Inspired by the land
This story was featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Surrounded by vast open space and never-ending skies as a child, Ray-Mel Cornelius was fascinated by the land—but not in the usual way a boy raised on a farm in northeastern Texas might be. His attraction lay in its beauty rather than its agricultural qualities, which led to a lifetime appreciation of the landscape. “As a farmer’s son, I didn’t particularly take to farm life,” Cornelius admits. “But I felt this connection to the land, and I expressed myself through drawings, and that’s what I ended up pursuing when I decided what I wanted to do with myself.”
With little formal art training in his youth, Cornelius pursued a graphic design and illustration degree from East Texas State University (now part of Texas A&M University) and had a fruitful career as a freelance illustrator for such diverse companies as Elektra Records, Frito-Lay, the Los Angeles Times, Minute Maid, the New York Times, and Ocean Spray. But a longing to create his own works and an inspirational trip to northern New Mexico in 1996 led the acrylic painter to pursue his art full time, painting the land and its inhabitants in expressive realism. “[That trip] really opened up how much I enjoyed open area and nature in general,” he says. “I think of my paintings as visual diaries, sort of a communication with whoever is looking at it. As if to say, ‘I’ve seen this, and this is how I felt about it.’” —Joe Kovack
Featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art May 2015 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
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