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Melissa Ghiglieri was born in Medford, Oregon and an art class at the age of nine sparked her interest in drawing. She enjoyed sketching people, and took several art classes at the community college before starting high school. Although she had a flair for art, the desire to become a surgeon led her to pursue a biochemistry degree, first at St. Olaf College, then California Baptist University. After three and a half years of pre medical studies, Melissa took a break from school and spent six months in Africa. During that time she realized her true passion was art. When she returned home, she studied at Southern Oregon University and earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Studio Art. During her time at SOU, her focus was on oil painting.
Numerous trips to Africa and Europe have influenced her outlook on the world and expanded her vision for art. After a five month school of photojournalism in South Africa, Melissa discovered an aptitude for photography. She uses her artistic vision to create her own reference photos for paintings. When commissioned for a portrait, she prefers to photograph the subject herself, to capture the desired angle, lighting, and mood, rather than work from an existing picture.
After primarily painting people for several years, Melissa expanded her work to include first horses, then dogs. She now prefers one of the three subjects, but also occasionally paints other animals such as foxes, bears, whales, and birds, as well an occasional local landscape.