artist

GAGE SHETTLER

 

With vibrant colors and patterns scraped across canvas from inside his dark garage, Gage Shettler’s art defies easy categorization as it expresses his life-long battles with bipolar disorder. Using a combination of brushes and long metal scrapers, he has developed his own scraper and pressure-based technique for painting he calls “scripting” that plays with pattern, color, and light and darkness on his mission to paint one new painting a day.

 

Gage Shettler was born on July 10, 1998 and raised in Milford, Michigan. Issues began early for Gage as he dropped out in the 5th grade as he was unable to focus and learn anything in school. Initially believed to be dyslexic, he began to suffer from depressive episodes which led to him moving in and being cared for by his grandmother when he was sixteen. As his mental condition worsened with him running round the house in various manic and depressive states, suffering from hallucinations, his distraught family had him committed to Havenwyck Hospital. It was there he would be diagnosed Bipolar I with Schizoaffective Disorder. At Havenwyck he participated in their art program, painting his first work.

 

After he was released, his grandmother purchased him paint and tools and he started painting, first painting about ten paintings over the last three years until the last four months where an explosive burst of creativity has led him to painting every single day. He uses painting as an outlet for his bipolar disorder as all of the energy he puts into painting takes him out of the polar states of extreme depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxious disorganization. Where he once felt like his brain would get jumbled, was unable to focus, or would even curl up in a ball and cry because his body kept telling him he was going to die, painting has allowed him to transcend the worst feelings imaginable on the frame of a canvas for the whole world to see. 

 

"When I paint, something really magical happens. It takes me away."

 

Gage's technique takes canvas and applies acrylic paint to it through a combination of fan brushes, pointer brushes, and metal scrapers about a foot long that he uses to scrape the paint across. He calls his technique "scripting", painting over the canvas with a brush or using the scraper to go across the top like a cake-decorating spatula. As he goes slowly across the top he begins to apply light or heavy pressure with the amount of pressure allowing him to develop multiple perspectives into the work. More pressure yields more light, less pressure yields darkness. He sees things in pattern with a very geographic focus, but leaves his body of work to speak for itself without the need to guide interpretation.

 

His work often defies easy categorization. Some might call it outsider art, some might see it as a merger of abstract and figurative expression, but for Gage he simply wishes to step out of painting conventions and intuit what he sees through the lens of his mental illness. Gage doesn't sign or name his paintings, as he wants people to appreciate the work for what it is, irrespective of who the viewer thinks the artist is or what they're about. Some of his work is inspired by visions he gets from dreams and some of it is inspired by things he sees in the hypnopompic state, the time when the body is in between being asleep and being awake when hallucinations become the most real. For Gage, everything is deliberate and everything is there for a reason, even if it was initially an accident. If he sheds a tear into the work as he paints, it is mixed into the piece. 

 

Gage continues to paint every day, creating an impressive body of work for an untrained artist that continues to grow. He presently takes lithium, trileptal, and risperdal for his condition.

UNTITLED

Gage Shettler

Medium: Acrylic on canvas

Size: Varied 

Circa: 2020-2021

Range: $1200. - $4800.

Note: Gage has committed a portion of the proceeds go back to MM-O-DD for youth programming.