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Adelaide Perry

In their own words

Recorded 1965

Adelaide Perry
Audio: 2 minutes

I started painting out of doors directly from something that I could see, and tried to get, even in those days, what I felt about them. Sometimes I would, of course, sketch, mostly with pencil, and where portraits were concerned, directly on the canvas with paint. Later on, after coming back from England, I used to make more sketches but I did my painting, the actual portrait, directly from the sitter. In those days you could get a sitter to sit still but nowadays they don’t sit still, they want everything done in a hurry so that the method has to change. It takes very much longer to paint a portrait than it used to, simply because you can’t get your sitter.

In my Portrait of Richard, [a] schoolboy about 12 years of age, I remember that I painted him or drew him in, first of all, with terre verte and then painted directly in colour. It took me about three weeks. He came and stayed with me and so we worked every day.

In a portrait I try to get the character as well as the outside resemblance of the sitter, to get the feeling, because that would be your feeling of the sitter; it wouldn’t be the sitter’s feeling of you, fortunately. In this particular case I was very fortunate. It’s a portrait of my nephew and he was very co-operative indeed.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Adelaide Perry is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Audio source

National Library of Australia, Hazel de Berg collection

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Adelaide Perry

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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