by Leah Draffen
RAYNE HOUSEY BORIES HAS A HISTORY of loving art and likewise, a history of loving history. From a young age, Rayne sat her friends down to paint their portraits as an activity. She loved coloring, painting, and anything art that she could get her hands on. In high school, she took classes at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts to do even more. “I minored in studio art at Tulane while I double majored in history and art history. History has always been just as much of an interest as art and they’ve always fit together for me.”
Rayne then earned her Master’s in Preservation Studies from Tulane’s School of Architecture. “I thought that was the field I was going to go into until I realized that it was mostly paperwork to save houses (which I love), but I would rather be in the building sanding the wood.” Rayne began working at a furniture refinishing business that did Venetian plaster and gold leaf ceilings. For a few years, she learned to gold leaf and naturally studied the history of it. While dabbling in painting preservation of ceiling murals and more, Rayne continued to paint on the side for fun.
“My mom finally said, ‘I can’t take any more of your paintings. You have to sell them.’ So, she made me go to Judy at the Rink to ask if the owner at the time would be interested in selling my work. I was so nervous to ask, but she was so nice and gave me the confidence to continue.” Rayne then decided to become a full-time artist at the same time she became a mother. She now balances the act of mothering her 2-year-old daughter while painting the variety of subjects she enjoys.
“I’m all over the board,” Rayne laughs. “From gold leaf animals to birds to historical portraiture. I also paint pet portraits, because they are people’s children too! And I love to do it. It makes me happy and it makes me feel like I’m putting something out there into the world that was once a blank canvas. It’s fulfilling for me.”
Working with oils, Rayne begins her process of painting historical pieces by first researching the artists she admires like Eugène Delacroix and and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. “There’s a back story to why I pick the paintings that I do and usually it’s because I like the artist. I read about the artist, study their work and then paint what I like to see, but add a little twist. John Singleton Copley is my number one favorite portrait painter from the early American period.”
That twist can be found in the form of lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges cleverly layered atop the historical portraits. Recently, Rayne has been experimenting with additional items including magnolias and bees representing the Napoleonic bee, which ties into history and nature. “New things are on the horizon,” Rayne adds. “I have to really work at laying out a schedule. I want to devote enough time to each subject. Luckily, I like to paint it all, but sometimes that’s a curse as much as it’s a blessing!”
A New Orleans native, Rayne is inspired by her home city and all that it encompasses. “I love New Orleans. I love the history, the architecture, the wildlife…I hope to never leave!” Her favorite part of approaching the canvas is long before she’s with brush in hand. “It’s the very beginning for me. It’s the idea that I’m excited about. I have a little notebook by my bed for these ideas that usually come in the middle of the night.”
It’s evident that Rayne’s passions of art and history fit hand in hand. She adds, “I think history is important. We have to look at the past to learn from our mistakes and move forward. That’s what I bring to my art—don’t forget history but also don’t take things so seriously. I like to funk it up and have fun. We only have one life.”
Find Rayne’s work at Judy at the Rink, Home Malone, Claire Elizabeth Gallery, Where Y’Art Gallery and online at raynemariepaints.com. Contact Rayne at email@example.com. Follow along on Instagram @raynemariepaints.