Ray Matthews, 54, lived in South Hill, Virginia, a town that inspires many of his paintings until 1966, at which point he moved with his parents to Richmond. He graduated from Thomas Dale High School in 1973.. He liked to sketch, but was more drawn to music in high school, and after he graduated he played mandolin in several bluegrass bands.

He worked in the utilities division of Chesterfield County for 23 years. Not until 1990 did he start experimenting with pastels. He tried copying some works of art, and in 1992 sold a painting to a co-worker. After his father died in 1996, he was at a crossroads. Unhappy in his job, and longing to paint, his mother and he agreed that he should trust in his art. They decided to manage on her social security.

In 1997 they moved back to South Hill, where Ray managed to sell a few paintings a year. A coffee shop called The Gathering Place hung some of his paintings, as did the Boydton Library. A gallery owner in Clarksville took offered to try to sell a couple of his paintings. But Matthews’ dream of being an artist was starting to fade.

In early 2009, in a desperate measure to get money for medicine for his mother, Matthews entered a store in South Hill called “The Martin Collection,” and asked owner Jimmy Martin if he would buy a painting of his part of town called “Main Street.” Martin gave him one hundred dollars.

That painting won first prize in the South Hill Spring Fest juried art show in Mary of 2009. Since then Matthews has painted full-time and has created a portfolio of commissioned works for clients. On Thursday, April 15, 2010 he was featured on NPR’s THE STORY with Dick Gordon, after a friend wrote a story about her search for, and discovery of, the artist who painted “Main Street,” after she saw it propped up in an empty storefront window.

To purchase Ray's original paintings and Giclee prints of paintings featured, contact: MaryAnne, Framer's Market & Gallery owner via phone 919-929-7137 or email: