Artist Donray was born Donald Arvin Ray in Houston, Texas, July 29, 1945. He showed an interest in art at an early age and learned to draw from his mother. After service in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam, he studied law at Baylor University and also studied painting privately while in law school. He lived and worked in East Texas until 1989 when he moved to Dallas living in the colorful "Deep Ellum" section of that city (1990 -1993). In 1993 he moved to New York locating first in the "DUMBO" area of Brooklyn (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Other side) and later moving to Manhattan maintaining a studio on 14th Street near 7th Avenue on the border between Greenwich Village and Chelsea. While in New York he became friends with critic and museum curator, James Harithas, curator Willoughby Sharp and artists Knox Martin, Norman Bluhm, Mel Chin and Irv Tepper. He was also friends with rock muscian Jim Thirlwell (a.k.a. Foetus) whose portrait he painted. He attended the lectures of Knox Martin at the Art Students League and Knox Martin became his mentor. He moved back to Texas late in 1999.
Artist Donray has developed a unique style of painting emphasizing color and motion and has experimented with various techniques in using acrylics and pastels. His earlier paintings were done on Masonite but he moved to canvas while living in New York. He developed a technique in painting that involved the use of glazing and under painting, the use of lines and gestural brush strokes to define shapes in masses of swirling color and the use of layers of translucent glaze dried separately from the painting, shaped by cutting and applied in a collage form onto the surface. He also uses pouring and dripping and splattering methods of applying paint as well manipulating it on the surface with pieces of cardboard rather than brushes. His technique in the use of pastels has involved rubbing and smudging the material into the surface of paper and drawing images with a kneaded eraser.
Donray paintings are generally metaphorical and emphasize the dynamic nature of life and the yearning of mankind for spiritual enlightenment and fulfillment. He has been influenced by artists from a wide variety of movements including Baroque, Romantic, Fauvism, Futurism and German Expressionism. Although influenced by many artists, Donray has repudiated all labels that have been applied to him. His work has been described by critics and other artists as "fierce", "at once raw and refined" (Donald Kuspit); "complex and luminous" (Ruth Bass); "vertiginous and confrontational" (Knox Martin); "figurative, abstract and American" (Edward Lucie-Smith); and "vibrant with near violent colors" (Harold Rubin, The Rivington Gallery, London, UK).
Donray has lectured at The Art Student’s League of New York in 2015 and at Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art in Houston, Texas in 2019 on the work of Knox Martin. He has also lectured at other venues in Texas from 2000 to date.
Donray's work has been collected by such notables as American actor, Johnny Depp and Houston Billionaire Bob McNair (owner of the Houston Texas). Major acquisitions of his work were made in 2009 by Allegiance Capital Corporation of Dallas and New York and by Wall Street firm Prestige Financial Center.
Artist Donray has exhibited in Dallas, New York, Washington, D.C., Arlington, Fort Worth, Houston and London, UK and currently resides in Tarrant County, Texas.