Ray Allen Parker was born in San Diego, California, in 1951. The son of a sailor, he grew up in U.S. Navy towns from California to Florida to Hawaii and Washington before the family finally settled in rural Egypt, Arkansas. He earned a B.A. and an M.A. in English from the University of Arkansas, where he also took his first painting class. Following a three-decade career in retail advertising, Ray finally returned to art and his lifelong interest in portrait and figure painting. Through large-scale works that strive to be both old masterly and contemporary, he explores the complex topography of the human face and figure. Ray lives and works in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with his wife Mary Jean.