Charles John Collings was born in Devonshire, England in 1848. He worked in a solictor’s office for twenty years before turning to art professionally. Collings’ decision to make art his emphasis occurred largely as a result of the influence of his friend, the artist, Sir Frank Branwyn. Collings studied painting with M.J. Baird, in London but was mainly self-taught. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in London from 1893-1895 and at the International society of Sculptors, Painters and Engravers in 1898.
Collings’ works were well received by critics and were compared to those of the eminent William Turner. Strangely disappointed by this appraisal, Collings sought recluse from the art societies and city life in general. He eventually emigrated to Canada in 1910. In Canada, he travelled to Niagra, Nipigon, Whitehorse and throughout British Columbia, finally settling in Seymour Arm, Shuswap Lake. It was then that he shifted his artistic focus to the natural Canadian landscape, drawing inspiration from his travels, especially through the Rocky Mountains, and from the region he called home.
Even after settling in British Columbia, Collings continued to show and sell his work in England, eschewing the art communities on the West Coast almost entirely. In England his work continued to be celebrated as exceptional and his technique as remarkable. He is now considered to be one of the finest water colourists of the province.