Freshman artist Rachel Thomson illustrates change

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Courtesy of Rachel Thomson

Coloring a portrait, freshman Rachel Thomson sits at her desk. Thomson’s mother, an artist, is her biggest influence. “She’s encouraged me to keep going from the beginning. I wasn’t that good when I first started, but I’m lucky she encouraged me to keep at it. I think if she didn’t support me, I would have stopped drawing a long time ago,” Thomson said.

Starting with a rough sketch of her subject, freshman Rachel Thomson moves to coloring each facial feature and finishing with the background illustration of the drawing.

Thomson has been creating colored pencil portraits for almost three years, and recently completed a drawing of a role model of hers, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to honor her life.

“My mom has been creating art since before I was born and I wanted to try it. I started to get into it around seventh grade,” Thomson said. “Now, I’m an artist, and this is how I can show my support [for Bader Ginsburg].”

Thomson started her art career with cartoon characters, but she soon switched over to realistic art. She uses Instagram to display her art.

“When I first started, it was just for fun. But then I started to get more serious about it and just put myself out there a little bit more,” Thomson said. “I hope others enjoy my art and are possibly inspired to draw, too. I can spread a message with my art.”

Thomson created a drawing of Bader Ginsburg, a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, after learning of her passing. She posted the drawing on her Instagram with the caption ‘Rest in Peace.’ 

Freshman Rachel Thomson’s colored pencil portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Rachel Thomson)

“I started to learn more about her and what she stood for and that really inspired me, I was like ‘I should do a drawing of her,’ because I agree with what she says, and I’m an artist, so I thought it’d be a good way to support her,” Thomson said. 

Bader Ginsburg is widely recognized for her contributions to women’s equality and women’s rights. Bader Ginsburg passed on Sept. 18 and many people, like Thomson, honored her life on social media.

“[Bader Ginsburg is] for equality. She inspires me because she stood even when everybody was against her. She fought for what she believed in and she never stopped, which I really like about her. She stuck with what she wanted to happen,” Thomson said.

Thomson plans to fight for equality as well in the future. While her Instagram account’s main purpose is to share her art, it has also become a platform where she is now able to take those first steps in her fight and communicate her message.

“I haven’t done any [equality fighting] yet, because of COVID-19, but I really want to do something when I’m older to help with the problem, “ Thomson said. “Equality shouldn’t be a question or a fight. It’s a basic right. [My drawing] is to honor her, and to educate and show people that this is who she was and this is what she stood for, to carry her legacy.”

Equality shouldn’t be a question or a fight. It’s a basic right. [My drawing] is to honor her, and to educate and show people that this is who she was and this is what she stood for, to carry her legacy.”

— Rachel Thomson

Thomson shares her art outside of Instagram as well. She sells prints of her work on Etsy, under an account that also features her mother’s art.

“I started [an Etsy Shop] when I became more serious and passionate about my artwork. It’s teaching me a lot about business and starting a ‘shop’ in the real world,” Thomson said. “I post a lot of my art on it, each piece is around $20-$30.”

Her reach is expanding across a growing audience and with the support of her family and friends, Thomson’s passion for art is thriving.

“Being able to draw a picture that makes people happy gives me the passion for my art,” Thomson said. “Many people learn visually. My art can help spread messages across in that way.”