Collins goes solo with color, place, light and form
December 7, 2009 · Updated 9:34 AM
Artist Rebecca Collins was never going to leave everything to the boys.
A child of the ’70s, Collins persuaded her high school teachers to let her use the foundry in the metal shop for her explorations in the art of lost wax casting.
The shop had been, up to that point, an ivory tower of sorts for boys only, while the girls were relegated to remain in the kitchen learning the “domestic arts.”
“I remember one boy who ventured into a cooking class,” Collins recalled.
“But it definitely seemed there were more interesting things for girls to learn by pushing those barriers than the other way around.”
Luckily, Collins pushed her way out of the confines of her time and subsequently became the artist she is today.
Collins’ first solo show opens at Greenbank Farm’s Rob Schouten Gallery Friday, Feb. 6 and runs through Wednesday,
Much of her recent work is oil pastel painted on Masonite board, a technique she learned in a workshop taught by oil pastel artist Susan Bennerstrom.
The vibrantly-colored pieces depict scenes from everyday life she captured while traveling to places such as Mexico, London, Amsterdam and Cornwall. In these cityscapes, harbor scenes and tables laden with food, the stuff of everyday life is intensified by the artist’s ability to go beyond the simple act of looking to a contemplative study of her subject.
Collins mentions certain local artists whom she admires and draws inspiration from; masters, she said, of finding beauty in the most quiet of things such as Anne Belov’s rocking chairs or Pete Jordan’s shady, rural roads.
“When you can look at an image time and again and still feel inspired by the colors and the sense of space or temperature or emotion it conveys, then that’s a good painting,” Collins said.
Such a compelling effect can be elusive, but perseverance counts, Collins said. “I often have to step away from my work for a few weeks before I can truly see the subject and not just my technical challenges in the painting,” she added.
She’s fallen in love with oil pastels for the saturated richness of their color. Having started with black-and-white graphite and colored pencil drawings, the artist saw pastels as a way to free up her technique and get away from a photorealist approach.
The intensity of color is the challenge and the pleasure for Collins.
“I aim to explore the colors most of us don’t take the time to see; colors reflected from the surroundings and glowing from within,” she said.
Just as her new work is saturated with color, so Collins’ life was saturated with the pleasures of art from an early age.
Her mother, a commercial artist, fostered her daughter’s interest in art by continually supplying her with crayons, colored pencils, paper and paint boxes. The scores of brushes and pallet knives were always replaced when worn out in what would become a tradition for the mother and daughter.
“We made a regular habit of going to Seattle Art Supply to restock our materials before heading over to Frederick & Nelson’s to have lunch in the Paul Bunyan Room,” Collins said.
Collins, who works as a graphic artist at The Record, studied art throughout her life, including a bachelor of and a master of arts from Syracuse University.
As a student, she was fascinated with the Impressionists’ use of reflective light, as well as the paintings of Edward Hopper, Richard Diebenkorn and Mark Rothko.
“I liked them for their expansive use of color fields — large plains of subtly shifting color that draws you in,” she said.
Now, Collins hopes to draw in her own crowd with her first solo turn.
But her expectations are as simple as her subject matter.
“I’m excited to see everything displayed in one place.”
An opening night reception with refreshments is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6 during “First Fridays at the Farm.”
For more information, call 222-3070 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.