Using ink and clay on scratchboard, Melissa Helene creates black and white images with great attention to realism. Her works are often bathed in pure darkness or covered in luminous white, the dominant shade contrasted with a darker or lighter subject. When dark, each image shows a creature shining on an inky background. Pigs, frogs, and many other animals gleam, appearing to emerge from the darkness. In lighter-based images, dark snouts and trees stretching away from the snow-covered ground break up each composition and create points of focus. Whether she is depicting landscapes or individuals, Helene focuses on the smallest details, with attention to what makes every individual or moment unique. Even as she creates each image with careful stippling and fine lines, Helene imbues her work with a dramatic attention to light, composition, and contrast. Helene balances control and subtlety in shading with the illusive personality of her subjects.
Working from Illinois, Helene creates her work with a mind both towards the unique value of each subject and with attention to issues of sustainability, conservation, and endangered species.