Rachel Brownlee was born in 1993 in Rushville, NE. Inspired by her life on a cattle ranch Rachel started drawing early, focusing on horses and cowboys. Due to the distance to a school, Rachel was home educated and is an entirely self-taught artist.
Rachel Brownlee’s desire to replicate reality in black and white pencil developed throughout her youth. She was influenced almost solely by two books she owned containing horse drawings; one of them was by C. W. Anderson and the other by Marguerite Henry. Due to the rural location of the ranch Rachel grew up on, she was not exposed to artwork or art education until her twenties. She recalls the first time she realized “realistic shapes are not defined by lines, but by light or the lack thereof”.
As a self-taught artist, Rachel originally sought to achieve only photo-realistic qualities in her work. Since being exposed to more artwork and styles she is now pursuing a more structured and emotional form of realism where the figure is portrayed realistically, but with more emphasis placed on creating drama within the image in such a way that draws the viewer into the story. She portrays western life in an honest and even discordant manner because while fine western art is typically pastoral and romanticized, her work contains sometimes unattractive, old horses, and gritty details. She believes that traditional western life and the people and animals involved should be portrayed as they lived which can be rough, dirty, and even painfully.
Rachel lives on a large family cattle ranch in Ashby, Nebraska with her husband and daughter. She lives the life she draws and often uses neighbors as models for her work. Her studies come from her own cattle, horses, and daily life on the ranch.