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If you're strolling a beach or ferry deck as sunset casts its glow on British Columbia's Coast Mountains, there's a good chance someone within earshot will say, It looks just like a Toni Onley. That's how closely Onley is identified with the landscape of Canada's West Coast.
Don't be fooled. The serenity of those watercolours reflects only one facet of Onley's work--and very little of his tumultuous life. Flying Colours gives you the whole canvas, from a rustic riverbank on the Isle of Man to a plane wreck on a mountain glacier. With sly humour, disarming candour and an artist's eye for detail, Onley recalls a life of professional triumphs and personal tragedies. For a painter known for landscapes and collages, Onley proves a dab hand at word portraits, from haughty maharajahs and quirky Manxmen to the alcoholic--and even homicidal--habitus of an artists' colony in Mexico.
None is more colourful than Onley himself. From the cocky schoolboy painting an extra petal on a daffodil to the Rolls-Royce rebel facing down Revenue Canada--and winning--Onley's passion for art and zest for life leap from every page. Art lovers will cherish his lucid, unaffected insights into the creative process, not to mention the lavish illustrations, representing every stage of Onley's career.
An Officer of the Order of Canada, Toni Onley was born in 1928 on the Isle of Man, where he received his early training and was influenced by the work of the great British watercolourists. He came to Canada in 1948. Onley's work is featured in galleries around the world, including the Tate Gallery in London, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Onley took up flying in 1965, a passion he credits with taking him to the work for which he is best known today: landscape of simplicity and power.