Raised in California, Warren E. Rollins attended the San Fransisco School of Design where he studied under Virgil Williams. At the completion of his studies, he was awarded the Avery Gold Medal and made Assistant Director of the school. He later settled in San Diego and it was during this period that Rollins became interested in Native Americans as subject matter. He then traveled through every Western state from the Mexican to Canadian borders in search of subject.
In the early 1900s, Rollins spent a year in Arizona painting the Hopi, Navajo and Zuni Indians; studies that would later become quite popular. His constant search for new subject matter took him to Taos, New Mexico, where he had a studio near his friend Irving Couse. He also traveled to Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico, sketching and painting ancient ruins, and to the Grand Canyon where he had a studio near El Tovar. Rollins dramatic Canyon painting was purchased by the Santa Fe Railroad.
Rollins was the first president of the Santa Fe Art Club, and active in the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe that is home to an extensive collection of his work. He painted murals for the Museum, the post office and the Harvey House in Gallup, New Mexico, and triptychs depicting Zuni life for Bishop's Lodge, Santa Fe.