By Megan Kehoe

The Bulletin

Marichelle Gurski, 17

Mountain View High School senior

Favorite Movie: “Big Fish”

Favorite TV Show: “MythBusters”

Favorite Books: “The Illustrated Man,” by Ray Bradbury, “Brave New World,” by Aldous Huxley

Favorite Band: Queen

Favorite Artists: Dr. Seuss, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, John William Waterhouse

It’s early Tuesday afternoon, and like most days of the week, Marichelle Gurski’s hands are covered in dried paint.

Flecks of blue and white are splattered across her fingers, an occurrence that’s becoming so common she doesn’t even notice it anymore.

“It’s pretty much just normal now,” Marichelle, 17, said, smiling and looking down at her hands.

Marichelle, a senior at Mountain View High School, is consumed by art. A recent winner of several gold and silver keys and an American Vision Award at the Central Oregon Scholastic Art Awards, Marichelle has honed her artistic skills over the years. Marichelle said her enthusiasm for art started at a very young age.

“Growing up, I was that kid who was always drawing on the walls,” Marichelle said. “Art is kind of like my identity.”

Marichelle said her interest in the subject really took off in seventh grade, when she took her first art elective at Pilot Butte Middle School. Marichelle said she delighted in dabbling in different media in Pat Roberts’ art class, and that she found a real way to express herself in the class.

“I’m the kind of person who constantly has ideas running through my head,” Marichelle said. “So I like the idea that when you draw or paint something, it kind of lets you explore those ideas further. And then when you look back at what you did, it documents that time period in your life.”

Seventh grade was the first year Marichelle entered the Central Oregon Scholastic Art Awards, and she’s entered most years since, winning a few honorable mentions here and there, but nothing substantial.

The lack of recognition didn’t stop her from pursuing her passion, though.

Her high school transcript is chock full of art classes she’s taken: everything from drawing to ceramics.

In her sophomore year, she took Advanced Placement art, a class usually reserved for seniors. She struggled at the beginning, as she said the students around her had more advanced art skills.

“It’s definitely unusual for a sophomore to take that class,” Marichelle said. “It was hard at the beginning. I knew I had to get focused to do this. So I kept coming back to it and doing everything I could to get better.”

Marichelle did well in the class and has since become prolific. She paints, sometimes with tea, draws and works in ceramics. She said her favorite style is ink printing combined with watercolor, and her work is vibrant, with strong colors and lines.

She said that though she has plenty of heroes in the art world, she’s often inspired by Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Most of the time when she’s not in other classes, she can be found in the art studio, deeply involved in her work. In between classes, she can be found buried in her sketchbook.

“She’s just a super rockstar student,” said Carrie Erickson, Marichelle’s art teacher. “She goes above and beyond, and she’s incredibly hardworking.”

Erickson also said Marichelle’s passion for the subject has always made her stick out in class.

“She just breathes art,” Erickson said. “You can tell that she lives for it.”

Recognizing that her senior year represented her last chance at the Scholastic art awards, Marichelle hit the December competition with everything she had.

She entered more than a dozen pieces in different formats.

When she came to school one day at the beginning of this month and kept getting congratulated by her friends and teachers, she knew that she had won big. When she got to her art class, a stack of awards was waiting for her, including five first-place gold keys, she said.

In addition to the recognition of her pieces, she received a $500 scholarship to any school of her choice, along with an $8,000 scholarship to Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Though she’s planning to attend Central Oregon Community College next year to save money and won’t be using the $8,000 scholarship, she said having her work recognized was a special moment.

“I felt really proud,” Marichelle said, adding that she probably wouldn’t have gotten so far if not for Mountain View’s great art program.

Marichelle plans to spend two years at COCC before transferring to a four-year school.

More than anything, she wants to study abroad, perhaps in Italy, where she plans to expand her art education by studying some of the masters.

“I just like anything where I get a chance to look at the world in a different way,” Marichelle said.

— Reporter: 541-383-0354,