Artist Statement

Blue Twilight 1997 graphite, watercolor, pastel, conte crayon, and litho crayon on Fabriano paper 22 x 30"

Charles Ritchie, 2024

My drawings are investigations of a series of sites in and around my suburban home which I have explored repeatedly for thirty-nine years. Light is my essential subject.

My tendency has been to work in black and white to establish studies of contrast. As I work on paper, I try to save the light of the white sheet rather than use white pigment. I feel this yields the most brilliant light attainable. My experience using watercolor has guided me to this approach, and it is also a key issue in black and white printmaking which has come to be of great interest to me.

Variation in size, shape, edge, surface, and technique are critical issues for me. At any one time I am developing many drawings and I work on most of them for years by building up layers of pigment and paper and breaking them back down with erasures and revisions. The surfaces evolve over these extended periods leaving pentimenti, a history of growth. These tracks are an invitation for the observer to participate in the process, an archaeology of surface.

The use of small size is important to my work. I see this as an invitation to the viewer to crawl into an intimate yet immense universe. It also creates a very private experience as the viewer must come close and experience it alone.

My passion is for the landscape, both visible and metaphorical. My inspirations come in a flash and I hope to convey that initial excitement. When I begin to work, I am often dependent on the ephemeral; a slant of light, a certain season, a subject in a temporary state. When the state passes, I often put the work aside until it reappears. However, by the time the drawing is finished, the site may be vastly different than when I started; trees have come down, houses have new additions, etc. The exhibited work is an abstracted accumulation of many different experiences and events.

The pictures begin with the scene and yet aim to move deeper, beyond what is seen. Often what cannot be seen is most evocative. I offer the viewer a context in which essential details are obscured and by doing so, I leave things open to personal interpretation. Night is an important theme for its obscuring quality.

After years of scrutiny these subjects have continually accrued greater meaning and mystery for me. As I evolve with them I aim to come to deeper levels of awareness and to more fully interpret the magic and mystery behind the surface of things.