WILLIAM RONALD, R.C.A.
Private Collection, British Columbia
William Ronald (1926-1998) graduated from the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University) in 1951 with First Class Honours. At that time, most instructors at the college took a conservative, and generally unstimulating approach to teaching art, except for Jock Macdonald. Macdonald, who had taken up the post of drawing and painting instructor in 1947, was committed to abstract forms of expression and promoted a progressive approach to painting. He was a highly effective and supportive teacher, attending to students’ individual concerns. William Ronald was his favourite student. Ronald later wrote that Macdonald taught him the effective use of white and lighter pigments, which Macdonald insisted, “made the picture.” This 1950 nude, painted while Ronald was still a student, is a semi-abstract work in which he analyzed the figure in terms of planes of different hues and values. He also created a collage-like effect by adding texture to certain areas by drawing into the wet paint with the end of the brush. A non-academic treatment of the nude, this work demonstrates Ronald’s understanding of cubism, as applied to a classic academic subject—the nude. As Ronald demonstrates, the lighter tones catch the eye and move it around, unifying the composition.