“It is a great blessing to be able to do what I love each day as my chosen profession.”
From a very young age, I had a love and appreciation for art. I would sit for hours watching my Grandfather as he told a story through his brush strokes, creating beautiful landscapes in oil. I went on to study art in college and began my career as a staff artist in advertising. After starting a family, I turned to freelance work and found my real calling when I was blessed with a commission to paint the Stations of the Cross for my church in California. From that point on, I knew what my life’s work was supposed to be, to use God’s gift to the best of my abilities.
Crown Point Graphics and Dona Gelsinger have been working together since 1996. Former owner, Mike Bursaw, recalls that she painted the best people and was drawn to the paintings she had of little girls in their winter coats and furry hats. This led to several of her Christmas angels being a part of the Crown Point Christmas line. Dona’s son and business partner, Jesse, recently shared, “Mike asked Mom to paint the first Santa Claus she ever painted. That has worked out incredibly well for us!”.
In 20 years we’ve licensed 50 pieces of Dona’s beautiful artwork. It’s safe to say tens of thousands of cards with the Dona Gelsinger signature have been sold across the United States. Her painting, “Blizzard Buddies”, licensed in 2006, continues to be a best seller for our customers today.
Jesse Gelsinger also shared, “Crown Point Graphics was one of our very first licensing agreements when Dona was just getting started in the industry. Crown Point’s owner, Mike Bursaw, has been a wonderful mentor throughout Dona’s career and we can’t thank him enough for all the encouragement and sound advice he has given us over the many years we have worked together. Mike has a heart of gold and we’re so thankful to count him as one of our dearest friends in the industry.”
You can bet that Mike Bursaw and the rest of us at Crown Point feel the same way, and we look forward to licensing much more of Dona’s work in the years to come!
What made you want to become an artist?
I was born with the desire to create art and have been drawing from a very young age. As a kid I would sit for hours alongside my Grandpa while he would paint these massive landscapes in oil. I always had a pencil or crayon in my hand as a kid, I just loved it.
How would you describe your art to someone who is unfamiliar with it?
We call it Heartwarming Art. It’s basically a realistic style of painting with the goal of making an emotional connection with the viewer.
Who has been the biggest influence on your design work?
Collaborating with my son Jesse, who is my business partner, has had a profound impact on the direction my work has taken.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since becoming an artist?
It is a great blessing to be able to do what I love each day as my chosen profession.
What is your personal motto?
Begin each day with the LORD and try to live each day as He would like me to.
What inspires you? Where do you get inspiration for new concepts?
Many things in nature are inspiring to me and I never tire of seeing the way the golden light of evening colors the trees or the way sunlight shines through a rose petal, or the smiles on my grandchildren’s faces. It truly is all around us.
What is your creative process like?
I start with a concept we like and that we think our customers will like, then we create quick thumbnails until we get something we love. I collect reference material which can involve a photoshoot, road trip, or a hike picking flowers, or anything in between. The next step is a sketch then on to the painting which is my favorite part of the process!
What is your creative workspace like?
My studio is the second floor of my home with open banisters to the ground floor. Lots of natural light and a beautiful view of a little creek and waterfall, lots of trees and wildlife. Very peaceful and quiet!
What is your favorite work of art (done by you)?
I am most proud of creating the Stations of the Cross for St Dennis Catholic Church in California. It was a 2 year project where I created 14 near life size paintings of the passion of our LORD.
If you could spend a day with one artist, living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
I’d have to say Michelangelo. Watching him work on the Sistine Chapel would be amazing!
What art projects are you currently working on?
I’m keeping very busy these days working on next year’s Christmas and everyday lines of art. I’ve also been working hard on our amazing new wall decor line, Glow Decor!
What statement do you hope to make with your art?
I hope to reflect in my small way the beauty and love of GOD that surrounds us.
What stands out to you as one of your favorite professional highlights so far?
Painting the Nativity is always a really fun highlight of my year. We make our own costumes and stage live photoshoots. I’m really happy with how the paintings are turning out and they continue to sell great for us on all sorts of products.
What is your favorite part of your job as an artist?
Being able to do what I love each day and the blessing of working with my son.
What do you feel makes your designs unique?
I paint in a realistic style with an emphasis on lighting and uplifting emotional qualities. I want the piece to be pretty and engaging in a heartwarming way.
What are your plans for the future?
Continue creating art for as long as the LORD wants me to!
Do you have a website to showcase your designs?