Ray was born in 1965 and raised in the university town of Waterloo, Ontario. After years of living abroad, he settled in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, in 1996. His primary studio is in Toronto, but he also divides his time between this city, his remote country studio north of the city (Haliburton), and his winter refuge in Key West, Florida.
Ray feels grateful to have been raised in a household that encouraged arts and crafts. His father was a photographer and watercolourist who once built a 15’ fiberglass speedboat in the basement. His mother, an accomplished pianist and soprano, organized family trips to concert halls and the nearby Shakespeare and Shaw festivals. Landscapes painted by his grandmother hung on the walls. Furniture crafted by his grandfather was scattered throughout the house. All of them were amateurs, however.
He does not recall meeting a professional until he reached high school. That artist, an established painter who exhibited his watercolours in prominent Canadian galleries, became his art instructor for five years. Expectations were high. He gave his students a rigorous training in drawing and composition, sculpture, ceramics, mold making, stained glass, print making, colour theory, and art history— everything except the one area he loved most: painting. So Ray taught himself to paint on his own time, in a very challenging medium: watercolour.