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Meet Ray-Mel Cornelius

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ray-Mel Cornelius.

Ray-Mel, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Drawing was always my means of expression as a kid. Growing up on a farm outside of Royse City, Texas, a then small town thirty miles east of Dallas, my exposure to art was limited to what I saw in the media. Magazine and book illustrations, comics, and television cartoons showed me that it was possible to make art as a job, a lifestyle even. The farm life and I didn’t have much simpatico, so I went the art route.

East Texas State University in Commerce was the closest college to our house, so I commuted there to avoid the extra cost of dorm housing. I was lucky that the art program was excellent with talented and demanding instructors. I entered the visual communications program, being as pragmatic as I was adventurous since that offered more opportunities for actually making what I had grown up identifying as the art I had experienced at close range. I did well, got good grades and won some awards.

After I graduated, there were opportunities in Dallas, but I want to experience something other than small-town Texas. One of my brothers lived with this wife and daughter in LA, so I moved there. I did freelance work and illustrated an album cover, which was fun. But I didn’t feel I was getting the first-hand experience I would have in a graphic design studio. After a year in LA, I moved to Houston to pursue an opportunity there. It lasted three years, and I moved to Dallas to resume a freelance career.

I made illustrations for magazines and books, just like those that opened up the possibilities to my mind when I was a child. All along, I did my personal work. I no longer do commission illustration, and for about nine years, I have been making my own paintings exclusively. I show locally at Ro2 Art and in Taos at Copper Moon Gallery.

Has it been a smooth road?
Art is a subjective experience, just as many personal experiences are, and rejection is a constant traveler alongside us. One gets inured to it, but it’s still a source of stress the first thousand or so times it happens. As is also the case in other life adventures, having one’s work appreciated and accepted can push the rejections to the back.

Please tell us about your art.
I’m a representational painter. My subjects are based on experience and memory. When I first began to do my own work, I realized I felt a connection to open space as well as smaller details. After some self-reflection, I concluded that the horizon to horizon environment and wildlife that surrounded me as a child resonated in what I wanted to express with my adult era paintings. I would say I’m most proud that people choose to have my paintings in their everyday lives.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Dallas has a lot of the things my wife Becky and I enjoy doing in a social sense. It has all of the big city advantages and opportunities. We do like to frequently escape it and are about ready to turn that escape into everyday life, but we separately and together have lived in big cities all of our adult lives.

Dallas, as an entity, has little respect for its history. Too much great architecture has been imploded for something new and supposedly better. But it can’t match the character that comes with a history of experience shared over lifetimes.

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