Growing up on Boston’s North Shore, surrounded by so much history Ray Crane wondered what it must have looked like when the area was first settled. That early curiosity led to years of reading and research about life in New England, which continues to this day and provides a major source of inspiration for his work.
Ray is a graduate of the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and for more than 30 years as a professional artist, his work has evolved through several distinct phases and themes. Starting out, his focus was astronomical art, inspired by information that crossed his desk as artist for the Planetarium at Boston’s Museum of Science. He later returned to a subject that had been a passion since childhood – aviation.
In the past, Ray’s interests were historical, primarily the golden age of air transportation and air travel in America. In the tradition of marine artists who depict the great age of sail, he set out to recapture the early days of a new form of transportation that changed America forever, and to pay tribute in particular to the local aircraft and airlines that were among the early pioneers. But in recent years, Ray’s interests have expanded to other forms of early transportation, most notably schooners and other vessels that figured prominently in New England maritime history.
Living on Cape Ann provides endless opportunities to observe vintage sailing vessels first hand and visit the harbors and coves that have inspired American artists for more than 200 years. Exploring the locations witnessed by earlier artists of the region – e.g., Heade, Lane, Salmon and Homer, all providing a connection with the past and inspiration to create new work that shows their world as it is today.
Related in spirit are his paintings of the seashore, rocky landscapes and old homes of Essex County and Cape Ann, which are likewise inspired by careful observation and research. Together they reflect his broad interest in New England’s maritime, aviation and architectural heritage where he tries to instill a greater appreciation for the past and show the enduring influence of the past in our life today. At the same time, infusing a quiet calm that provides a peaceful respite from the hectic pace of our 21st century world.
Ray’s work is exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the U.S., and is in many private collections nationwide. It has also appeared in books, magazines and calendars, and won numerous awards.