Ralph started drawing while attending grade school and received formal lessons in art in high school. After graduating from high school, he worked for Vincent Kling, Architect and assisted with the construction of architectural scale models. In 1954 he enlisted in the United States Marine Corp, was trained as a photographer and was stationed in Japan for about a year. When he was off duty he would pack up his easel, brushes, and oils and paint the Japanese landscape, homes, and people in the area. A Japanese artist friend convinced Ralph to join him and enter the Fugisawa Art Exhibition. He entered two oil paintings and won the Peach Blossom Award for his painting “The Trapeze”. It was the first time ever that a foreigner won a prize,
After Ralph was discharged from the service, he attended the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) and majored in product design.
From 1959 to 1961 he taught art to children in the 5th to 8th grade at Saint Basil’s Orphanage in Philadelphia.
He volunteered as a contact worker for five years (telephone hot line) and taught CCD (Sunday school) to children at St. Ephrem Elementary School for twenty-five years.
Ralph worked seven years for HMS Associates, a product development company. For the next sixteen years he was in partnership developing products for industry. At the beginning of 1985 he formed his own Corporation (Ralph James Studios, Inc.) a product development company. Over the next twelve years RJS grew from one person to an organization of forty-five professional and talented associates. This growth was due to the dedicated efforts of the artists, designers, model-makers, casting technicians, and finishers combining their talents to one goal, service to RJS’s Clients.
In August of 1997 he decided to retire from the corporate world, sold his Company and began teaching oil painting. Ralph completed six weeks of intense training to become a certified instructor of the Bob Ross landscape, floral and wildlife technique of oil painting. Studied portrait painting with David Weaver at his West Virginia studio and studied classical oil painting with Johnnie Liledahl’s at her Texas studio
Ralph taught oil painting in his Bucks County studio, at Michaels Arts and Craft and at “The Painter’s Palette”. In December of 2001 he relocated to Chester County and opened Studio Creations, Ltd. where he has conducting drawing and painting classes.
In addition to teaching, Ralph also paints portraits from photographs and produces original oil paintings that he exhibits at area art shows.