As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois/Urbana, Ralph studied a variety of disciplines including engineering, architecture and industrial design. He graduated with a BFA in Industrial Design, but never practiced in the field. Most of his career was spent as an urban planner and environmental planner, in Arizona and in Southern California.
Since his retirement in June 2012, he has returned to his art roots, taking watercolor instruction from Kate Fitzsimmons in San Diego, joining the San Diego Watercolor Society, and painting, painting, painting. He says "I paint what I love, and luckily, there is a lot to love about the San Diego area."