Born in the San Francisco Bay area, Gretchen Allison chose a life in the culinary arts. She attended the California Culinary Academy in the early 1980s. Eventually she followed her parents to San Juan Island to become owner and chef of the Duck Soup Inn restaurant. During her 23 years with the restaurant she took up painting, first with watercolors, then oils, and is now using mostly acrylic.
Now retired, she devotes much of her time to painting, sailing and travel. Some of the themes in the work reflect the colors, textures and forms of her Pacific Northwest island environment. Other themes in her work reflect an interest in surreal experience and expression.