More About Melissa Carmon

—  the story  —

The Story Behind the Work.  
Estimated reading time: 1 min 59 sec.


If you’re looking for artwork to reflect something about your personal story, I may be able to be of help. Here’s a bit of backstory about where this work comes from.

The Origin of the Paintings

I could begin my story with a letter that was sent, but came back unopened.
Or as a teen, passing close to death in the jungles of Paraguay. 
Or the experience of waking up to the sound of rain through the open window of a Bavarian castle, 
Or the fateful day when a text message came that simply read, “Emergency.” 

Or I could begin, like every artist does, by telling you that I have been drawing since I was eighteen months old. 

While true, all of those beginnings would be a bit trite.   

I am a fine art painter who probably should have become a biologist.  Or a geologist.  Or a librarian.  Or something.  But I am a painter who decided to go to RISD instead of pursuing science, and this fusion of research with paintings are the result. So whether you love the history of ideas or have a love of color, you can engage the work as deeply as you feel inspired to go. 

Painting Can Illuminate New Perspectives

I spend my days making things for you to look at and experience. 
You might (or you might not) find a new perspective on the same old things. 

When in the presence of a painting, you might find yourself feeling like you're waking up.  I'd liken it to a morning when I woke in a castle near a forest in Germany, and heard the sound of rain and church bells.  You can find yourself feeling as though you were in a totally different world…perhaps in a different kind of era.

Saying “Yes” to Adventure

And really, it’s a long shot, but— you might also find yourself feeling inspired.  For me, making a stroke on a canvas is an act of defiant celebration, a color-infused point of punctuation in a world that tends toward a monotonous hum of daily obligations.  Sometimes, painting takes more courage than an adventure in the Paraguayan jungle. Perhaps if the velocity of that stroke of paint carries through, you might feel bravely inspired to undertake another adventure, too. 

A Hope Beyond the Horizon

And, perhaps you may find a stirring of hope in the presence of these paintings.  Especially, if you happen to have a fateful day, when one of your messages reads, “Emergency.”  I hope it doesn’t happen.  I hope you can live your whole life without that kind of day— a day like a door, where on the other side of it, everything is different.  

But even if you do, my hope is that you will find the way through whatever landscape in which you happen to find yourself.   

This work is about embracing a spirit of adventure through life’s most difficult circumstances.  May it bring color, courage, and new horizons to your story, too.  

 You can read more about an unexpected portrait that I drew while in South America in this interview with Voyage Denver: “Meet Melissa Carmon of Fort Collins.”

A somewhat more official bio.

More about the artist

Creation of the Work is always first.

From wall-sized mythical creatures to portraits that take on a life of their own, Melissa Carmon (b. 1984) creates twice life sized portraits in oil and brings a background in literature and philosophy to the creation of her work.

An expert in color theory, artist pigments, and portraiture, her work includes large-scale portraits in oil as well as abstract paintings which grew out of her research of contemporary and historical fine art materials. Carmon's shows often incorporate interdisciplinary elements, which draw from studies in philosophy, literature, psychology, and the natural sciences.

Behind Every Work of Art, an Artist

To gain a deeper understanding of the work, it is perhaps helpful to understand the story’s beginning. The story opens about a forty minute drive from the nearest town, at the headwaters of the Colorado River. Carmon was born in Kremmling, Colorado, and spent the early years of her life in a land of silver sage, bright high-altitude sunlight, and seas of glacially carved rock on the edge of the Alpine Tundra. In the Colorado Rockies near the Continental Divide, some of the most formative years of her life were spent near the Kawaneechee Valley and Grand Lake. These days of stillness inform her patiently detailed botanical and nature drawings found in the Natural History Collection.

The inclination to draw came almost immediately, before the age of two. Early pictures include a portrait “of George Washington,” and a “friendly grasshopper,” which remind one of the themes that still show up in her artwork. She was captivated by color and the fine distinctions between colors. One of her favorite pictures came from a book by Richard Scarry, which showed pots of paints mixing to create different colors. She drew and painted with both hands.

Behind Every Artist, A Community: A Short History of the Many People Who Have Been A Part of the Work

Her first award in the arts was also early, and resulted in the her first exposure to an artist’s studio. This award paired young elementary school students with working fine artists for a day. She was paired with Carol Guzman, who happened to also be the wife of Clyde Aspevig. Her first visit to a studio was the old church that Carol and Clyde had turned into a studio space. The sight of oil paintings on their easels, and the atmosphere of the spacious interior of the church, as well as the idea of “paint that didn’t dry right away” (oil paint) became an inspiration.

When she began painting in oil as a teen, one of her early portraits, Liberty Belle won first place in her congressional district for the Congressional Art Competition. The portrait was displayed as part of a group show on Capitol Hill in 2001. After attending the opening reception, Carmon and her family traveled north to visit the campus of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where Carmon would later study.

Carmon graduated high school early, and at 16, she began to study art at Colorado State University (CSU). At the end of her first semester of drawing, Dr. David Ellerby gave Carmon's work a solo show in the drawing wing of the CSU Visual Arts building.

During her teens, she spent an extended amount of time in Germany and also in South America. These transformative cross-cultural experiences informed the content of her work and the direction of her life. One of the stories from that time that involves portraiture was published in at interview from Voyage Denver.

Carmon’s multi-disciplinary expertise in literature, philosophy, and art was honed by seven years of study at three different colleges and universities. She RISD for three semesters, where she completed the rigorous summer transfer program (the equivalent of the RISD Foundation Studies year), and also studied in the Illustration and Printmaking departments. However, despite her love for RISD, Carmon decided to pursue additional studies in Philosophy. She holds a degree in Philosophy with honors from Colorado State University. Carmon is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, an honor society requiring depth and breadth of learning in a diversity of subjects in the arts and sciences.

She began to work as a full-time artist after working for Habitat for Humanity from 2008-2012. She began a full time studio practice the spring of 2012. She noticed that a lot of her friends who were authors, artists, and musicians were experiencing creative struggles that seemed similar to the ones she had faced. In response, she designed an 8-week Artists and Writers Workshop, which was taught in Fort Collins the summer of 2014.

In 2015, her work found its first corporate endorsement in the form of a 9-painting commission from HID Global, in Westminster, CO, in 2015. The paintings are part of their corporate collection in Austin, TX. Her work has been shown in Denver and Washington, D.C., and is in private collections around the world.  

In addition to studying art at CSU and RISD, she has continued to broaden her study of art through taking classes and workshops with artists, including Stefan Kleinschuster (2001, Loveland, CO), Benjamin Bjorklund (2017, Fort Collins, CO) and Mark Silvers (2018, Fort Collins, CO), as well as Color Theorist and Archival Materials Expert, Michael Wilcox (2014, Denver Botanic Gardens).

Carmon’s fascination with fine art materials means that she can tell you a lot about what went into the construction of each of her paintings. She loves to talk about painting process and materials, so if you have a question about fine art pigments or the process of how the work is made, please feel free to use the contact form on this site.

Melissa Carmon currently resides near the Rocky Mountains, in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her husband, Jonathan Myers.

views from the studio

Do you want to be the first to know what is coming from the studio?

The best way is to subscribe at the bottom of the page. You can also follow me on Instagram for behind-the-scenes views, and Instagram stories (viewable only in the Instagram app on a phone) for exclusive views of work-in-progress. I have several accounts which have the different kinds of art that I do. My main account is @melissacarmon. You can find color studies posted @dailypolychrome and line drawings of botanicals @naturalhistorycollection. Below is an up-t0-date view of my main painting account, @melissacarmon:


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