Wild Turkey

Ray Harm


Wildlife Artist, Naturalist, Cowboy


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    Ray Harm is the co-founder of the modern limited edition print industry in America and has been a nationally known wildlife artist since the 1960's. This has been documented by the Filson Historical Society' quarterly journal 4/98 Vol.72 No.2.

    His parents were both concert violinists in the 1920's so music has been a significant influence in his life and he learned several instruments from an early age. Born in the mid twenties in West Virginia (also his father's native state) Ray's childhood was imbued with his fathers later work and study as an herbalist and naturalist digging and selling herbs on the pharmaceutical market. The stock market crash in '29 had forced his father off of the concert tour and back to West Virginia to an earlier interest in herbal medicine. The young man was strongly tutored in the ways of nature by his woodsman/naturalist father.
    In his mid teens he went west to work as a cowboy on cattle ranches, rode the rodeo circuit in the bull and bronc riding events and when he won enough to purchase a roping horse and trailer, competed as a calf roper. He even satisfied a dream that many youngsters have by working with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baily circus, then a tent show, training horses. Always he sought the outdoor life and work with animals.

    Three years of Navy service made him eligible for the GI Bill of World War II and later, after more cowboying on the ranches, he chose Art School in 1948. As he puts it "at least some kinda schooling would make my mom proud." Proud indeed, with only six grades of public school, today he holds Honorary Doctorate degrees from six colleges and Universities. Making a living as a wildlife artist in the early 1950's was not easy! This was when limited edition reproduction prints, (as we know them today), did not yet exist and selling original fine art paintings, one by one, was a very difficult way to make a living, especially when just out of art school and unrecognized. It was a struggle for some nine years as he drew heavily from his earlier "roustabout" experiences to support his family, training horses, digging ditches on construction jobs and driving truck while trying to establish himself as an artist.

    By 1961 Ray had almost given up when he met Wood Hannah, a Louisville businessman and art collector. Hannah became personally interested and together in 1962 they founded a publishing company that was the beginning of the Limited Edition print industry that opened a market for artists everywhere. This market today supports thousands of artists through the medium of Limited Edition prints and Ray is proud of this. The public acceptance of Ray Harm wildlife prints in an ensuing collection, introduced in Kentucky, spread rapidly from coast to coast. He was in demand as a lecturer, wrote a popular weekly nature column and authored two illustrated books, but his paintings of wildlife remained primary. His pictures are appreciated for being from living animals and wildflowers, sketched on location, not copied or traced photographs (which is so commonly done today). All this coupled with his extensive knowledge of the subjects he paints, he feels, is more the essence of fine art as opposed to commercial illustration.

    Ray has always been physically close to wildlife, since in his lifetime he has always lived rural. He lived with his wife Cathy on their H Rafter Ranch in Arizona. Antelope, Bear, Cougar, Bighorn Sheep, Javelina and a profusion of the bird life of southern Arizona was at his beck and call.

Ray Harm 1927- 2015 Magnificent man, extraordinary artist, extremely loving, giving and caring human being. His wife Cathy says their marriage of 37 years, was better than a storybook could ever be! His children, grand and great grand children will hold him in a special place in their hearts forever.


For his many, friends and fans who got to know Ray, they know how he had a way of making you appreciate nature just a little deeper. For those who took nature walks with him, he made you stop and take note of a tiny wildflower underfoot or gave you an interesting tidbit or two of information about a particular insects’ life cycle. His love and interest for nature began in his early years with his father who was a naturalist himself. Ray continued to learn by going out and observing nature first hand. Lucky for us, his Mom encouraged his musical and artist talent!


With deep gratitude for the G.I. Bill, after serving in the navy during WW II, Ray was able to receive the education required to express his firsthand knowledge about nature through his artwork. He also enabled thousands of people to be able to enjoy his work by being the co-founder of the limited edition print industry as it is known today.


Ray was always very passionate about the fact that he was never dependent or used photographs to create his art. He related it to a dancer or violinist, who through knowledge and practice, practice, practice are able to express their talent. Ray constantly observed, drew and practiced. Cathy recalls him drawing the back of the fella’s head in front of them while on an airplane. She could ask him to draw anything from a flower, bird or animal and Ray, strictly from his knowledge of the subject matter would quickly draw an accurate rendering. A finely honed talent maintained with constant practice.


Using his artwork and donating his time, Ray helped to raise funds for education, health, nature and many more organizations.


Ray “made his Mom proud” with his many cherished Honorary Doctorate Degrees.


There’s a saying by Charles Russell that hangs on a plaque in Ray’s studio that says “A man who can do what he loves for a living is damn lucky” Ray agreed and lived his life filled with love and laughter!