A world-renowned portrait artist, Rossin’s subjects include world leaders in politics, business, science, history and the arts. He is a prolific painter and has completed more than 500 portraits in the past 11 years. His work can be found in government institutions, museums and private collections the world over. When asked what keeps him going after so much success, Rossin says, “I study human nature. I still have faith in humanity. You can take this any way you want but I’m still looking for the God particle. I still haven’t reached the self within.”
Rossin has known he wanted to be a painter from a very young age. He was six when he was first introduced to the medium by his younger brother’s nanny, an amateur artist. At nine, he was commissioned to paint a mural in a relative’s country house. He was paid $5.00 for his work, but the true compensation was the realization that he could make money doing something he loved. He has never looked back.
His first big commission came in 1988 during his junior year in college when The Roy Miles Gallery in London purchased several paintings, including a self-portrait. A sampling of his subjects reads like a Who’s Who of contemporary movers and shakers. In 2003, his double portrait of Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush was unveiled in the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. President Jimmy Carter sat for Rossin in 2011 and the resulting portrait hangs in The Carter Presidential Library and Museum. And in 2012, Rossin’s portrait of King George VI, marking Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, was accepted by H.R.M. Queen Elizabeth II and became her royal property. The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Museum, Washington, D.C., houses four of Rossin’s works, including Ambassador Andrew Young, famed actor Morgan Freeman, baseball legend Hank Aaron and iconic poet Maya Angelou.
Even with clients of such stature, Rossin remains amazingly humble. He credits his family with keeping him grounded. On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., Rossin says, “I casually suggested that we could go in (to the National Portrait Gallery) and see my four paintings in the permanent collection. My children, Michael, 14 and Savannah, 8, unanimously cried out “No way! We want to go to the Spy museum!” This was a very centering experience.” And he is not complaisant. When asked about his goals for the future, Rossin says, “After so many years of doing what I do I just started sensing what lies beneath, what is really out there. As metaphysical as it sounds, I would like to go there and bring fragments of it back to the canvas.”
Rossin’s most recent project shows a more playful side of the artist. In 1932, the Coca-Cola Company created the current image of Santa Claus, the chubby, jovial, bearded man with rosy cheeks and a sparkle in his eye. The Rotary Club of Atlanta has commissioned Rossin to modernize the iconic image and create a “21st Century Santa.” To serve as inspiration, Atlanta Rotarians were asked to describe the personality and physical traits a new Santa would embody. The portrait of the 21st Century Santa will be unveiled at the Rotary Holiday Party on December 9th at the Buckhead Theatre.
Rossin is looking forward to sharing his thoughts and observations at TEDxPeachtree on November 8 at the Buckhead Theatre. This year’s theme “catalyze” has a special meaning to him. “I see it as a jumpstart, a spark plug,” says Rossin. “I don’t see it as an open window. It should rather be a moment that’s so freeing and revealing as if a whole wall has suddenly disappeared and you find yourself facing the horizon. A surge of wanting to go out and explore the unknown.”