Posted by: Julie Duell | April 15, 2008


Stop press: Tony now has his own website at


 Above: Life sized self portrait in oils by Tony La Spina

Hi everybody..

I though it a good idea at this stage to give my partner, Tony, his own post.  Until now, he has popped up in combination with me in numerous other posts.   Let’s start with a brief profile on Tony…


Profile on Artist:  Tony La Spina

Born 24.1.1926 in Sydney NSW to Sicilian born parents, Tony began his art training at the Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo (A.D.R.) Art School in Sydney.  At 18, Tony joined the Australian Army as an Interpreter for 3 years during World War II.   After his discharge in London, he studied at Hetherlies Art School and on return to Australia, was awarded a full time scholarship in Art, enabling him to complete 5 years comprehensive training at the National Art School from 1950-1955.

A special love for portraiture saw Tony’s portrait of well-known Australian Composer of music, Alfred Hill accepted and hung in the Archibald Prize c. 1957.

After a time working as a freelance Commercial artist for the Daily Mirror, Tony then worked with the Art Dept. of MGM for 2 years.  He then directed is career primarily into Art Teaching and after completed a 1 year full time teacher training course, began teaching art at Liverpool Girls’ High in 1960.

Along with raising a family of four with wife, Rae, a move to Coffs Harbour, NSW in 1962 saw Tony teaching art with TAFE (which he was to continue for the next 28 years) as well as teaching art at the Jetty High School and Orara High School – during which time he was seconded to the University of NSW for 3 years to work within the Aboriginal community establishing the Playgroup movement for children.

Tony retired from full time teaching in 1990 and moved with Rae to the Central Coast prior to her demise in 2000.  He now pursues art without any pressures, along with various community interests and has a passionate interest in environmentally friendly alternative renewable energies.  He and Julie have assisted each other with local art workshops and classes as well as painting together both in studios and on location.


Tony and I became partners back in 2001 after we were both widowed.  We have shared many positive activitites since then through our mutual love of art, music and family involvements.   Here’s a little pic of us when we first joined forces and my portrait of Tony, inclusive of 3 angles. 



Here are some samples of Tony’s work over the years:

A beautiful Oil sketch Tony did of our friend and fellow-Artist, Lennie, painted in his 90s at the Senior Citizens Centre, Gosford.





I hope you have enjoyed viewing some of Tony’s artwork.

You can see Tony’s portrait painting methods step by step in the post on PORTRAIT PAINTING METHODS.

Cheers,   Julie 



  1. Thank you for this contact. As I organize regular gatherings of ex CHHS students, and even one teacher, in the ACT, I will take this message with me. Do I understand that Tony has passed away? He was a star to me, facilitating my entry to the NAS and a lifetime of Art teaching; the last two decades at the NGA in Canberra. I treasure a little ceramic pot he made, it sits where I see it every morning so I always think of him. Barbara Brinton

    • Thank you Barbara for your lovely comment. I will pass it on to Tony’s family.

    • Thank you Barbara for your comment. Yes Tony passed away on 31st July 2017 aged 91 yrs. I put up a website of some of his artwork: which may interest you. He was clearly an inspiration to many and it’s wonderful to hear of your connection. Julie Duell

  2. Hello Julie, what sadness one feels to look at Tony’s lovely work and know that he no longer holds a paint brush, unless somewhere in the blue art still goes on. He was such a gorgeous man not only to look at but also in his personality. Oh how many pieces of art he must have completed through his long life, and I remember him working on a painting when I had an evening class with him at the Jetty High School. He’d painted many little stones all smooth and round and multi-coloured under the water, some on the bank were not as bright as those which had the water to bring out their colours. I’d always wondered how he’d done such a thing but it really was outstanding. His paintings of you are so so good and have captured your happy disposition. I’m so glad you both became partners because you are so much alike even though you were a lot younger than Tony. Your painting of him in three angles should have been sent to the Archibald Prize because it really is a magnificent work — I love how one portrait continues through his shirt. Now I wish to drain you of all you have to give painterly, through devouring every word you have freely given to us all. Blessings to you Julie and thank you so very much.

    • Thank you Robyne for your comment. I’m sure Tony must be very creative still wherever he is – art is not something he does, but something he is.

  3. Hi Tony,
    my name’s Mark Roper.
    You taught me on Sat mornings in the old church at the Jetty in the early eighties. You painted a portrait of me before I left and moved to Perth to study graphic design. I spent 18 years as an art director in Advertising before giving it up 5 years ago.
    A few years back I visited Coffs to see if I could find the old hall at the Jetty but it was no longer there.
    Last year I picked up the brush again after nearly 2 decades.
    Have since rented a small studio space and devoting my time to creating a body of work.
    I still vividly remember your art classes and have wondered about you.
    Hence the google search!
    Glad to see your paintings and that your still going strong!
    Thank you for your early tuition. Best. Mark

    • Thank you Mark. I am delighted to hear from you. Tony

  4. Hello Tony
    Leena and I lived at Moore st and you were both missed when you moved to the Central coast. It’s wonderful to rekindle memories in your paintings.
    Leena works more with figures in ceramics and is currently part of an exhibition in Newtown.
    love to be in touch
    Roger Elliott

    • Thank you for making contact Roger – I will pass your message on to Tony. Julie

  5. Hi Tony,
    Am interesting in screen printing techniques, could you please advise if you give workshops/tuition. Contact Thanks rebecca

    • Sorry Rebecca – I am now retired from teaching. I wish you luck in finding a course available in your area. Tony.

  6. Tony, your passion for art was inspiring. A 1962 CHHS art student, I became an arts educator eventually managing education at the National Gallery for 19 years.

  7. hi Tony,

    Just picked up a painting with your details on I was wondering if I sent you a photo if you would remember it its called colour Laberyrinth and numbered 330 I thought it might be 60s ?? thanks hope you can help Lee

    • Hello Lee,
      In case you didn’t get Tony’s reply for some reason, yes please send a photo of the painting as an email attachment to and he will get back to you. Thanks, Julie

  8. Oh, I see you and Tony are partners! Congratulations on what looks like a great life. If Tony left Coffs in 1990, then I must have had him as my TAFE teacher for the last 3 years he was there. Hope you are keeping well, Tony. Cheers!

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