A Conversation with Percy Ritchie


Charlie


Untitled


Two


Varyan


Portraits

PR: I did a whole series of portraits of my children when we first came out here. I did a portrait of every one, and I threw them all out but one. And now I'm sorry. I'm a huge thrower-outer. I've thrown out an awful lot of work. Those are paintings I wish I had never thrown out.

I didn't think they were any good. And they weren't any good. I mean who's to say—I don't know. I chucked them all out. In fact, my children made tree houses out of all of my paintings that I threw out.

But I have since done a portrait of a grandson, Charlie, and I would like to do more portraits, in fact, I would like to do a lot more portraits. I look at faces that I would like to paint, and I would really like to start doing that sort of thing. I've been  looking at Sara today and I would love to paint Sara.

Sara: Me?

PR: Yes. If I was painting a portrait, a lot of it would be from memory as well as from life. It probably wouldn't look terribly like the person. Charlie looked like Charlie. I think portrait painting is a gift in itself. I don't think I have that gift. But there's some faces that are fascinating and would be a real challenge. I'd like to try that, and I think I will, so one day you'll have to sit for me. (laughs)

Sara: I'd be delighted! As long as Fred keeps bringing me tea and snacks.

PR: Yes, he'll keep bringing you tea... I want to paint his portrait, too.

Sara: You've painted paintings of your daughters, with their children.

PR: Oh yes, I did a painting of Valentine, and a painting of Jane, both with their babies. I did them both from my memory, by heart. More what I felt about them. I think that's more how I paint people. Yes, I have done a few, come to think of it, I have. But they've all been my memory. They've never really been from life.

Sara: Are you saying that what you paint is your relationship to the person, rather than the person?

PR: Yes, how I feel about the person. I would do a drawing, a quick drawing, and then a painting. The painting I did of Valentine and her baby, I did a drawing, and then I used the drawing for the painting. And I did a sketch of Charlie. The one I did, the early one, of Veryan is entirely by memory, and, oddly enough, it looks like him. So, I don't know.