Raymond M. Byram was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He received his primary and secondary education in area schools. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Indiana University, graduating in 1976. Ray is the co-founder of the Indiana University Art Museum, which he accomplished while completing a museum internship. Presently a freelance artist working in oils, watercolor, and printmaking. He has done extensive commission work for private and corporate collections.
A phrase that best describes Raymond Byram and his work is: “technical virtuosity”. The late Dr. Ben Miller, Chairman of Indiana University at Pennsylvania’s Fine Arts Department that taught Ray his final advanced oil painting course before graduation, stated at that time that Ray Byram had reached a level of “technical virtuosity”.
Byram has been painting in oil since 1969. He received his Fine Arts degree in 1976 while also receiving a minor in Art History. He co-founded the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Fine Arts Museum while completing a museum internship under the nationally renowned art historian Dr. Balsiger. Since graduation he has devoted himself to his painting, having one man and group shows throughout the East.
Although he has worked in a variety of genres, styles, and mediums from abstract to surreal to neo-realism, from oils to watercolors, etchings, woodcuts, and serigraphy, it has been landscaped in oil that has been his primary pursuit. His love of nature and the Appalachian forests in conjunction with his love of Impressionism have combined to synthesize his individual style which he calls a “tight impressionism”. Byram explains, “At quick glance, my style obviously looks realistic, yet I employ the theories and approach of the Impressionists”.
In the late ’80s, Byram discovered a medium that would revolutionize his work and his career; serigraphy – silk screen printmaking. Most serigraphy is basically a stencil process, working directly on the screen, whereas Byram works from the opposite premise by doing a painting first and then hand separation from it using a separate sheet of acetate for each color and red opaquing pen to duplicate every speck of the one color he is picking out.
Unlike most serigraphy, this gives the finished work a much stronger, painterly effect. Thus far, Byram has done from 16 to 22 colors per serigraph. This very tedious separation process takes him up to 200 hours to complete. Each color is individually hand-pulled, layering one over another until each color is complete. There is no room for error.
Byram’s oils are almost exclusively done with small palette knives rather than brushes. Byram finds his inspiration throughout the eastern mountains and forests, particularly in North Georgia and North Carolina. He also finds it in the local roads around his home in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina where he resides with his son Sam and Jack the wonder dog.
The artist explains, “There are so many beautiful roads, even the well-traveled, where it’s difficult or impossible to just stop in your tracks and take it all in. The winding roads, the light filtering through the trees. That lighting effect is what I’ve been keying on. That sense of ‘realness’ to me, it is a very special spiritual magical thing.”