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 Wade Ray  (20/21st century)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Wisconsin / Bahamas      Known for: figure, landscape and marine painting, teaching

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Biography from Princess Street Gallery:
Chicago born artist Wade Ray speaks candidly about his approach to painting; "I paint on site responding to the immediacy of varying light and color. I work against my eyes to avoid copying the likeness of what I see.  I'm more interested in capturing the essential elements such as shape and color.  Very often, I create paintings upside down. If I'm painting a person, I'll start with the legs, giving the figure a lot of movement. Painting upside down lends spontaneity to what I do. Painting occurs as you paint; you must find ways to immerse yourself in the process." Ray admires abstract painters like Frank Stella, "because he makes us focus on shape and color."

Ray "has paints, will travel," moving between local scenes in Door County, Wisconsin, or the Indiana Dunes, to a regular sojourn in the Bahamas. There, in Harbour Island, he finds both creative solitude and the encouraging company of numerous other artists, all drawn to the open vistas and visceral experience of nature at a point where the sea and land meet hard on.

"It's Winslow Homer country," Ray said, referring to the American painter who created timeless images of seemingly-endless water and sky. "The ocean shades from green to blue and gray, and the horizon is tinted purple. The color and light change dramatically with the time of day. Things are bright yellow in the morning and then sofen to grayish-green by evening.

"In Harbour Island many of the artists drive around in golf carts, piling their supplies in and moving around as the light changes. I remember once I was absorbed in an especially beautiful sunset and I turned around and saw eight golf carts right there. Everyone was painting the sunset."

Ray grew up in Kenwood on Chicago's South Side. He began painting full-time in 1995, when he stepped down as president of Ray College of Design, a position he had held since 1969. The design school, founded by his parents as Ray-Vogue School was a venerable Chicago institution, and was instrumental in his development as an artist. He studied there and at the School of the Art Institute, and continues to take classes at the Evanston Art Center.


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