Born in Yellowknife in 1971 and raised in the largest Dene community of Rae-Edzo, Ray spent his life surrounded in the same natural, scenic beauty that has inspired many northern artist. Ray began seriously drawing at a young age and won class room drawing contest's after his teacher purchased his drawing and encouraged him to develop his talent more. He began to paint in the ninth grade, independently developing his very unique style. As Ray's talents developed through the local school's art program, he quickly became recognized as a first rate artist with a very special talent. 'I think it runs in the family, my dad is an artist too, carving in soapstone.'
Ray was rewarded by being top art student at Chief Jimmy Bruneau Regional High School. Ray's achievements did not stop after high school. The NWT Volleyball Association was thrilled to have Ray design a logo for them after seeing his work in 2 PRINT National Magazine for emerging Canadian artist recently published Ray's drawings in their September 1996 issue, and graced the centerfold, has resulted in an incredible amount of positive comments says Jean Baird (the Publisher), 'McSwain's artwork has received more comments then any piece of artwork we have published, Trans Canada Pipelines couldn't resist purchasing his work which is now on display in Houston, Texas. Many business and individuals in the community of Rae-Edzo have Ray's work on display. Perhaps the reason for Ray's early success has been his spiritual abstract style that includes a stunning combination of wildlife, natural beauty and northern lights. Just as important to Ray's style are his colour schemes which vary from smooth blenging to sharp contrasts, such as bright Northern lights against a black star filled night sky.
Ray describes the use of his paintings as 'A way for me to show my respect for the harmony that exists between indigenous people and nature and the beauty of my culture of the True North.' On every painting that Ray finishes, a small drum appears by his signature as a symbol of where he started painting, and 'the beauty of our songs of our culture' Chief Jimmy Bruneau Regional High School. 'Without the school's encouragement, I never would have developed my art to where it is now.' 'What encourages me to do my artwork is the love of people that say to me that they like my work, without you people, I would never developed the beauty of my talent.'