the brilliance of nature:
paintings and drawings by Janet Collins
by Kimberly Renate’
When artist Janet
Collins and her family were packing and getting ready to move
to Sedona, she found all of her old oil paintings of still-life
subjects in the attic. She thought that they were terrible
and lined them up alongside the trash bin to be hauled away.
her neighbors and passers-by had picked up every single painting
before the garbage truck came! Art is definitely in the eye
of the beholder.
Born and raised
in the midwest, Collins moved to California with her parents
after high school. Encouraged by her grandmother, an accomplished
artist, Collins started out with charcoal drawings and even
“When I started
the paint-by-the-numbers, my grandmother had a fit,” said
Collins. “I had always done a lot of drawing, so she thought
I could do better than that. She started me out by doing charcoal
drawings for about six months and then I moved on to oil paintings.
She encouraged me to take classes, at which time I studied
painting with oils at San Bernardino Valley College.”
After several years,
her oil painting was put aside as she became a single mother
with four children to raise. It was a tough time, but it only
made her more determined to succeed at whatever she chose
to do. She later met her second husband, and when they were
able to take vacations, they would trek through Arizona and
the Sedona area.
In 1987, Collins
and her husband bought property in the Village of Oak Creek
and in 1994 built their home on a one-acre parcel, which is
shared with their dog and two cats. One room in their home
is Collins’s studio, which includes her computer, easels,
drawing table, and supplies for matting and framing her work.
She has a wonderful view from her studio of the beautiful
Determined to get
back into art, Collins studied with well-known artists at
the Sedona Arts Center. She studied colored pencil techniques
under Richard Drayton, a master artist. Colored pencils allow
Collins to capture the details of her subjects along with
their vibrant colors.
In addition to
her colored pencil paintings, Collins is developing her use
of acrylics on canvas and other surfaces. She has studied
with Will Tapia and Rock Newcomb. She continues to take workshops
and classes, because there is always more that she wants to
learn. Collins‘ acrylic paintings allow her to work on a larger
scale, and while her work is still representational, it is
not as detailed as her colored pencil work.
“I use both fluid
acrylics on paper and acrylics on canvas. The fluid acrylics
are used for the red rock landscapes as they provide the vibrant
color I see in the late afternoon. The burnishing techniques
I use for my colored pencil paintings give a very painterly
quality to each work. Many people are amazed at the result.
It is difficult to tell whether it is paint or colored pencil.”
an important tool in Collins’ creative process. Not only are
her photos used as reference material but they are also produced
as photo note cards of southwestern art, wildlife, and landscapes.
a lot of time gathering her photo references. This is especially
important when she includes wildlife in her paintings. Photos
are taken from all angles and she tries to capture their behavior
patterns. Many of her paintings are a composite of several
photos. She doesn’t have far to go as her property is abundant
with birds and also has had visits from chipmunks, squirrels,
coyotes and a bobcat. She has her camera mounted on a tripod
in front of a window - so she doesn’t miss any wildlife opportunities.
“Whenever we take
a trip, even short trips, I have my camera,” said Collins.
“You never know when something will catch your eye. I take
lots of photos because these are references that you may never
see again. I also keep my camera on a tripod in the front
window just in case some wildlife comes through our property.
One morning I looked outside and saw an animal about the size
of a large dog. I realized it was a bobcat with a rabbit in
his mouth. I quickly focused my camera and caught him on film.
I’m currently working on a painting of this event. Without
my camera, these are opportunities which can pass you by.”
“Living in Sedona
has provided me with an abundance of photo reference opportunities.
I work only from my own reference photos. My paintings are
a composite of several photos. This requires many hours of
time and the development of many rolls of film before a painting
idea germinates. Even though photo references are used, you
get a feeling for nature and the wildlife that influences
the painting beyond the photo.”
and photography have been accepted in numerous juried shows
and have won many awards. Her paintings have been purchased
by both American and European buyers and now reside in several
different countries. Her work has been accepted in the International
Colored Pencil Society of America annual shows in Chicago
(1997) and Michigan (2000).
photographs as well as some of her exquisite paintings, can
be seen locally, seven days a week at The ARTeri Antique &
Art Gallery, located in Bell Rock Plaza in the Village of
Oak Creek. You may call 284-2555 for additional information
Collins is currently
Vice President for the Sedona area of the State Chapter of
the Colored Pencil Society of America, a member of the Sedona
Arts Center’s Exhibition Committee, and a member of El Valle
Art Assoc., Inc. She also teaches colored pencil workshops
for the NAU Elderhostel Program in Sedona.