Ray Ellis (1921-2013) attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Art. His first one-man show was held in 1947 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. After serving four years in the Coast Guard during WWII, Ellis founded his own advertising agency in New Jersey and New York, but continued to paint in his spare time. During this period he was elected to the American Watercolor Society, and his works were widely exhibited and received numerous honors. Beginning in 1969 he was able to devote all his time to painting. In 1974 he moved to Hilton Head Island, SC, and then to Savannah, GA. In 1989 Ellis resettled in Martha’s Vineyard where he maintained a home and studio with his wife Theodora (Teddie). In the early 80s, Ellis and Walter Cronkite collaborated on a series of fine art books celebrating America's coastlines: South by Southeast, North by Northeast, and Westwind. In 1992, Ellis authored The Spirit of Golf with golf journalist Ben Wright. Paintings of Savannah and Martha's Vineyard have been published in separate volumes: Savannah & the Lowcountry, and Martha's Vineyard: An Affectionate Memoir. More recently published are Coastal Images of America and The Road to Ballybunion.
Ellis's paintings are included in major museums and private collections throughout the country. His paintings hang in the U.S. Embassies in Geneva, Vienna, London and Brussels. In 1999, he was commissioned by the White House to do a series of paintings of the Rose Garden. In 2004, the Telfair Museum of Savannah, GA, exhibited a major retrospective of his work.
“I have spent my life painting things and places I love," said Ellis. "These shores of the southeastern coast have special meaning for me…The length of the coast is so beautiful and so diverse and so ever-changing that it would take several lifetimes for a painter to do it justice. However, it was my intent…to capture…my impressions of each place, each scene, each moment as it occurred in time…”