Rose Collins spent her professional life as a psychotherapist, working for 33 years with trauma victims in New York. During that time she enjoyed photography as a hobby and had several opportunities to show her work.
“We moved to SaddleBrooke in 1998. I gave up my practice and was ready for a change. Photography wasn’t enough of a challenge to me so I jumped into painting. I started with acrylics and moved into oils about three years ago,” Collins noted. “Discovering art has been a healing experience for me after working with trauma for so many years.”
“Over time, I’ve developed a particular style that defines my work,” she explained. Collins has a love for the West and wildlife and both of these are frequently featured in her work. “My paintings are stylized. You definitely recognize the subject but it’s not totally realistic. I love strong color and stylized graphic design. This is evident in my work,” she said.
Another defining aspect of Collins’ work is the intentness of the subject matter’s eyes. “I seek to portray the humanity of the animals I paint. I always start with the eyes. The eyes are intended to evoke a reaction in the viewers and my subjects’ facial expressions reveal emotions—whimsy, sadness, curiosity. I like to explore the whole range of emotions. I aim to portray a soulful and expressive look that leaves the viewer feeling a connection to this living being,” she added.
Collins approaches painting as a second career, often working up to 30 hours a week in her home-based studio. “I have a lot to say with my paintings and I only have so many years left to say it, so I take it very seriously,” she smiled. “One thing I’ve learned is to never give up. Keep learning from your experience and keep going. Don’t ever let someone’s ‘No’ stop you.”
While she doesn’t regularly take formal art classes, Collins continues to study to improve her artwork. “I visit museums and study the work of other artists. I explore their techniques, brush strokes, use of light and shadow, color palette and how they portray subjects. From my earlier work in photography, I learned a lot about composition and that helps me figure out how to place images on the canvas. I also use my computer to take an image, move it around and change the coloration. Then I begin to paint,” she said.
And while she acknowledges her love of bright colors, Collins noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s been toning down her palette, making it a bit softer and more soothing. “I think we all need that today. I’ve been working on a series of foxes. I hope to have one or more accepted by the Society for Animal Artists. And now I’m being mentored by one of their judges. It’s given me something to strive for,” Collins said.
Collins encourages everyone to try art. “Allow yourself to experiment. Don’t judge your work. Not every painting has to be a masterpiece. Just trust yourself and enjoy the experience of creating.”