Sidney Volunteers-Olga ‘Toni’ Nelson

Toni Nelson, artist and one of the Sidney volunteersToni Nelson-2


How long have you been a volunteering? Well 1979, I started to volunteer.

Are you an artist? Yes, a watercolorist. I teach also.

Who are some of your favorite artists in the gallery? I like Bev Pederson, Marti Green, there are a lot of great artists!

Do you have a hobby?  I do enjoy putting together floral arrangements in the spring time. Now I focus most of my time painting.

Would you mind sharing a memorable story while volunteering? Well 28 years- Pam and I have had the best time volunteering together. Everytime we meet, we have a show and tell. We share stories of our families, we are almost attached at the hip. Ha! We've had lots of good memories, those have been my favorite while volunteering here at the gallery.

What is it you like best about SMAA?  It's a family gallery, I work hard not to lose this!

How long have you been an artist?  I started in the 60's. I am 91 you know.  And well Jerry Berker showed me what he knew about watercolors. I stuck with it and started teaching in 1980's. You know I have hundreds of watercolor books, I was mainly self-taught. I'd go to the occasional workshop, learn new techniques from my books and paint often!  My reward for teaching, SMAA has given me my legacy–my name on their scholarship. Its just such a wonderful gift! You know we had a luncheon. It was very nice!

What do you like about teaching?  Oh! I see my students come alive! They come back and tell me they see the colors in everyday things, people and places! I just love to hear this.

Where are you from? I was born in Eastern Washington in an German/ Russian settlement. My husband and I started a Herring business in the Silverdale Marina. It became a family business for quite a while.

Anything you'd like to add? The trick to watercoloring, it's all about layering!

Leave a Reply