Petaluma artist David Collins is being honored at the Library Arts Show

Watching the beauty and force of ocean waves, billowing from blackness into rolling blues and greens and rushing into white breakers and bubbles, so captivated artist David Collins that he spent much of his life's work recreating them on canvas.

"He would dash out to the ocean whenever there was a storm," said his wife, Irene Collins. "He loved the ocean and never wanted to live far from it."

Another one of Collins' loves was being involved in the local arts community, especially the Petaluma Arts Association. He was looking forward to the group's Christmas party and spring Library Show when he died unexpectedly from a heart problem on Nov. 23, 2012. He was 75.

"The doctors were as shocked as we were," said Collins. "He was so enthusiastic and had so much he wanted to do. I still can't quite believe he's gone."

In his memory, the Petaluma Art Association is highlighting Collins' work during this year's Library Show opening on Feb. 22.

A Petaluma native, Collins was a lifelong swimmer and body surfer. He and his wife met at a beach party when they were both attending school at San Francisco State University.

In addition to ocean waves, his work in both oils and watercolors included portraits and wildlife — particularly horses.

Coming from technical training at SFSU and a Westport, Conn., course in commercial art, as well as courses at Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University, he utilized a variety of styles, depending on the subject, from realistic portraiture to an impressionistic style capturing the fluidity of waves.

Collins' work was selected among those from Society of Western Artists for two shows in the de Young Museum San Francisco. In 2011, he had a display as the featured artist for a month in the meeting chambers at Santa Rosa City Hall.

Collins belonged to several arts groups, but the Petaluma Arts Association and its shows held a special place in his heart.

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