Hey there! That quote speaks to me in big ways!! As an avid hiker, someone who yearns for the solace of nature, a wildlife artist, sustainability junkie (more on that in a future post too), supporter of renewable energies, and animal lover, it is important to me that I respect the natural order of Earth and try to limit the impact of my human footprint. Something so important in my personal life has, naturally, spilled over into my business life.
So the reason we're here today - the third pillar of Melissa Helene Fine Arts + Photography - not listed in the name, but as important as the creative pillars of my business. I like to think of this third pillar as the toddler pillar - the idea is there, it has grown in big ways, but there is still so much more to do before it reaches its true potential. I've been playing with the Conservation Initiative portion of my work for a while and have big hopes for its growth this year.
Hopefully you've been visiting the blog to learn more about the endangered species featured throughout the year (if you haven't, go ahead and search by the 'endangeredspecies' tag on the right side of the screen to see those posts) and have seen that series grow. I love the Endangered Species Series because it is simple, yet powerful. I feature one animal per post and give a little information about its lifestyle, characteristics, habits, and why it is endangered. Education is the first step in understanding. My goal is to simply help raise awareness with the blog series.
My fine art scratchboard work is focused almost entirely on wildlife, with commission work as the exception - but even most of that is pets! I have loved drawing animals my entire life and now it is so exciting to work on so many different species portraits - yes, species PORTRAITS! My work is all about detail and charisma and the EYES. The soul of an animal is in the eyes! I like to think of my scratchboard pieces as little introductions of these creatures to you, the viewer. I never want to tell you what to see or think when you view my artwork, but I hope it makes you think SOMETHING. If it you helps you see these animals a little differently than you did before, great!! If you see a portrait of your favorite animal and it makes you smile, that's amazing! If a piece makes you ask the question - what animal is that?, then I've done my job. And if you look at a polar bear or lion or rhino piece and see the plight of every endangered species in their eyes, then I'm glad you're here and can help me CHANGE something to help.
In the past year, I started incorporating the information from the endangered species posts, in condensed form, at the art festivals I attend by posting quick fact sheets with each piece of artwork featuring an endangered animal. People have enjoyed having the extra information and they definitely stop to read it - so I must be doing something right. My booth is already the 'name that animal' booth for small children (which I love!!), so why not make it educational for everyone!?!
As I prepared for this first year of full-time business, I knew how important it would be to streamline my packaging systems to cut costs and time, but I also wanted to find new ways to be sustainable and recycling friendly!! I have found several companies that offer 100% recycled and/or biodegradable (!!!!!) packaging products, labels, and print materials. I plan to limit the amount of waste that comes out of my studio and office, as well as change how people take my artwork home with them. I'm being kind of vague on purpose because, you guessed it, I have another post planned for next week that will dive in even further!
Further growth this year does not have a face yet, but I'm always looking for ways to connect my work with other organizations with similar missions - whether that is making donations from a portion of profit, donating actual artwork to a great cause, or partnering to help raise awareness. I will continue to do what I can to use art as one of many modes of conservation communication! (If you have any brilliant ideas or connections for me - shoot 'em my way! I would love to hear from you!)
THANK YOU for taking time to be here today!