Advertisement

24 Remarkable Paintings of Marine-Fish Artist Don Ray

An exclusive collection of the artist’s favorites from the past 20 years

July 28, 2011
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email

By any standard, Don Ray is one of the country’s premier marine-fish artists as this exclusive Sport Fishing gallery clearly shows. (You’ll find more information on the artist at the end of the gallery.)

COMPETITION

Artist’s Comment: This painting was more difficult to compose than to paint. I went for the more old-style look seen on hunting and fishing periodicals back when illustrations in magazines and books were still popular. Sadly, those days are all but gone. The under-painting was done in a sepia wash that glows through the finished piece. I was able to get stop-action photos to study by throwing bait to frigate birds.

mahi dolphinfish birds bait art Don Ray marine fishing artist

COMPETITION

Oil on board • 20 x 24 • 1992 Don Ray

LEAP OF FAITH

Artist’s Comment: Any shark that can leap like a mako deserves to be painted airborne! This is the second of two such paintings I have done. This one, with the shark busting a school of bluefish, was selected for the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art’s exhibition entitled “Shark.” (That exhibition was curated by the renowned marine artist, Richard Ellis.)

Advertisement
mako shark bluefish art Don Ray marine fishing artist

LEAP OF FAITH

Oil on linen • 16 x 20 inches • 2008 Don Ray

SWORDFISH, MACKERELS AND SEA NETTLES

Artist’s Comment: Since a swordfish’s diet can vary depending where it is in the water column, I decided to use tinker mackerel as bait. You can see one mackerel sliced in half and another that is reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s famous painting “Der Schrei der Natur” (The Scream of Nature, better known as simply “The Scream”). In the tradition of Stanley Meltzoff, I’ve added some jellyfish.

swordfish tinker mackerel sea nettle jellyfish art Don Ray marine fishing artist

SWORDFISH, MACKERELS AND SEA NETTLES

Oil on linen • 20 x 30 • 2012 Don Ray

COLOR CHANGE

Artist’s Comment: I wanted to show the sometimes-dramatic change in color of the sea where different currents meet. This can be a great place to find pelegic fish such as sailfish and bait cruising along the color-change edge.

sailfish offshore color change art Don Ray marine fishing artist

COLOR CHANGE

Oil on linen • 30 x 40 inches • 2006 Don Ray

BARNEGAT LIGHT STRIPER

Artist’s Comment: This painting was commissioned by Penn Fishing Reels for their catalog. They wanted to show the coastline as it may have looked before development.

Advertisement
Barnegat Bay lighthouse striper art Don Ray marine fishing artist

BARNEGAT LIGHT STRIPER

oil on board • 24 x 30 inches • 1995 Don Ray

SET SAILS

Artist’s Comment: Another tricky composition. I’ve been told that this painting looks like a composite, stop-action shot of a single sailfish moving in and striking the bait. In retrospect, I agree.

sailfish bait art Don Ray marine fishing artist

SET SAILS

Oil on linen • 20 x 20 inches • 2012 Don Ray

BULL AND COW UNDER THE WEEDS

Artist’s Comment: Dolphin are all-around great fish. They are colorful, fun to catch and to swim with, and great to eat. I wanted the viewer to feel like he or she is in the water with these beautiful fish swimming overhead.

bull dolphin cow art Don Ray marine fishing artist

BULL AND COW UNDER THE WEEDS

Oil on board • 30×38 • 2003 Don Ray

PROWLING MARLIN

Artist’s Comment: I sometimes like to place the viewer below the subject in order to a create a more dynamic impression of what it would be like to be underwater with a fish — in this case, a big blue marlin.

Advertisement
big blue marlin art Don Ray marine fishing artist

PROWLING MARLIN

Oil on linen • 24 x 36 inches • 2009 Don Ray

THE GATHERING

Artist’s Comment: I had the opportunity to swim among a school of big tarpon effortlessly holding in the current. My goal here was to convey that experience to the viewer. This painting was selected for the Society of Animal Artists national museum Tour and also the cover of IGFA World Record Book.

tarpon school art Don Ray marine fishing artist

THE GATHERING

Oil on linen • 24 x 30 inches • 2002 Don Ray

KINGS AND THREADFINS

Artist’s Comment: I gathered great reference for this painting at a kingfish tournament, sorting through a box of kings and posing them so I could paint them at virtually any angle I wanted. I did the same with the threadfin herring.

kingfish threadfin herring underwater art Don Ray marine fishing artist

KINGS AND THREADFINS

Oil on board • 24 x 36 inches • 1996 Don Ray

CHANNEL CRUISERS

Artist’s Comment: This painting depicts permit swimming in the deep channels that slice through the flats. I put a permit in my swimming pool using floats and weights to study how the broken light from the surface played on its “brushed aluminum” skin.

Advertisement
underwater permit art Don Ray marine fishing artist

CHANNEL CRUISERS

Oil on linen • 20 x 24 inches • 2007 Don Ray

PITCH BACK

Artist’s Comment: This blue marlin throwing off a pitched skipjack bait was commissioned by Marlin magazine for its 30th-anniversary cover. I kept the original version simpler so that it wouldn’t interfere with the type that would cover part of the painting. After that, I added frigate birds and other details.

jumping blue marlin skipjack bait art Don Ray marine fishing artist

PITCH BACK

Oil on linen • 18 x 24 inches • 2011 Don Ray

SNOOK AND GOLIATH

Artist’s Comment: I wanted to depict an old stand of mangrove prop roots and how their floating propagules and leaves look from underwater. After diving with (relatively) small goliath grouper in recesses along mangrove channels, I thought they’d make a good addition to this snook painting.

goliath grouper mangrove snook underwater art Don Ray marine fishing artist

SNOOK AND GOLIATH

Oil on linen • 24 x 48 inches • 2001 Don Ray

WEEDLINE BUFFET

Artist’s Comment: I’ve had the opportunity to fish off the lower Florida Keys with Capt. Jim Sharp on a number of occasions. On one trip, we spent some time catching some of the small fish that inhabit sargassum weed. I put them in an aquarium on the boat to study and photograph. Along with shots taken underwater, it really helped me to depict what could be on a dolphin’s menu. This is another painting that was used for the cover of the IGFA World Record Book.

mahi swimming underwater weedline art Don Ray marine fishing artist

WEEDLINE BUFFET

Oil on linen • 21 x 25 inches • 2003 Don Ray

CIRCLING THE BAIT

Artist’s Comment: This painting’s title has a double meaning. Since circle hooks have become popular and even required by some fishing tournaments due to reduced mortality rates, it only seemed right to rig this ballyhoo bait with one.

ballyhoo bait rigged circle hooks underwater sailfish art Don Ray marine fishing artist

CIRCLING THE BAIT

Oil on linen • 24 x 30 inches • 2007 Don Ray

BIG HOG

Artist’s Comment: This painting depicts a big hogfish posing for the shot, whether by camera or spear. I acquired a nice hog and also put it in the pool for study. After I had finished, I promptly wrapped it in foil, added white wine, vegetables and spices, and put it on the grill!

underwater hogfish art Don Ray marine fishing artist

BIG HOG

Oil on linen • 30 x 40 inches • 2012 Don Ray

EYEING THE BAIT

Artist’s Comment: I’ve enjoyed creating a number of blue marlin paintings through the years. I also enjoy the tension created by allowing the viewer to speculate about what is going to happen next. In this case, that’s what fishing is all about.

underwater blue marlin art Don Ray marine fishing artist

EYEING THE BAIT

Oil on linen • 24 x 30 inches • 2006 Don Ray

WHOO’S ON FIRST?

Artist’s Comment: This painting was created for an IGFA World Record Book cover. I’ve been honored to paint a number of covers for the International Game Fish Association through the years. Sometimes, naming a painting can be difficult. Other times, as with this one, it just comes.

underwater wahoo art Don Ray marine fishing artist

WHOO’S ON FIRST?

Oil on linen • 24 x 30 inches • 2009 Don Ray

FISHERMAN’S DREAM

Artist’s Comment: This painting could be called “Diver’s Dream” as well. The trick to getting this painting right was to fit all the elements into a 3-D as well as a 2-D composition while not crowding all the subjects.

game fish art Don Ray marine fishing artist

FISHERMAN’S DREAM

Oil on linen • 30 x 40 inches • 2009 Don Ray

YIN AND YANG; SWORDFISH AND MAKO

Artist’s Comment: This painting’s title was inspired not only by the composition but also the fact that these animals’ body shapes are extremely similar, a phenomenon referred to as convergent evolution. These graceful and powerful fish have more in common than just predator and prey. A classic ocean drama.

underwater swordfish art Don Ray marine fishing artist

YIN AND YANG; SWORDFISH AND MAKO

Oil on linen • 24 x 30 inches • 2014 Don Ray

MUTTONS AND RAY

Artist’s Comment: I was fortunate to actually see mutton snappers feeding behind stingrays many years ago while fishing with Gil Drake west of Key West. I was amazed at how quick and precise the muttons were at snatching prey that the stingrays stirred up.

underwater mutton snapper stingrays art Don Ray marine fishing artist

MUTTONS AND RAY

Oil on linen • 24 x 48 inches • 2006 Don Ray

BARRACUDA REEF

Artist’s Comment: Barracudas are fast, great-looking fish. It isn’t hard to imagine how they feed. Every fish in this painting is potential prey.

barracuda reef art Don Ray marine fishing artist

BARRACUDA REEF

Oil on linen • 12 x 36 inches • 2012 Don Ray

LOOKDOWNS

Artist’s Comment: Lookdowns are definitely beautiful and unusual looking. In the right light, their silvery iridescence reflects every color of the rainbow. With a little patience and a sharp fillet knife, they are also good eating.

lookdowns underwater art Don Ray marine fishing artist

LOOKDOWNS

Oil on linen • 12 x 16 inches • 2009 Don Ray

TAILING REDFISH

Artist’s Comment: This is a fairly straightforward painting with a straightforward title. To me, redfish tend to look like they are copper plated. I often think about how various metals shine when painting reflective fish. The crab is standing its ground, a last act of defiance.

tailing redfish art Don Ray marine fishing artist

TAILING REDFISH

Oil on linen • 16 x 24 inches • 2009 Don Ray

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Don Ray marine fishing artist
Don Ray Courtesy Don Ray

Artist Don Ray burst onto the fish/wildlife scene in the 1980s. The self-taught artist from Ohio had studied work of American masters such as Wyeth and Remington as well as more fish-specific artists such as George Schelling and Stanley Meltzoff, a mentor to Ray. His paintings have won a number of competitions and graced various states’ fish/game stamps. His art has appeared on the cover of a number of International Game Fish Association Annual Record Books as well as in Field & Stream, Marlin, Outdoor Life and other publications. An angling enthusiast, Ray lives near Sebastian in central Florida with his wife, Loraine.

Advertisement

More Photos

Advertisement