Born in Stratford, Ontario in 1926, William Ronald is best know for his crucial role in establishing the Canadian Abstract Expressionist group Painters Eleven which sought to bring awareness and engagement to the Abstract art scene in Toronto, Ontario during the 1950's.
Graduating from the Ontario College of Art in 1951, after studying with J.W.G, "Jock" Macdonald, Ronald began to exhibit his abstract works with the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, the Ontario Society of Artists, the Canadian Group of Painters, the Royal Canadian Academy. By 1953, Ronald and a group of like-minded artists including Jack Bush, Oscar Cahén, Hortense Gordon, Thomas Hodgson, Alexandra Luke, Ray Mead, Kazuo Nakamura, Harold Town and Walter Yarwood founded painters eleven, the first abstract artist group in Ontario. Painters Eleven found unity in mission as they attempted to breathe life into a "stagnant" art scene by way of abstract expressionisms big, bold and radically different style. Heavily influenced by the New York School, the works of Painters Eleven were at first received with hesitant confusion though as the decade progressed so to did the understanding and acceptance of abstract art in Canada.
Ronald embraced Abstract Expressionism, and his monumental canvases were a striking departure from the then-prevailing approach of the Group of Seven. By 1956, Ronald moved to New York and started showing in Kootz Gallery, a gallery he remained with until 1963. Influenced by the fragmentary explosive painting of Willem de Kooning, Ronald returned to Canada in the mid-1960's, where he worked as a host for the CBC radio program "As it Happens" as well as a TV variety show about the arts entitled "The Umbrella". William Ronald was graced with numerous awards including the International Guggenheim Awards, Canadian Section in 1956, and was part of the National Gallery of Canada’s Second Biennial of Canadian Painting in 1957. In 1977, Ronald was awarded a Canada Councils senior arts award to pursue his Prime Ministers project. William Ronald's exhibitions toured Canada with him continuing to create until he passed in 1998.