Monday, September 29, 2008

"Fresh Out the Oven"

This past weekend I finished three paintings. This gave me an even greater revelation concerning what I learned about painting from watching my mother, Marjorie McRay, prepare her culinary delights. Anyone who has attended one of my early studio events can testify, my mother is an expert cook.

Often, I'm asked, "How long does it take to make a painting?" My common response is "I work on several paintings simultaneously. It's like cooking." As a child, I'd watch my Mom cook our daily meals with one hand tied behind her back and her eyes closed. She made it look so easy. She's talented, disciplined, skilled, tireless, accomplished, and especially passionate. She loves her family and she loves to cook.

Henri Matisse, the twentieth century master was constantly criticized because of the surface simplicity of his drawings and paintings. Thus, he was often asked, "How long did it take you to make that painting?" Matisse's response, "a lifetime." His life was dedicated to artistic excellence. Matisse labored and labored over his paintings, but to the public, he made it look easy.

Back to Mom. Family holidays are like the Super Bowl, the Oscars and the Final Four of cooking for her. Observing her prepare a holiday meal is like watching Michael Jordan leap down court with his tongue displayed. The next thing you know, "Wham!," a slam dunk. He's Michael Jordan. You don't expect any less. My Mom is like Jordan, but shorter.

She's poetry in motion. In the oven, a moist and delicious turkey is cooking. Her secret blend of cheeses are being mixed with macaroni to make, guess what? Simultaneously, homemade rolls are laid out on a baking pan. Collards are cooking, too. Cakes and pies are already on display. We all wait with anticipation.

Like Mom, I multitask. A long line of commissioned portraits are lined up to be completed. I'm preparing for gallery and museum exhibitions. New canvases are drawn upon. New under paintings are slashed out in a Van Gogh like fashion. Details are added to another set of paintings. Finishing touches are added to another. Eventually, like this past weekend, I add my signature to some. Hopefully, collectors wait in anticipation.

Recently, I heard a humorous rumor. "Eric McRay has a machine that makes paintings." I laughed! I wish it was that easy. I'd turn my painting machine on and then go to the beach with my kids and come back later to great paintings. And I bet that rumor weed cooks her Thanksgiving dinner in a microwave!

I'm a disciple of Marjorie McRay. Like Mom, I'm "Old School." We believe in working smart, working hard, multitasking, remaining optimistic regardless of the circumstances, expressing passion, loving our family and loving what we do. We make it look easy. And by the way, I have three new paintings, "fresh out the oven."

Bon Appetite! -Eric McRay

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Questions & Answers"

Over the past ten years since I've been "in the public eye", I've had an abundance of art, literature, and history students of many ages write about me and my art. I'm humbled to say the least. Basically, I've always seen myself as the kid that just loved to draw and liked telling exciting stories. With much prayer, hard work and the help of my loved ones, my passion has become my career.

Recently, I received an email from a friend and collector of my artwork. He and his lovely wife own three of my paintings. He's taking a class and chose to include me in a paper he is writing. These are the questions he asked. I thought I'd share the answers with you.

Where were you born and where were you raised?
I was born and raised in N. W. Washington DC. in an area between Howard University and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

When did you first become interested in art and why?
In the first or second grade I was esteemed by my teacher when I helped her design a Rumpelstiltskin themed bulletin board. That was the day I realized my art had a value beyond by own personal fulfillment.

When and why did you decide to make a living from painting and drawing?
Fish swim. Birds fly. I make art. Striving to be a great artist is my life's purpose. That is what God "called" me to be.

What was the first piece that you sold?
I don't remember. As a child, kids often paid me to draw pictures on their book covers in school. When I was sixteen I was hired by a design firm as a paste-up artist.

Describe the different materials you use and what you like/dislike about them?
I stopped using oil paints, because they took too long to dry. I paint in acrylics, because they are fast, clean, efficient, fast-drying, versatile and archival.

I create in collage, because it is alchemy. I'm able to make something of tremendous value out of inexpensive materials. It's like making microchips out of sand and turning straw into gold.

Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from my passions, my adventures and misadventures. My art is my diary.

What artist(s) influenced your style?
I think every artist I've ever seen. As Robert Motherwell said, "The intelligent artist keeps the history of art in his head." I'm paraphrasing.

What are your future plans?
Now my friend, that is a broad question. So, I can only give you a broad but sincere answer. As an artist I'm striving to become the best known artist in NC, then throughout the Southeast.

Anything else that would be interesting to know?
In November of 2008, I'll have my first one-person museum exhibition. It will be held at the North Carolina Central University Museum of Art. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Who is Eric McRay?"

The stars of the art world are usually seen as bad boys with tattoos, piercings, and all the clichés of popular romance. McRay is no cliché. He is an original. He is neither the starving artist nor the profiteering commercial artist. "I am an extraordinary gentleman with an adventurer's heart, but I'm no bohemian!" He is a man that has struggled throughout his career to achieve a high level of technical proficiency, pictorial intelligence and a sense of artistic legacy.

Outside of his artistic endeavors, Eric McRay is an exceptional man who is a dutiful husband and proud father, a supportive son and loyal friend to many. He attends church regularly, has a comfortable home, drives a modest car and strives for the American dream like most decent folk. He keeps a daily studio work schedule, lives near Raleigh, NC and vacations along the Carolina Coast with his family.

McRay earned a BFA degree at the Maryland Institute, College of Art, where he received a four-year scholarship. In 1998, he was juried into downtown Raleigh's prestigious Artspace. Eric has served in the offices of Vice-President and President of the Artspace Artists Association, as well as served on Artspace's board of directors. McRay has been featured on TV and radio, and in numerous newspapers and magazines. The Raleigh News & Observer named him one of the "Artists to Watch" for 2001. He was featured in the June 2002 issue of Southern Living Magazine. In 2008, McRay was anointed by Metro Magazine, "Best Local Artist".

Also, McRay has consistently participated in and supported many charitable art exhibits and other community art events. Some of McRay's corporate collectors include American Tobacco Campus, Duke University Medical Center, NC State University, UNC Chapel Hill, SAS Institute, and Western Wake Hospital, as well as many private collectors locally, nationally & internationally.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Eric McRay Enters the Blogosphere!"

"Sky Blue Reflections"

Fine Art Giclee, hand signed, and numbered by the artist. Printed on 100% cotton rag, acid-free, lignin-free archival quality paper. Certificate of Authenticity.

Image Size: 22 x 36

Edition Size: 100


"Voices of the Sea"

Fine Art Giclee, hand signed, and numbered by the artist. Printed on 100% cotton rag, acid-free, lignin-free archival quality paper. Certificate of Authenticity.

Image Size:
22 x 36

Edition Size: 100


I've finally made it to the Twenty-first century. Desktop computer, cell phones, PDA, website, and now I have a blog. Wow! I promise to make it worth your while.