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"Small flock of morning doves. Startle upwards in hooked beaked whistling whirr into the blueish wind." Charles Burchfield, September 12, 1914 http://bpac.co/n:1446 Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Gateway to September, 1945-1956; watercolor on joined paper, 42 x 56 inches; Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Gift of the Benwood Foundation

"Small flock of morning doves. Startle upwards in hooked beaked whistling whirr into the blueish wind." Charles Burchfield, September 12, 1914 http://bpac.co/n:1446 

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Gateway to September, 1945-1956; watercolor on joined paper, 42 x 56 inches; Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Gift of the Benwood Foundation

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As I review my life, and its many little events, they see unique and wonderful to me, and I feel that should be recorded somehow but are they different than the run–of–the–mill human experiences? And even if they are, how is it possible to get them down on paper? There is not time for everything.” September 10, 1964 http://bpac.co/n:1409Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Sea of Queen Ann’s Lace and Cicada Song, 1960; watercolor on paper, 10 1/8 x 7 7/8 inches; Private Collection, Image courtesy of the Burchfield Penney Archives

As I review my life, and its many little events, they see unique and wonderful to me, and I feel that should be recorded somehow but are they different than the run–of–the–mill human experiences? And even if they are, how is it possible to get them down on paper? There is not time for everything.” September 10, 1964 http://bpac.co/n:1409

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Sea of Queen Ann’s Lace and Cicada Song, 1960; watercolor on paper, 10 1/8 x 7 7/8 inches; Private Collection, Image courtesy of the Burchfield Penney Archives

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"It is my habit to fear the making of an acquaintance with new people, and probably if no one else ever made first overtures I would never meet anyone. So it was with the visit of the Soyer’s - but I need have had no apprehension. I liked them both - Soyer was all artist, and interested so completely in picture. He said his visit here was the happiest day of his stay in Buffalo, which I can well understand, for there is not an artist in Buffalo who is completely an artist - The most are dilettantic, - more interested in social life, or the politics of “art circles.” Charles E. Burchfield, September 3, 1942 http://bpac.co/n:1408Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), The Studio, 1942; watercolor on seamed paper; Collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of the Burchfield Foundation, 2006

"It is my habit to fear the making of an acquaintance with new people, and probably if no one else ever made first overtures I would never meet anyone. So it was with the visit of the Soyer’s - but I need have had no apprehension. I liked them both - Soyer was all artist, and interested so completely in picture. He said his visit here was the happiest day of his stay in Buffalo, which I can well understand, for there is not an artist in Buffalo who is completely an artist - The most are dilettantic, - more interested in social life, or the politics of “art circles.” Charles E. Burchfield, September 3, 1942 http://bpac.co/n:1408

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), The Studio, 1942; watercolor on seamed paper; Collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of the Burchfield Foundation, 2006

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"Played the Sibelius Third tonight. In the latter part of the last movement, when he gets such a terrific bedlam going, (when you feel that gigantic forces of nature are engaged in a death struggle) you wonder how can he (Sibelius) possibly bring it all to a reasonable conclusion—end it with honor as it were—But he does with their powerful notes, like the blows of a huge hammer—a God pounding for silence.” Charles E. Burchfield, September 12, 1936 http://bpac.co/n:1429

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Sunburst, 1929-31; oil on canvas, 35 1/2 x 47 1/2 inches (Frame: 41 3/4 x 53 5/8 x 2 1/2 inches); Collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Charles Rand Penney, 1994

"Played the Sibelius Third tonight. In the latter part of the last movement, when he gets such a terrific bedlam going, (when you feel that gigantic forces of nature are engaged in a death struggle) you wonder how can he (Sibelius) possibly bring it all to a reasonable conclusion—end it with honor as it were—But he does with their powerful notes, like the blows of a huge hammer—a God pounding for silence.” Charles E. Burchfield, September 12, 1936 http://bpac.co/n:1429

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Sunburst, 1929-31; oil on canvas, 35 1/2 x 47 1/2 inches (Frame: 41 3/4 x 53 5/8 x 2 1/2 inches); Collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Charles Rand Penney, 1994

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The hottest day yet – temperature at 93 at mid-afternoon – very hazy, “high” clouds glittering white against the hot blue zenith –
Discovered early morning that the cortisone spray was empty – this meant I had to go in to Dr. A’s office and get a new one –
The city from the Thruway like a dream world induced by haze and industrial dust.
Mart over about 10:30 with Peggy & Tom – Peggy to help Bertha and Tom to mow the lawn –
Little ambition – in and out of the studio – Made a final (I hope!) correction on the drawing of the hill in Old August Hill”
We ate under the willow-tree again – a happy time with the youngsters – scarcely had he finished eating than Tom was “Tarzaning” on the rope in the willow-tree, and Peggy followed soon after.
When Tom addressed any of us, he had picked up somewhere a new form of salutation – it was “grandfather o’ mine” grandmother o’ mine” sister o’ mine” etc –
In the afternoon after Tom had finished the lawn and some weeding, he came in the studio, obviously wanting to chat and look around.  As I was in no mood for working – I let him stay – he has to explore the attic and was always exclaiming over something or other –
Once something was said about the 1917 portion of the Winter Afternoon hanging on the wall “really” he said “your 1917 pictures are pretty crumby aren’t they?  Not like this masterpiece here” pointing to the “Old August Hill” on the easel.
My “fame” seems to fascinate him, although I wish he could forget that phase of my life “you’re famous, aren’t you” with embarrassing directness – “You’re in encyclopedias and dictionaries.” Mostly however his attitude towards me is one of free and easy comradeship, which is the way I want it.  For example one day, when I had forgotten to zip up my trousers he stare at me saying casually “gramps, you’d better lock the farm door before the horse gets out”
Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to have known a father and grandfather – I could not have been much older than 3 or 4 the last time I saw my father; and as for my grandfather, I remember him as a white haired – and – bearded old man, who lived out the years I knew him, as an almost helpless invalid with a brain concussion caused by being hit by a base-ball
However, after all, what one has in life, if it is all right. Seems the proper thing – I had a dependable Big Brother Jim, and wonderful mother who made us forget we were fatherless.  In fact the fathers of the boys I played with made me feel I was lucky not to have one.
About 3:00 Tom became tired; he would have gone home on the bus, but I took him in the car.
Evening music – Brahms Hungarian Dances, Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances – Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for strings – Borodin’s Nocturne from his quartet – Bonber’s Adagio for strings & Grunslaves by Vanlour - Wilhems 
Charles E Burchfield, Journals, August 31, 1962 
More at www.BurchfieldPenney.org

The hottest day yet – temperature at 93 at mid-afternoon – very hazy, “high” clouds glittering white against the hot blue zenith –

Discovered early morning that the cortisone spray was empty – this meant I had to go in to Dr. A’s office and get a new one –

The city from the Thruway like a dream world induced by haze and industrial dust.

Mart over about 10:30 with Peggy & Tom – Peggy to help Bertha and Tom to mow the lawn –

Little ambition – in and out of the studio – Made a final (I hope!) correction on the drawing of the hill in Old August Hill”

We ate under the willow-tree again – a happy time with the youngsters – scarcely had he finished eating than Tom was “Tarzaning” on the rope in the willow-tree, and Peggy followed soon after.

When Tom addressed any of us, he had picked up somewhere a new form of salutation – it was “grandfather o’ mine” grandmother o’ mine” sister o’ mine” etc –

In the afternoon after Tom had finished the lawn and some weeding, he came in the studio, obviously wanting to chat and look around.  As I was in no mood for working – I let him stay – he has to explore the attic and was always exclaiming over something or other –

Once something was said about the 1917 portion of the Winter Afternoon hanging on the wall “really” he said “your 1917 pictures are pretty crumby aren’t they?  Not like this masterpiece here” pointing to the “Old August Hill” on the easel.

My “fame” seems to fascinate him, although I wish he could forget that phase of my life “you’re famous, aren’t you” with embarrassing directness – “You’re in encyclopedias and dictionaries.” Mostly however his attitude towards me is one of free and easy comradeship, which is the way I want it.  For example one day, when I had forgotten to zip up my trousers he stare at me saying casually “gramps, you’d better lock the farm door before the horse gets out”

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to have known a father and grandfather – I could not have been much older than 3 or 4 the last time I saw my father; and as for my grandfather, I remember him as a white haired – and – bearded old man, who lived out the years I knew him, as an almost helpless invalid with a brain concussion caused by being hit by a base-ball

However, after all, what one has in life, if it is all right. Seems the proper thing – I had a dependable Big Brother Jim, and wonderful mother who made us forget we were fatherless.  In fact the fathers of the boys I played with made me feel I was lucky not to have one.

About 3:00 Tom became tired; he would have gone home on the bus, but I took him in the car.

Evening music – Brahms Hungarian Dances, Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances – Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for strings – Borodin’s Nocturne from his quartet – Bonber’s Adagio for strings & Grunslaves by Vanlour - Wilhems 

Charles E Burchfield, Journals, August 31, 1962 

More at www.BurchfieldPenney.org

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"Trains roaring in the black night have suddenly taken on a strange significance.
Yesterday at noon as I looked from my window seeing the vivid sunflowers in the startlingly sunlight; two jagged yellow lines sweeping past marked the course of two butterflies.

While lying on my bed half awake, half asleep I thought of the sort of nature I was now viewing. Unconsciously I went back to the visions I saw two or three years ago and all at once I came to my senses amazed. What was it I had been thinking of?
Again I fell to thinking – was this life I lived for art alone a life of sacrifice of denial / No! All at once I thought of forgotten childish dreams of strange lands & adventures & carefree life and came back to the present with a sudden heart-beating as if terribly frightened.” Charles E. Burchfield, August 30, 1916 http://bpac.co/n:1428
Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Butterflies and Black Barn (also known as August Noon), 1916; watercolor and pencil, 20 x 14 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Archives

"Trains roaring in the black night have suddenly taken on a strange significance.

Yesterday at noon as I looked from my window seeing the vivid sunflowers in the startlingly sunlight; two jagged yellow lines sweeping past marked the course of two butterflies.

While lying on my bed half awake, half asleep I thought of the sort of nature I was now viewing. Unconsciously I went back to the visions I saw two or three years ago and all at once I came to my senses amazed. What was it I had been thinking of?

Again I fell to thinking – was this life I lived for art alone a life of sacrifice of denial / No! All at once I thought of forgotten childish dreams of strange lands & adventures & carefree life and came back to the present with a sudden heart-beating as if terribly frightened.” Charles E. Burchfield, August 30, 1916 http://bpac.co/n:1428

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Butterflies and Black Barn (also known as August Noon), 1916; watercolor and pencil, 20 x 14 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Archives

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"Summer attains its greatest dignity & power in August. In this dignity & power exist simultaneously a sinister quality, and a deeply mystical one. On one hand in point of time, is the luxuriant beauty of full-growing things, on the other, the lucid romanticism of Autumn. An August might be mysterious, and has something terrifying about it – the black night following the hot misty white day, is broken by nervous flashes of heat lightning, dancing in the dark northern sky. Trees become huge black abstract masses.” Charles E. Burchfield, August 23, 1926 http://bpac.co/n:1426

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Landscape with Grey Clouds (Heat Lightning), ca. 1962; watercolor, charcoal, and white chalk on joined paper, 58 x 45 inches; DC Moore Gallery, New York

"Summer attains its greatest dignity & power in August. In this dignity & power exist simultaneously a sinister quality, and a deeply mystical one. On one hand in point of time, is the luxuriant beauty of full-growing things, on the other, the lucid romanticism of Autumn. An August might be mysterious, and has something terrifying about it – the black night following the hot misty white day, is broken by nervous flashes of heat lightning, dancing in the dark northern sky. Trees become huge black abstract masses.” Charles E. Burchfield, August 23, 1926 http://bpac.co/n:1426

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Landscape with Grey Clouds (Heat Lightning), ca. 1962; watercolor, charcoal, and white chalk on joined paper, 58 x 45 inches; DC Moore Gallery, New York

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Got to work on the Drought Moon picture – put in the moon before lunch, then practically finished the picture in the afternoon. I was too tired to evaluate (plus the fact that always when a picture is just finished, I am looking for flaws instead of good points) – Bertha thought it was beautiful.” Charles E. Burchfield, August 25, 1959 http://bpac.co/n:1299Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), July Drought Sun, 1949-60; watercolor on paper, 45 x 54 inches; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid

Got to work on the Drought Moon picture – put in the moon before lunch, then practically finished the picture in the afternoon. I was too tired to evaluate (plus the fact that always when a picture is just finished, I am looking for flaws instead of good points) – Bertha thought it was beautiful.” Charles E. Burchfield, August 25, 1959 http://bpac.co/n:1299

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), July Drought Sun, 1949-60; watercolor on paper, 45 x 54 inches; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid

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"I think of myself, artist-wise, as being a perfectly happy man, living in an environment that is exactly suited for me. Altho this is a vast industrial region, and all the roads are infested with thousands of automobiles, trucks and whatnot, nevertheless my outlet to the earth and sky is as primitive and elemental as it must have been to man thousands of years ago. And if I lived a thousand years, I could never get down on paper the ideas for pictures that throng my mind. I thank god for creating me and allowing me to live in his world.” Charles Burchfield, August 24, 1961 http://bpac.co/n:1356

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Genesis, 1924; watercolor, 21 3/8 x 30 1/2 inches (Frame: 29 3/16 x 39 1/8 inches); Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of the Burchfield Foundation, 1975

"I think of myself, artist-wise, as being a perfectly happy man, living in an environment that is exactly suited for me. Altho this is a vast industrial region, and all the roads are infested with thousands of automobiles, trucks and whatnot, nevertheless my outlet to the earth and sky is as primitive and elemental as it must have been to man thousands of years ago. And if I lived a thousand years, I could never get down on paper the ideas for pictures that throng my mind. I thank god for creating me and allowing me to live in his world.” Charles Burchfield, August 24, 1961 http://bpac.co/n:1356

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Genesis, 1924; watercolor, 21 3/8 x 30 1/2 inches (Frame: 29 3/16 x 39 1/8 inches); Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of the Burchfield Foundation, 1975

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" ‘Nighthawks’ needs no comment I guess, I love to see them frolicking in the vanguard of a storm – I think they must use the swirling eddies of wind as we do sliding places. How I envy them – if there were anything at all to the theory of evolution (which I doubt very much) man would long ago have developed wings. And I love the eeriness of a woods at nightfall.I wanted wings so often, on our trip. Going through the desert, some odd-shaped mountain-peak in the distance called so strongly for a closer look. I guess the answer would be a helicopter. I am anxious for the time when helicopters will come down in price and can be handled easily by an ordinary driver. I feel sure that time will come, and that I will run one before I die. It’s one of the things I think I simply must do or my sojourn on this earth will not be complete.”Charles E. Burchfield, Letter to Lawrence A. Fleischman, March 17, 1956http://bpac.co/n:1405 Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Nighthawks at Twilight, 1917-49; watercolor on joined paper, 33 1/2 x 47 inches; Collection of the Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan, Gift of the Viola E. Bray Charitable Trust, 1964.3 [This work is on view at Brandywine River Museum and coming to the Burchfield Penney Art Center in December!]

" ‘Nighthawks’ needs no comment I guess, I love to see them frolicking in the vanguard of a storm – I think they must use the swirling eddies of wind as we do sliding places. How I envy them – if there were anything at all to the theory of evolution (which I doubt very much) man would long ago have developed wings. And I love the eeriness of a woods at nightfall.

I wanted wings so often, on our trip. Going through the desert, some odd-shaped mountain-peak in the distance called so strongly for a closer look. I guess the answer would be a helicopter. I am anxious for the time when helicopters will come down in price and can be handled easily by an ordinary driver. I feel sure that time will come, and that I will run one before I die. It’s one of the things I think I simply must do or my sojourn on this earth will not be complete.”
Charles E. Burchfield, Letter to Lawrence A. Fleischman, March 17, 1956http://bpac.co/n:1405 

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Nighthawks at Twilight, 1917-49; watercolor on joined paper, 33 1/2 x 47 inches; Collection of the Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan, Gift of the Viola E. Bray Charitable Trust, 1964.3 [This work is on view at Brandywine River Museum and coming to the Burchfield Penney Art Center in December!]