Melissa M. Gilbertsen – Artist

  • Self-taught Painter – Specializing in Oils & Acrylics 
  • Experienced Printmaker – Linoleum & Woodblock
  • Scenic Paint Master – Lead Set Designer, Community Theater
  • Graphic Artist – Residential & Commercial Sign, Mural & Commission Work
  • Art Educator – Primary, Elementary & Adult Art Education Classes spanning a variety of mediums
  • Community Art Activist & Events Organizer – Arts & Eats Festivals 2008-2009, Children’s Recycled Art, Bi-Annual Children’s Art Show, St. Helens, OR 2007-2009
Artist, Teacher, & Rabid Art Activist!

Artist, Teacher, & Rabid Art Activist!

My work is mostly about whimsy, humor, and satire.  My favorite color, contrary to most artists, is black, though my personality could easily be described as sunny and warm.  Using black liberally in my work makes every other delicious color pop and sizzle.  It’s the contrast between the two that I love most.  Also, I think I was a crow in another life because I totally love the shiny!  I stay with painting in oils and acrylics mainly, but I am working on expanding my work to include wood and block printing due to the wicked graphic quality I can achieve with this medium.  Overall, I’m always open to exploring different media & new ways of executing my thoughts, as long as it’s cheap – I’m easy!

My first business card...2003, I think...

My first business card…2003, I think…

I began as a small business in 2002, Melissa’s Murals, painting locally, then I became interested in art education opportunities for students at the local elementary schools, of which there were, well, none…

Old Town ArtWorks business card, 2007

Old Town ArtWorks business card, 2007

This led to several Artist-In-Residence gigs with the St. Helens, Oregon School District.  This is where I pioneered the Creative Arts program in 2004 and created a volunteer-led basic art education program that reached over 350 students at least 8 times a year, but that still wasn’t enough art time!  So I went looking for ways that I could open a larger studio that could serve as a permanent classroom for teaching kids and adults – and where I could take on larger commission projects!  (Besides, I was freezing my arse off in my garage studio at home.)

Teaching a K-2 elementary Saturday Art Adventures class at Old Town ArtWorks in St. Helens, Oregon 2003

Teaching a K-2 elementary Saturday Art Adventures class at Old Town ArtWorks in St. Helens, Oregon 2003



I ended up at the re-purposed Old School Building in St.  Helens doing just that.   I loved the space and the work I did there, but  after getting involved in teaching part-time at a local charter school, I was hit by a life-changing realization:

  What I gotta do is teach!  

It didn’t have to be just art, it could be math,reading, whatever!  My strongest creative skill is how I teach:  my ability to connect, create interest and encourage folks to be brave enough to try.  The subject is immaterial.                                                  

Gilbertsen Studios business card, 2008-2010

Gilbertsen Studios business card, 2008-2010

 So, just as things were totally starting to gel for me – people were calling me and I didn’t even have to advertise anymore (go figure!) –

 I went back to school in 2009 to pursue a teaching degree.

Now I am in the process of getting endorsements that allow me to teach at the middle and high school level because they totally get me.  It’s true love.  Oh yeah, both ways.  AND I am not the one that loves the most.  Yep.  I said it.   They love me, too.  So while I wait for someone to retire and an opening to finally exist, I substitute teach for grades 7-12 and create art.  Because art is always cheaper than therapy!  Well, unless Dick Blick is having a sale!!