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Beneath the Surface

Diving into the game fish world of artist Don Ray

Don Ray with his paintings “Misty Morning” and “Mullet Run.” Known for his game fish artwork, he says, “Painting birds gets my head out from under water.”

Don Ray with his paintings “Misty Morning” and “Mullet Run.” Known for his game fish artwork, he says, “Painting birds gets my head out from under water.”

As a youngster growing up in Springfield, Ohio, Don Ray spent time hiking among the ancient hardwoods, rolling hills and peaceful creeks. Summer mornings would find Ray fishing Honey or Donnell’s creek, regularly pulling in smallmouth bass. Those fish became some of the Vero Beach artist’s earliest subjects. 

A resident of Indian River County since 1992, Ray is regarded as one of the country’s premier game fish artists. As a part of his process, he photographs, interacts with and paints many species in their natural environments. He and his wife, Lorraine, live on a secluded four-acre property that comprises a cottage home with an artist’s studio out back, a lovely gazebo and a landscape waterfall, along with a half-acre aquifer-fed pond containing floating plants and a surprising collection of fish.

Ray’s detailed images of popular game fish are enjoyed and collected by fishermen around the world and have appeared on scores of publication covers, including Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Marlin, and Saltwater Sportsman Magazine. An airborne shark doing its thing busting a school of bluefish (“Leap of Faith”), the stop-action shot of a single sailfish striking the bait (“Set Sail”), or swimming amidst a school of big tarpon (“The Gathering”) are just a few of the scenes Ray recreates with oil and canvas.