Toni Onley

letting the brush speak

“Let the brush speak to you, regard every stroke and let the painting itself tell you when to stop.
It is often what is not painted that counts in the end – the masses of dark
that reveal the white, untouched paper.”

Tony Onley 1999, from Tony Onley’s British Columbia, A Tribute.

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Gulf Island Channel 18.8.16 after Toni Onley

Today’s painting was inspired by the words and work of the late Toni Onley from his beautiful book British Colombia, A Tribute, which I spent the afternoon revisiting and studying today. Toni was one of Canada’s greatest painters, a true master watercolourist, and an equal in my opinion to Turner. One of my happiest memories was spending a day painting with him, just the two of us, sitting on a log on Spanish Banks here in Vancouver. What a privileged day that was and one that I will never forget.

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“I travel with my watercolour box.” Toni writes, “like a violinist with his violin case. The musician and watercolour painter have in their hands two of the most direct means of expression ever devised, and either may give a virtuoso performance.”

The painting on the cover of the book shows Tony, having landed his plane on the Cheakamus Glacier, sitting alone giving a virtuoso performance as only he could.

“British Columbia is a land with soul….I live for those moments when I experience a Zen-like oneness of Nature, hand and brush. And I relive those moments every time I meditate on the paintings that came out of them.”   Toni Onley

You can read about Toni’s life and see his paintings here: I know you will be enriched by experiencing his vision of the world.