James Wilson Rayen

I began as an abstract painter, and I even won several prizes. But the implication of landscape kept appearing (horizon line and trees,) so I decided to go with it. There were lots of transitional paintings but the landscape became the stronger work.

Why did landscape win out? There are many questions in art that have no answers.

I am a committed gardener and often work from that which is, after all, a reduced landscape - nature reduced, edited. As a rule I work from more than one study at a time, seeking to avoid copying from myself.

I’m drawn to the River Charles, and its marshes. A big theme, one that I’ve found to offer limitless variations: time of day, change of seasons- it never bores me, I never tire of it. Memory, after observation, becomes the driving force- one forgets, adds, subtracts, and all take energy and imagination, until the painting becomes the product, not the process.
— James Wilson Rayen, 2012

Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, James Wilson Rayen was a graduate of Phillips Academy Andover, and received BA, BFA, and MFA degrees from Yale University. Rayen was strongly influenced by Philip and Maud Morgan at Phillips Academy, and by Josef Albers and Rico Lebrun at Yale University. Rayen taught at Wellesley College for many years, and was the Elizabeth Christy Kopf Professor of Art until his retirement in 2003. His work is included in the collections of the Cincinnati Art Museum, The Davis Museum at Wellesley College,  Phillips Academy Andover, and numerous public and private collections. Sadly, Rayen died in 2013.