Unfinished Portrait – The Artistic Gene???

April 18, 2010 at 11:40 am 13 comments

“In search of my son- in search of me.”
Part One In search of my son- In search of me
Part TwoTourjours Moi-Always Me
Part Three Always Me – Always Chris
Part Four In search of My Son-
Chris Ritchey – Thanks

Part Five Dark Humour- Shedding a Light
Part Six – The Unfinished Portrait

Part Seven– The Unfinished Portrait- The Artists
(2)part two – Who are we really
Part Eight– When Premonition Becomes Hindsight
Part Nine – When Premonition Becomes Hindsight – Part Two
Part Ten– There is an “I” in Death

Both my children grew to adulthood in this old house in Lorain, Ohio. Both of them stayed here until their respective weddings. We were very fortunate to have those years.

They were surrounded by objects and art from various family sources from thousands of miles and many years ago. They were even the subject of a painting or two themselves.

Portraits painted by Terrence Gabbey ( cousin)

My great-grandfather and his sons ( on my father’s side) were also artists- however whether or not they were very good depends upon whom in the family you talk to πŸ™‚

Great granddad John Henry Stringer
A painting by John Henry Stringer.

Well he did manage to convince Harrods that he was good enough and they commissioned him to paint murals ( in all probability) on their walls. Harrods well there’s a coincidence –a little Harrods’ Bear served me well

His son ( my great-uncle) John Stringer also dabbled and his I have five of his paintings on my walls . If you look closely the signature says Jack Stokes.

His name was ‘Stringer” but because he wanted to join the fight in South Africa and the Boer War , and being that he was not of an age to sign up and against his father’s wishes he lied about his age and family so as to get into the fracas. He took the maiden name of his mother “Stokes” ( she of the Stokes of Stanshawes)


“Jack” lost his arm in the Boer War ( not sure if it was the first or 2nd one) all I know is that when he couldn’t sell enough of his paintings to pay the rent he would pawn his false arm.

There are any number of paintings / beaten copper and tapestry and Nana’s needle point that can be found on my walls . Every room has a family “art work”

We even have a small oil from the 1700’s I have no idea of the artist .

I did take it to the Oberlin Art Museum many years ago who told me it was very dirty – (well what did they expect it is over 300 years old ) – We call her The Old Bitch – dour faced in her old frame- probably Dutch -but who knows a throw away Rembrandt ? She too came from my Grandmother’s house where she was before that only she could tell.

I cannot take down the plethora of paintings etc. Each one means something to me , I am running out of room. I look at uncluttered spaces with envy BUT as I discover more and more of my son’s work in boxes and portfolios the walls are filling up even more. In searching for the fact as to whether this family “knew ” Chris – (as 2nd guessing was thrust upon us by “the committee of 19” ) I have made discoveries as my son’s work speaks and hopefully some that will help his little nephew as he grows. I can tell you Nikki’s walls are filling up too. πŸ™‚ -Thank you Cleveland Institute of Art!

to be continued ….

Entry filed under: Arts, Chris Ritchey, death, journey, personal opinion. Tags: , .

Gentleman Time Please! I didn’t know my son! Chris Ritchey

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tinsel  |  April 18, 2010 at 11:42 am

    πŸ™‚ Good read, well put! cheers

  • 2. muley  |  April 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    …….just hard for me to imagine pawning a “false arm”. Was there a market for them back then?

    …..hoping all is well with you and Ernie.

  • 3. Loraine Ritchey  |  April 19, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    They actually used to pawn the shirt off their back ( usually , acording to my grandmother, it was papa best shirt and they turned the cuffs so it didn’t look frayed so they would get more money on it…and then go and collect it on pay day πŸ™‚ for an extra fee… my grandmother as a little girl used to be the one to pawn and collect as apparently the pawn broker had a soft spot for her πŸ™‚ .. bit like the moneylenders of today charging high interest rates.. but they had something you really needed πŸ™‚ ….. ( wonder if that is where . would give you the shirt off his back came from πŸ™‚

    Yesterday was very very bad for both of us …..not sure why but both our tears flooded and we were emotionally incontinent most of the day ….I cry every day …. a good day is when I can get through a few hours at a time without dissolving into tears…. a bad day is when wracking sobs continue hour after hour…. I wonder whether Chris really knew how much we loved him and to what extent we would miss him….

  • 4. muley  |  April 19, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    ……of course he knew.

  • 5. Loraine Ritchey  |  April 19, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I hope so Muley he truly was our reason for being and his sister has lost her best friend and confidante

  • 6. muley  |  April 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm


  • 7. Lisa  |  April 19, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Isn’t it something how the very very bad days can actually turn out to be good for you days? Getting rid of all the pent-up festering emotions, the cleansing tears – all very very good for you & He Who Shall Remain Seen and Not Heard πŸ˜‰
    A similar weekend here as well. Much needed and long overdue.

  • 8. Loraine Ritchey  |  April 20, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Well my days apparently are meant to be dark and drear if the committee of 19 have their way .unbelievable what happened this afternoon… some festering emotions I didn’t know I had came through today I can tell you …………

  • 9. rosie hannon  |  April 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Hi, Jack Stokes was my great grandfather too! His daughter Olive was my maternal grandma. She lived to the age of 93 and died in 2000. She was such a character and told us all about her dad. My mum has quite a few paintings of his and some lacquer work too. Which of Jack’s kids are you descended from?
    Rosie, Surrey, UK

  • 10. rosie hannon  |  April 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Having re-read your article I can see that my great grandfather was in fact your great uncle. I wonder if you knew my gran? She had 2 brothers, Jack and Stan, and a sister Kathleen and I understand they lived in Chelsea when she was young. Do you have a family tree?

  • 11. thatwoman  |  April 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I am going to ring my mum as she was the one that knew Olive I think will get back to you

  • 12. thatwoman  |  April 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Hi called mum and yes she definitely knew Olive and Kath and I have sent you an email from my g mail account hope you get it Loraine

  • […] During the course of that journey I touched upon where he may have, in the family gene pool, been given some talent. This led to posts on family members long gone. https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/unfinished-portrait-the-artistic-gene/ […]

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April 2010

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