Rollin Simmons lives in a retirement oasis that he built in the middle of the desert, 60 miles away from civilization in all directions, where he enjoys to read, paint and work on his ranch. Rollin was born in Farmington, Washington in 1931. At two, he had an accident and lost the sight in one eye. And while he can still see bright lights and movement, he cannot make out details from that eye. Despite this disability, Rollin has appreciated the fine details of oil painting nearly his entire life. He moved to Glendale at the age of 3 and started painting at 9 years old, after his parents bought him an oil painting set.
Rollin has never painted as more than a hobby. Rollin was in the National Guard when the Korean War broke out. He spent six months in Camp Cook and a year in Japan. By July 1952, he was sent home from Korea, where he had been a jeep driver for an infantry company.
He is largely self-taught, and his formal art studies were brief. He took only one art class in high school and went to the Art Center School in Los Angeles for 6 months after he came home from the Korean War. He quickly got sick of not having any money and dropped out of art school to work for the same construction company that his father did.
He and his wife started vacationing in Kernville in the late 70s and moved there in 1983 to retire. Once retired, he began teaching kids how to weld at Camp Owens. Here Rollin fell in love with the desert and painted many beautiful landscapes. Because of his loss of sight in one eye, Rollin does not like driving much. His wife Arlene has never had a driver's license. So their travel is limited to near their desert home. Thus they travel through their reading and Rollin’s paintings.
While Rollin knows how to paint the desert well, he also loves to paint the ocean. As he states, "I just get my own ideas and I paint them.” Sometimes he uses his imagination; sometimes he finds inspiration in books and magazines. Rollin always finds a way to improve a landscape and make it his own.
Rollin is clear he does not paint for other people, for as he says, "Either you like my work or you don’t, that's no skin off my nose. I don’t paint nothing to suit no one else." Painting has remained a creative outlet and retreat for him over the past 75 years.