Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), I [All-Day Sketch, July 1-2, 1915; graphite on paper, Overall: 10 3/4 x 16 3/4 in. (27.3 x 42.5 cm) Frame: 19 1/8 x 25 1/4 in. (48.6 x 64.1 cm); Gift of Dr. Edna M. Lindemann, 1991
Labeled “I” because it is the ninth sketch made on July 1, 1915, this weather record notes fog in the morning, and changes in the sky from daybreak to nightfall. Charles Burchfield’s “All-Day Sketches” illustrate how early he began to think about ways to depict the effects of weather and changing light during an extended period of time. The idea began to germinate in 1914, when Burchfield was a student at the Cleveland School of Art in Cleveland, Ohio. He worked as a guard at the Hatch Galleries, where Chinese scroll paintings inspired him “to execute, in a continuous form, the transitions or sequences of weather events in a day, or several days or seasons.” These terse schematics plotted a day’s progress in narrow bands that evolved from left to right. Burchfield put aside the idea for decades, returning to it in 1943 with more condensed, symbolic, stage-like compositions that were built around earlier paintings: Two Ravines and The Coming of Spring. Many of Burchfield’s greatest paintings from then on depict the transition of seasons.
On July 1, 1915, Burchfield also documented the day in his Journals, writing:
As the fog lifted up from the dripping trees this morning, a catbird hastily sought the highest branch of our apple tree and sang copiously – White sun in loose fog mists – Robins singing –
A day of powerful stagnant thunderclouds. The air, seems sticky – it is full of a bluish white haze–
Hear yellow bird at evening just before a storm approaches — swallows sailing black against white swift changing thunderheads – small flocks of black birds hustling southward – A heavy shower –
Melancholy possesses me at my happiest moments – I cannot understand it –
At night I like to hear a remote train-whistle – it leads my mind into weirdly melancholy imaginings –
A moth is seeking to get in my window –
--Content by Nancy Weekly for "A Dream World of Imagination: Charles E. Burchfield's Golden Year"