Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist, wildlife artist, about the artist, animal artist

I'm a Type A Girl in a Type B world

I live and die by my color-coded calendar and detailed spreadsheets. Even my chosen medium is Type A - scratchboard is clean, highly detail oriented, orderly, and every scratch in a piece has an intention and a place. I am an artist in my bones and love working in black + white and celebrating wildlife, but I've been successful because I am a businesswoman by nature. I'm building a business that merges my talent as an artist with my desire to be Earth-conscious and help protect wildlife and their habitats. This is my passion, but it's also my livelihood.

I am a full-time, self-employed artist who, at one time, had ZERO intention of having a creative career. At 18, the thought of being a "starving artist" was completely undesirable. I craved stability and assurances, so I leaned on logic  and landed at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities majoring in...Sociology!  (Yes, that means I do NOT have a degree in the fine arts)

Fast forward to today and I'm exactly where I didn't think I wanted to be as an 18 year old...and it's amazing! I love my job! I get to create art and travel around the country and make a living doing it. I'm building my path one brick at a time every day and it challenges me in really exciting ways. Entrepreneurship is a challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Obsessed with...

I have read all 7 Harry Potter books more times than I can count and have watched all 8 movies even more than that!  I have been sorted into my House (Gryffindor!) and gotten my wand at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Daily Vice...

I eat ice cream like most people drink coffee...every day! My favorite is chocolate with peanut butter or caramel or even more chocolate. There aren't many flavors that I don't like...other than coffee!

Vacation Spot...

Our favorite vacation spots are in the National Parks. Nick and I met on a hiking trip in Zion National Park, have spent many adventures backpacking in the wilderness, and we got engaged at Yellowstone National Park.

Artist Statement

My work represents individuals as they are, finding beauty in everything they are and everything they represent. The detail in my work celebrates the unique magnificence of all creatures.   

 

My fine art scratchboard work is inspired by endangered species and wild places.  This high contrast, hyper-detailed medium is perfect for intricate wildlife portraits.  My work is photo realistic, highly detailed and exclusively black and white.  Each piece starts with the eyes - a creature's soul - and progresses in layers outward.

My goal as an artist is to create a collection of work that speaks to people from below the surface, challenging them to see nature in a new way, and make them take another look at not only the pieces themselves, but how they interact with the world.  My personal goal as an artist is to build a sustainable business that allows me to dedicate my time and energy to creating work that makes a significant contribution to the art world and protection of all things wild.

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Melissa Helene Fine Arts, Scratchboard wildlife artist, Hawaii
Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artists, scratchboard wildlife artist

Ahupua'a 'O Kahana State Park - Oahu, Hawaii

Meet my husband, Nick (AKA my adventure buddy, best friend, and trusty festival assistant)!

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We have two furry best friends - Arrow (a 7 year old Australian Kelpie mix) and Bo (a 1 year old Australian Cattle Dog mix)

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I am an athlete - I grew up playing softball and volleyball. I love hiking and rollerblading.

Photo Cred: E L Photography

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I jumped out of an airplane!

(July 2016 - once is probably enough)

We are both photographers. Nick has his own wildlife photography business.

www.nickbossenbroek.com

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I love reading National Geographic and watching BBC's Planet Earth.

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Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist, Nick Bossenbroek Photography

Chicagoland Skydiving Center

Sax Zim Bog - Meadowlands, MN

The Business

I officially launched my fine art business in January of 2015, after two to three years of working on my artistic practice, taking on commission work, and building my existing business while also working full-time in a different career. I did not start working full-time in my business until September of 2016.

 

With my business, Melissa Helene Fine Arts, I am dedicated to using art and creative expression to raise awareness of wildlife, wild places, and conservation issues to help protect the very places and creatures that most inspire my work.  My greatest business goal is to create interesting, new ways to raise awareness of critical wildlife issues and make concrete contributions to the world of wildlife and wild place conservation.

Melissa Helene Fine Arts
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Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist

2014

Melissa Helene Fine Arts
Melissa Helene Fine Arts, scratchboard

2013

  • Started creating scratchboards more regularly

  • Participated in two RAW shows in Minneapolis  (display shown above)

  • Named RAW Visual Artist of the Year

  • Showed at 5 small local festivals

  • I was working almost exclusively in graphite and charcoal (for paid work)

  • Dabbling with paper scratchboards and oil paint

  • Doing portrait commission work

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Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist

2015

  • Officially launched Melissa Helene Fine Arts

  • Started the photography side of my business

  • Photographed 3 weddings

  • Participated in two local art festivals

  • Emerging Artist at the Wausau Festival of Arts

2016

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Melissa Helene Fine Arts

2017

  • First year full-time working in my business

  • Participated in 9 juried art festivals

  • Photographed 4 weddings

  • Started offering custom scratchboard pet portraits

  • Awarded Best of Show at the Stevens Point Festival of Arts

  • Visited Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park and all 5 Nat'l Parks in Utah

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  • First juried art festivals  (3)

  • Photographed 4 weddings

  • Photographed families and senior portraits

  • Met my husband, Nick, at Zion National Park

  • Still offering graphite portraits

  • Group gallery show in New York City

Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist

2018

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Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist
Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist
Melissa Helene Fine Arts
Melissa Helene Fine Arts
Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist
Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist
Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist

2019

  • Upgraded my booth display, mesh walls

  • Participated in 15 juried art festivals

  • Photographed my final 2 weddings 

  • Won 5 awards at 5 different art festivals (one Best of Show, one 2nd Overall)

  • Traveled the coast of Oregon and went to Hawaii

  • (Also the year I dyed my hair purple!)

  • Participated in 10 juried art festivals

  • First year doing shows in Florida, Texas, and Colorado

  • Won 4 awards  (two Best of Shows)

  • Created my first ever 24"x36" board 

  • Introduced scratchboard ornaments

  • We lived in Wyoming for the summer and went on mountain adventures

  • We got engaged!!! at Yellowstone Nat'l Park

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Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist

2020

Melissa Helene, Wisconsin scratchboard artist
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Melissa Helene Fine Arts

2021

Melissa Helene Fine Arts
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  • We got MARRIED!

  • Participated in 2 juried art festivals in Florida (thank you COVID!)

  • Upgraded my booth display again - black pro panels

  • Launched Color-Coded Creatives - business coaching for artists

  • Went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal in Florida

  • We got our second puppy, Bo!

Let's Stay Connected!!

On the first of each month, I send an email to stay connected with you!

These emails are full of new scratchboard work, event dates, giveaway details, special offers and deals, opportunities for you to contribute to my work, and new business initiatives.

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