Colin Wheeler was born in Dunedin in 1919. On leaving school he took up commercial art, then taught at Waitaki Boys' High School in Oamaru, before studying at London's famous Camberwell College of Arts. He held many one-man exhibitions of his paintings and won several awards, including the prestigious Kelliher Art Prize, and other national art competitions. In 1987 he was a recipient of the Queen's Service Medal for services to art. He retired in Oamaru with his wife, Phyllis, where he continued painting and gardening until his death in 2012 at the age of 93.