A Conversation with Percy Ritchie


From the Studio Window


Dugout Canoe


Mons Pays


Infinity


'White' Paintings

PR: But then I suddenly decided that I was going to change my way of painting and that I wanted to try and see how far I could go with the canvas and how far I could take it so there was as little in it as possible and yet that there was something there because I really believe in the power of the understatement and I like things to be kept simple, as simple as possible.

I like to paint without any embellishments. Really rather as a good writer writes. I think there is a huge parallel between writing and painting. As I've said before I really try to paint without any adjectives. 

So I had a wonderful time with white paint. I just went way way way way over there—all white, with just the image showing and all tone values. I love tone values. I did a lot of paintings like that, which of course nobody was the slightest bit interested in because nobody could figure them out.

I was still very conscious of coming from Quebec. I love Quebec, my roots are there. I love the West, but Quebec is my home. Quebec is where I grew up.

I flew back from Montreal after I flew back to my mother's funeral, and I remember looking out of the window and seeing Quebec—it was the middle of winter—and seeing all the fields covered with snow, and thinking 'I've got to do something with that'. It was all tied into a lot of emotions that were going on in my head at the time. So when I came home I turned that into the first and only pure abstract I've ever done, and called it—the song of the moment that was current and choice was called 'Mon Pays'—ce n'est  pas un pays, c'est la neige—I called this painting 'Mon Pays'.

Other paintings that I did—another one along that line, more or less—was one called 'Infinity', which was a huge painting, which was oil on board. I think I used some house paint, too, and I used great big brushes and knives. It was very white, and it was  two little figures that  were disappearing into the distance. It's quite dramatic.