In emission tomography, images are usually represented by regular grids of voxels or overlapping smooth image elements (blobs). Few other image models have been proposed like tetrahedral meshes or point clouds that are adapted to an anatomical image. This work proposes a practical sparse and continuous image model inspired from the field of parametric density estimation for Gaussian mixture models. The position, size, aspect ratio and orientation of each image element is optimized as well as its weight with a very fast online estimation method. Furthermore, the number of mixture components, hence the image resolution, is locally adapted according to the available data. The system model is represented in the same basis as image elements and captures time of flight and positron range effects in an exact way. Computations use apodized B-spline approximations of Gaussians and simple closed-form analytical expressions without any sampling or interpolation. In consequence, the reconstructed image never suffers from spurious aliasing artifacts. Noiseless images of the XCAT brain phantom were reconstructed from simulated data.