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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!]

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"Yesterday and today, very warm humid weather, the air full of thick bluish white haze, the sky a brassy yellow. For an hour or so both morning and evening the sun a glowing ball of red, and at mid-day like melted brass, or gold. Sunlight on the ground, or on the other objects, pale, and of a pinkish gold cast; the shadows likewise pale and [bluish] green.

The early part of the afternoon I spent in wandering here and there, vainly trying to find some subject that would typify the season, the kind of weather & the particular kind of day. It was not until late afternoon that I found my subject, a white house with a tall symmetrical maple, surrounded by a field of dead grass, with the golden afternoon sunlight behind and a little to the right.
I painted until the sun was low in the west, a red ball, in the thickening mists. Then I drove eastward, and parked under a large maple, with a wide valley to the south, a hilly pasture land crowned by the low woods to the north. I enjoyed the evening as I can only after having worked hard beforehand. As daylight slowly subsided, the half-moon became clearer low in the south, glowing with a pale brassy color. From all side came the sounds of insects, black crickets, tru-crickets, green grasshoppers. - At twilight I took a walk up the hill. All the time I was thinking that I must absorb to the full because the time was at hand when I could not get out as frequently. And on account of this I believe I became more acutely sensitive to the scene around me.
I drove home by going straight westward to the Springville Road and thence by way of Chestnut Ridge. Here I parked a moment by the road, turned off my lights, and listened to [katydid] chorus, which was going full and strong, imparting to the woods nearby, with their black cave-like interiors a mysterious, a sinister quality. Low in the southwest, the moon had become a tarnished old gold color, in a thick brownish violet sky.” Charles E. Burchfield, August 19, 1942 http://bpac.co/n:1419
Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Old Far House and Maple Trees, 1953-58; watercolor on paper, 25 1/4 x 39 1/4 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives

"Yesterday and today, very warm humid weather, the air full of thick bluish white haze, the sky a brassy yellow. For an hour or so both morning and evening the sun a glowing ball of red, and at mid-day like melted brass, or gold. Sunlight on the ground, or on the other objects, pale, and of a pinkish gold cast; the shadows likewise pale and [bluish] green.

The early part of the afternoon I spent in wandering here and there, vainly trying to find some subject that would typify the season, the kind of weather & the particular kind of day. It was not until late afternoon that I found my subject, a white house with a tall symmetrical maple, surrounded by a field of dead grass, with the golden afternoon sunlight behind and a little to the right.

I painted until the sun was low in the west, a red ball, in the thickening mists. Then I drove eastward, and parked under a large maple, with a wide valley to the south, a hilly pasture land crowned by the low woods to the north. I enjoyed the evening as I can only after having worked hard beforehand. As daylight slowly subsided, the half-moon became clearer low in the south, glowing with a pale brassy color. From all side came the sounds of insects, black crickets, tru-crickets, green grasshoppers. - At twilight I took a walk up the hill. All the time I was thinking that I must absorb to the full because the time was at hand when I could not get out as frequently. And on account of this I believe I became more acutely sensitive to the scene around me.

I drove home by going straight westward to the Springville Road and thence by way of Chestnut Ridge. Here I parked a moment by the road, turned off my lights, and listened to [katydid] chorus, which was going full and strong, imparting to the woods nearby, with their black cave-like interiors a mysterious, a sinister quality. Low in the southwest, the moon had become a tarnished old gold color, in a thick brownish violet sky.” Charles E. Burchfield, August 19, 1942 http://bpac.co/n:1419

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Old Far House and Maple Trees, 1953-58; watercolor on paper, 25 1/4 x 39 1/4 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives

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"A wonderful dream I had early this morning. I was, as is my custom of watching the progress of the weather all day. It had been a day of wonderful clouds, which I cannot remember - As the sun neared the horizon, the sky became comparatively clear and the sun boiled gold. The air was full of a thick, heavy Autumn haze which was colored yellow by the sunlight except at a distance where was a row of naked trees; which intercept the sun’s rays so that the haze behind was not golden, but a startling bluish white. As I walked along, taking feverish mental notes (for I was with company of people and could not sketch) I suddenly noticed a wonderful sight in the trees along the walk. On them were appearing fantastic shapes of which I discovered to be the haze condensing in frost on the bark, for the air was become suddenly cold. A clear up day after the rainy night. A wonderful sunset.” Charles E. Burchfield, August 12, 1915 http://bpac.co/n:1300Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Moon and Thunderhead, 1960; watercolor on paper, 35 x 45 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Archives

"A wonderful dream I had early this morning. I was, as is my custom of watching the progress of the weather all day. It had been a day of wonderful clouds, which I cannot remember - As the sun neared the horizon, the sky became comparatively clear and the sun boiled gold. The air was full of a thick, heavy Autumn haze which was colored yellow by the sunlight except at a distance where was a row of naked trees; which intercept the sun’s rays so that the haze behind was not golden, but a startling bluish white. As I walked along, taking feverish mental notes (for I was with company of people and could not sketch) I suddenly noticed a wonderful sight in the trees along the walk. On them were appearing fantastic shapes of which I discovered to be the haze condensing in frost on the bark, for the air was become suddenly cold. A clear up day after the rainy night. A wonderful sunset.” Charles E. Burchfield, August 12, 1915 http://bpac.co/n:1300

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Moon and Thunderhead, 1960; watercolor on paper, 35 x 45 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Archives

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I had planned to start the Bat picture today, in fact I seemed all primed for it, but when we called about Peggy coming over to help with the house work, — Mart said some neighbors had invited Peggy to go to the beach for the day, so we said we thought she should go as the weather was to turn colder tomorrow —  Oddly enough this seemed to throw me at loose ends and I thought immediately that perhaps we ought ourselves to go to Emporium, as I had been thinking of it for some time — I mentioned it to Bertha and she was all for it.…A hot, steaming day, the air full of golden yellow August haze — ideal for the impressions I want to get of the Pennsylvania mountain country –
Charles E. Burchfield, August 16, 1962

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Late Afternoon in the Hills, 1939-41; watercolor on paper, 27 x 40 inches; image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives

I had planned to start the Bat picture today, in fact I seemed all primed for it, but when we called about Peggy coming over to help with the house work, — Mart said some neighbors had invited Peggy to go to the beach for the day, so we said we thought she should go as the weather was to turn colder tomorrow — Oddly enough this seemed to throw me at loose ends and I thought immediately that perhaps we ought ourselves to go to Emporium, as I had been thinking of it for some time — I mentioned it to Bertha and she was all for it.…A hot, steaming day, the air full of golden yellow August haze — ideal for the impressions I want to get of the Pennsylvania mountain country –
Charles E. Burchfield, August 16, 1962

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Late Afternoon in the Hills, 1939-41; watercolor on paper, 27 x 40 inches; image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives

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While sitting here, I noticed a large yellow orb-weaver. Desiring to see to what extent he wound defend himself I tool a twig & commenced tapping him. At the first touch he ran heavily up towards the end of a blackberry branch where one of the radii of his web was attached. Here he straightened out, and bringing his four front feet to a point in front of him, the next pair, short ones, to a point in his abdomen, and his two long hind pair, behind his body, he commenced whirling. This was doubtless to confuse the attacker, and indeed I could scarce watch him for his dizzy whirling. Prodden again, he ran down to the web proper & commenced swinging powerfully & swiftly back & forth with much of the same principle as children “work up” on a swing,—covering a distant [i.e. distance] in the air of more than three inches.” Charles Burchfield, August 15, 1914 http://bpac.co/n:1400Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Spider, Butterfly and Sun, 1957; watercolor, crayon and gouache on paper, 13 x 14¾ inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Archives
More: www.BurchfieldPenney.org

While sitting here, I noticed a large yellow orb-weaver. Desiring to see to what extent he wound defend himself I tool a twig & commenced tapping him. At the first touch he ran heavily up towards the end of a blackberry branch where one of the radii of his web was attached. Here he straightened out, and bringing his four front feet to a point in front of him, the next pair, short ones, to a point in his abdomen, and his two long hind pair, behind his body, he commenced whirling. This was doubtless to confuse the attacker, and indeed I could scarce watch him for his dizzy whirling. Prodden again, he ran down to the web proper & commenced swinging powerfully & swiftly back & forth with much of the same principle as children “work up” on a swing,—covering a distant [i.e. distance] in the air of more than three inches.” Charles Burchfield, August 15, 1914 http://bpac.co/n:1400

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Spider, Butterfly and Sun, 1957; watercolor, crayon and gouache on paper, 13 x 14¾ inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Archives

More: www.BurchfieldPenney.org

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"I forgot to mention the Aurora Borealis which were brilliantly visible on Friday night.—B&I first noticed them coming down Orchard ave on our return from a walk. At that time, they appeared as ling flattened arch of phosphorescent luminance low in the northern sky.

On our return home, we routed the three youngest out of bed to see the sight. I tool them (clad in slippers and bathrobes) in the car, up to East & North Aves.
Later, when we got home, they lights changed in character; —the arches, or bows of light gradually swelled upward, and parted into several separate bows, and we were interspersed with irregular streaks, spreading fanwise, constantly changing in intensity; sometimes shafts burning forth brilliantly green. The arches spread, to far south the zenith. The light was so strong that the northern sides of houses were luridly lit up, and even shadows were cast on the ground.
At times meteors, turned red in character by the “lights,” streaked across the sky.” Charles Burchfield, August 12, 1939 http://bpac.co/n:1402
Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Sun Setting in a Bank of Smoke, 1917; Watercolor on paper, 21 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Archives

"I forgot to mention the Aurora Borealis which were brilliantly visible on Friday night.—B&I first noticed them coming down Orchard ave on our return from a walk. At that time, they appeared as ling flattened arch of phosphorescent luminance low in the northern sky.

On our return home, we routed the three youngest out of bed to see the sight. I tool them (clad in slippers and bathrobes) in the car, up to East & North Aves.

Later, when we got home, they lights changed in character; —the arches, or bows of light gradually swelled upward, and parted into several separate bows, and we were interspersed with irregular streaks, spreading fanwise, constantly changing in intensity; sometimes shafts burning forth brilliantly green. The arches spread, to far south the zenith. The light was so strong that the northern sides of houses were luridly lit up, and even shadows were cast on the ground.

At times meteors, turned red in character by the “lights,” streaked across the sky.” Charles Burchfield, August 12, 1939 http://bpac.co/n:1402

Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Sun Setting in a Bank of Smoke, 1917; Watercolor on paper, 21 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Archives

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"I can imagine no more miserable person than he who has attained his ideal.Observe the vines. We have in our yard a hopvine which climbs a pole before it attains the top; it is fresh big & strong. Having come to the top of the “shoots” wander aimlessly about & finally fall down, climb the pole again & so continue until nipped by the frost. The top is stunted and I imagine the fruit is smaller than if the vine had been able to go on up. So it is with the morning-glories.We should them climb a pole whose top, if it has any, is so high in the blue that we will never reach it, lest we like the vine become stunted at last.” Charles Burchfield, August 13, 1914 http://bpac.co/n:1397Image: Charles Burchfield (1893–1967), Gateway to September, 1946–56. Watercolor on joined paper, 42 × 56 in. (106.7 × 142.2 cm). Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Gift of the Benwood Foundation

"I can imagine no more miserable person than he who has attained his ideal.

Observe the vines. We have in our yard a hopvine which climbs a pole before it attains the top; it is fresh big & strong. Having come to the top of the “shoots” wander aimlessly about & finally fall down, climb the pole again & so continue until nipped by the frost. The top is stunted and I imagine the fruit is smaller than if the vine had been able to go on up. So it is with the morning-glories.

We should them climb a pole whose top, if it has any, is so high in the blue that we will never reach it, lest we like the vine become stunted at last.” Charles Burchfield, August 13, 1914 http://bpac.co/n:1397

Image: Charles Burchfield (1893–1967), Gateway to September, 1946–56. Watercolor on joined paper, 42 × 56 in. (106.7 × 142.2 cm). Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Gift of the Benwood Foundation