Sometimes it feels like the Internet—especially, the sliver carved out by dog-lovers—is just one big off-leash area. Return a stranger’s poached tennis ball, and you’re likely to hear a fascinating dog story or discover another dog entrepreneur. So I shouldn’t be surprised that a random drawing for a Bark goodie bag from among our first 50 followers on Twitter would surface someone like Rachael Rossman.
Rossman paints watercolor pet portraits in Salem, Oregon. But she’s no lonely, tech-phobic recluse. In fact, she brings a whole lotta social-networking savvy to her art. One of her biggest gets was landing a spot on MarthaStewart.com with an un-commissioned painting of the doyenne’s French bulldogs, Sharkey and Francesca. More recently, Rossman painted a portrait of Bo Obama, which she promptly sent to the White House as a gift. No word back on that, but she likes the idea that it might be sitting on Michelle Obama’s desk at this very moment.
“I have been an artist all my life in one capacity or another,” she says. “But it wasn’t until a few years ago that my passion for painting was fully realized.” For many years, Rossman was a competitive equestrian, participating in hunter/jumper shows throughout the Northwest. When her first child was born and she gave up daily rides, she started using her art to live out her equestrian dreams vicariously.
“I started painting horse show scenes and then people started asking me to paint portraits of their horses,” she says. “Horse people usually have one or two dogs around the barn and they began asking for portraits of them too.”
Since then, some choice mentions in blogs, and on Facebook and Twitter have added some gas to the enterprise. But the artist’s passion is still very much there, especially when it comes to painting dogs’ eyes. “Each dog’s eyes tell a story,” she says. “I usually wait until the last minute to paint the eyes. I don’t know why, because it’s a real risk. If you don’t get them just right, it’s just not the same.”