Artist Profile: Richard “Dick” Ray


There is a sense of the eternal in these paintings. A calming…a dreamlike essence underlying the surface, not just on it. Dick Ray doesn’t bother you with over-demanding detail, he makes them familiar through complementary color harmonies. They snuggle and let out a comfortable sigh.

It is the same with the lights and darks and warms and cools. The colors are more co-hosts than contrasts. The compositions are so easily natural that you are not aware of the practiced decisions behind them.

There is the same convincing skill with the seasons. In the painting, “C&O Canal, Winter,” there is a genuine chill in the air—the deep blue tones bring in the icy evening. Even the white tones are cold, while the trees welcome a wintery light that brings emotional warmth.

In “Berkshire Farm,” the bright red and yellow of the trees fade to autumnal orange to establish the atmosphere and tones of the fading year. Buildings are positioned to anchor the overall movement of color, and provide focal points.

With “Fishing Boats, Thomas Basin, Ketchikam Alaska,” we see and feel a hazy cold harbor where icy blues dominate and contrasting patterns vibrate and sway.

Dick received degrees in Geology in 1942 and 43, and began field investigations for the U. S. Geological Service in Alaska. In 1944, he joined the Navy and became an antisubmarine warfare officer. He returned to the U.S.G.S., then the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences. He retired in 1982 and began painting seriously.  He had begun at age 10 and never lost that love of art. In 1985, he joined the Washington Society of Landscape Painters.

Now, at 101, Richard “Dick” Ray cannot paint outside as much as he used to, or would love to, but he sees the landscape through the same eyes that capture the calm, dreamlike quality of the natural world.

You can see his work this month at American Painting Fine Art. (See, At the Galleries.)

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art
Color is chockablock with emotion: practically bursting with feelings you may not even be aware of. The reds and whites of Santa’s suit can give you a sense of happiness. Joy. But red next to black can bring you down—make you anxious and wary as an embarrassed polecat.

Deep blue is fitting for a seascape, or distant mountains—it makes you comfortable. But blue skin is creepy. Blue on white is cheery and blue skies can be hopeful, like the adorable singing bluebirds in a Disney flick. But grey-blue clouds on the horizon? Scary. Worrisome.

Yellow is the most light giving—the warmest—especially yellow orange. Golden yellow, and sometimes actual gold, was used in religious icons to radiate glory. In yellow paired with violet, I see glory solidified. The color becomes weakened by white but put yellow over black, like my dad’s ’57 Ford, and yellow can kick your butt. It takes no prisoners.

Red orange is the color of fire: not just warm, but hot. Red on a flag says “Don’t mess with me.” White, unless it is with red, means I give up. Next to blue, red can become cold. Red with black is unconquerable—passionate.

Green. Ah, green. So much can be done with green, from key lime to khaki to jade to forest. It is born of blue and yellow and can take on all of the subtleties of the landscape. But of course all colors can be modulated to create different effects and emotions—some more than others.

Dick Ray (see Artist Profile) has celebrated the physical world through tints and tones to define not just a landscape, but the very idea of living in all its forms and fashions. He has had a long life made beautiful through beauty, and color.

At the Galleries

Richard G. Ray: Landscapes
American Painting Fine Art
5125 MacArthur Blvd., NW, Suite 17
— October

Richard “Dick” Ray gives us landscapes that capture the calm, dreamlike quality of the natural world. It is his natural world and he shares it through color harmonies and easy, comfortable contrasts of warms and cools and lights and darks. You will love these true American-scene paintings.

Courtney Applequist
Foundry Gallery
2118 – 8th St., N.W.
October 1 – 31
Closing reception, Oct 30,  5 – 8

Courtney Applequist’s new show is a departure from her painting, which has been profiled and praised in this column. This recent work includes wall-size drawings on repurposed cardboard, paper sculpture and video. It is a project done “in a period of admiration, reciprocity and humanity in response to the pandemic.”

“Let’s Dance”
Zenith Gallery Presents
At 1111 Pennsylvania Ave NW
– November 21, 2021

Jackie Braitman captures the tension of motion: fluidity in a static sculpture.  Her latest series is titled “Momentum.”  She captures the grace and athleticism of the female dancer to combine abstract and realistic elements, and finds that magical moment when the dancer feels suspended in mid-air.

Joanathan Ribaillier’s people also dance and gyrate. He uses figures cut from antique maps because they “symbolize the roads people travel and their journeys and struggles for a better life.” He knows of that first hand as an immigrant from France. He spent his childhood around Lyon’s largest flea market where his family dealt with maps and similar artifacts.

On a personal note:  You can watch the very short video (85 sec.) for my historical fiction novel, The Dead Man on the Corner.

You can buy the book on both Amazon and Barnes and Nobel, along with my other new historical fiction novel, John Dillinger and Geronimo. See: