Rosamond’s work is affecting because of its spareness and sureness of line, soft color palette, use of negative space, and most compellingly, the direct, unflinching gaze of her subjects. Ce Ce calls her women “beautiful, defiant, free spirited and yet vulnerable. They are both knowing and longing.” The duality of knowing and longing strikes a deep chord. I love the languid mood that her drawing style evokes.
Rosamond’s life story is rife with themes of identity-seeking, self-doubt, rebellion, intense passion, destructive insecurity — themes universal to many women. Her mother was controlling and violent, and stifled her nascent talent in favor of her brother’s art; the women in her work shuck off any hint of the retreating doormat that might have formed from such repression, and instead radiate confidence, sensuality, sophistication, and power. Even a woman sitting in her car in the path of a steam train blithely smokes a cigarette, showing no apparent concern for her imminent demise. No wonder Rosamond outsold Norman Rockwell and Salvador Dali in the 70s, when women were experiencing liberation and wanted visual totems of their new-found freedom.
Rosamond died by drowning in the Pacific Ocean in 1994. She was swept away in the undertow. Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be a Wikipedia entry for her.