Rachael Robinson is quite an amazing young woman. She discovered her talent for drawing animals after the birth of her baby girl, Juliana (now a busy 3 year old) when she developed mental health issues at the beginning of the Covid 19 Pandemic. Now, with experience under her belt, Rachael gives back to help other realise their dream with art classes, and plans to run the London Marathon in 2023, and donate the sponsored funds to charity.
Rachael didn’t realise that she had post natal depression and post natal anxiety and could not access any services due to the pandemic restrictions.
Prior to this, Rachael had no idea that she could draw. Sitting with a pencil and paper one particularly challenging day she began to sketch a horse. When she had finished her pencil drawing, it dawned on her that she had an unrealised talent and was amazed herself by it. Perhaps, more importantly, she realised that she found a calmness whilst drawing and began to understand that she had a skill that, perhaps, could also help her mental health. She showed her drawing to friends and family on social media who were all encouraging and told her to keep going.
But what was it that made Rachael choose a horse as her subject that day? Learning more about her back story made it clear.
Rachael’s mum told her she first sat on a horse at 3 years old. She did not come from a family with interests in horses, but she felt an affinity with animals, large and small. Her family could not at that point fund riding lessons for her, so, when she was old enough, Rachael started to work on a local yard doing 6am to 6pm yard duties Saturday and Sunday to have 1 free lesson the following week. Hard work and determination were already evident in Rachael’s nature! At the age of 16, Rachael attended Myerscough College to study horses and had the chance during this time to work for a professional show jumping family as their groom.
After that initial sketch, Rachael continued to draw, honing her skills and, 3 years later, is producing the most amazing commissioned drawings of mostly horses but also dogs and other pets and small animals. She was approached after 3 months of practicing to draw her first commission of a dog and then shortly after for a horse owner in Australia. You can find examples of Rachael’s superb drawings and art work at Robinson Art website.
Once Rachael’s confidence in her own abilities grew, she began taking small commissions until her daughter was 9 months old. She was due to return to her much loved job as a a zookeeper at Colchester Zoo, but decided to take the plunge and hand in her notice to focus on her artwork and budding business, which included building her social media skills.
In 2001 she had an amazing opportunity when she was commissioned by Kate Whitaker to to draw a special birthday portrait for Robert Whitaker of his horse Catwalk IV. At the time, Rachael had no idea who it was that had asked her for the commission and it only dawned on her a week into the drawing when she was talking to Kate about the horse, and what he meant to the team, that realisiation struck that she wasn’t just drawing your average horse! In hindsight, Rachael realises that she should have known who it was by the surname, but she was generally astounded to realise who her customer was. Rachael said, “To date it is still one of my most detailed drawings and it’s safe to say that he was very well received”.
Rachael continues to build her successful multi faceted businesses, but alongside that, she has a deep passion to help others, particularly those people with similar mental health issues to herself. She believes that everyone can draw and that there is unlimited talent out there with other people also doing some brilliant artwork but don’t know how to move on to optimise their talents. In December 2021, Rachael launched her own online drawing channel on the Patreon site to teach people how to draw realism without paying a fortune for a private tutor; She stated, “I want more people to have the opportunity to have access to quality learning without paying a huge tag for it in hope this helps someone else who may be suffering with their own mental health”
The going hasn’t always been smooth for Rachael, she had setbacks and is now also feeling the impact of the current economic conditions; she considers her commissions a luxury for people rather than an essential, and understands the impact of this upon her own and other businesses.
2022 was filled with a lot of excitement where Rachael attended her first big event, showcasing her business at the Royal Windsor International Horse Show as a trade stand “living a dream of having my name in big letters”. She was also nominated and shortlisted for three awards, the Equine Service of the Year 2022 from the Equestrian Business Awards, Digital woman of the year 2022 from Digital Women, and one of her drawings was shortlisted into the final for Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022 from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.
Rachael modestly says “All these awards are completely unexpected, I received an amazing 96 nominations for the Equine Service of the Year with so many of my clients reaching out to me to tell me how much their drawings meant to them but also how I had been towards them through the whole process and why they nominated me. Hearing my name being called out at for the Equine Service of the Year during the Equestrian Business Awards ceremony was truly a moment I will never ever forget”.
Rachael is very open about her mental health struggles – she was initially very uncomfortable talking about them; she didn’t know what she was experiencing herself at the time, however, together with family support, a very good counsellor and, of course, her drawing she is no longer worried about people knowing about her mental health struggles.
Alongside all of the above, Rachael also supports a small pony charity, Cecil’s Sancturary based in Hertfordshire. She is currently training to run the London marathon this year to raise funds for this struggling charity who are non-government funded and currently faced with the possible loss of their site in Elstree. If you would be interested in supporting this independent charity, you can find them at Cecils Horse Sanctuary.
Rachael’s followers once again have been nominating her for the Equine Service of the Year 2023 which she describes as “Amazing.I plan on focusing heavily on building my drawing community for people to learn to draw. Drawing saved my mental health and life I had built around me, I am hoping I can inspire and help someone else find their feet again”.