Charles E. Burchfield in his own words

From the age of seventeen until the end of his life, American watercolor painter Charles E. Burchfield wrote in journals that chronicled his artistic and intellectual development. These journals reveal much about his unique vision, love of nature and gift for writing. Burchfield’s passion for writing could not be contained in the journals alone. Throughout his career, his moods, ideas and personal critiques were also recorded on thousands of scraps of paper and studies for paintings as well as in letters to family, friends and colleagues. His complex and layered visual language points to a complex human being. The inner triumphs, struggles and ambitions of his career are reflected and recorded in his own words and serve as an inspiration for all.

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  • Charles Burchfield, Journals, March 1, 1916

    Monday, March 2, 2015

    I woke up this morning in time to hear a redbird singing. A little later the sun rose in the heavy mists, a red disc.  A beautiful thing is that the harness of work horses of various farms around town are ornamented with rings and brass ornaments etc.

  • Charles Burchfield, Journals, March 1, 1948

    Sunday, March 1, 2015

    First drive M for her check up with Dr. Potter.  I shook hands with Potter – When I said “I don’t suppose you remember me” he countered “Yes, I know, I brought you into the world”! A great old fellow

  • Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, February 28, 1941

    Saturday, February 28, 2015

    To Buffalo – Car to Justice for service.Sketching around town — building tops on Main near Chippewa. Then to lunch at one-arm.Then more notes of Elec. Bldg. & then to get car.

  • Charles Burchfield, Journals, February 24, 1936

    Friday, February 27, 2015

    On the way up the hill (difficult going, deep soggy drifts) I was overcome with the beauty of the day, it did not seem possible the world could be so beautiful, and I felt anew my utter baseness, and unworthiness of such delights.

  • Charles Burchfield, Journals, February 22, 1946

    Thursday, February 26, 2015

    ...all the, time I felt that I was not calm enough in my mind for real concentration on such a work at this time, and that I ought not be doing it; rather some mechanical work would be better.

  • Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, February 18, 1915

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    Excellent weather for sap-running. Broken branches are hung with whitish icicles. I ate one and wondered if my imagina­tion made it taste sweet.

  • Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, February 24, 1954

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    Out to the “Big Woods” painting altho a slight drizzle was falling – Hearing the first “cawing” of crows at dawn.

  • Charles E. Burchfield, Journals February 16, 1936

    Monday, February 23, 2015

    While lying in bed this morning, I called Arthur’s attention to the deep rumbling sounds that seem to come from the center of the earth at this time of year – he listened a bit, then asked what caused them – I told him it was giants down in the earth, grinding coffee, and hemore

  • Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, February 22, 1964

    Sunday, February 22, 2015

    Not so cold (+10°) – Sunny, with beautiful small cumulous clouds, dazzlingly white – at morning (particularly and at various other times) the air full of snow crystals, 

  • Charles E. Burchfield, , Vol. 46, February 3, 1945

    Saturday, February 21, 2015

    The recurrent blizzard and storms of this winter have fired me with the impulse to paint a blizzard. As the starting point or plan for this, I am using the 1918 "Blizzard" (two ghostlly windblown

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