By Rick Morwick
Ellen Rusk didn’t personally know Jacob Pickett. But when she saw a photo of the slain Boone County deputy with his K-9 partner, Brik, she felt like she lost a dear friend.
“I never met Deputy Pickett, but when I saw his picture I knew what a sweetheart he was, and he adored Brik,” said Rusk, a Zionsville resident who was profoundly saddened by Pickett’s March 2 shooting death while in the line of duty.
Moved to help in some way, Rusk reached out to local law enforcement and the Pickett family the best way she could — through her art.
Within a week of his death, Rusk — an amateur painter — began work on a portrait of Pickett with his partner, Brik. Working from a photo she saw on TV during the deputy’s funeral (she snapped a photo of the photo on her cellphone), she created an oil painting on a 15-inch by 17-inch Masonite canvas.
Rusk finished the painting in about six weeks. Declaring it her best-ever piece, she gifted copies to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office and Whitestown Police Dept.
She gave the original to Pickett’s widow, Jennifer Pickett.
“That was actually my best painting,” Rusk said. “I’ve been painting for about seven years, and that was my best one. I love dogs, and (Pickett) touched me so much.”
The Whitestown Police Dept. and the Boone County Sheriff’s Office were delighted to receive the unsolicited, unexpected gifts.
“The painting was a beautiful gesture,” said Tanya Sumner, director of public relations for the Town of Whitestown. “You could tell there was a lot of emotion behind creating it, and that Ellen had a true appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice that Deputy Pickett made.”
More than three months after Pickett’s death, Rusk is still moved by his sacrifice.
“I wanted to paint this painting because I adore dogs and I was heartbroken hearing about Deputy Pickett,” Rusk said. “It didn’t take me long (to finish) because I knew I had his spirit here. I was very into it. “