Ray enjoys tonal impressionist oil painting, the study of light, in the tradition of early Australian artists, particularly those influenced by Max Meldrum. He currently paints all genres: plein air, portraiture and still life. He aims to keep it simple and ‘painterly’.
He began lessons at the Victorian Artists Society in the late 90s having tuition from Margaret Cowling (water colour), Max Wilks, Gregory R Smith, Ray Hewitt, Stephen Doyle and Ben Winspear.
Ray has had five successful solo shows at VAS. He is an accomplished portraiture artist and has participated in live events painting prominent Melbournians. Ray’s works appear in collections in Victoria, interstate and overseas.
A current favourite artist is Australian, Ron Crawford (1915–87).
Ray is a fellow and signatory member of the VAS.
VAS artist Ray Wilson painting at the beach
As a younger person I liked drawing and Art to year 10 whereupon I chose an academic stream that didn’t allow for it. At Monash Uni, where I studied economics, I was drawn to the art books in the bookshop depicting paintings of the first impressionists, Van Gogh et al and our own Arthur Streeton.
I discovered the Victorian Artists Society (VAS) in the mid 90s having a workplace around the corner. Often visiting the galleries at lunchtime and enjoying chats with the then Manager, Ted Dansey who provided insights into the Society. I eventually began lessons at the VAS in the late 90s having tuition from Margaret Cowling (watercolour), Max Wilks and Gregory Smith (for 9 years at his school in Strathmore), Ray Hewitt (a long time mentor) and Stephen Doyle.
It was Gregory Smith whom I have to credit as getting me truly involved in the Society. I joined the VAS Council and was given the Education convenorship, building classes from 6-7 per week to nearly 20. I then became Treasurer for 3 years. On a ‘temporary basis’ I stepped into the Manager's role which I enjoyed immensely, as skills learned in the State Government public service came to the fore. It was during this time that I also took on a Project Management role, as the VAS had sufficient funds to begin its long awaited staged restoration of the building. Five years after taking on the ‘temporary’ Manager role, I retired to paint more and travel. COVID 19 had other ideas re the travel … but I certainly began to paint more, and have found there is no substitute for painting more, if you are able.
'Malmsbury Botanic Gardens' oil on linen by Ray Wilson
'Coastal Walk, Lorne' oil on linen by Ray Wilson
'Still Life, Empty Vessels' oil on linen by Ray Wilson
I love painting in the open air, and store away scenes I would love to paint and return to. I have a holiday shack and small studio at Aireys Inlet where I enjoy painting coastal scenes. From my home in Essendon I often find myself in Williamstown, again near the water, although anywhere is good to paint and holidaying also finds me painting. At the Essendon home a studio build is nearing completion.
I enjoy conveying what has been passed to me re the tonal impressionist methods (all the tricks and tips) and in recent years have undertaken relief tutoring and workshops at the VAS and elsewhere. I am a long standing attendee of the VAS Friday Group for untutored portraiture and life painting which has been a great vehicle to keep the eye in and they are an inclusive and social group of artists. I have a very supportive wife and three children who also take an interest in my art.
I am attracted to tonal impressionist oil painting, the study of light, in the tradition of early Australian artists, particularly those influenced by Max Meldrum. I paint all genres (Still Life, Portraiture and en plein air). I paint from life and aim to keep my work simple and ‘painterly’ conveying the image before me with as few brush strokes as needed. That’s the fun, though it’s not that easy.
More recently I challenge myself to complete life paintings quickly with a direct approach, by painting ‘wet in wet’ adopting as many short-cuts as possible utilising large brushes for as long as possible and pre-toned canvas/linen. Distilling the simplicity of a subject, the light catching an object, focussing the viewer, happy to leave unsaid as much as possible. Whilst adopting a tonal approach, I am an unashamed colourist, enjoying the application of clean colour in any painting which, I feel, helps keep the artwork modern and pleasing. In my art, there are no axes to grind, emotions to convey nor stories to tell. I paint what I see, and therein, I hope, lies the art.
Ray Wilson VAS FVAS
We would like to pay our respects to the traditional owners of the land on which our building stands, their leaders, past, present and emerging.